Celebrity Death

| February 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Celebrities live a public life much larger than you or I. I aspire to some of that, and it would be nice to be known worldwide for success in my career for good reasons (not infamous reasons). I’d like to think that I’d manage fame like Beyonce and Jay-Z do; like Oprah does; like Tiger Woods did until Thanksgiving 2009; like Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon do. You don’t really know that much about them aside from their work and public industry appearances. The little they reveal in interviews is nice to hear and creates an image (however true or false, it doesn’t need to matter to you) of them that is probably not like they are in private life. I’m not saying they’re phony, but they probably live different privately than publicly.

That’s probably how I’d appear – much the way I appear to people who just meet me and don’t really know me that well – quiet, well-spoken when heard, occasional funny quips, about my work, performing excellently, all thanks to a stellar PR team. Privately, though, you’d know that I’m rarely ever quiet, can go from educated to full-on-ignorant in seconds (and right back to educated), love urban slang peppered into casual conversation, curse at times (it’s bad sometimes, too), and will still look even if I can’t/won’t/don’t touch.

All that plus an unyielding dedication to show Jesus’ love through my imperfect means perfected by His grace.

Take, for instance, Whitney Houston. She was marketed by Arista and Clive’s PR team when she came out to be this ethereal Pop princess: Clive’s greatest protegé. I have a cousin whose friend went to school with Whitney (I know it sounds like a bad urban legend, but it’s true) and Whitney ran with some wilder kids in school. She was reportedly wild, which is why her brother Michael was sent by her mom on the road with her to keep an eye on her. Bobby wasn’t to blame for her struggles. Everyone makes their own decisions regarding whatever they want to do as far as drugs or anything, really. I only blame Whitney for that part of her life, but I hoped she would overcome it.

I heard that she was a warm person privately. She wasn’t this media caricature we’d come to know in these last few years.  She was a person, a woman, with a husband, daughter, mother, father, family, and friends. She also had fans. Those fans knew her music, her undeniable God-blessed voice, and we loved her. Our hearts broke as the drugs took her voice because that is how we knew her – the great singer. It was really our only connection. We didn’t feel that the drug-influenced actions (and sweating) was really her. We didn’t feel that “Kiss my ass!” was really her. That was definitely part of her, but we didn’t like it. These are the parts of celebrities that we are better off not knowing about.

That being said, it’s great to look to a flawed person for inspiration in some form because that’s what we are. That’s what soldiers are. That’s what kids are. Whitney gave us her voice. She gave us wonderful music and songs that took us to other places mentally and even Spiritually (how much I love “Joy to the World” from The Preacher’s Wife! It makes me tear up every time).

I don’t really care about Whitney’s private life. I don’t care if you view her as nothing more than a “Black crack whore who lost her career years ago” (seriously, some of y’all are horrible human beings). I don’t care if you feel that it’s more appropriate to mourn for hungry children and valiant soldiers who lose their lives daily. (To be sure, those are sad and deserving of mourning.)

However, because celebrities live on a higher frequency than the rest of us, we know of them a bit more. They’re still human, just like you and I. This one human being, in particular, impacted me with her voice and music. Music moves me (I’m a creative artist). Whitney moved me, and yeah, I’m mourning the loss of her, her voice, her talent, and praying for all those she personally left who are dealing with this devastating loss.

So, please don’t police people’s reactions to her death or any other. We aren’t coming for you for telling us that Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin were saints who need to be revered when they fought the same demons as Whitney. Step off from that.

I close with my response on a Facebook friend’s picture. It was coffins lined up at Dover AFB where dead War on Terror soldiers come in with flag-draped coffins. The caption (in about a 48-pt. font) said, “Whitney, Who?” It then went on to castigate those of us mourning her loss by telling us that we need to mourn the deaths of soldiers instead.

Lord. We should also cry over the thousands who die each day of hunger, cancer patients, AIDS victims (if you don’t think they deserve what most of them did to themselves), domestic violence victims, those killed in crimes…I could go on.

Just let people remember Whitney’s voice. Music moves people. She was a part of music and some of us (me) grew up with her music and liked her. 

Remind me, if any of you have favorite musicians or pets that die, to reply with the same lack of tact for your loss. 

Also, I don’t see any of you posting daily or weeping daily over soldiers dying, so stop the posturing over an artist you didn’t care about. She left a mother who has to bury her daughter this weekend and a daughter (and family and friends) as well, just like any other person who died.

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