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Houston, we have a problem

I’m just going to say it out loud … I’m Whitney’ed out.

At the risk of offending a lot of people (yeah, because that’s stopped me before), I’m so over listening to the never ending media coverage of Whitney Houston’s alcoholism, addiction and lousy marriage.

We’ve been inundated with media hype about how her friends, family and entourage let her down by ‘letting her’ drink and drug. Um, Whitney was a 48 year old grown up and a mother of a young daughter. All right…here it comes: Whitney let herself down and in the process left a young daughter too soon.

Don’t get me wrong; I was and remain a big fan of the music and unmistakable talent. I’m not a huge fan of celebrities who trash their gift and their life for drugs and alcohol and assume none of the responsibility.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Celebrities who think they are worthy of a “pass” because of who they are. And many get it. Case in point is Lindsay Lohan. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to know that if you or I pulled the DUIs, theft and car crashes Lindsay has on her record, we’d be doing some hard time in no time.

There’s never been a shortage of celebs that have crashed and burned too soon. I remember John Belushi (33), Freddie Prinze (22), River Phoenix (23), and of course, even the great Elvis did not escape the trappings fame and fortune, dying at 42. One that really sticks in my memory is the death of Judy Garland. Her powerful voice, big brown eyes and tearful renditions always moved us; gone too soon at 47. It’s all so tragic. The world needs these talents and they deserve full well lived lives.

But I have to ask: Where is it written that if you are lucky enough to be gifted with an amazing voice or acting ability, the general rule of responsibility doesn’t apply to you? I guess I just come from a school of thought that I am responsible for my own actions.  And so are you, no matter who you are.

I wonder what God says to his children that took their gifts and their lives and flushed them down with a heroin rush, an alcohol binge or a cocaine snort. That’s got to be a tough conversation to have.  Erma Bombeck once wrote that when she finally met God, she hoped she would be able to tell him that she used everything he gave her. I envision that conversation ending with a long hug. Talent is a blessing. Blessings should never be trashed.

Whitney Houston might have started out in church and its meaning may have stayed with her all her life, but the fact is she abused her body, her voice and her life for years. We were all saddened to hear the news of her death, but few were surprised.

When I read that the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, had decreed to fly the flag at half staff to honor Whitney on the day of her funeral, I have to confess, I was more than a little annoyed. I get that New Jersey takes great pride in the fact that Whitney was one of their own. I respect that. I guess I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to our flag. Nowhere in my heart does the American flag commemorate celebrity. It symbolizes our nation, our freedoms and it belongs to all the service men and women who put themselves on the line for our country.

If there is a line in heaven for celebrities that need to make retribution for their actions, I’m sure it’s a long one. In the end, we all wish for them what we wish for ourselves … a little peace.

 

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Charity Kountz - I was and am very sorry to hear Whitney is dead. However, people need to grieve and move on. Especially the media who tends to hound a news story well past the time its turned into paste on the sidewalk. And the recent article about Bobbi Houston breaking down at the funeral? Yellow journalism at its worst. Of course the girl broke down – she lost her mother far too early! You expected her to dance a jig? Geez! Media and people in general need to get over the “star” status and realize these are human beings who live under a microscope from the moment they become famous until they die or lose their audience’s attention. They deserve therapy and coping skills training, laws to limit paparazzi access and most importantly, the responsibility to follow the law just like the rest of us (You raise an excellent point with Lohan – that whole family is a walking disaster). May Whitney rest in peace and may her death serve as a warning to the rest about the risks of excess and drugs. Great post as always Tammy!

Joan Cooper - Seven Million Dollars for Cocaine.

Think of it. How much good that could have done in the world. Drugs have to be the very very worst thing ever to exist. Does society really seek to abolish it?

Boundaries – draw the line – you cannot have a civilization without saying no to certain behavior.

Jennifer Eubanks - While I find it sad that another talent has lost their life to drugs and alcohol, I am too tired of hearing about it all. What about those people like my Dad, and just a few days ago a very dear friend who fight courageous battles with cancer and die. I remember writing such an article about this issue. It was triggered as I stood in line at the grocery store while a celebrity who was diagnosed with cancer was plastered all over the news stands. I get it. They’re celebrities. Everyone knows who they are. Does that mean they should have different rules? No. Does that mean they are more important than our families and friends? No. And, does it mean the flag is lowered at their passing? Absolutely NOT.

