Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Janis, et al

Whitney Houston in happier times.With BitsBlog in the state of moving from one server Website host to another…. and waiting, frankly for my finances to allow such a move… My observations of the world around me continue. The editor here, Art Smith, is an old friend of mine of many years.  It’s with his permission and generous encouragement that I will hang my hat here for the duration.

So it is that my observations continue. One cannot help but observe, for example, the contradictions involved with the “private” funeral of Whitney Houston today. You know… the one that every network on the planet apparently has cameras into. That contradiction aside, there are a number of others that require addressing.

There is no doubt in my mind that the woman was among the more talented among us. An angelic voice with looks to match, and for all accounts a personality that one could envy. But what is the message that’s being sent by all this praise being lavished up on her, postmortem?

When the news of her death came in the other day, I was loosely watching a “Golden Girls” re-run and having a chuckle over Betty White’s antics on that show. Thinking perhaps a little too abstractly for some, my first reaction was that the reason Betty White is still alive at age 90 (v being dead at 48) is that she didn’t get tangled up with the likes of Bobby Brown.

It is bizarre indeed, that Brown continues his so called “reunion” tour. I suppose his promoters figure that with Houston gone, and therefore generating sympathy, Brown will gather larger crowds. The sad part is, they’re probably right. Indeed, the show’s highlight according to reports is the tributes he manages to generate for Houston. Still, I can’t help but feel that Brown was probably the largest part of her death. You see, I consider that Whitney Houston died that first line she went through. Brown was certainly a part of that. A major part, in fact. That was a point of contention in their divorce, if you will recall.

Supposedly she was on her way back. At least, that’s what the publicists were saying. Behind the scenes however she’d been bingeing on booze coke, crack, and pills, for the last several months. They called it a relapse. I regard that there’s some things that can’t be cured.

The rest of it was just waiting around for the “thud”. Harsh, I suppose you call that, but the truth often is… and is harder for having ignored the problem for years. And there is is…we’ve seen this syndrome all too often before. And done nothing.

Let’s examine this in light of a few points of recent history, because it seems illogical to me that we can ignore the well-esatablished pattern here.

Michael Jackson; Amy Winehouse. Janis Joplin. Morrison. Hendrix. These top the list, but there are others.

Jazz greats Chet Baker. and Sonny Clark. John Belushi. Mike Bloomfield. Tim Buckley. Richard Burton. Paul Butterfield. John Entwistle. Brian Epstein… the guy who managed the Beatles. Howie Epstein of the Heartbreakers. Comedian Chris Farley . Actress and Singer Judy Garland. Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers. Tim Hardin. Rolling Stone Brian Jones. Gerald Levert. AWB drummer Robbie McIntosh. Keith Moon. Gram Parsons.

This list  is by no means all inclusive… (being in fact a partial list of what I could remember off the top of my head)  ..but I think the point well established. This is a syndrome we’ve been seeing for years and years. And done nothing.

Which is not so say.. and I’m by no means suggesting… that the star themselves are guiltless.  But our reaction reinforces their excesses. I wrote of Micheal Jackson some months ago, that can see by his whack-job behavior, that Jackson was well beyond reason for a lot of years, but that point alone does not absolve him of his irresponsibility toward his health and the consequences of it. That irresponsibility was essentially reinforced by his star power. Let’s be honest enough to say that after the string of hits in the 80’s and early 90’s, the guy could spend an entire CD making artificial fart noises and nothing else, and his fans would be buying the things, talking about how talented he was, and that he was breaking new artistic ground, rather than simply breaking wind… and that brings me to the second point; Jackson is being held as innocent by his fans, since he was the star and could do no wrong.

I wonder what kind of a message it is that we’re sending as a society when we continue to keep accolades on people whose excesses we know will kill them. Whose excesses are unquestionably hurting people around them, indirectly in the loss imposed on the people around them by their deaths, or more directly, such as Jackson with his hugely public penchant for small boys.. Whose behavior of excess, is being reinforced by our adulation.

I reject out of hand the argument that the legalization of drugs is called for by these events. Sorry, no sale. In response to that argument I point to Amy Winehouse, whose drug of choice is still legally available just about anywhere.  Michael Jackson’s addiction was to prescription painkillers, which doctors prescribe all the time.  The issue is not one of legality, and frankly is in the same class as any argument which focuses on law and government as a solution do anything.  The fact is, government is almost never the solution to a given problem.  It does, of course, ’cause many problems of its own.  But the syndrome we’re describing here, is not among them I don’t believe.

The issue here seems more of a societal issue.  We hold these people to be above and apart because of their talent, and so dedicated are we to that proposition that we tend to ignore these destructive excesses.  eventually, the message becomes twisted to the point where to be held above and talented, one must have these excesses.  that it is standard equipment for such people.  That it aids creativity.    Or, whatever other excuse you want to name.

I offer no immediate solution here.  Frankly, I wonder if there is one, because what we’re fighting here is the true believer.

We’ve seen it often enough in the political world.  Consider the adulation rendered to, say a Barack Obama. Here we have someone who is by any measure, a failure as a president. A man whose actions have hobbled, and possibly destroyed this country.  and yet, the star power he commands apparently blinds some to the consequences. He is still idolized for a number of excuses, which have nothing to do with his performance.

I suppose that as the world becomes more immoral, or perhaps more amoral, our list of true heroes becomes exceedingly short, therefore giving rise to this kind of thing.  In short, the people some idolize, aren’t being held in the same moral demands that they were say, 50 or 60 years ago.  It has become a self feeding circle, both cause and symptom.

 

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  1. Art Smith | Feb 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Reply

    Eric, it’s always a pleasure to have you writing for us! Folks, stay tuned for updates on BitsBlog: Eric expects to be up and running again very shortly!

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