Whitney Houston Oprah Interview Day 2: On Michael Jackson & Her Comeback

Houston discusses her friendship with Michael Jackson. One thing I’ve found interesting is how isolated and lonely so many of these celebrities are. They have so much talent and so many resources. It seems as if they get lost in the mix trying to self-protect. Houston says she’s feeling the love she has for HERSELF and that’s a great thing. We must always make sure our needs are being met an we take care of ourselves first.


Houston claims to be drug-free. I’m not going to comment on the fact that despite all of this discussion about Bobby Brown and his abusive behavior she’s friends with R Kelly. Ok I lied. One word comes to mind: hypocrite. Another word comes to mind: denial. That’s all I’m gonna say. When we’ve discussed evaluating how and what we support if we are denigrated by others I have to include the women who support the denigration. There’s much I don’t know and may not understand. I still have to employ some semblance of standards though. That’s all I’m gonna say. ** This got way too gushy for me at the end. That’s all I’m gonna say.

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Janet Jackson VMA 2009 Tribute to Michael Jackson

My first thoughts when I viewed this was relief that it started off well and included dancing, real dancing. I accidentally deleted my copy after I cut the show into segments. Always back up your work people!

I admit that I teared up a bit watching Janet perform and she was emotional at the end as well. Good job! This is what should have been done in the first place.

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MTV VMA 2009 Madonna Tribute to Michael Jackson

Last night’s Video Music Award Show was definitely interesting! It lacked the obvious Vortex of Coonery tendencies except for Kayne West displaying his usual lack of decorum. Some think it was a publicity stunt for ratings but I don’t think it was planned. More on that later. Madonna gave a rousing tribute to Michael Jackson where she discussed some of the similarities they shared: i.e. having 8 siblings and being superstars. I didn’t agree with everything she said but I appreciated her respect for the joy his talent brings. She mentioned how her sons enjoy listening to his music – I can relate. My nephew has had Thriller on constant rotation and being an innocent 10-year old I’d rather not burst his MJ bubble and let him enjoy it without knowing how faulty adults can be. Childhood innocence is precious and we see what happens when that is taken away or otherwise destroyed.

MTV VMA 2009 Madonna Tribute to Michael Jackson

Last night’s Video Music Award Show was definitely interesting! It lacked the obvious Vortex of Coonery tendencies except for Kayne West displaying his usual lack of decorum. Some think it was a publicity stunt for ratings but I don’t think it was planned. More on that later. Madonna gave a rousing tribute to Michael Jackson where she discussed some of the similarities they shared: i.e. having 8 siblings and being superstars. I didn’t agree with everything she said but I appreciated her respect for the joy his talent brings. She mentioned how her sons enjoy listening to his music – I can relate. My nephew has had Thriller on constant rotation and being an innocent 10-year old I’d rather not burst his MJ bubble and let him enjoy it without knowing how faulty adults can be. Childhood innocence is precious and we see what happens when that is taken away or otherwise destroyed.

My Observations On Quincy Jones Questioning Michael Jackson’s Blackness: Pot Meet Kettle

