Its been several weeks now since the passing of pop icon Whitney Houston. Much like the passing of Michael Jackson, Whitney’s death had a surprising effect on me. Judging from my Facebook and Twitter timeline, I was not the only one deeply saddened by what happened, so I know that my emotional response was not unique. It is amazing to me how we can summon so much emotion for somebody that we really didn’t “know”. As I watched the CNN coverage of the funeral, I was caught off guard by how sad I still was.
What was not a surprise was all of the reporting, speculating and straight up rumor spreading that was occurring about Whitney’s last days on each. Had she fallen off the wagon again? Were the people around her enabling her addiction? How dare these so called friends allow this woman drink when they know that she has a history of addiction? And even though some of this has died down now that a bit of time has passed, it is sure to pick up again when the toxicology report is released. We all, even the most noble of us, can’t hardly wait to find out exactly what substances were flowing through her blood stream at the time of death.
Also not surprising, but still frustrating (at least to me), were some of the insensitive comments I saw on the web and even heard in the office, the grocery store and the airport as people discussed their own reaction to the breaking news. There seemed to be, among some, this feeling of “Who cares about Whitney?” – she was an addict and a diva and it serves her right that she died an untimely death. For these people, no tribute was necessary and no sadness warranted. She was just another celebrity, with incredible talent who squandered her gift away all for a high. She got what was coming to her.
After the first couple of days of listening to the incessant coverage about Whitney – most of which focused on her struggle with addiction and her troubled marriage – I purposely stopped paying attention. I wasn’t taking some profound stance against the coverage…I just decided that it was too negative and that I didn’t want to be bothered.
I happened to catch about an hour and a half of the funeral coverage – almost by accident as I had really forgotten that CNN was going to have a camera there. As I headed home from my son’s basketball game that Saturday, I turned on the satelite radio…which is almost always set to CNN, and there was BeBe Winans telling his story about Whitney and singing a beautiful song.
What has stayed with me from the funeral was not the celebrity speakers like Tyler Perry (although I will say that Kevin Costner did an awesome job with his remarks) or the performers like Alecia Keys. It was the simple request from Whitney’s bodyguard, Ray, that stood out. “Let’s treat our celebrities with respect. They give us their lives, just so that we can have some entertainment. Let’s give them more than a ticket.” That right there, spoken from the heart of someone that noone knows, sums it all up.
We are so quick to judge celebrities, talk about them and post nasty comments with no regard for their feelings. We so often forget that they are human just like us, with feelings, insecurities, struggles etc. In some weird way, I think we make ourselves feel better by pointing out their faults. Yes, they may be more talented than us, more beautiful and have lots more money…but they aren’t perfect and pointing our their imperfections makes it all better.
I am with Ray – our entertainers deserve better from us. While they live what seems to be, and often time is, a very privileged life, they are still human. They still have challenges, troubled times, insecurities etc. They are still someone’s daughter, sister, mother or friend.