Reactions To The Deaths Of Adam Yauch And Whitney Houston Show Us Who We Are As a Society
Courtesy LA Weekly
*We Remember Adam Yauch, MCA of Beastie Boys, Dead at 47
*Pennywise's Tribute to the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch Is Punk as Fuck
Whenever a musician dies, it seems like casual fans come out of the woodwork to celebrate the fallen star's life. In February, you couldn't walk 14 steps or go two cars without someone blaring one of Whitney Houston's albums. Over the past four days, you'd be hard-pressed not to hear someone talk about how important Adam Yauch, aka MCA, was, and how amazing the Beastie Boys are. This isn't to question either one of these artist's talents, both of which were enormous. But the manner in which they died, and the subsequent public reactions, were markedly different -- and surprising.
Houston, as has been well-documented and confirmed by an autopsy, died of an overdose. No ifs, ands, or buts. The woman had a major drug problem. Sadly, she had become a laughingstock over the last decade of her life (in retrospect, Being Bobby Brown is painful to watch) who hadn't put out a lick of good music in nearly two decades. When she died before the Grammys, you would have thought that a head of state had passed rather than an R&B singer.
It's painful to write this, but Houston hadn't been relevant in a long time. Contrast that with MCA. Unlike the legendary songstress, the Beastie Boy wasn't as decorated, at least when it came to awards. But the one thing that can't be denied is how important he was to the history not only of hip hop, but music as a whole.
Cancer is a disease that can be controlled, but not cured. Addiction is a disease as well, but can be defeated with the help of a strong family and inner circle. That's where the differences in the responses to each death begin. For the weeks following Houston's death, there was a funeral paid for by Newark, N.J.'s taxpayers, flags at half-staff and an endless wave of interviews with family members on morning shows -- as recently as last week, her former spouse Bobby Brown appeared in a much-watched segment on the Today show hailed as his "first televised interview post Houston's death."