Life After Death…

Social media outlets have been buzzing with the recent death of music icon Whitney Houston. Houston’s voice evoked many emotions from her fans; you couldn’t deny the raw talent Houston had when she opened her mouth to sing beautiful notes from the late 1970s to just before her death. Folks will argue that before Houston began her heavy consumption of drugs and alcohol her voice was truly a gift from God. After the poison took over Houston’s body, her voice began to dwindle away. But honestly, when has the news really paid much attention to Houston after the time she decided to get sober and before her death?

Take a moment to think about the amount of times you saw a news story that featured Houston in a positive light since her divorce from Bobby Brown and her decision to give up illicit drugs for good.

Many people, myself included, cannot recollect a time when Whitney Houston was in our minds as the actress from Waiting to Exhale, the Preacher’s Wife, the Bodyguard or the songstress who belted out beautiful melodies on albums such as ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’ and ‘My Love is Your Love’. But it seemed as though the VERY minute Houston’s death rumored onto the Social Media mills, her popularity skyrocketed as if she was discovered all over again. Some of my Twitter followers were retweeting ‘RIP’ messages for Houston before many of them had even confirmed that she had truly been founded let alone pronounced dead.

It truly fascinates me that people will believe whatever the Internet or Social Media outlets reports before even confirming a story for themselves. Call it the Journalist in me who has been told to question everything but I personally waited until I was able to obtain 3 independent sources, that is sources who did not cite each other as their primary source before I believed ‘the hype’.

But even since news outlets have been able to confirm Houston’s death, she has taken on a new life after death. Her celebrity status seems to have been given a boost since her death.  She has been given tribute television shows, old interviews have been replayed – the good ones and the bad, music friends have given their accounts of life with Houston and fans have paid their respects detailing when they first heard Houston, etc. Whitney Houston is not the first celebrity to have an elevated status after her death. Some of the greats Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G. and even Bob Marley have gained much more success after their death than the success they obtained when they were alive.

It puzzles me as to why this is so. I can come up with a few reasons as to why these artist’s careers have continued to grow post-death. Some died at a point in their career when they were just truly getting started, Bob Marley for example. However, artists such as Jackson, Sinatra, and Houston may have outlived their music careers. They reached the peak and plateau of their careers, yet they tried to revive it despite the odds against them. The deceased artist’s estate will continue to receive income from the many avenues the estate handler deem profitable. For Jackson, it was the ‘This Is It” brand, the documentary that featured rehearsals for the tour grossed $260 million worldwide. A DOCUMENTARY which featured footage of the rehearsals, grossed that much money AFTER the artist had recently died.

It is sad to say that it takes the death of a celebrity to bring about the recognition they should continue to receive for their talents, despite any negative press they received during their careers or for any wrongdoing they may have been a part of. To be quite frank, we all make mistakes in our lives; the difference between us and celebrities is that we are the fortunate ones to not receive publicity every time we do something ‘wrong’.

Count your blessings, folks

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The Exorcism of Roman

Now first off. Let me state that I am not of the Catholic religion, nor do I claim to know what practices are deemed to be okay or not within the religion. However, I have done a bit of research just to support some of the points contained within this piece. Do enjoy the post and leave any comments you have in favor of this piece or against my position. Please view the video below before you continue reading this post:

Roman’s Holiday – 2012 Grammy Performance

Sunday, February 12, 2012 the 54th Grammy Award show aired in Los Angeles, California. The show which honors recording artists, producers and others involved in the production and distribution of recordings by musical artists featured an opening performance by Bruce Springsteen and performances throughout by Taylor Swift, Chris Brown, Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt, Rihanna and Coldplay, and Jennifer Hudson among many others.

This post focuses on the controversial and over-the-top performance by Nicki Minaj. Since Nicki’s emergence on to the Hip Hop scene in 2007, her fans and the music industry have become accustom to Minaj’s colorful persona which is usually depicted in her tracks and the visuals that go along with those songs. However, many viewers of the 2012 Grammy’s, myself included, were shocked and speechless when Minaj’s performed “Roman Holiday”. The social media circuit began buzzing with Twitter users tweeting and Facebook users updating their statuses.

The majority of the controversy surrounding Nicki’s performance is centered around the religion for which exorcisms are most noted within the Western hemisphere, which is that of the Catholic church. Without getting too deep into the background of the Roman Catholic Church and it’s regulations, I want to offer my personal opinion of Nicki Minaj’s performance.

