In black-and-white, circa 1940s, a Circus arch is erected in a field. A young woman jumps up and down in the field. A barker stands at his podium, stating for people “to step up one and all for a million thrills!” A young couple smiles as they walk into the tent.
A young man juggles as the barker talks up the “most amazing tightrope walker.” A clown glances over his shoulder. People hold their bikes as they walk through the arch.
In color, Aguilera fluffs her hair in the dressing room as she reads a newspaper article about herself. An assistant hands her a glass of champagne. She says thank you and continues her conversation. Someone hands her a telegram.
Aguilera sits on a box alone in a tent, thinking.
As a child, she was enthralled by the circus. It was a spectacular event. Her father saved up for tickets and took her every year. She would gasp as she watched the young woman kick her leg and steady herself on the tightrope. She told her dad she wanted to be like the young woman and be in the circus, too.
Her father set up a piece of wood in the backyard. As she walked on it, he held her hand and caught her when she would fall. One day, he gave her an elephant necklace. She hugged him.
At 25 years old, she headlines the circus. She blows to the kisses to the audience as she sits on an elephant. Rose petals fall as she is given a standing ovation. Her father beams as he watches her from his seat.
After the show, a reporter kisses her hand. Photographers take her photo. She signs autographs while reporters ask questions. She sees her father and grabs his hand. However, she’s pulled away by her manager. The reporters, fans and photographers follow her. Her father watches as she walks away. Hands in his pockets, he leaves.
Back in the dressing room, she reads the telegram. Hand on her chest, she can’t breathe as it says that her father has passed. The room spins around her as she processes the news. In her jewelry box, she takes out the elephant necklace and clutches it in her hand.
She runs out of the tent and searches the field. Crying, she holds the necklace to her mouth. She falls on the ground and reaches for the vision of her father.
In the tent, she puts her hand over her face and sobs.
Christina Aguilera didn’t say goodbye. She thinks of her last moment with him: a quick hello as she grabbed his hand. Her manager told her it was time to go and she didn’t look even look back. She continued to talk with her dream with the reporters as they walked back to her dressing room.
She was all her dad had. Her mother had died when she was only about two years old. As a child, her father had been her entire world. He had taught her how to balance herself on the piece of wood he erected in their backyard. With practice, he raised it higher. By fifteen years old, she had mastered it and starting working in the circus.
For several years, her father listened as she vented about not being featured and being in the background. He had told her to stick with it. She had to pay her dues. While her star rose, she called her father less. Invitations to events stacked up on her desk. Reporters were calling her house, asking for a profile. Letters to him went unwritten.
She believes he died of a broken heart. Her father had waited an hour for her. It was something he had been looking forward to, saving up for tickets (which had gone up in price) with what he little he made. He bragged to his co-workers that he was going to see his daughter perform. Then, she ignores him.
She holds the elephant necklace in her hand, the only piece of her father she has and prays for forgiveness. She whispers to him that he deserved a better daughter and she never stopped loving him. She had allowed herself to become a stranger to her family. Her manager finds her and asks her what’s wrong. She tells him she quits and heads to clear out her dressing room.
Directors: Floria Sigismondi & Christina Aguilera Year: 2006
Pam Avoledo’s love of pop culture began in 1999 with the message boards dedicated to shows on the CW (then WB). She graduated from Oakland University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
When she is not debating whether Dawson should’ve ended up with Joey, she looks at cute dog memes on social media.