I realize that Rocketman was released last year, but my boyfriend finally convinced me to watch it weeks ago. I was hooked from the start, mainly because I loved the soundtrack so much. (Just an aside, Taron Egerton is also 100% eye candy). In fact, I loved the movie so much that I downloaded the entire soundtrack on Apple Music before the movie was finished (I also may or may not have played the soundtrack as I wrote this).
I knew about Elton John for many years (Thanks Lion King), but never knew about the adversity he faced until watching Rocketman. He was not only a legend on stage, but also off stage. How he faced his struggles spoke depths to me. While I have not struggled with sexuality or drug addiction, I related in a different sense: how humans respond to pain and the desire to feel accepted and loved.
(Spoiler alert and trigger warning…)
In the movie, Elton struggled to feel accepted by others. I am not a member of the LBGTQ+ community, but I related to Elton because I am autistic. As an autistic woman, I have struggled to feel accepted by many people. This has caused a great deal of anxiety for me, just as Elton felt. Before a show, Elton visits his distant father after many years. His father refused his offer to free show tickets and an autographed album. This showed how much Elton bent over backwards for people who would not do the same for him. As he leaves for his show, he witnesses his father love on his stepbrothers, which was the love and attention he killed for as a child. In some previous friendships I had, the other person put in less effort than I was and would focus on their closest friends and tend to all their needs and wants. This scene was a chilling reminder that there comes a time where you need to stop putting effort into others who would not give that same level back to you.
On the way to his show, Elton came out to his mother, and she stated that he will never be loved. A little over a year ago, two professors in my department told me that I would struggle either as a clinician or in graduate school because of how I communicate (before I was medically diagnosed as autistic). Much later, I noticed those professors give numerous amounts of praise to several other classmates, the praise that myself and many others crave. The heartbreak, brink of tears, and disappointment on Elton's face upon seeing his stepbrothers receive attention and after coming out was the perfect depiction of how I felt about what those professors said and did.
Elton felt isolated at many points, through seeing friends develop relationships and toxic relationships. Developing and keeping friendships for me is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, whereas several neurotypical people may not think twice about it. Elton had a toxic partner, which was relatable for me as someone who has had several toxic relationships and friendships.
After a discussion with a coworker, we noted that the movie was relatable because of how humans deal with pain. Elton struggled with sexuality, addiction, low self-esteem, and mental health for so long, and it pushed him over the edge. He felt so low that he attempted suicide by overdosing and falling into his pool. After he is brought to the surface, the song Rocketman begins. Throughout the scene, it depicts what seems like doctors and nurses caring for him. It turns out that they were preparing him for his show he had DAYS later. As he takes his bat, he immediately smiles, masking his depressed look and how he felt deep down, walking on stage. For those unfamiliar with masking, masking is hiding one emotion for another. This chilling scene was also relatable for me in terms of mental health. Earlier this year, I felt so low during class and harmed myself in a bathroom afterwards. I sat in the stall for about ten minutes, and walked upstairs for a meeting. Instead of prioritizing self-care, I prioritized a meeting and pushed what I had done aside, just as Elton masked his feelings and prioritized his shows. Elton denied that there were problems, despite his loved ones' concerns for him. This was also a chilling reminder that it is easy for us to push our pain aside and how it takes loved ones to notice to even consider them.
At the end, Elton sings I'm Still Standing upon leaving group therapy. That song has stuck with me since I first watched the movie. It reminded me that despite all the challenges I have faced, "I'm still standing."