Kellie - Well said my dear. While I too will miss her fabulous singing talent and will always be haunted when I hear the song “I will always love you.” The media nees to pull their heads out of their !@#. Take responsibility for your own issues. While I remain in pain for her mother and other family members, she was a grown adult who knew better. Grieve her loss and move.

Kellie - and “move on from the story.” (was the ending of THAT sentence) Sorry big thumbs typing and hit send key before finished!

Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen - I am also quite “Whitney’ed out” and I agree completely with what you say about personal responsibility.

The real question for me is why some survive their midlife crises while others do not. I wrote about that after her death: http://www.midlifecrisisqueen.com/2012/02/13/midlife-crisis-and-personal-change/

Judith Briles - OMG—I’m a Ditto-head! So with you Tammy–sick of the media AND people putting junkies and screwed up celebs and politicians on some type of glass pedestal. Get over it–they blew it … and rarely was it for just one boo-boo … they’ve made it their life-plan to wallow in their doo-doo. Enough, enough, enough. Hugs… JB

Scott Morgan - When I was a kid, my parents taught me to not act up because ‘that doesn’t get you anywhere in life.’ But so much contradicts that anymore. How can we tell kids a thing like that and expect it to mean anything when crap like Jersey Shore keeps showing us that the bigger an asshole you are, the more people tune in? I don’t think Whitney was as bad as that in the role model department, nor do I see her as cautionary example. I’m not really sure what I see her as, but I think we can let the woman rest in peace now, and stop reminding the people who actually loved her that her train wreck life came to a tragic early end.

maureen - As always, well put…too many talented people lost to their own demons (Janis, Michael also – just too many). I suppose tho, that the excessive coverage might help someone out there to finally just say no. Gotta pray Lindsay Lohan is listening….

Tammy - Hi Charity, I love your term “yellow journalism”. It is the worst. I knew we were in for the long haul when CNN was reporting her last meal. I’m serious. I do feel a lot of compassion for her daughter. It seems she had seen her mother through a lot. It makes me think that in Whitney’s case her death was simply bad judgment. Anyone who loves their kid like she apparently did would never leave this earth intentionally. It’s all such a shame, but I am sick to death of listening about it. You’re right…the paste is on the sidewalk. It’s time to talk about other worldly events. So happy to have you as a reader, Charity. It’s wonderful having you on the other side of my blog. Thanks for posting!

Tammy - Hi Joan, good post. Perhaps our civilization is less civil than we would hope. Boundaries are always good, but the same rules should apply to the rich and famous as they do to you and me. Whatever happened to a “higher standard”? I wonder. Thanks for being here…I always look forward to your input.

Tammy - Hi Jennifer, You are the only one of my readers that addressed the flag issue. I found it outrageous that this was done. As I said, our flag has pity little to do with celebrities. I remember so many years ago when Bob Hope died. Palm Springs lowered their flag for him in honor of all he did for the military forces. I was proud of that. He did so much to honor and respect them. This was a horse of a different color entirely. Our flag is a sacred symbol, period. You’re right, millions of us everyday folk battle something every single day. They are the true hero’s. But you already knew that. Great hearing from you, Jenn. Rally great.

Tammy - Hi Kellie, exactly! Well said. Grieve and move on. The media coverage has been obnoxious. Interestingly enough it was the media who trashed her drugs and alcohol binges every chance they got, plastering pics on the cover of magazines. And now, they all care? The real loss is to her mom, her little girl and her family. As for us, her adoring public, we loved her voice and will always have it. Her life exploits is something we all could have lived without. Thanks for posting, great having you here!

Tammy - Hi Laura Lee, I was completely expecting a backlash of negativity. Seems many of us are on the same page. I’m not sure we could classify Whitney’s problems as a midlife issue; it began many, many years ago. I have read your article on the subject and recommend it to all my readers. Good stuff. As always, love hearing from you!

Tammy - Hi Scott, well spoken. Unfortunately her life turned in to a train wreck years ago and it was the media who couldn’t wait to splash her drugged or drunk photos in their magazines. You’re right, how can we aspire to higher standards when we have the Kardashian’s, the Jersey Shore crew and the real housewives ruling the airwaves? It’s embarrassing and tragic … for all of us. So, so happy to have you here, thanks for posting!

Tammy - Hi Maureen, from your mouth to Gods ears. We can only hope that some can learn from example. So far, not a whole of them have. Shout out to Lindsay for sure! It’s great having you here, Maureen. Thanks for posting. It means a lot.

