I feel horrible about the passing of Whitney Houston. When she married Bobby Brown in the early 90’s, the media pretty much kicked her in the grave then. Not just “White” media, but urban radio had already turned on her , cast her away as “Pop”, and pretty much predicted prophetically that the “Bad Boy of R&B” would be her unraveling. In addition to being the benchmark for all of female voices in her wake, Whitney Houston is also a poster child for how the media leads the sheep out of the pasture and into the clutches of the wolves.
I am guilty…and a pretty good amount of her audience is. Prior to today, I hadn’t heard a Whitney/Bobby joke I didn’t like or during the time she attempted resurrect her career, the critiques of her voice bellowed louder than my praise of her legacy. She and Bobby Brown became walking punchlines in our favorite MC’s verses and the butt of jokes galore by our favorite comedians and media figures. So as one of the most highly decorated and most POWERFUL voices of this and any generation lays cold and my timeline fills up well wishes…I sit here stunned. Not because she is dead, but I feel as if I watched her die… and as with many of our prior heroes, I reveled in her addictions and demons. The award show rants, television shows and interviews where she was treated like a sideshow, reality television and yes…even the gossip blog….I sat in front of the television/laptop and watched this slow train wreck to its fiery end.
Truth is…over the span of the past few years, we have watched countless heroes fall prey to our greatest foes and do NOTHING to even acknowledge their demons. Depression and drug addictions are epidemics. What’s worse is that instead of praising those who bear the Earth heavy burden of entertaining us, we are more likely to either wait with baited anticipation for their downfall or foolishly attribute their success to the occult.
Whitney Houston is another one of my childhood heroes that I will not get to see in concert. She won’t get to be a Liza Minelli, or a Bette Midler, or a Barbara Streisand, or a Betty White. I am now relegated to posting songs and alluding to old concert performances; a faux tribute to another iconic figure whose life has been mercifully cut short by God to protect her soul from the cruel grips that trapped her flesh body here. The jokes aren’t funny anymore and the interviews now seem as if they are in spite. This one hurts just like losing MJ…because just as we did the most to create a beautiful black star…we also contributed to the clouds and bad weather that eclipsed it.