What’s Love Got To Do With It is one of the best female redemption/empowerment stories I have seen on-screen. I understand that could be a very controversial statement due to the nature of half of the film; however, this is her story to tell and to see parts of it on-screen was…shocking, inspiring and made me smile by the end of the film.
Anna Mae Bullock was a country girl from Nutbush, Tennessee. In a clip from the trailer from her upcoming documentary, she says that she grew up in abuse which you can see in the first few minutes of What’s Love Got To Do With It. After watching this movie several times, it finally clicked as to why she tolerated the beatings for so long. That and probably her not believing she could make it on her own. Ike did find her and groom her to be who she became while she was with the review.
Here’s what those of us who haven’t watched this movie in forever forgot. Most of what you see in this movie is not how it actually happened. Actually, some of the abuse was worse. I distinctly remember reading an excerpt from her memoir, I, Tina, where she described being hit in the head with a shoe sizer. Do you know how heavy a shoe sizer is? You can hurt yourself just moving that thing around. There was a pregnant mistress situation that I believe she dealt with towards the end of their marriage. Now, I realize none of this helps my previous argument but hear me out. After all of this pain and abuse, somehow she managed to persevere. Imagine all the people who didn’t know this story when the film debuted in 1993. Now think of all the women who were able to see themselves in a real person who made it. Someone who thrived and thrived in a way that surpassed all her past. I could only imagine what Tina means to millions of women who’ve seen this movie or read her book.
But the story isn’t just about Ike and Tina and the abuse. Tina is a mother, daughter, sister and the Queen of Rock N Roll. She went from playing in local bars across the country to selling out stadiums around the world with just her on the bill. JUST HER. A Black female artist with her own band, her own style and her own sound. It was a restart she did her way and on her terms. There’s not better story than that, to me.
I don’t know why the directors changed so much in the film from her memoir. Maybe they were going for feeling over accuracy and it was 1993 so we couldn’t Google the information like we can now. You had to read the book to know. The film did its job in that respect, and I think if we had had an accurate telling of your life, there would be less of a need for a documentary like the one coming in a few weeks.
You know what I always wanted to know about Ike and Tina? I wanted to see more of Ike’s story. Who was he? What made him so hard? What was it? Pressure? Was it just in his nature? What was his relationship like with his kids? In the movie, Chi McBride played his best friend Fro but why didn’t he have friends like Tina who told her to leave? Or did he have friends who tried to tell him to do better? Who introduced him to drugs? I have questions! And I know what some of you are saying. We don’t need to see the side of the abuser. Who cares who he was and what made him tick? He was a bad man and that is all we need to know and to that I would say, why not explore who he was? He had to be more than what we saw or what we’ve heard about him. I watched an Unsung on David Ruffin and got to hear from his children who he was and that was refreshing to me. It helped you understand who David Ruffin the man was and not just David Ruffin the performer. Those are two different people. I say all that to say that I’m a curious person and I like to know more about what makes people tick.
Tina, the full documentary on the life of Anna Mae Bullock, premieres March 27th on HBO. I can’t wait to heard what we don’t know and who she’s become since we last saw her. You never stop growing.