Was anyone else as perplexed as I was reading this Men.Style.Com article? We know how writers can take things out of context or let’s be blunt – lie – about what an interview subject says to generate a salacious headline. So I was personally waiting for some sort of public protestation from Mr. Jones to clarify any of his comments as featured. Looks like they’ll stand as is so I wanted to have a conversation about it. Talk about fair weather friends!
Q: Have you been crying?
A: Oh, man, it’s more than that. It’s way more than that. It hurts my soul, man. It’s just a lump down there.
Q: You were there to witness the strange evolution in Michael’s appearance. Did you ever step in and saying anything about it?
A: Oh, we talked about it all the time. But he’d come up with, “Man, I promise you I have this disease,” and so forth, and “I have a blister on my lungs,” and all that kind of b.s. It’s hard, because Michael’s a Virgo, man—he’s very set in his ways. You can’t talk him out of it. Chemical peels and all that stuff. 
Q: Did you believe him about the disease?
A: I don’t believe in any of that bullshit, no. No. Never. I’ve been around junkies and stuff all my life. I’ve heard every excuse. It’s like smokers—”I only smoke when I drink” and all that stuff. But it’s bullshit. You’re justifying something that’s destructive to your existence. It’s crazy. 
Q: But it must’ve been so disturbing to see Michael’s face turn into what it turned into.
A: It’s ridiculous, man! Chemical peels and all of it. And I don’t understand it. But he obviously didn’t want to be black.
Q: Is that what it was?
A: Well, what do you think? You see his kids?
Read the entire interview. I wanted to make sure I included the excerpt about how much he missed Jackson before getting into it. I thought he was very observant and blunt….but after all of these years Jones is well aware of what audience he’s speaking to when discussing certain things. This wasn’t an interview in Ebony. He was speaking to a predominantly white audience about Michael Jackson’s behavior that went against established norms of other groups. That was a very calculating move on his part.
Let me be blunt: Quincy Jones made some valid points but he is the last person to be questioning another black man’s “blackness”. I was discussing this interview with a friend born in Italy who’s staying in California for the summer and the first thing she asked about was Jones’ penchant for dating white women – and she’s white! This friend of mine holds no compunction about asking me direct questions about her own observations regarding this and other situations related to race, class and gender. She says she’s always wanted to know about things of this nature but had no one to ask or didn’t feel comfortable with potentially offending anyone. So white people do notice even if they’re not saying anything. 
So to be clear, this isn’t about Jones’ mating rituals and I could care less. For as long as I’ve heard of Jones he has been with anyone but a black woman – but that is his choice. If Enrique Iglesias was available and asked me if he could be my Hero, he’d get an emphatic yes. Trust and believe that! More black women need to cast a wide net, meet and mate with a much larger variety of decent men than the wading pool selection of guppies they’re picking through right now. We also need to do it for ourselves and not care what anyone else thinks! After three marriages, several children and numerous alliances I’m certain Jones has lived a very full life. He’s a contemporary of Duke Ellington so he’s been around for quite some time now. 
I don’t remember what magazine featured a story on him but there was an accompanying photo of his children – that’s when I found out that he had in fact been married to and had children with a black woman but it was before I was born! Anyway, my point is that he has biological children whose appearance looks very similar to MJ’s kids. Is he confirming his own desire to escape from blackness by trying to have the whitest-skinned children possible. Is he telling us this is what some (many? most??) black men who mate with non-black women are trying to do? I don’t get the pointed dig at bringing them into that conversation. They have nothing to do with his relationship with himself or Jackson and I thought that was very declasse of him. 
The other issues he brought up, about blacks who want to change their appearance to be more comfortable in their skin was very telling. Michael Jackson was an extreme case because he was so famous and under such scrutiny. It has me wondering now if it is in fact more common for black males to feel that need to be a different phenotype. Regardless it is black women collectively getting pressure from other black men to be different from who they are.  We can observe this in noticing those who publicly express their desire for all women who aren’t black, or have to fit a narrow definition of blackness based strictly on appearance. It’s a pretty vicious cycle that goes back to the core weakness of a few dictating terms for the majority.
The observation of Jackson’s struggle with his identity is one that can be applied in a broader sense to other black men who don’t feel comfortable with who they are in their skin when a sizable portion chose to mate with women who look nothing like the women who begat them. It’s all a choice and that choice is an individual’s right, but what motivates it and to what lengths? When you have high-profile black men choosing non-black women and elevating them as the preferred choice that’s where I protest. That doesn’t seem to be about determining who’s best for you and being in an affirming reciprocal relationship. That’s about black-on-black racism and disdain for black women. I cannot abide by that.
In “Michael Jackson On Race – His Race” an article featured on CNN.com, Carmen Van Kerckhove delves very eloquently into the intracacies and contradictions of our struggle with race and identity. 
Each of our individual histories and the histories of our ancestors act in concert to shape who we become and what we value. And when personal histories are complex (as most are), they often result in a racial identity that is equally complex and sometimes even contradictory. 
About Jackson: Race cannot be separated with precision from body dysmorphic disorder, hatred of his tyrannical father, or any potentially relevant theory being discussed right now.
Why?
Because if he hated his body, he was hating a black man’s body. If he hated his father, he was hating a black man. Race ran through it all; we cannot and should not dismiss its effect.
*****
So in our own history of being black in this country where does the conscious, healthy, non-colorist behavior begin and when has the “hatred” or its varying degrees of discomfort ended?
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Now That Michael Jackson Is Gone Is Black Music Dead?

