The curse of fame: It’s really what killed Whitney Houston

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Kathleen Parker
Washington Post

February 15, 2012

The so-called “teachable moment” about combining booze and drugs, it seems to me, misses the point. The more important question is: Why do people medicate themselves to such an extent? And even more compelling, what role does the public (and its drug dealer, the media) play in these unravelings?

We get a glimpse of the answers in one of the many reels that has been replayed the past several days. It shows Houston and her daughter arriving at an event. Perfunctorily, they stop for the usual red-carpet paparazzi fest. Houston looks uncomfortable but plays her part, smiling into the abyss of flashing lights.

”Hey, Whitney, over here!” “Over here!” “Hey, Whitney!”

This is why the famous congregate. In the company of others similarly blessed and cursed, it’s the only place one can be normal. A good friend told me that Jackie Kennedy would watch people through binoculars because it was the only time she could see them behaving naturally. Otherwise, on the street, they were always reacting to her — staring, pointing, gasping. She wanted to see people as they really are. (We could have told her she wasn’t missing much.)

Most of us can’t imagine what that level of fame is like. And really, who wants it? Apparently, nearly everyone. The popularity of reality shows, and the extent to which some are willing to go in exchange for even fleeting recognition, is something bordering on pathological.

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