Whitney Houston – Return of An Icon?

Whitney HoustonWhitney Houston is an icon, no doubt. But her behavior as of late should be quite perplexing to anyone paying attention. While we applaud her efforts to get back on her feet personally and professionally, one has to wonder why she must do it at the expense of her ex-husband?

Fresh off the heels of a historic interview with Oprah Winfrey, Whitney Houston’s star is clearly rising. She released her “comeback” album I Look To You on August 31st. While her vocals are not yet in the form of the “old” Whitney, it’s not hard to appreciate her story of triumph over tribulation.



But why at Bobby Brown’s expense?

Whitney revealed many salacious details of their tumultuous marriage during the Oprah interview. There is no need to recount all of them here as you can find those in any recent news report. The drugs. The emotional and physical abuse. The intervention by her mother Cissy. The eventual strength to walk away.

But, anyone who had the opportunity to watch Being Bobby Brown – the reality show that featured the former husband and wife and their dysfunctional antics – knows that the Whitney we are seeing today is the image. You know, the airbrushed, polished, packaged Whitney we saw in the 1980s – innocent and pure. 

Why can’t Whitney keep it real? If she’s going to be forthright about her relationship, be truly forthright. She shouldn’t allow the media shape her experience as “what Bobby did to her.” She made those decisions. She chose to use drugs. She decided to live that lifestyle. This is why it took her efforts to walk away.

Unfortunately, we see this too often with relationships between two artists. Mary J. Blige and K-Ci Hailey (Jodeci, K-Ci & Jo-Jo). Rihanna and Chris Brown. The woman and man get together. Bad things happen. They breakup. Woman goes on TV and bashes man for what he did to her. Or, woman does not reveal her part in the altercations, thus leaving the impression that man is fully responsible. Whitney has followed the playbook to a tee – all that’s left is for her book deal to go through and her memoirs published giving even more detail to what Bobby did.

While I find violence and abuse of any kind to be totally inexcusible, women too often are portrayed as the victim even before the facts of an event are in the light. We don’t know what Rihanna did to contribute to the fight in the car that night earlier this year. We don’t know now Mary J. Blige contributed to her plight with K-Ci. And we don’t know what Whitney did that night of Bobby’s party that led to her being spit on. Whitney spoke of Bobbi Kristina going on the internet and finding Bobby with other women (read: Superhead). Where was the mention of her internet exploits with Ray-J?

Again, I am not saying that provocation gives anyone a blank check to disrespect or harm another person, man or woman. But I am saying that Whitney’s words this week effectively could blackball Bobby Brown’s career – the same career that puts food on the table in Whitney’s house. You may say, “good riddance.” I say it is sad that we sell each other up the creek to make a buck when a true artist should be able to express themselves more accurately through their art. Where is that pain, anger, frustration and helplesness in Whitney’s album? One answer could be she didn’t want to express it in that way. And that’s fine. But the fact that more attention is on her former relationship and what happened to it than on her supposedly-blockbuster-breakthrough comeback CD is a telltale sign.

I believe that if Whitney kept it real, her album would show growth as an artist and her music would be influenced by her new-found strength. She would at least have been able to bring the emotions she feels onto the album rather than try to re-create the formula that got her to the dance 20+ years ago. Her interview with Oprah would have revealed a more true-to-life Whitney that kept it all the way real.

Instead, she’s gonna have to thank Bobby Brown graciously allowing her to use his back to step all the way up to the top of the industry again. Too bad she couldn’t do that with her music.

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