Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Whitney Houston: Money Can't Buy You Love, Fame Can't Buy You Happiness

What a tragedy! Following on from the deaths of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and not to forget Elvis Presley, the death of Whitney Houston is very very sad. She like the others, was an immensely talented performer. Who can forget that line, ‘And I, will always love you.’ I was struck by the news report that the night before she gave an impromptu performance of ‘Jesus loves me.’ Does this suggest that deep down there was faith?—I hope so, for today she may be with Jesus and set free from her pain.

What we have here is another tortured soul, corrupted by the fame and adulation that comes with being famous.
The whole situation reflects the brokenness of our decaying western civilisation. People with great gifts like hers are thrust into the public arena and then venerated to a ridiculous degree. The popular media pursues them wanting to know everything about their lives, and making up the rest. TV shows, magazines etc, delve into their lives. We the public feed on them, like maggots on a carcass. They need the adulation, it keeps them in business. Yet, it has its price. They can’t go out in public because of the ridiculous idolatry of people who pursue them. They become prisoners in their fame, with nowhere to turn. They live in a bubble with other celebrities, all suffering in the same way, what a dismal life it must be! They can’t go out on the street and do the ‘normal’ things of life. They are worshiped and pursued. We see this when such people die, with people from all over the world travelling to visit them, create shrines, and express their grief. Yet none of them knew them at all! It is weird.

The initial ‘fun’ of their careers and their popularity must initially sustain them, but as with all things, as they are eclipsed by the next round of stars, their star recede. What do they do when the wave starts to go down? They seemingly can’t do the usual things we do and live relatively anonymously. They live in a bubble with other celebrities also imprisoned in their fame. There world is defined by their experience of marginalisation. They have money in many cases, but it can’t buy you happieness and the freedom to be ‘normal.’ Some look for ways to hide the pain, and they turn to self-medication or perhaps paying someone to give them things to dull the pain. What a mess our world is.
So we have an ongoing string of gifted celebrities who resort to medication, legal or otherwise, and often take their lives through suicide, or unintentionally killing themselves through their addictions. It is ironical, their music, movies or sport is a source of escapism for us the viewers—they turn to medication for their escape! And many times it brings the escape—as in the case of Whitney Houston.

As Christians we need to become more and more culturally aware and think about this stuff. As we sit and watch our TVs, movies, download music, watch You Tube etc, we need to consider how we are perpetuating this system. When we read the glossy mags with their stories of the lives of the rich and famous, we are  playing our part in a system that often destroys them—a system which is on the one hand entertaining, but is in reality more about idolatry, false adulation and it is twisting lives. We are like everyone else, voyeurs.
Whitney Houston will now be venerated. People who know nothing of her will mourn to an outrageous degree. It is all tragic—as Paul puts it, we live in a twisted and depraved generation. This should not lead us to opting out of it, but of live within it differently. We do not need to play the game. For example, should we read the glossy mags, follow the Hollywood gossips etc? We are not to be caught up in its self-perpetuating games but shine like lights, loving all, and not falling prey to idolatry and consumerism. We need to remember, money can’t buy love, and fame does not buy happiness. 


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