The death of singer Whitney Houston on Saturday at age 48 was big news, no doubt. At one time in the 1980s and ’90s, Houston arguably was the biggest act in music.
I vividly remember being 9 years old and watching TV as Houston belted out a spine-tingling, tear-jerking rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Fla., at a time when American troops were at war in Iraq.
But years later, Whitney had battles of her own. Her beauty and one-of-a-kind voice soon were replaced by her often-publicized problems with drugs and then-husband Bobby Brown as the things for what she was best known.
Sure, like the Olympics, she’d come around every four years or so, singing a song at an awards show or making a TV appearance for an interview. But she never quite made it back to her spot at the top.
During those dark days, and even in recent years when she seemed to get back on track after her split from Brown, little was said about Houston publicly, which is hard to imagine now that we live in a world with social media and a 24-hour news cycle.
That was until moments after news of her death broke. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to Kim Kardashian offered their public condolences, and words like “inspiration” and “best ever” and “influence” were used by countless celebrities who couldn’t seem to wait to talk about Whitney Houston.
With any person — well-known or not — who dies, it’s expected that the people who knew them or knew of them share their memories of the deceased. What I take issue with is that when celebrities die, particularly ones who had personal struggles made public, some of the famous seem to try to use it as a chance to get attention even though they have little to no connection to deceased.
When Michael Jackson died in 2009, the celebrity train was so long that it took weeks to get through the list of people who had something to say or wanted to perform at the seemingly endless number of tributes to the “King of Pop.” But many of those same stars wouldn’t have been caught dead associating with Jackson in the final decade-plus of his life because it would have been career suicide.
The same could be said about Houston, the “Queen of Pop.”