I will admit, I was worried about so many things last week. If there's one thing that freaks me out being over here in England is that when something big happens in the U.S., I won't get the news coverage I'm used to. I'm extremely accustomed to being totally saturated, media-wise, with the most minor things, like when Winona Ryder stoled a scarf or something, or Jen Aniston & Vince Vaughan broke up. So, with the Grammys coming up, I was relieved to find it was being aired here in the UK. Three days in advance, I had the DVR set. I was completely prepared. I knew Twitter would be blowing up, I made sure I could access the Grammy website, there was some live feeds available, I felt confident I could absorb it all as if I was still in the States. I was ready!
Then Whitney Houston died.
For most of my late teens/early-twenties, Whitney was on the radio. Then in movies, on TV, and in every magazine. I can listen to a Whitney Houston song, and remember vividly what was happening at the time: at school, at home, what fads were hot, who was dating who, where we were hanging out, who I was with....so, her music was kind of a soundtrack to my youth. Yes, there were tons of other artists out there, and yes I listened to them, and liked them. I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Whitney Houston fan- I didn't go to any of her concerts, or have any posters, or follow every move but I did buy every CD, I saw "The Bodyguard" at least 5 times (once in the theater, but including pay cable, TV, DVD...probably 5 times in total) The soundtrack from the movie was one of my favorites for a long time. So, the news instantly saddened me. Did it surprise me? Well..yes. I mean, it was no secret that she had struggled with drug demons. She had become an easy target for comedians during that really dark period-from her marriage to Bobby Brown, the hideous reality show that followed them, their divorce, to reports of her erratic behavior during concerts and in public-so we were all aware of the downward spiral. But, just like with Amy Winehouse- when a person in the public eye falters- with drugs, abuse, booze, poor life choices, crime, etc., it causes a ton of speculation, assumptions, and questions that keep people at a medium grade of interested-but more callous to the coverage. As a general public, we tend to forget the good times, glance at the bad stuff, and move on to new hot topics. But for me, in the midst of all that bad press, (just like with Amy Winehouse) I think I kind of secretly held on to a hope that they would overcome it all & rise again, stirring up all those reasons why we admired them in the very first place. That's why her death was so sad (for me) because the hope was gone.
The BBC carried some fairly extensive coverage, so I was grateful for that (nothing like in the States, I'm quite certain!) I mainly gathered incoming info from the E! channel and the internet. I should say, some US sites don't allow access from UK IP addresses, so it's always a crap shoot on what will work.
I tried to ignore some of the more presumptuous reporting, the insensitive pseudo-wanna-be celebrity radio hosts remarks, both Internet and satellite. I couldn't have been more disappointed with Frank DeCaro's tweets (from OutQ), especially during the funeral, regardless of his views on religion. Even well known authors were hideous and the bloggers...Jesus..the bloggers- who, for some reason, seem to have this sense of total entitlement, a lust for offending and a complete & utter lack of respect for anything sacred, including death, all in a ridiculous effort to spark controversy or get a tweet "favorited".
All in all, I expected it. I'm getting used to Twitter, and I read pretty some foul ass blog sites myself, follow some scathing bitches and all that stuff, so I'm not above some good snark. I didn't expect this, though:
I was most outraged when a well known LGBT Rights Advocate, Peter Tatchell, made a very public statement about Whitney's sexuality. Peter was quoted by the Daily News as saying:
“When I met them, it was obvious they were madly in love. Their intimacy and affection was so sweet and romantic. They held hands in the back of the car like teenage sweethearts. Clearly more than just friends, they were a gorgeous couple and so happy together. To see their love was infectious and uplifting.
Here are my thoughts on this: Peter is nothing more than a headline-chasing, self-serving, blowhard of an ASS. His comments and thoughts were merely a way of getting his name in every gay media outlet, let alone gossip sites all over the world, (and shame on all of you who picked it up) and benefit from the public's peaked interest. There was absolutely no reason for him to bring those things into light at a time like this (and man, he didn't waste a second, either!) I've read Robyn's own eulogy for Whitney in Esquire, and admired how she never touched on her private life with Whitney in that respect or addressed those who did. Regardless of whether they were lovers or not, it seemed like it was obvious that their wishes were to keep it private. Not a secret, but PRIVATE and to themselves. Whatever the facts were, the bottom line is -they chose to keep the details of their relationship/friendship PRIVATE. I lived in South FL most of my life, where Whitney had a condo on Williams Island, and heard plenty of stories, some perhaps fact, about her relationship with Robyn, and I work in the media with my own LGBT show and you don't see me using any of those things to boost my ratings, listenership or ego. Peter showed no respect and whatever his reasons were for making a public statement about it- after a one off meeting- they are not justified then or in his follow up statement, defending it. He should keep his mouth shut about people's private lives and focus on his activism without his personal opinion, speculation and assumptions. There ARE other ways to get people's attention and promote LGBT activism and being an advocate.
I feel better getting that out in the open, if only just here on my blog. I'm not above being a jerk at times, though. So, this one is for you, Pete.
1. a person that's insecure with their existence, and by their own virtue, they feel the need to blatantly spew ilk and diatribe about other people.
Anyhow, as I watched the Grammy's, I was both saddened knowing the effect Whitney's death had on the evening, and yet thrilled and elated for Adele. The next day, I found every video, picture, photo gallery and article on the Grammy's and Adele. I must have said "I gawt a bit o' snawt" about 3,000 times just walking around the house. I dished with my mother on the phone about the awards, the clothes, and performances. It felt good to be distracted. I felt back on track, watching Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, and so many others have their time in the spotlight, bringing their A game to music's biggest night. I was holding my breath as Jennifer Hudson sang, I was eye rolling at Katy Perry, and loved when the camera panned the audience to show them so engaged. It was actually a fun night. And look, I do my share of bashing and ribbing, and even on our show, we're known to say things that are politically incorrect, or opinionated, stupid or not, but the older I get, the more I realize there is something to be said for showing an ounce of respect every now and then. That's just me, I'm not speaking for or about anyone else.
I watched Whitney's funeral on E! and even tweeted and Facebooked on a few things, like how amazing I thought Kevin Costner was- he was sweet, he spoke of things that made Whitney human to all of us, he was touching, funny, and memorable. I tweeted that I couldn't understand Dionne Warwick, and subtitles would have helped. But, I'm deaf in one ear, so it wasn't a slam. Hey, it was a home-going, as the family called it. It was Baptist. It was a send-off filled with what was important to her and her family. That's the key-right there. It may not have been what you, or me, or anyone else out there, famous or not- could relate to, understand, or would have wanted, but it was what her family wanted and, hopefully, it gave the fans, and the public some much needed closure, let alone the ones closest to her.