Sunday, February 12, 2012

sooner or later, the fever ends

In the ICU last week, the attending physician, who was a bit of an eccentric, sang the first few bars of Toto's Africa. I was the only one who recognized it. I always forget that I'm frequently surrounded by those much younger than me. The attending pointed at me as if he'd found me out, and accused me, "you're an 80s kid!"

And let it be known that being an 80s kid is quite different than being born in the 80s. No offense to you younger folks.

Being an 80s kid means that you knew Whitney Houston. I'm sorry. I know it's played out, and everyone's got the same story, and there's nothing particularly unique or special about mine. But I think that's exactly the point. That's what all of us were doing. We were all dancing along to I wanna dance with somebody and How will I know in bedrooms and bathrooms and basements. We were all so young and innocent, and her harmless, pure pop songs back then became our soundtrack.

I didn't think until yesterday how weird and dissonant it is to consider now- but Whitney Houston was really a role model for a lot of us when we were young. She had a squeaky clean image, she was a woman of color, standing by herself and holding her own. While her songs were often about teenage complaints (will someone please dance with me or am I going to get stuck sitting on the bleachers? and does this boy like me?!?), they were never desperate, never encouraged girls to be stupid. In her videos, she just seemed overwhelmingly happy. She wasn't necessarily the embodiment of female empowerment in those early videos, but neither was she some doormat. I know it's probably considered some sort of musical sin to be considered safe, and sure, there is something to be said for those other women who pushed the envelope and made people uncomfortable.

But consider this, when comparing to musicians of today. Whitney Houston's songs were not celebrating getting so drunk that you don't know the name of the club you walked into. They were not talking about getting caught in the midst of incriminating acts you didn't remember on a Friday night. They were not talking about brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack. Sometimes harmlessly catchy is much preferable to dangerously misguided.

Also, Whitney Houston, in her heyday, could sing. No disputing that.


I know no one's really reading anymore, but then let's just say I am talking to myself. In an effort to force myself to write a little more, but recognizing that my ability to come up with much of interest is limited, I am going to start dropping very short posts, hopefully on a daily basis. There will probably be a lot of hospital-related stories, and gripes about television shows, in equal measures.

We'll see how it goes, stay tuned.

1 comment:

Maitri said...

I'm reading, you weirdo. Thanks for nailing why I miss Whitney. The person I sang along and danced to growing up was long gone but her sad death emphasized that.