I think with the passing of Michael Jackson that black music is official dead, but I posed it as a question because I’d like to get lots of feedback on this. Of course there will continue to be black artists releasing music. Many of those we consider legends are still with us. There are quite a few artists moving through the ranks who are special. What of future generations though? I posit our time of dominance has left with the spirit of Michael Jackson. 
The specific contributions of African-American’s musical legacy from r&b, blues, to jazz, to Motown, to rock, to techno were significant. What is going to replace it? What is its continuation? If something doesn’t adapt it dies. No offense to those who like or release rap and hip-hop but with its original preponderance for sampling others’ work it’s not an entirely “pure” form, it’s a hybrid. If you have to use someone else’s compositions for the core of your work isn’t what you’re creating more of an homage to that prior work than doing something significant on your own? Of course sampling isn’t left exclusively to hip-hop anymore, but that’s what made it a popular device. Since the composers of those sampled songs weren’t originally paid until a white songwriter sued a black rap artist, one could also say music was being legally stolen until these licensing agreements were ironed out. With the well-documented history of black artists being ripped off by white artists who would re-record an entire song and release it with no recourse wasn’t it ironic when black artists did it to each other?
If anyone wants to prove me wrong I will gladly recant when the next huge pop star is a cultural phenom, an accomplished musician and someone who’s able to write and produce music without complete reliance on others. They won’t be praised as being beautiful by the sole existence of light/white skin, they won’t be known for shaking their body parts in a video, they won’t steal songwriting credits, they will have something important to say that we know we can review in 20 years where it will still have relevance. They won’t be a derivative of a copy. They won’t sound like anybody else. They will be “ours” and we’ll get to share them with the rest of the world. When we have such an artist coming up let me know.
Now this is no offense to all of the artists currently releasing music this doesn’t apply to. Some people don’t care. They use Autotune and wear $400K chains. They are not thinking of the long-term damage to the collective because they are making a quick buck. Some are simply not able to do that because that’s a really high bar. Of course I’d also add much of what passes for music across all genres has greatly reduced its quality quotient. So it’s bigger than soul music. Talents like Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, Marvin Gaye, Donnie Hathaway, Luther Vandross and so many others set the world alight with stars that dimmed too soon. 
I have a problem with quite a few contemporary artists who are being elevated and topping the charts right now because of the poor quality of their music and their callous get rich quick schemes. Some call it branding. I call it sell as many products as you can because your music stinks. The audiences are so used to mediocrity that they place some of these newer artists in the same category as the greats. They do not hold a candle to them. Still if you have a desire to entertain and the chance to do so who’d turn it down? These record labels are factory farms of mass breeding trying to produce as much from the cow until it drops so they can throw out the carcass and move onto the next one. They could care less, but they used to. Of course they were also interested in exploitation but that’s why you have to careful. It’s a business not play acting. 
There are quite a few innovative artists making music. There are even more who have not had the opportunity because the gatekeepers loathe to invest in quality. Or they’re DIY and will remain on the periphery. I think it’s unfortunate but this is where the audience comes into play. Accepting the poop with whipped cream on top still means there’s you know what on the bottom.  
There’s also a hierarchy in existence where males still dominate the power positions. Black male producers have been allowed to extend their light/white skin racism by elevating these lighter/whiter female artists who are usually only marginally talented. If I was one of these artists I’d take the opportunity though but being pretty to look at doesn’t guarantee record sales! See one contrast would be Quincy Jones who though he has chosen that in his personal life, musically he has long elevated and promoted black music. He’s worked with a variety of artists true, but always took care to treasure the AA musical heritage. His work with MJ was some of MJ’s best of course. He heralds back to the time when people took the time and effort to learn to read music and pick up an instrument and master one. There won’t be videos on YouTube where a random person discusses how they heard his beat on Apple’s free music program GarageBand.
As I discussed in my Deploying A Little Negro Spirit series, many of us have abandoned our cultural touchstones. Some still protect theirs. You don’t see a host of white artists taking over reggae. It could happen as anything’s possible but it’s likely to be rejected. Collaborations are allowed but turning over the keys has not happened. I can’t say the same for other genres being as cherished or protected. That’s no one else’s fault but our own.

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You’re So Lame Award of Shame: Trashing Michael Jackson & Republican Foolishness

Things were looking to be chugging along until we got the news that rocked our world. I started working on a post comparing the emails of SC Gov Mark Sanford to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick but Mrs. Sanford’s kick butt and taking no prisoners attitude had me rethinking that. I celebrated her triumph from a weak-willed man instead. Not to forget about Ensign and his mistress, her husband and son…but that’s just too twisted and I’m not soiling my mind with trying to figure that one out!
Then I’d heard that Mr. Truthiness himself, Stephen Colbert had made a “tranny” joke which is a big no-no. Also John Stewart had the nerve to insult Malcolm X’s memory by comparing him to those hypocritical Republicans. He theorized the Democrats were like MLK. His comparison makes zero sense though and trying to deconstruct his pea brain on this one isn’t worth the effort to me. See, that’s why these comedians have staff writers. They’re not so brilliant, irreverent or funny without them. 
I’ve been hearing about but not wanting to watch the widow Russert Maureen Orth on MSNBC or hack writer Toure playing in endless loops on tv trashing MJ one way or the other. Of course Orth’s entire career has been solely based on trashing Jackson so this isn’t surprising. CNN is asking whether Jackson transcended race which is a stupid question to begin with. Fixed News immediately chose to give unflattering coverage but that’s not a surprise. Entertainment Tonight decided to show us MJ’s not quite dead body being worked on by EMTs. Perez Hilton said he got slapped by a Pea and whined about it. He also claimed MJ was faking an illness for media attention. Gee here’s someone who’d know all about that. 

This year’s BET Awards airs tomorrow and with it’s planned MJ tribute will likely be its highest rated show ever. Boy timing is everything. You know I have a BET ban in effect but broke it to see Maxwell’s debut video and I’ll be watching (and critiquing) this one. Chris Brown and a whole other cadre of BW beaters/abusers/haters will get to take center stage. Hurl. One thing MJ did not advocate was violence and he always spoke highly of Black women so this is an insult of the highest proportion to mar his legacy by throwing these idiots in the mix. So drumroll….the award goes to: All of Them.
There’s so much foolishness going on this week they all deserve it.
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