Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston: She was the author of her own demise

I was playing online poker around 6 pm last night when I heard on the radio that Whitney Houston had died.

Whitney Houston, a willowy church singer with a towering voice who became a titan of the pop charts in the 1980s and 1990s but then saw much of her success crumble away amid the fumes of addiction and reckless ego, has died. She was 48. Kristen Foster, a publicist, announced Saturday that the singer had died, and police sources later confirmed that she was found unresponsive in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel about 3:30 p.m. Paramedics performed CPR on her, but she was pronounced dead about 4 p.m., Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen told KTLA News. An investigation into the cause of death is pending.

In that alcoholic and drug-abusing pop stars very often die young, it should not have come as a surprise. But it shook me a little. Perhaps Ms. Houston dying so young--she was just 48--was a surprise because my lasting image of her is a healthy, attractive young woman. I didn't picture her the way I visualize an Amy Winehouse, an ugly face covered in tattoos who always looked wasted. I didn't see her as a needle in his vein rocker like a Kurt Cobain. I saw Whitney as young and beautiful.

When I witnessed on my television the decline and fall of Whitney Houston, I placed the blame on her ex-husband, Bobby Brown. I saw Brown as a villain. I saw Brown as the man who led her in the wrong direction, the direction of drug abuse and domestic abuse. I saw her as pure and innocent and sweet. I saw him as dirty and guilty and acerbic.

But in reality, she met and married Brown when she was an adult, already a major star. She chose to be with him. She chose to use drugs. She was the author of her own demise. Bobby Brown, for all of his faults, was ultimately just a collaborator. He did not force her to be with him. He did not force her to do drugs. He did not use any form of coercion which caused her to destroy her career and finally to end her life.

It's sad when any decent person dies as young as Whitney Houston died. But saddest of all is that for the last 15 years of her life, she wasted her enormous god-given talent. She wasted the best female voice in pop music since Barbra Streisand. She gave a lot of pleasure to everyone who heard her sing. She could have given much more.

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