Death Narrative

by wjw on February 15, 2012

You know, I really don’t want to notice this kind of thing, but the story’s become so ubiquitous, I can’t help but see it.  So here’s what I see.

Whitney Houston died a few days ago.  Nobody knows why, and the results from the labs won’t be in for a month or more.  But that hasn’t stopped the media from imposing their own narrative on the story.  The narrative of another star personality destroyed by the scourge of drugs.

It’s such a satisfying story.  It’s completely satisfying to those parts of us that envy celebrities and therefore want to destroy them, to bring them down to a place where we can feel superior to them in spite of their fame and millions.  It’s satisfying to our puritan souls, which want to believe that if you sin, an angry and vengeful God will wreak his vengeance on you, kill you, and hurl you into hellfire where you surely belong. And of course it’s a very old story indeed that women who enjoy life and aren’t virgins must be punished.  These are stories we’ve heard before, over and over.

Despite their satisfactions, these stories may be complete bullshit.

What evidence are we offered that this narrative is even remotely true?   We hear, to our horror, that Ms Houston was seen skipping and turning handstands the day of her death.  (Because, y’know, Skid Row is full of junkies doing backflips.)  We shudder in fear to hear that she wore mismatched clothing when walking around her hotel.   We gaze in awe at photos of a few drops of what might have been blood— or nail polish— visible on her leg.  (Cue theme music from Dragnet.)  And we see in photos that she is disheveled and sweating— after spending hours on the dance floor.

Those beads of sweat clinch it, right?  Obviously a raving, out-of-control addict.

As Susie Bright points out on her blog, the number one sudden killer of women of Ms Houston’s age and background is . . . dum dum DUMMM . . . a heart condition.   (The deaths from cancer are slightly higher, but cancer doesn’t kill quickly.)   Even if she’d been a junkie for decades, Ms Houston was more likely to have gone from a heart attack than from the needle. And she smoked cigarettes, which kicks up the odds of a heart attack a good deal . . . but star passes away from smoking just isn’t the story the media are selling.

No, the story has to do with the illicit glamor of drugs, and feeding the need for pathetic little people to feel satisfaction when someone smarter and more talented and prettier than they goes down.

Our talking heads aren’t not willing to wait for evidence, or listen to any of Ms Houston’s friends who were with her that day, or even consult common sense.  They just sling the same bull they’ve slung before.

How long do you think it will be before the bathtub is up for sale?

(And speaking of those mean little satisfied people, check out these comments found on the Fox news blog.  If you have a strong enough stomach, that is.)

PrivateIron February 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I was shocked at how many people who are normally decent human beings felt comfortable making tasteless (and worse lazy and unfunny) jokes about Amy Winehouse when she passed away. (And I mean genuinely consistently decent and positive people, not just the person who had just never opened their mouth before to let you know what a jackass he was.) George Will took a hatchet to Gerry Garcia when the latter passed away; I don’t think it was it any better and it might have been worse that he tried to clothe his ghoulishness with faux social commentary rather than the simple, transparent spiteful glee with which today’s talking heads treat these stories.

DensityDuck February 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Dude, snarking about Whitney Houston’s death has been bipartisan from what I can see. I first heard about her death when the libbest guy I know posted a link and commented “definitive proof that crack really is whack”. Later that day he posted “headline: Whitney Houston beats Bobby Brown to death”.

JF February 28, 2012 at 6:10 am

Whitney Houston sweated profusely just saying hello. Seriously… she was a sweater. I saw her do one song at the MTV awards about 15 years ago and she was dripping afterwards, even though she did the song sitting down. You’d think the media would have noticed.

Froilan February 29, 2012 at 7:20 am

By Louie Mac, February 12, 2012 at 12:58 amThis was so sad to hear about today. In my oinopin, Whitney’s voice in her prime will remain unmatched. She had awesome range, vocal power, but besides that she had the prettiest tone to her voice (which can’t be taught, either you have it or you don’t). It broke my heart to see the very media that tore her down every chance they could, get on CNN and tell everyone who would listen how iconic she was. People should hear more of that while they’re alive to benefit from it. I pray her mother and daughter find peace today. R.I.P. Whiney Houston =(.

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