When I watched the performance at first I asked myself Did I really just actually witness what I think I did?

I am wholeheartedly in favor of artistic expression but there is a thin line that is extended when it comes to depicting religion and the practices of a specific religion. I personally feel as though Nicki made a mockery of a practice which is generally only used in extreme situations, when church members feel there is no other options to save a person’s soul.

From the “I feel pretty” mantra being repeated. When the Priest asked ‘What’s your name” and Minja replies “Roman” as if to identify the demon within her. The choir boys being ‘tempted’ as they prayed. The stained mosaic backdrops alluding to Cathedral or Sanctuary windows. The dress of the dancers and other extras such as the Priest. All of these elements combined were a bit over-extensive in my opinion.

Laurieann Gibson, a well know Choreographer within the entertainment industry and who was the creative mind behind the dance routines, defended the performance by Minaj saying, “For me, it was about the theatrical aspect of being able to create something like that…” Gibson also stated that she was very careful to not include any literal movements, such as praying hands, etc. Despite her efforts, it was pretty hard to ignore the allusion of the prayer boy, kneeled down with his hands clasped. However Laurieann did state, “…the exorcism was her idea and her concept,” referring to Minaj.

Quite frankly, I am not too concerned with who’s idea it was originally. I’m more concerned with why after going through a proposal, an approval and a production process there was NO one who thought that the controversy of the performance may create more backlash than it received praises? That is somewhat of a rhetorical question as the performance stilled aired on Sunday evening. I guess I am more upset with the executives of the Grammy’s and those in charge of performance and why little regard was given to the implication which would come from the airing of such a performance.

I suppose there is more money to be made going ahead with such performances as this one than to respect a religion and one of it’s most controversial practices.

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2012 SOTU Address: Response

President Barack Obama, the 44th President of these United States, delivered his 3rd SOTU on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. An audience within the Congress floors as well as the television audience listened as America’s first African-American president gave a speech filled with the very essence of which he won his presidency in 2008 and that is the essence of hope. President Obama opened his speech to acknowledge the fact that U.S troops were no longer in Iraq fighting a war that start in 2001 as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks of the World Trade Center in New York; a very honourable and noteworthy topic to speak on, which may/may not have lead to the troubles which plague America’s economic woes.

Personally, I agree with President Obama’s plans for the taxes of businesses. Tax revenue is one of the largest components of Government revenue, therefore it is not justifiable for businesses to receive a tax deduction for outsourcing jobs overseas. That says to the business: “It is okay for you to take away jobs from the citizens of your domestic country and we will increase your profits as well for doing so.” Maybe that is a certain part of politics that I will never understand but as an economics major, I know that it is NOT rational.

President Obama made a very interesting statement in his 3rd SOTU. He said, “Higher education can’t be a luxury.” I found this statement intriguing because at one point higher education was in fact a luxury choice. It was not mandatory nor was it imperative for an individual to seek an education past their high school diploma. Today’s society demands that employees have at the bare minimum a Bachelor’s degree and in order to move up the corporate ladder the individual should seek a Master’s degree as well as have years of experience. All of which prove to be much more costly than ever before as tuition costs continue to rise each year. The fact that in this country a household owes more in college tuition debt versus credit card debit displays exactly where lawmakers and school officials place their preference in debt collection.

As an international student in this country and a young woman, President Obama hit two challenges I face in the closing of his speech. His proposal to allow those who were brought to this country as a young child, and those who recently migrated to the country for higher education, the chance to obtain citizenship in this country without the hardships of the current process has special importance and interest with me. However, what exactly will be done in this election-year is yet to be known but I do hope that the process is made more accessible to those of us who are seeking better opportunities for our families by way of our versions of the “American Dream”. Additionally, he touched on an issue that has been in the labor market since women were allowed to work outside of the home; that issue is the equality of pay between men and women. Hopefully, this is not a topic that is a talking point to gain women voters and that President Obama and his administration actively seek out this policy.

On the surface President Obama’s 3rd SOTU address has many great ideas and possibilities. However, it is highly unlikely that too much will get done in this election year. There are barriers not only in politics but in economics and sociology that may hinder him from achieving the goals he has set in this year’s SOTU address. However, I am hopefully that change will continue to overcome in this nation as the dream started with those African-American leaders before President Obama who wanted an America that was not racially divided but racially integrated.

The full text transcript can be found here.

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