[Singer-songwriter Alex Nackman discusses the death of Whitney Houston]
Let’s cut the bullshit for just a second. The death of Whitney Houston is irrelevant to anyone outside of her immediate family and close friends. Obviously 24-hour news cycles are now clamoring for all the details and all the rumors of what led to her death and are just foaming at the mouth that some new “news” has finally been released for them to harp on, over analyze, speculate on, dramatize, and journalistically masturbate to, but in reality, this type of thing was so inevitable, and honestly, so incredibly unimportant in the scheme of real meaningful news and issues.
I am not saying that the death of Whitney Houston does not matter in any way. It matters to her friends, to her support team, and to her family, especially a daughter, who now will live without a mother. But, let’s just back up for a second and admit that for the rest of us, who gives a shit? Whitney Houston was not a philanthropist, not a humanitarian, not a hero of war or struggle or a cause greater than herself, not a diplomat, not a fighter, and not a leader of any kind. Furthermore, she had not even been a relevant musician, touring act, singer, producer, or songwriter in the current day music business. I personally cannot even remember hearing her name mentioned in the news in a single capacity beyond the tidbits of information that leaked of her post-marital problems with Bobby Brown and her own struggles with substance abuse. That was truly the extent of her publicity over the past decade. I’m not sure if Whitney or her publicist should be blamed for that.
So, what on earth are we really talking and lamenting about here? Every single day there is a soldier killed in Afghanistan, an activist killed in Damascus, children killed by their psychotic father in a house explosion outside of Seattle, WA, a family killed in an apartment fire in Brooklyn, NY. Those events are the real tragedies. Those events are examples of the real struggles, both common and exceptional, in this world on which we should be focusing. The death of Whitney Houston is sad, but it is not important in a worldly sense or even a national sense. And, if they would admit it, I would argue that the vast majority of Whitney Houston’s fans probably did not even have the name “Whitney Houston” in their minds or on their iPods at all prior to hearing about her death (a true example of “out of sight, out of mind”). Yet, as soon as her death came over the AP wire, the clamoring of “news breaks” and tearful “this just in” segments flowed as if a leader and a caregiver for humanity had finally met his or her match, and was in route towards martyrdom. Yet, no martyr (or even a social hero) was born from this event.
Whitney Houston was a talented, yet troubled, entertainer with constant and incessant issues that she could not overcome. The world had not heard a single piece of news relevant to her music in years. Like Amy Winehouse, losing talented and troubled people is sad, but should not be treated as a monumental unexpected world loss worthy of a “Piers Morgan Special Edition” (though to be fair to CNN, Piers has trouble filling an hour with content on an average night with his tepid, silly, and vacuous interviews, so this probably felt like an open lay-up).
This all may sound insanely insensitive, but back away from Whitney for a moment and think about all this and think about what truly matters. We should save the melodrama and street shrines for those who give something bigger than themselves or at the absolute very least, appear to be remotely relevant in respect to their craft and what they do as people (musicians should make new music or tour, actors should release new movies, writers should release new novels). Must we continually fall to our knees for those whose lives are caught in a Groundhog Day cliché? All too often we focus on those individuals who continually and inevitably get into the same sordid situations in Hollywood hotel rooms.
Now, I know it sounds difficult and may feel unnatural, but those who look outside themselves and dare to do better, dare to change their outlook on the world and on the challenges they face, and dare to unite for the good (no matter the size of the cause) are the individuals for which our tears are truly worth shedding.
Alex Nackman is a songwriter, producer, composer, and artist who lives in Brooklyn. He’s written music for HBO, NBC, The CW, among others in the U.S. and UK. He’s been an MTV Buzzworthy Artist and toured alongside Buddy Guy, Norah Jones, and The Roots. This post originally appeared on his tumblr.