The first I heard of Whitney Houston's death was when I received an email from Blogcritics asking if I would like to write an article on her death. After performing due diligence (also known as checking Wikipedia) I confirmed that Blogcritics was not yanking my chain and that, true enough, Houston was really dead, and like any aspiring writer I decided I would write an article.
And then it dawned upon me. Like many a writer before me I had committed to penning a piece on a subject I know next to nothing about. Sure, I know the basics: Houston was a singer and actress, had a history of substance abuse, and was once married to Bobby Brown (which I discovered after I inadvertently purchased his single 'My Prerogative' as a teenager – honest). But, in all truth, the first thing that jumps into mind when I hear the name Whitney Houston is Tim Minchin's pastiche of 'I Will Always Love You' in his song 'Confessions' when he sings 'I will always love boobs.'
I will venture a hypothesis, however. Even among the majority of individuals whose appreciation of Houston's oeuvre greatly surpasses my own Whitney Houston's death is, ultimately, meaningless. Subjectively speaking Houston means nothing to me. Her death is sad in precisely the same way as the death of any middle-aged woman whom I have no relationship with is sad. Tomorrow, and the day after that, I will – hopefully – wake up and my life will be none the poorer for her death. Of course, that has nothing to do with any deficit on Houston's part. There will be hundreds of deaths in the next few days of people whom are, subjectively, nobody to me.
For all the column inches that will be written – and you can be sure there will be a hastily written 'memoir' hitting the bookshops soon and some 'best of' releases gracing the digital download stores in optimum visibility for visitors – I did not, do not, and never will in any real sense know Whitney Houston, or the legion of celebrities who will in coming months continue to vie for public attention. That brute fact is I hope clear. So, given this absence of actually knowing the deceased I have one simple question: 'why the hell does it matter?' I mean that seriously.