Sharon Westmoreland - Right on! Exactly what I was thinking! Keep up the truthing! Too much money ruins people in my opinion.

Steve - Nice work! Right there with you, Tammy, as always. John Donne’s Meditations (http://bit.ly/pZFZF5) notwithstanding, Ms. Houston’s death leaves me undiminished.

Far more tragic to me are the lost lives of those whose candles in the wind were snuffed out through no fault of their own: Will Rogers and Buddy Holly spring instantly to mind. And what of baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, whose plane went down on New Year’s Eve 1972 as he was en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua? To see Ms. Houston’s death put on a par with his quite frankly fills me with revulsion.

And, like you and Jennifer, I was appalled at Governor Christie’s decision to lower the flag in her honor. How many others, one wonders, did as much or more for New Jersey, but still died in relative anonymity? Will Bruce Springsteen get his props when the time comes? Why or why not?

And the media’s hagiographic coverage of Houston’s death, though disgusting, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Don Henley said it most memorably: “It’s interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry.” They’re going to do what they have to do to make money.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is how we react to it. And as you can see, Tammy, we’re not alone out there.

And isn’t that encouraging.

Tammy - Hi Steve/Paul, I never know which name I should call you. Steve, Paul, Mr. Mallory or perhaps we will have to settle on “Your Highness”? Works for me. Your post touched a chord in me. I couldn’t agree more with your statements. I am still a bit befuddled as to why there was so much focus on this particular death. The media had no problem trashing her lifestyle and choices for years, and now they love her? It’s all so ridiculous. I also remember Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. It was the night the music died. Now THAT was a tragedy. I truly hold the belief that people who have been given extraordinary gifts were blessed and called upon to share them. To abuse yourself and your God given talent, to flush your life down the drain, well, I have little patience for it. But to revere someone who has done exactly that … I have NO patience for. Our media has lost touch with what is important in our world. And that is a damn shame. To look up to drug addicts and alcoholics is beyond my understanding. You’re right, surprisingly, we are not alone in our way of thinking…and yes, it is indeed encouraging. I thought for sure I was in for an earful of disagreeing statements. I was ready for the lashing. Wonderful insight Steve/Paul/Mr. Mallory. Thanks for being here and for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate all three of you (giggle).

Tammy - Hi Sharon, thanks for the encouragement. To tell you the truth I really didn’t expect many to agree with me. I’m surprised and feel encouraged. I mean no disrespect to Ms. Houston. She was in fact a fabulous and beautiful talent. Somewhere along the way she lost sight of what was important and lived her life in years of drugs and booze. I didn’t respect it then, and I don’t respect it now. Maybe you’re right…maybe money does ruin people. Thanks for posting. I love having you here!

Tammy - Hi Judith (aka Ditto-head), we are sisters from another mother. But to tell you the truth I’m very surprised at all the comments I received. I braced myself for some pretty stern opposition. You’re right, it’s pretty revolting that so many screwed up celebs are revered. As one of my readers pointed out, it’s hard to hold out for a higher standard when you see The Jersey Shore crew and the Kardashian’s raking in the bucks for their idiocy. It would seem, according to the replies to this post, that there is more sensibility out there than first anticipated. Go figure. Maybe there is hope after all?! Thanks for sharing, loved your post.

Suerae Stein - Hi Tammy! I am in total agreement about the flag – so wrong. And that these talents are God-given gifts that end up so tragically wasted. But I also think that some of the greatest celebrities are not mentally equipped to handle fame and the pressures that go with it. I think the music industry destroys some of these people, uses them, loves them when it suits the business, and spits them out when they’re done with them. And I’ve often thought that fame comes with a steep price. How can anyone famous know that they are loved for who they really are or for their fame and money? I think many of the names you mention lost sight of who they really were. It is a shame. I also agree that the media needs to just let it go. Great piece of writing, as always! ~ Suerae

Tammy - Hi Suerae, I agree with your that many of today’s celebs are ill equipped to handle the money and all its trappings. Many have literally killed themselves with their excesses. Fame does have a price and I sometimes wonder if many had it to do over…would they? I visited Fab Foto Friday on your blog today and loved it as usual. Thanks for popping in. It’s always great to hear your point of view.

Cannon Law - I think we always judge what the relatives could or could´ve done with addicts.

But being in their shoes is another whole story.

Living with an alcoholic or a junkie is a whole diferent story. It´s tiring, sad and not really the best in the world

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