Blog on MJ and Whitney: The Value of Death
The Value of Death
Thursday, April 12, 2012
When Michael Jackson died, I downloaded his discography in mp3s. It was the second or third time I did that, I don't remember. The only MJ record I ever owned was DANGEROUS, but as soon as mp3s came around, I started familiarizing myself with everything he's ever recorded.The mp3 era has considerably changed the way we buy music. Back in the days, you had to pay good money for your favorite artists record so you had to make sure the artists you bought in CD were those you really wanted to listen to. People identified themselves a lot more to their music back then. I bought every Pantera album ever recorded, but I never actually bought a Michael Jackson record with my own money. But I like MJ.
His music was a part of my upbringing. It played on the radio, on MusiquePlus*, in every dance the school every organized. It was background music to my teenage years. I have a relationship to Michael's music, considerably more than I had a relationship to the artist himself. One could argue his soul died way before his physical death, but when Dr. Conrad Murray pumped him up full of Propofol and went on to take a leak, I was genuinely sad. Someone who revolutionized the face of music had just passed away. So I downloaded his mp3 to my computer and rocked out to my favorite tunes for a few days. Beat It, Blood on the Dance Floor, Scream, They don't Care about Us, Billie Jean, etc. I didn't flip out as much as those fans who cried at the gates of Neverland, but I had my little Michael moment.
Last Winter, Whitney Houston died. According to Wikipedia, she drowned accidentally in the bathtub of her hotel room. Safe to say it had something to do with the drug addiction she'd been wrestling with since she married Bobby Brown. The media freakout around her death was shorter than the one around Michael's **, but the content was eerily similar. Whitney Houston was painted as this Great Diva of Soul who left a generation mourning her passing. I am sorry, but I beg to differ.
No disrespect meant to the late Mrs. Houston but she never lived up to her potential. She was that proverbial fifty goal scorer that ended up never even scoring thirty. She was only five years younger than Michael Jackson and just like him, had the nineties in reach. Yet, I remember only two songs of her. I Will Always Love You and It's Not Right, but it's OK. I know she had a huge success in the eighties called The Greatest Love of All, but I couldn't even sing it to you. I never listened to a Celine Dion or a Mariah Carey song on purpose, but I could name more of their songs because like Michael Jackson, they've been cultural icons. They were (and still are, if you talk about Celine D.) embedded in pop culture.Omnipresent. Whitney Houston was busy fighting addiction and going down the spiral of her ill-fated wedding to Bobby Brown. Wedding that ended up defining her life. If you play free-associations with anybody and say "Whitney Houston", most likely they will answer "Bobby Brown".
I've been writing a story about the value of death for the last six weeks. About how death changes your perception of somebody. Transforms someone into a strange idea, without any bad sides. Only the good remains. With musicians, the equation is simple. The more good music you made, the more your death will mean people because that's how you survive. Whitney Houston's memorial shows had a lot of footage of I Will Always Love You, of Whitney ad-libbing on stage, but not that much music. Watch a Michael Jackson memorial show and there is always a song in the background.
As different as they were as artists, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston were two human beings with serious issues. They are both remembered for their music today and their early death has caused profound indignation in the community. Someone has to be guilty, someone has to have killed these icons. I agree Conrad Murray shouldn't have practiced medicine, but how such an incompetent doctor has landed around Michael Jackson of all people? Because no responsible doctors would do what he asked, that's why. I was reading on the net that R&B bad boy Ray J*** would've sold her the dope that killed her. Is Ray J. responsible for her death? No. Whitney's issue with drugs is. At the point they were in their respective careers, dying was the most profitable move. It got their music back on the charts and their personal lives swept away. If there's any lesson to this, it doesn't matter who you are, you will be remember for what you did for others.
** That was still going on last Fall, with Dr. Murray's trial.
*** Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? It's like RAIIIIIIIIIIIIIN....OK, I stop now.
Considering death changing peoples perception of someone- there are much more interesting angles from which to approach this. *yawn* This article is rather dull