Lifetime’s recent biopic, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B,” seems to be the topic of much controversy.
It has been ridiculed on many Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages in the United States, and even those who are not involved in the debate are certainly well aware of it.
The movie attempts to chronicle the life of the iconic R&B artist, Aaliyah, a daunting task, especially since the star’s family refused to cooperate with Lifetime in the making of the movie.
Like every other terrible movie, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” was not all bad. Lifetime actually portrayed certain aspects of her life accurately, not the least of which was the almost perfect costuming.
While the movie portrayed Aaliyah’s clothing in a way that was not exactly identical to the clothing she donned in real life, her outfits were similar enough to garner a positive response from the audience.
Lifetime also portrayed Aaliyah and her family in an extremely positive light. For example, Aaliyah was portrayed as a go-getter. This was made obvious in the scene where she insisted to the executives of her record label that her new album be produced by Missy Elliott and Timbaland, rather than Rodney Jerkins, whom they believed was a sure winner.
In addition, her family is shown as supportive and loving, rather than domineering.
Throughout the movie, it was clear that Aaliyah was in charge of her career, and that she was not following anyone else’s wishes.
Unfortunately, that is about all that Lifetime got correct. The rest of the movie was a series of blunders that essentially stemmed from the fact that Lifetime did not have Aaliyah’s family’s blessing.
For example, because the family owns the rights to most of her music, many of her top hits do not play in the film. By leaving out songs like “One in a Million” and “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” Lifetime did something akin to making a movie about Gotye without featuring “Somebody that I Used to Know.” While the few performances shown in the movie were decent, without Aaliyah’s top hits, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” seemed incomplete.
Lifetime also made several poor decisions when creating the film, such as glossing over some of the most important parts of the young star’s life, including her dysfunctional relationship with R. Kelly.
In the movie, Aaliyah’s marriage to R. Kelly, a man almost twice her age, appeared to be a case of infatuation, and her parents seemed cruel for forcing an end to it. For such a major part of her life, the movie did not spend enough time developing their relationship.
Perhaps most offensive to many of Aaliyah’s fans was the way that Lifetime chose to end the movie. Again, the movie simply glossed over a very important part of how Aaliyah is remembered. Her death is barely even mentioned in the movie, except for a few bland words on screen.
While Lifetime may not have wanted to depict every detail of the plane crash, there is no justifiable reason why they did not show her fans’ reaction to her death. While showing the plane crash might have been tasteless, including the public’s reaction to it would have shown how much people loved her. That would have been a much more powerful ending than the flimsy, “She will forever remain in our hearts,” that they chose, which failed to truly show Aaliyah’s impact on her fans and on the world at large.
Lifetime totally downplayed the part that Aaliyah had in opening doors for black women in the film industry, again glossing over her parts in several popular movies, such as “Queen of the Damned.”
Along with the sometimes terrible acting, there is an even more terrible script in which characters simply rattle off Aaliyah’s accomplishments in order to move the movie along.
This ignoring of Aaliyah’s key accomplishments proved the general consensus that this movie should never have been made.
It is understandable if, in order to save time, a movie sacrifices some details in order to focus on more important ones, but in “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B,” Lifetime went into almost no detail about anything in Aaliyah’s life. This is what truly makes the movie suffer.
Aside from a few choice scenes and the names of the characters, this movie could have been about any singer who later transitioned into acting.
Granted, it was probably very difficult for Lifetime to produce a quality film without Aaliyah’s family’s cooperation, but perhaps that should have told Lifetime that they did not need to make the movie in the first place.
Luckily, it might not be too late for a second chance. According to VH1, Aaliyah’s family looks forward to a new Aaliyah movie in theaters in 2015.