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The Cruel Exploitation of Whitney Houston on Reality TV - Rolling Stone -
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The Cruel Exploitation of Whitney Houston on Reality TV - Rolling Stone

The Cruel Exploitation of Whitney Houston on Reality TV – Rolling Stone

In the new The biopic of Whitney Houston I want to dance with someone, Houston’s mother asks the police to escort her daughter from her home (in front of her young daughter, Bobbi Kristina) after finding Houston in a drug-fueled stupor following the death of her father. We then see Houston in quiet recovery at a rehab facility, and later a recreation of her emotional comeback performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009. The film removes most of Houston’s 2000s history, including her starring role in the disturbing 2005 reality series Being Bobby Brown.

The eleven-part saga followed Brown, Houston, their daughter Bobbi Kristina, her half-siblings La’Princia and Bobby Jr., Brown’s brother Tommy, and her father Herbert. But the married couple was the main draw of a show that chronicled Houston’s temper, Bobby’s brashness and the general feeling that the couple – Houston in particular – weren’t well. “Behind the scenes, Houston had consumed again,” Vanity Fair reported.

Still, the show was mostly received with mockery and contempt rather than care and concern. One of the first successes of Bravo, now famous for its real housewives franchise, Being Bobby Brown was reportedly the network’s highest-rated show at the time. His insensitivity is what makes I want to dance with someone feel needed – it’s a loving embrace from Houston after years of media exploitation fueled by condescension and sensationalism.

The series allowed its producers and titular star to capitalize on Houston’s distress and the dysfunction of her marriage. Ahead of the show’s premiere, Brown admitted it was all in the service of her image. “Every day I try to prove my point of view, that I’m more good than bad,” he said. The New York Times.

By doing so, he thought the world would see just how tough Houston could be. “Bob’s biggest thing was that everyone blamed him for his downfall, but when he met her, she was already using drugs,” Karrine Steffans said. vanity lounge.

Steffans is an author and former music video model who was Brown’s lover in the 2000s when he married Whitney. “He always felt very angry about it. He said to me, ‘What everyone saw wasn’t the real Whitney.’ He always said his private personality – that you saw on Being Bobby Brown – was who she really was. But rather than valuing Brown, the show humiliated them both. “Not only does this reveal that Brown is even more vulgar than the tabloids suggest, but it also manages to rob Houston of the last shreds of dignity,” wrote a reviewer in The Hollywood Reporter.

One of the show’s executive producers, Tracey Baker-Simmons, said she wanted to tell the story of Brown and Houston beyond the headlines. “Apart from all the negative blurbs, we wanted to know what else was in there for these people,” she said.

Brown allowed 24/7 access to himself and his family, but the result fed the mainstream narrative rather than challenged it. Marc Hoeferlin, documentary editor Whitney: Can I be me? which used extracts from To be Bobby Brown, hinted that it should not be so. “This show itself comes across as the wreckage of a show,” he told Jezebel. “It wasn’t shot like that. It was shot really well and observationally and I don’t know if it was the intention to do this kind of reality TV stuff.

For Bravo, however, the borderline humiliation of once-adored stars seemed to be the point. Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo at the time, reportedly greenlit the series in 15 minutes. “It was very obvious to me that this was a good thing for Bravo,” she said. “It’s very tactile. You feel something when you watch this show. Zalaznick was on a mission to bolster “average” television, saying “the channel has truly become the fullest expression of high-low culture”. She described a sight as best boss like an aspiration, while real housewives – where, among other things, wealthy women bicker and betray each other – could be viewed by an audience with a sense of moral superiority. Being Bobby Brown fits easily in this box too.

In 2009, Houston told Oprah that she agreed to be on the show to assuage Brown’s jealousy of her power and profile, and chastise the world’s disdain for their marriage. Thus, she downplayed her success and highlighted her life as a woman.

“I was trying to make a statement, like, ‘You’re not going to win,'” Houston said. “’You’re not going to do that. We are married. We were in love. We were crazy about each other. We wanted to start a family. I’m not gonna let you do this to us. I just am not. “However, she admitted the fight was futile: “In a way, it got really messy and got lost in that. And then we started doing other things that went into the marriage that you just can’t get straight out when you have a lot of outside stuff going on.

seven years later Being Bobby Brown aired, Brown admitted that watching it revealed how drugs had affected them as a couple. “We could see that our drug use had affected our relationship, had affected the love we felt for each other,” he said.

Rather than parade Houston’s behavioral and addiction issues, I want to dance with someone locates his drug use in his pain. She is first seen smoking a bong with her brothers to escape a violent fight between her parents. Later, we see her pulling out props after bringing her husband home to find he’s not there – and, presumably, with another woman. In this way, Houston’s portrayal in the film is soft – it can always be bold or tough, but the film holds it with empathy and tenderness.

Some critics of the film condemned it as too precious with Houston’s drug addiction. “I feel that kind of need to respect history, but at the end of the day, [the biopic] felt to me a bit like over-editing…in that sense, it just didn’t really deepen that,” NPR’s Aisha Harris said. The negligent treatment of Houston by the media, epitomized by Being Bobby Brownthis is precisely why he did not.

Whitney Houston and her husband Bobby Brown attend the VH1 Divas Duets post-concert party at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 22, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The show only lasted one season. Houston refused to appear in a second, so he was not picked up, although Brown would have hoped he would. A year after the show ended, Houston served Brown with divorce papers. The filming period of 2004 became a turning point. When recording from Being Bobby BrownBrown was jailed for about a month after multiple probation violations stemming from a 1996 impaired driving charge. One of the violations was allegedly punching Houston in the face so hard that his cheek was bruised and that the inner lip had been cut.

Tendency

While Brown was behind bars, his sister Tina lived with Houston as she plagued her drug use and sold scary stories about her drug addiction. National applicantwhich they released in March 2006 (with the Pusha T and Kanye West photo eventually – and imperceptibly – used as the album cover for 2018 Daytona). In 2007, Houston’s divorce from Brown was finalized.

In recent years, Brown has expressed regret for the show, particularly for dragging her daughter Bobbi Kristina onto it, who died in 2015 in circumstances similar to those of her mother. Reflecting on Houston’s infamous interview with Diane Sawyer, where she said “crack is a hit,” he also admitted, “There was no reason for [Houston] to be on TV at the time.