The reporting and the reaction on social media to Whitney Houston’s death and funeral was so completely overblown and undeserved I was actually offended. You would think her to be canonized and raised to sainthood; when in fact she was a drug addict who left her 19 year troubled daughter to fend for herself because it was more important for Mommy to be high. Remember when our nation honored heroes?
Quick, what do Whitney Houston,
Michael Jackson, and James Brown have in common? The answer is lots. They were all merely entertainers. That’s it. Just entertainers. They were each all drug abusers and individuals who faced other, sometimes serious, criminal charges. And…they were all honored with nationally televised funerals and non-stop media coverage of their deaths.
How is it that we as a country can be so completely overwhelmed and emotionally committed to those who sing or entertain us? The adoration for these individuals and the ignoring of their selfish destructive lifestyles sets a bad example for our country’s youth and our future. If we hold people of such low moral character in such high esteem our personal aspirations must be equally troubling.
Whitney Houston was undoubtedly a beautiful woman with, AT ONE TIME, a voice of an angel. But whether by age, time, or more likely drug abuse and smoking that incredible voice left her at least a decade ago. When given a gift of such rare quality by God isn’t it a sin to treat it with such disrespect? And when enriched financially to such a degree by the adulation of people world-wide we clearly have no excuse for not finding all the help we may need to cope with whatever demons turn away the better angels in our nature. Whitney had no excuse.
Nationally televised funerals have occurred in my memory in the past 10-20 years with the three singers mentioned, Rosa Parks the great civil rights icon, and former President’s Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. I’m not claiming there weren’t others. I’m claiming I don’t remember any. Obviously bestowing such remembrance and honor on our former Presidents is not only appropriate it’s mandatory. And its appropriate honoring Mrs. Parks who lived an exemplary life and stood up to racism at a time and place when others refused. But Brown, Jackson, and Houston? Come on! Where are our priorities.
Paul Newman, and Elizabeth Taylor. Who could be taken seriously who would say any of the five weren’t iconic figures? And each lived long lives (though Fawcett died at 62 from cancer) with extensive and extended careers. It’s hard to imagine a more truly American entertainment hero of the 20th Century than the English-born Hope. Carson dominated late night TV for 30 years, from 1962-1992. Newman’s movie career began in 1954 and didn’t end until shortly before his death in 2008. His philanthropy was so huge and generous that it goes on to this day, and will for years to come. Taylor was a movie actress since she was a child. She grew into one of the world’s most beautiful women and accomplished actresses. Fawcett’s death came within a week of Jackson so her death became almost unnoticed in the wave of shock and emotion accompanying the demise of the King of Pop. So with Fawcett, Hope, Carson, Taylor, and Newman I ask, “Where are their nationally televised, hours-long funerals?”. The decisions of the executives of CNN, FOX, and MSNBC to devote so much of their broadcasts to the deaths and funerals of Whitney Houston and the other black icons had only to do with one thing, ratings. Viewership for both now and the future will be aided by their promoting the hype.
Clearly African-Americans hold tighter, hold up higher, and are more forgiving of their standard-bearers than people of other ethnic backgrounds, at least in this country. Barrack Obama got 96% of the black vote in 2008. Obama lost the white vote. Blacks couldn’t and can’t see why he is so flawed. The adoring, forgiving fans of Obama, Houston, and the other black examples cited in this blog extend into all races and ethnicities. No doubt. But the percentage’s among blacks who esteem these people so highly is overwhelming.
Blacks in this country on a percentage basis suffer disproportionately economically, educationally; more are incarcerated disproportionately. Racism was to blame for keeping blacks down for 300 hundred years. While racism still exists and IS intolerable; racism and bigotry are not responsible for the plight of African-Americans as a whole in the United States in 2012. Perhaps blindly following and adoring people of such low character has something to do with it.
I honestly don’t know. I’m not critical of those who fawn so overwhelmingly for the exciting and luminary movie actors, or singers. But I don’t. I never have. Perhaps it comes from having met and interviewed so many prominent people as a reporter. I just honestly don’t feel the adulation for such flawed people. I wept when Walter Payton died. I shed tears when
Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt announced she had Alzheimer’s. So I do have the capacity within me. But Payton and Summit lead and have led exemplary lives.
I waited two weeks to write this because I wanted to make certain of my perspective and emotions. I also knew some would be offended that I should even write something so inflammatory (in their minds). That’s OK. I know my heart. R.I.P. Whitney.
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