I just finished watching the first half of Whitney Houston’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. Let me start by saying, “Wow.” No explanation for that wow will be given, you will just have to infer exactly what I mean by that from this review.
The setting was in a concert hall, all gold and plush red seats. Oprah and Whitney sat, center stage, in an empty theater. This is what Oprah does when she wants to create an intimate setting, to “go in-depth” with her interviewee, to get them to open up about the juicy details they wouldn’t talk about with anyone else. People usually come to these interviews to redeem themselves and don’t want to take questions from an audience. But they want an audience; after all somebody has to understand, to forgive them, to buy their new album or go see their new film. So, to make sure they remember their audience and stay in character, Oprah puts them at center stage under the bright interrogation-strength lights. But all of this is just for effect. Oprah is there digging gleefully for gossip-monging gold…and Whitney, in part one, gave it to her.
She addressed the drug questions and questions about her marriage right away and honestly. Thankfully, Bobbi Kristina is nowhere present, so Whitney feels free to say exactly what she did and how she felt about Bobby.
Whitney Houston finally admitted that she used drugs. She said she wasn’t in denial, she just “didn’t talk” about what she described as her personal pain that she was attempting to hide. She described how her drug use got “heavy” after The Bodyguard. She even described smoking rock cocaine laced marijuana (she refused to say “crack”…but, sweetie, rock cocaine…it’s crack, sweetie…I love you, but it’s crack.). She even said she had so much money and so many yes people that she never thought about singing again. She wanted to just live her life and for that public part to be over.
She opened up about her relationship to Bobby Brown, painting herself as a woman who took her vows seriously and religiously, who wanted her man to have control over her and be able to be the man. She tried to “pull herself down” and “just wanted people to know [she] was his wife.” Her main goal in her marriage, she says, was “to be pleasing.” She said that predictions of her marriage not lasting long caused her to “lose the concept of the love and you want to make a statement.”
Oprah conducted the interview as she does most of her interviews: she interrupts constantly, feeds her guests words/tries to anticipate what they will say, and she finds ways to wiggle in her own opinion more than shed light or clarify what they say. Whitney Houston, for her part, was polished and groomed and coached within an inch of her life. She was honest, but she wasn’t raw and real. She was raw and real when she spoke to Diane Sawyer, but she wasn’t honest. It was easy to tell that she had been coached on her responses to Oprah’s cross examination like a defendant in a murder trial is coached before they testify in their own defense. Clive Davis was not going to let her get out of hand like she did in previous interviews.
I have a lot of respect for Whitney Houston for being honest, and for finally admitting what we’ve all known, but I’m not sure I believe the whole “blame it on Bobby” angle. She was “addicted” to Bobby Brown, not drugs. They did drugs together; it’s like bonding, for drug addicted couples. She never did drugs alone, just with Bobby, to be close to him. She was addicted to his love. They had a lot of sex, she noted at one point in the interview. She seemed…almost wistful about that fact. Was it really that good, Whitney?
I hope that success is better than what you got from Bobby, because the new album is beautiful. I think that the lead single, as well as the single she is performing on the show tomorrow, are not the best ones to showcase where the album is really going. I know why they are there and they are singles; it’s the overcoming element that they believe America is hungering for. But the rest of the album is mature and…well, that’s for a music review.
I do have a problem with how both Whitney and Oprah misrepresented and disparaged submission to your husband as the head in the marriage. Granted Bobby Brown was not somebody I would want as my head. But I didn’t marry him. You can’t submit to someone who isn’t submitted to God anyway. But in the midst of making Whitney seem like a woman trying to do what the Bible says and stay with her husband, she makes it seem as if the Bible, or even God, let her down. Oprah adds to this sense by disparaging the very notion of submitting to a man at all. Well, we all know how I feel about that. If not, I’ll write an entry about it for you.