When Whitney Houston died on Feb. 11, the world knew about it in a matter of hours. Broadcasting stations across the country broke the news of her death and speculated whether her history of drugs and alcohol were factors. CNN took the breaking news to extreme measures by stopping people in the streets on live television and getting their reactions to her death.
What these media giants and tabloids neglect is the fact that these are people. If you strip away the fame, fortune and acclaim, they are purely human just like the rest of us. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it is one that the media cannot grasp.
The week following her death brought many television specials, magazine tributes and a televised funeral. They all profess the same admiration for Houston’s passion and talent; but, in reality, they are exploiting her death for profit. Advertisers are hungry to benefit from mourning fans, knowing they will clamor toward these spectacles. This vicious cycle completely overshadows the fact that a life was lost.
Houston is not the first celebrity to be pulled into this odd phenomenon after death. Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 shook the world. It is hard not to acknowledge that many of these celebrities that endured highly publicized deaths were also those who led controversial lives.
Before his death, Jackson was a freak show for the media. He was slandered by the public after being proven innocent of pedophilic crimes in a court of law and was the quintessential “fallen star.”
After his death, the public view of him seemed to take a radical turn. He was back to his status as “The King of Pop” and considered a victim of the miscalculations of a neglectful doctor.
So what can be done about all of this? Of course people cannot be expected to cleanse themselves of all media. They can, however, take back the control media has on their lives.