Most of us have heard the saying “God never gives us more than we can handle”. Anyone who sees the new documentary about Whitney Houston “Whitney” will realize that God gave Whitney Houston far more than she could handle. Whitney’s incredible singing talent came directly from God and her DNA, (her mother was Cissy Houston and her first cousin was Dionne Warwick). She was born with a one-in-a-billion gift of having arguably the greatest singing voice in human history. Whitney had all of the talents, but you need far more than talent to survive a life within a world spotlight as bright as she lived through starting when she was only 19 years old. Whitney needed the skin of a rhinoceros to survive the hateful and stupid comments so many cruel critics said about her – including even Al Sharpton, who said that her songs were “too white” and he stupidly tried to have her songs boycotted. All of this badly hurt the delicate and nice person that Whitney was and eventually turned her into a harsh-looking drunken drug addict in the end.
Whitney needed a very strong financial mentor to take complete control of her money and make sure she lived well below her means and did not give so much money to her entire family just because they were part of her family. Very depressingly in the end, all of Whitney Houston’s money was gone and she was about to become homeless because of years of paying for drugs, paying her entourage, failing to stop the criminals around her from stealing her money, and outrageous levels of financial mismanagement. Whitney also needed the strength to know when to stop being Whitney Houston and retire. She needed to realize that the most important thing in your life is your health and that it’s all just about singing, it is not curing cancer. This is also true of other people who have followed the same path as Whitney Houston – Micheal Jackson and Elvis Presley and so many others who completely lost all perspective and common sense and died way too soon. People like this think they can spend money indiscriminately because all they have to do is turn out another album or go on another tour – and it just doesn’t work that way.
While watching this very well-done, but depressing documentary about Whitney Houston I remember wondering if Whitney Houston could have been saved from her horrible end. If she had a chance to do her life over all over again, could she now be a 54-year-old billionaire living in a farm in Georgia, raising horses and working for charities? Could there ever have been a mentor strong enough to save Whitney Houston from herself, or could only Whitney save herself if she could live her life over again? From making so many mistakes, including marrying the wrong man, doing drugs with her 2 brothers, and spending money like it was water. I wondered so often while watching this film, where were Whitney Houston’s parents when everything was going down the drain? Why didn’t they do something drastic long before it was too late? In my opinion, what Whitney should have done was retire in 1992 after the Bodyguard was released along with the album. In 1992, Whitney was at her career peak after the Bodyguard and her incredible performance in Super Bowl 25 (see attached video). In my opinion, Whitney Houston’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner is the greatest singing performance of all time. After 1992 things started to go downhill because of her bad marriage to a jealous Bobby Brown and her trying to chase a peaking career that had reached a level that was impossible to maintain. Whitney could have retired very wealthy and only performed as an actress or singer sporadically – saving herself from the pain of the spotlight that she so clearly could not handle. Based on what this documentary points out so well, 1992 should have been the year when Whitney Houston retired or semi-retired. So obvious to everyone except Whitney Houston, at the end of 1992 she had nothing more to prove.
This documentary brought out many things that most people never knew about Whitney Houston’s life and this included the fact that it was Whitney’s two brothers who were introduced to drugs at an early age and not her husband Bobby Brown – which is what most people thought, including me. Whitney was also molested by Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne Warwick’s sister at a young age, along with her two brothers. Despite the famous singers in the family, Whitney’s early life in Newark New Jersey was in poverty and her mother Cissy was never home, trying to pursue a singing career. Her father John, who managed Whitney’s singing career for years, in the end, tried to sue his own daughter for 100 million dollars and over the years, like others in Whitney’s life – stole her money.
The other victim in all of this is Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobby Christina Brown who died face down in a bathtub like her mother from a combination of drugs and alcohol at only 22 years old. From this documentary, we learn that her two parents were drunken drug addicts and were almost never parents to Christina – taking their child along for their long ride into drug addiction. One can only imagine what this poor child had to witness and live through during her entire young life.
Whitney Houston’s rise to superstardom should be considered the all-time perfect example of how not to be rich and famous. Houston’s rise and fall is an American tragedy, one of the worst in the history of celebrity. For many reasons, this documentary was very hard to watch, but for me, it was the most depressing because so much of what happened could have and should have been prevented.
There is a video from Whitney’s first TV appearance in 1983 on the Merv Griffin show in this documentary (see attached video) that like her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in 1991 is one of the greatest singing performances of all time.
I highly recommend Whitney as one of the best documentaries about a major celebrity who left us far too soon, that I have ever seen.
Pingback: Movie Review: Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody | A Screenwriters Perspective: Current and Past Movies.