What The Media Has Taught Us Through Whitney Houston's Death

What The Media Has Taught Us Through Whitney Houston's Death

I usually write about love and relationships, but the untimely death of Whitney Houston overshadows my opinion of whether or not we should take Valentine's Day seriously. Last night, the world didn't stand still, but millions of hearts dropped at the devastating news of the musical legend's passing. I'm a firm believer that when someone dies you paint the entire picture; good and bad. It tells a more authentic story of a soul that has passed and their journey on earth.Whitney Houston had a life full of ups and downs, but the media as well as some people in my social networks chose to focus on the negative.

What's more shocking to me than her death itself is the covering of the incident by media entities across the country. Once it was confirmed that Houston had passed, various major media outlets spent minutes upon minutes revisiting what seemed like every single mistake the pop star had made. Her battle with substance abuse. Her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown. One outlet even went as far to do what seemed like an in-depth investigation as to whether or not Ray J and her were still dating at the time. Needless to say there were lots of speculations, and it was as if Whitney's death had turned into a spectacle more than a genuine interest in reporting the details of the incident.

The pop star's accomplishments were tremendous, but more time was spent on the former. Few people know about  the 400+ awards ranging from Emmys to Grammys that she's collected during her career. Or that she was the only artist to chart seven consecutive billboard hits. Critics credited Whitney Houston as the "Queen of Pop" who paved the way for famous singers such as Anita Baker, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. But most would probably recognize her easier if someone did a "crack is whack" impersonation. See, the thing about news is that we rely on other people to inform us of it. We trust them to report fair, accurately facts, completely removing all biases so they can deliver not more of a certain type of truth than the other. Media entities are supposed to recognize that they're at the forefront of not just disseminating information, but influence.

I question the focus of issues when reporting Whitney Houston's death not for my own clarification, but on behalf of future generations. These are the individuals who I'm most concerned with because they won't have the privilege to experience Whitney at her prime like myself and many of you did. All they will have is the videos and soundbites of "crack is whack" and a couple of YouTube clippings of her on "Being Bobby Brown."

Whitney Houston was more than an entertainer. Through their music, she along with Michael Jackson literally bridged the gap that separated cultures. Their music transcended language barriers and other obstacles that stood in the way of the human race relating to one another on a universal front. That's why they're more than the harsh labels highlighting their struggles. Everyone doesn't have the ability to resonate with a variety of people from all walks of life. They didn't just sing the lyrics. They made you FEEL them. During the last half of Michael Jackson's life, he experienced a similar fate. The media taunted him, often referring to him as "Wacko Jacko" more than the "King of Pop."

So, when reviewing this instance, what has the media taught us? Its taught us that no matter how fair and unbiased entities try to be, one truth always overshadows another. Its taught us that as long as it's all true, it doesn't matter that we may be hurting the family members of another human being. Michael Jackson's family reported that they couldn't even turn on the television after his death. If I was a member of Houston's family, I wouldn't be in a rush to either. I choose not to remember Houston and Jackson for just their shortcomings, but for the wonderful gift they bestowed upon us for their time cut short on earth. R.I.P. Queen & King of Pop. You will be missed.

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    You make great points in this post. The media is supposed to report fair, unbiased news and many do rely on news outlets as their main source of information. Sadly, when a celebrity or high-profile individual dies, the media often chooses to focus on the negative, instead of also sharing the positive aspects of that person's lives. In essence, they tarnish the legacy of that person. Of course Whitney Houston made mistakes, we all do. But her friends, family and fans are grieving and all the negativity in the media doesn't help. The problem is the media just focuses on what is newsworthy and often ethics go out the window. Makes the entire journalism profession look bad. Journalists need to remember the purpose of their field.

  • In reply to Victoria:

    Unfortunately as a media person I feel like the industry fails more often than not. It's as if they have an agenda the whole time but create the illusion of being fair and unbiased.

  • Good stuff, Shantell!

    People never focused on how MJ was an ACTIVE supporter of 39 charities!!! Most folks won't even give 10% of their income to a church. So, I definitely feel that MJ was still trying to be a decent person despite his demons.

    I pray that Whitney will rest from her labor and her good works will follow her.

  • But the point is, in both cases, their lifestyle choices not only killed them, but left children without a parent. As well as celebrating their contributions to the music world, we should remember that their behavior has consequences, even if they are addicts. By doing this, we may perhaps prevent someone from taking the same path in the future.

  • Loved Whitney so much. We were the exact same age (she was 10 days younger than me) so I'm happy to say that I will remember her for her amazing talent when she was in her prime. I even had my white girl hair in a perm-ed bob so that I could look like her...yeah, not even close.

    Not many people mention it anymore, but she was given quite a hard time in the beginning by some in the African-American community for being too pop or too whitebread. I think that they were mainly referring to her style of music, but I always thought that Whitney felt that she had prove some street cred. I remember when she was first dating Bobby Brown and did a Rolling Stone interview where, seemingly out of the blue, she was dropping the f-bomb and talking about how raunchy she could be and I remember thinking it was so out of character at the time.

    When she was spiraling downward and now that she is tragically gone at such a young age, I can't help but think "Is she street enough now?" Please tell me if this is obnoxious and out of line coming from me and I'll take this down, but I'd love to hear your thoughts or see a post on this.

  • In reply to autismarmymom:

    Not obnoxious at all. Thanks for sharing. I understand what you mean. In the beginning of her career I was barely alive, but from what the internet, as well as my parents tell me...she did have a hard time being "street" enough or "authentic" to the black community. There's this idea that you're being a sell-out if you're not being "soulful." Just last night someone tweeted that Lil Wayne and Chris Brown were sell-outs. It's as if people are intimidated by crossover appeal. Whitney and Michael mastered the craft. If anything they were not conforming to some stereotype and were being true to themselves.

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    I have never understood why "we" are so busy trying to determine someone's "blackness". Whitney's talent was beyond any label. She appealed to those who loved good music and great singing. MJ was an entertainer at heart which is why he was so universally beloved. I don't blame the media for their coverage. Both of these icons had enormous talent, but both saw their careers derailed by their personal demons. There are many positive stories about Whitney's career, but let's face it, the latter half of her life was a train wreck due to her addictions. The media would be biased if they only talked about the positives. We have to stop deifying stars. They are human. They have faults and flaws. And as someone who was witness to both Whitney and MJ's glorious ascents and sad descents, I can accept the good, the bad and the ugly. I just hope that they are at peace, and that their families will be comforted with their memories.

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    I wish everybody would just let her rest in peace she not even cold in the ground yet and everybody wants to chop & screw her! I'm gettin pissed of foreal!

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