Today, I’m going to share a piece that my sister, Melissa Lewis Taplin, wrote recently. I think its message is one we all need to keep in mind. And not just when we deal with artists but when we deal with anyone that has a specialty or a gift that allows them to rise out of the crowd and be seen.
Thank you, Sis, for allowing me to share this today.
I was shocked Saturday when I heard the news that we’d lost another shining star, one who had brought such joy to us all; Whitney Houston was dead at 48 years old. You couldn’t listen to Whitney Houston and NOT feel something with that amazing, angelic voice. So young, so talented, another tragedy for the entertainment industry and the world.
As I watched the news Sunday, the prevailing question was why? How could this happen now? She was making a comeback; why now? Were drugs or alcohol involved? Constant speculation, (mostly negative) because that’s what sells. The answer to the burning questions is simple – we all helped kill her.
And not just Whitney but all those we lost before her: Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, Elvis, Marilyn…the list goes on and on. We love them on the way up, praise their gifts, and cheer for their success. We give them a special place in our society reserved for the best of us, called “celebrity”. They’re treated like mythical Gods, as if their gifts are special powers.
But not one of us has ever had to walk in their shoes or live with the immense pressure and expectations we place on them; standards so high no one could ever live up to them. We set them up to fail but expect them to succeed because, after all, they’re a celebrity. And then it begins, the destruction of the beautiful spirit.
We wait in the shadows for cracks in the veneer, a mistake in judgement, anything we can use to tear them down. Like a pack of hunting lions, we wait, preying upon their weaknesses, stalking their every movement. Taking pictures, comments, anything we can, out of context to sell for the almighty dollar. Until finally, we break the beautiful spirit whose accolades we once praised.
In their darkest hour and deepest time of need, we abandon them, after all, they failed to live up to our standards. We are appalled when they turn to any outside influence to fill the void we helped create. Then it happens, the worst we can imagine…they’re taken from this earth. We’re shocked, dismayed, saddened…and once again, we lift them up. We honor them, mourn them, memorialize them, and finally, we forgive them their human flaws. But we never see where WE failed them.
Where were the industry people when Whitney was at her lowest low? Why did we “the public” buy the trash mags that spread the gossip that helped break her spirit? When her gift wasn’t up to par, we walked out on her shows, demanding a refund. What is this inherent need we have to bring people down to our level?
Whitney was a rare gem in an imperfect world; a gracious gift from God that we all relished and squandered. The bottom line is, we failed her and the countless other lights that were extinguished much too soon.
The lesson is simple. If given a gift, cherish it. Accept it for ALL that it is. Take the bad with the good. Love it for the sum of its parts. We are all imperfect souls in an imperfect world. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. So keep this in mind, if a soul decides to share its gifts, allow them to remain what they are at the core – human.