The devastating news of Whitney Houston’s death is still very fresh and painful to her family, friends and fans. But, after her body is committed to the ground and the dust settles will it be business as usual? It shouldn’t be. It’s time to talk about the crushing effects of fame and the drug infestation in the entertainment world.
Even though Whitney Houston made a sincere attempt to save her own life, she unfortunately was unsuccessful at completely recovering from the use of drugs and alcohol. Whitney’s premature death sheds a light on the same effects of fame and stardom that Dave Chappelle spoke of when he was labeled “crazy.” Chappelle gave the best interpretation I have ever heard in regards to the sickness in the entertainment world and why many find themselves in the same position as Whitney and Michael Jackson self medicating their misery away. Chappelle was interviewed by James Lipton on “Inside the Actors Studio” in 2006, addressing rumors about his trip to Africa:
“When we did Blue Streak, we were promoting it and Martin had a stroke. He almost died, and then after that I saw him and I was like “oh my god Martin, are you ok?”, and he said “I got the best sleep I ever got in my life” that’s how tough he is. So let me ask you this: What is happening in Hollywood that a guy that tough will be on the street waving a gun, screaming “they are trying to kill me” what’s going on? Why is Dave Chappelle going to Africa? Why does Mariah Carey make a 100 million dollar deal and take her clothes off on TRL? It’s just- A weak person can not get to sit here and talk to you, ain’t no weak people talking to you. So what is happening in Hollywood, nobody knows. The worst thing to call somebody is crazy, it’s dismissive, “I don’t understand this person, so they’re crazy” – that’s bullshit. These people are not crazy, they’re strong people, maybe their environment is a little sick.”
He made it plain that he was “droppin’ dimes” on the Hollywood community and the unhealthy climate that surrounded himself and others. Whitney and many like her are included in that elite community where they become isolated by their fame and fortune. They oftentimes find themselves surrounded by those that want to see them do well as long as it also benefits them.
Monday night, Lawrence O’Donnell dedicated his entire show to the memory of Whitney Houston and Toure’ gave a perspective that some might see as controversial. He said that Whitney and other African American celebrities have the immense pressure on their shoulders to do well and stay well for fear of returning to poverty. But, who said that all black entertainers came from poverty, Toure? In fact, many were born and raised in middle class families. In my opinion, his sweeping summation is erroneous. Whitney Houston comes from a middle class family that is legendary in the music industry.
He went on to say that him and Questlove of the Roots had a conversation after the Grammys that seems like Toure should have kept to himself out of respect to Questlove and his private thoughts on the matter of black celebrities:
“Questlove said something to me that was really deep and he was a little nervous to say but he said it anyway. For Whitney Houston, would you rather be what she is or Melba Moore? And that’s not to slight Melba in anyway, but Melba Moore was a singer, very popular and successful, and then ended up back in the projects through several mistakes, some no fault of her own. And for an artist who chases success and achieves success, the level of desire is so high that to fall back to that, where you came from, and to be embarrassed by other people taking your spot is massively painful.”
The entire subject matter in their conversation seems to objectify the life of both Whitney Houston and Melba Moore and reduce their lives to fodder for intellectual pontification on Toure’s behalf. It was obvious that Toure’, unlike other members on the panel (Al Sharpton, Ricky Minor, and Kelly Price) didn’t know Whitney. The mood was going along perfectly until he weighed in with what I feel was disrespectful commentary.
Combating the ills of the entertainment world as well as in our own community is a more complex solution than we will come up with in one conversation. But indeed, it is time to find solutions. Watch the video here and tell us what you think.