Monday, February 13, 2012

Defining 'Tragedy' Downward With Whitney Houston

The world was full of tragedy this week, but Whitney Houston's death had nothing to do with it.

Sorry to have to say this, but here's what I see: Another arrogant, entitled rich singer who wrecked her talent, constantly abused drugs and flaunted the laws, and went out on a reckless, berserk binge. Another dead singer carried out of another hotel on an EMS gurney.

Call me callous, but I'm unaffected by the ongoing mournfest and the pious hand-wringing. What, this was a surprise to these people? To me, a death like this was less of a tragedy than an inevitability.

[UPDATE FEB. 16 -- The mother of a Marine killed in Afghanistan has a salient point here, noting the asinine order by New Jersey Gov. Chris ('Thar She Blows') Christie to fly the state flags at half-mast in honor of Houston.)

Let's ignore the ridiculous claims being made for this woman's talent, like one I heard on NPR the other day where a guy was saying that Whitney Houston "could hit notes that only 3 or 4 other women on the planet could." WTF? Caterwauling is certainly a popular trade these days, but I think, music-wise, there are still a pretty fair number of sopranos around who can nail that string of high F's in Queen of the Night aria in "The Magic Flute," or even, for that matter, the C's in "O Wandering One" from "Penzance." Let's not get carried away here like we just lost Renee Fleming or Jessye Norman or Emmylou Harris. Not to sound heartless, but screeching the occasional high A doesn't even get you into the chorus at the Met, and Houston basically trashed her youthful Gospel-music training as she caterwauled her way onto the pop charts.

I think what annoys me fundamentally in the piety-fest, as awful as her death was, is that the pop-music-realm, Grammy-attending singers and guitar players (why do they all insist on calling themselves "artists"?) weep those crocodile tears over a fellow druggie/"artist" while ignoring the intrinsic irony:

Rich people who recklessly abuse drugs get teary-eyed eulogies and reverential treatment in the press.

Poor people who do that go to prison and get ignored. That's what makes this country the world's biggest jailer.


1 comment:

ChefNick said...

I'm afraid (well, I'm really not) I have to agree with you.

This woman had absolutely every tool known to humanity, in spades, if you'll pardon the pun, to quit drugs and alcohol and lead a normal, or semi-normal life. You can't even quote the Elton John song "Candle in the Wind," with the line " . . . the press still hounded you . . ." because the press hadn't hounded Houston for a decade. She'd just been forgotten by all but her besotted fans.

As someone of only slightly more than her age who has decided to give up alcohol by myself with no program or rehab facility in sight and who is doing very well, thank you, at two weeks and counting, I have not one whit of sympathy for this champagne-oiled walking cokestraw who could have checked in to El Primo Rehab center and stayed there for the rest of her life.

Lots, and I mean LOTS of other Hollywood no-talents have made the break, but far, far more of us :normal" folk do so in massive underappreciation every single moment of every single day. We're real sorry, ma'am, that you found yourself in such a, er, tight spot, ma'am, and we wishing you well 'n' all but perhaps you could have put in your will "to be fairly doled out to everyone and anyone trying to get off drugs and alcohol." But we know you didn't do that. You probably left it all to Fifi, your Pomeranian Chow.

Because that's the sort of woman you were, Whitney. Your signature song should be retitled "The Greatest Ass of All" and that's not the sexual meaning.