Everyone who knows me knows that my love for Nippy (Whitney Houston) runs deep. So imagine my disgust when I saw that Pusha T’s album cover was the photo of her alleged drug den of a bathroom, taken circa 2006. The photo in question was taken by her then sister-in-law during the height of her drug use, sold and subsequently published in the National Enquirer to be absorbed by the masses. Making matters worse, Kanye West paid $85,000 for the “artwork,” which he purchased from said ex-sister-in-law.
In an interview with Angie Martinez, Pusha T explained previous artwork was chosen but changed per Kanye last minute, stating: “He changed my artwork last night at 1 a.m. He wasn’t feeling it.”
That’s the explanation provided. Nothing further.
My horror far outweighs my confusion.
Whitney’s estate agrees, telling Entertainment Tonight, “The estate is extremely disappointed in Kanye’s choice. Even in Whitney’s death, we see that no one is exempt from the harsh realities of the world.”
Whitney passed in 2012. We know what the autopsy revealed and have heard enough personal accounts from those close to her to know the struggles. She even spoke in depth to Oprah about how bad her addiction was. In the days and months following her death, there was so much talk surrounding how drugs altered the trajectory of her life and career, her voice and even her comeback. If I had a dollar for how many health and wellness “experts” sat on CNN talking about the effects they thought took place within her body prior to the autopsy report even being released, I’d be rich.
Aside from musical tributes, there’s been little done to celebrate or highlight the groundbreaking career of Whitney’s that exclude an analysis of her drug troubles and what’s deemed as a coinciding “toxic” marriage to Bobby Brown. I can’t even count the number of documentaries and “re-enactments” I have seen or read about. There’s always interviews with random business associates and so-called friends who are willing to share “never before heard” stories that seldom paint an overall good picture of her. Dozens of unauthorized books have been written and movies without the family or estate’s input have been made, with those involved claiming it’s done out of love and respect. Yes, as a celebrity, you sign up for a certain level of public consumption and scrutiny, but even that should have a limit, especially in death. It’s also difficult to hear that a project is made with compassion and an intent to show appreciation in spite of living family member’s objections, the family who already had the hard tasks of sharing their loved one with the world with little space to grieve privately. Grief should not be deemed a luxury.
The same can be said for many of our other beloved celebrities, some who had serious struggles and others who had seemingly unscathed careers. Remember that horrible Lifetime Aaliyah biopic that was poorly casted and had negative reviews? That was done without her family’s input. Just last month, a special titled, “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” was debuted on ABC, chronicling primarily his last few months getting Propofol injections, as if enough hasn’t already been revealed about that addiction and his death, along with the doctor who administered the shots. Every year around Anna Nicole Smith’s death anniversary, there’s an update on the daughter she left, her father and the paternity case that ensued post Smith’s death, with no new revelations, just a reminder of what’s already been told. Biggie and Tupac were murdered 20+ years ago, Unsolved on USA Network just wrapped and Vlad TV does enough interviews monthly surrounding their deaths. Not to mention the fascination with others such as Marilyn Monroe, The Kennedy’s, Princess Diana…the list goes on and on. It’s too much. Almost all of this is unaccredited with protest from those who know them best.
What needs to be understood is that when a celebrity dies, we as fans mourn the artist – the family mourns the person. We have a glimpse of the person, but not their entirety. We don’t know their full existence. They let us in while they were here, but their loved ones knew them in the most intimate ways. Whitney did her job while she was here, she gave us her beautiful voice. As did the other greats who are now gone. Unless their families want to share personal photos, write a biography, produce a biopic or release never before heard music, let them rest.
Note: If you’re looking for a tribute to Whitney from her estate, WHITNEY hits theaters July 6.