"But it kills me, this fascination with celebrities' personal lives." -- Calista Flockhart
I wasn't going to do it.
I said I wouldn't go there.
Well, I say lots of things.
At the risk of beating a dead horse (pun not really intended), the passing of Whitney Houston, 48, has stirred up a lot of chatter. The news came over the wire sometime on Saturday. In mere minutes, my facebook news feed turned into a virtual shrine to Whitney, complete with youtube clips, RIP postings emphasizing the "tragic nature" of her passing and reminiscing about how much people loved her songs.
I was not a fan of Whitney, personally or professionally, so I didn't participate in any of this stuff. My only reference to her passing was the following day, where I asked if people would use it as an incentive to live more meaningfully. The one fb status update from my friend, Kris, was what sort of spawned this idea of mine to blog about it. She was "super curious" to know why so many people who, up until her untimely demise, had never posted a "video, comment, mention, or indication of caring" are posting RIP messages and videos all over the place. I chuckled and replied, "because people are fascinated with dead celebrities".
Don't believe me? iTunes has her rendition of "I Will Always Love You" as #3 in the top ten singles listing, which appears on the soundtrack of "The Bodyguard", a movie in which she co-starred with Kevin Costner.
Twenty years ago.
See what I mean? We're like rubbernecking motorists who slow down at a traffic accident, creating miles of gridlock behind us, hoping to catch a glimpse of...of what? Blood? Decapitation??
We talk of the "tragedy" of "all that talent going to waste". We bemoan the fact that another impressionable young lady (her daughter, Bobbi Kristina) lost her mother too soon. And then, we actually get ANGRY! Yes, I said it...angry! How dare they be less than perfect?? How dare they fall prey to the issues that hundreds and thousands of regular folks deal with on a daily basis???
No wonder they crumble. No wonder they fall from grace. They will never be able to live up to our expectations because our expectations are unrealistic. They are flesh, blood and bone, just like we are. We get pissed off because we're the ones who want someone to worship. When our idols fall short, we become disenchanted.
People who crave the spotlight, like celebrities, derive a great deal of their self-worth from their adoring public. When the applause stops, or album/ticket sales drop off, it's very debilitating to their self-concept. Our love affairs with the so called "beautiful people" are so conditional and superficial.
Who was Whitney Houston?
I didn't know the woman personally. But, my guess?
She was a daughter, wife, and mother who loved to sing. She had fortune, fame, and experienced the pitfalls of both. She never learned how to be complete. She never learned how to fully love and accept herself for who she was. She defined herself by the the gold/platinum records, the movie roles, the concert sales and the famous musician husband.
All of that and it STILL wasn't enough, was it?
What can we learn?
That we are all just people. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. It just so happens that some of us get to buy some REALLY expensive pants because of our gifts, talents or standing in life.
Money. Fame. Celebrity.
Those things do not make you immune from the need to love yourself.
"I try to keep a balance. I actually believe that children want normal parents, they don't want celebrities or important parents or anything different from all the other parents. " -- Linda Hamilton