Whitney Houston

It took me a while before I became a Whitney Houston fan.

Unfortunately for Houston, when she made her debut, Janet Jackson was also burning up the charts.  As a middle schooler, Jackson appealed more to me with her one dangling earring, intricate dance moves, and defiant lyrics of “Control.” What young person didn’t yearn to sing that to their parents face 🙂

Whitney seemed too sophisticated to me with her ballroom gowns, huge ballads, and classic beauty. Although really, she and Janet were just a few years apart in age.

Then hip hop and r&b music merged bringing in a new wave of black female singers like Mary J Blige, Faith Evans, Toni Braxton, etc.,  pushing Whitney’s style even further into the background.

As I got older, I started appreciating Whitney more. Ironically, it was right when things seemed to be falling apart for the singer. The controversial headlines about possible drug addiction and a rocky marriage to Bobby Brown.

The Lifetime movie “Whitney” (directed by Angela Bassett) airs this weekend. The film attempts to address what was the “downfall” of Houston. Was it her conservative mother? Pressures from her record label? Bobby Brown? Possible struggles with her sexuality? I guess we will never know. In any case, it was hard to see such a beautiful woman self-destruct before my eyes.

Despite her troubles, Houston will forever be remembered to me for her voice/”The Voice.”There has been an attempt to marginalize her accomplishments due to her drug usage. Yet (white) folks will cut you if you say anything bad about Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, or River Phoenix.  All died from drug related problems.

A lot of celebrities have dealt with the drug demon, but we can still recognize their talents.  There should be no exception for Whitney Houston.

Rest in peace.

Poetic Justice

Sadly, as most folks know, Maya Angelou passed away last week. There were numerous wonderful articles written about the amazing life of Dr. Angelou. So much so, that I couldn’t keep up. However, there were only a couple of articles that mentioned the film “Poetic Justice.” The 1993 movie was inspired by Dr. Angelou’s poetry. Maybe folks have glossed over the film because it wasn’t that good. Or maybe because Janet Jackson was in it.

Poetic_Justice_(1993_movie_poster)

I love J.J., but her acting can be hit or miss. The film was revolutionary for its time. It was the rare nationally released film that tried to explore the complexities of black womanhood. Yes, the film was kind of all over the map.  John Singleton’s directing/writing skills can also be hit or miss. But I think the film has its beautiful moments. I mean, it does feature the poetry of Dr. Angelou.

Who can forget the last scenes as Janet’s character has an epiphany about who she is and what see wants out of her life. As she flips through all of her black clothes in a closet, Dr. Angelou’s poem  “Phenomenal Woman” is narrated in the background.  if you don’t get a tear in your eye, I don’t know what to say about you…

There is something about the those last scenes that make up for the nonsense of the rest of the film. I wish Singleton had the skills to have made the whole film as thoughtful as those scenes.  The film has so much potential.  I think enough time has passed it could be remade/tweaked for a new audience.

Maybe black women directors like Ava DuVernay or Dee Rees could take it on.