Whitney Elizabeth Houston
April 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012
I’m a little pissed off now, so excuse me while I get my rant on.
Who was disappointed in the Grammy “tribute” to Whitney last night? Raise your hand.
Yeah, me too.
I was disappointed because there were only two songs in tribute to her, along with a brief video spot in a 3.5 HOUR show. Yes, I understand that there was minimal time to prepare but consider the following:
- Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy party went on Saturday night, as scheduled.
- Who amongst you doesn’t know the words to at least one of Whitney songs? Mmm hmm.
- Of course, memorization is only one part of it, there’s practice as well, but thanks to shows like American Idol we know that even a novice can learn a song and dance routine, in under 8 hrs.
- Chris Brown, notably, performed TWO segments.
- The Grammy’s awards are based on sales, for the most part. Whitney sold over 200 million albums in her lifetime.
- Now, perhaps you can explain to me why they couldn’t put together a more encompassing and thoughtful tribute? I don’t know, maybe 5 songs, performed by different singers? Surely, they could have mastered at least that, a 1-1 ratio.
Surely, they could have allotted more time for it? I am sure Chris would have gladly given up one performance in Whitney’s honor? Or, how about shortening any one of the other performances?
More galling to me, was the absence of the illustrious Clive Davis. Don’t you think that he should have said something, in person, or via video, in honor of one of the artists who helped put him on the map?
Or, just a small speech that honored the totality of her person and spoke to the dangers of drug addiction? Even though we don’t know the “official” cause of death we know the incredible toll drugs had on her career. Truth.
Personally, I think it was a piss poor effort.
The reason it made me so angry is because it was like a tear drop in the ocean for music’s “biggest event”. It was a tiny nod in stark contrast to the enormous scope of her influence and the effect she had so many of us. There is also the miniscule matter of the incalculable fortune that she made for the music industry and the fact that more people watched the Grammys this year since 1984. For those reasons I thought, “They could have done a damn sight better than that.”
If only that were all.
Most of the musicians I know liken the music industry to a cesspool, or a shark pit, because record companies exploit the talented (and not so talented) mercilessly for money. We’ve all heard the crazy stories about the lengths that artists will go to as they self-medicate, and the like, under the pressures of stardom.
Too many are seduced by the shifting mirage of celebrity and money, losing sight of themselves and falling prey to temptation. It’s a well known state of affairs but we don’t really pay attention until it happens to someone big like Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston. We treat it like an inevitability with cruel capriciousness of nature, avoidable and de rigueur.
We search for the Conrad Murray’s but ultimately, much as I revile him, wasn’t he a little fish in a very big pond?
When you look at the long list of celebrity’s who have lost this battle it becomes, to put it lightly, disconcerting.
Bashir Live spoke straight to the heart of the matter on his show today.
Is the music industry responsible?
Ruminate on that. Let it roll around your mind for a bit. You might be tempted to say no, and say it ultimately comes down to personal responsibility. Stop and ask yourself if your daughter, sister, brother, or mother had died and you knew that a close friend of hers opened the door to drug addiction would you be so understanding? I’m hazarding a guess NOT.
At a very minimum, I would argue for joint responsibility.
I’d also point out again the historical trend of celebrities whose lives have been cut short, or nearly destroyed by drug addiction.
Then, I’d ask you what you think about the fact that Sony boosted the price of Whitney’s music today. They had enough time for that. I’d ask how you feel that in an extremely tangible sense they profit off a human beings demise. Not for one, day, not for one month, but for years.
It bears thinking about. This is not based on the very human tendency to search for a scapegoat but a recognition that this is one of the ills of our society. It’s real and can be traced to the exploitative side of capitalism and our increasing shift towards consumerism without conscience. We should not turn a blind eye. I believe that the same calls for accountability that have become a rallying cry should apply to the corporate machine that is the music industry.
Here’s Celene Dion’s thoughts on Whitney and this issue.
If we are the machine that drives the music industry, are we not responsible as well?