Whitney Houston died on Saturday, and the internet quickly filled with remembrances and tributes. Some of them, despite the short turnaround, were smart and informative and moving: Rich Juzwiak's terrific piece in The Daily, for example. And some of them were so stupid we had to collect them for you.
People on the internet sure like to talk about themselves. We all do, especially when someone famous dies: if you didn't know Whitney Houston personally, how else do you remember her except through the concert you went to, or the time "I'm Every Woman" came on the radio, or the moment you heard about her death? And, of course, some people can write movingly and well about their personal experiences, and weave those memories together with enough insight and understanding to connect their individual lives to something larger and more important — something worth saying.
"When Whitney Houston died on Saturday, my Twitter feed exploded. I had been at home watching Dawson's Creek (I wish I was joking) when I went online and saw all of these tweets that said something to the effect of 'OMG, Whitney Houston! So sad…' For some reason, none of the ones I read had specified that she died but I had a feeling that was the case. [...] I'm not going to pretend I was Whitney's biggest fan — I think I actually only have one song of hers on my iTunes — but I will respect her in death.
O'Connell, for once, does not actually have the worst essay on a subject on the internet. We also enjoyed this blog post from Canadian music journalist Alan Cross with the sensitive title "When an Artist Dies, My Day Goes Nuts":
I first heard about Whitney Houston's death while having dinner with my wife and a friend in New York [...] "Uh-oh," I thought, "tomorrow is going to be crazy." And it was. First came a request for an interview by CTV News asking for comment and perspective on Houston's career. That was followed by Sun TV and then CBC News. [...] Between interviews, I was asked to submit at 250 word column for the Metro papers that had to be filed by 1:30pm. Done and done. Here's that column, written over a lychee martini (or three) in the bar of The Mark at 77th and Madison.
But neither Cross nor O'Connell can compare to Toronto Star theater critic Richard Ouzounian's essay "Whitney Houston saw rough waters on shared cruise," about the time he and his wife were on the same cruise as Houston and her husband Bobby Brown. What does this tell us about Houston, about her legacy, about her music, about ourselves? Read on:
For a fleeting moment, I entertained the fantasy of meeting her on deck and saying 'Ms. Houston, loved you in The Bodyguard,' but nothing like that ever occurred. In fact, we hardly ever saw her again, but she managed to cast a shadow over our holiday in her own distinctive way. [...] The cruise finally ended, we all went our separate ways to our separate destinies and, apart from using it as an anecdote on occasions, I never thought about it until Houston's death on Saturday night.