The XX Factor

Is Whitney Houston Every Woman?

For those of us who missed yesterday’s epic Whitney Houston-Oprah Winfrey interview, Jezebel has put together a priceless highlight reel . We learn lots of sordid things about Houston’s drug habits-watch her educate Winfrey on the finer points of freebasing here -and there are plenty of sad, sad details about her complicated relationship with Bobby Brown. It’s not quite the glorious comeback I and other singing-into-our-hairbrushes devotees of The Voice might have hoped for: Just hearing that ravaged rasp makes me want to cry a little and then go listen to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” But I’m happy to root for a (formerly?) insanely talented woman who’s clawing her way back to some kind of normalcy.

As Alessandra Stanley points out in the New York Times , there was a definite push to frame Houston’s fall from grace as that of a woman who “made herself weak to make her less successful husband feel strong.” Houston talks a lot about how committed she was to being “Mrs. Bobby Brown,” seemingly at the expense of her own identity. From a transcript of the interview :

Oprah: So were you always appearing and making those court appearances [when Bobby Brown was being tried for domestic violence] because you felt you had to stand by your man?

Whitney: I had to. Yeah, I’m his wife.

Oprah: You know what I get now that I didn’t get then as just an observer in the world? … What I now get is that you took those vows seriously.

Whitney: Very, Oprah. To my heart.

In a separate segment, Winfrey says that the interview shows us all that Houston “really is Every Woman ,” because “every woman has felt so much of what she talks about in this interview.” I leave it to you to debate the legitimacy of that assertion.

This afternoon, in the second half of the interview, Houston and Brown’s 16-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina will make an appearance and presumably she will offer her take on the sad spectacle of the disintegration of her parents’ marriage. Will it be touching? Devastating? Exploitative? We’ll find out at 4 p.m.

Photograph of Whitney Houston by Larry Busacca/Getty Images.