Trap of the Day: Whitney Houston, RIP

One of my favorite sayings comes from the short-lived Judd Apatow show, Undeclared, in which a peripheral character watches two of the main characters caught up in a lovers’ argument and comments, “They’re just like Whitney and Bobby Brown. So much passion, yet so much pain.” There are some things that shouldn’t be joked about. For me, those things also tend to be the ones that are too hard to handle without the protective distance of humor.

Whitney Houston’s depressingly premature death on Saturday has had a dramatic effect on American fans and figures alike. From Jennifer Hudson’s emotional Grammy tribute to expressions of grief from the likes of Brandy, Beyonce, and Dolly, to a planned dedication on the ever-popular Glee, Houston’s admirers continue to publicly demonstrate the inspirational impact of the late star in their own special ways.

With this passion, though, comes the painful reminder that not everyone in Houston’s life was looking out for her best interests. Tales of Sony hiking up album prices hours after the singer’s death, speculation on Houston’s posthumous net worth, and hurried promises that the Waiting to Exhale sequel will continue on without the singer are already all over the internet as well. Nancy Grace has her own conspiracy theories brewing, and Bill O’Reilly, utilizing his signature brand of jackassery, has suggested that Houston–like all addicts–must simply have wanted to self-destruct (in fairness to O’Reilly, repeatedly checking oneself into rehab in an attempt to get healthy is a recognized form of suicide….oh, wait….no).

Humans are notoriously bad at predicting what will make us happy, and to some extent I think our grief over Houston’s passing is related to our confusion as to what exactly success in life looks like. Even with the enviable talent, kindness, beauty, fortune, fame, and influence (and surely this list could go on) that Houston exhibited, the Dream Life did not protect her from the realities of domestic abuse and addiction. In some sense, I think we want to believe that if we could just have everything we want, we would become invulnerable to the difficulties of being human. The passing of Whitney Houston, though, reminds me that passion may not be enough if we can’t figure out how to manage the pain.

Take care, y’all.


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