What Do You Think?

This week, Whitney Houston’s “final image” is sprawled across the cover of the National Enquirer, a “supermarket tabloid” specializing in celebrity gossip. Friends and family are reported to be ‘horrified’, as is the owner* of the funeral home where she was waked, who is currently under suspicion for taking the picture.

My question is not about Ms. Houston specifically, but about the practice in general… should we, as a society, be publishing photos of celebs in their caskets? I understand that some families might want that picture for themselves, and I will not judge them for it. Personally, I wouldn’t do it, but if they want it, then fine. But what about publishing it? Is that something that the “public has a right to know”?

*That link does not include a photo of Ms. Houston in her casket, but a video appears about Nat’l Enquirer. I did not watch it, because I didn’t want to see the photo, if it’s in there.

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26 Responses to What Do You Think?

  1. mssc54 says:

    I’ve already spent more time than I’d care to on this issue just by reading this. Lol

    • Joy says:

      Just what is everyone’s problem with Whitney Houston? Is it the flag thing?

      • mssc54 says:

        Well, speaking for everyone…

        I am not aware of the flag thing. What I am aware of is that Ms. Houston was given an amazing gift. A gift that she shared with the multitudes for some time. Then one day she decided that wasn’t enough. She made a foolish, selfish and ultimately self destrutive choice to consume mass quantities of various drugs and alcohol. Even unto the point of (likely) causing her death.

        Witney Houstan’s selfish chioices has left her family behind with them wondering, “Maybe I should have or could have done….”

        And I don’t for one mili-second buy the modern day “it’s a disease” crap either. SHE MADE CHOICES EACH AND EVERY TIME TO INJEST ALL THOSE WHATEVERS! Selfish woman she was.

        Thanks for asking! 🙂

        • SKL says:

          Well, haven’t we all made mistakes and been saved only by God’s grace?

          I don’t idolize her. Every human has faults. EVERY human. She was someone’s mom, someone’s daughter. If there’s one thing people should be entitled to, it’s to grieve in peace.

          Some day you’re going to go. Would you like people to remember you for everything you did wrong, and shove that in the faces of your mourners? Should we be so nasty about the deaths of everyone who was a smoker, everyone who drove above the speed limit, everyone who worked too many hours? Which of us, then, deserves a respectful goodbye?

        • Joy says:

          I agree SKL. Completely.

        • Joseph says:

          You are so right. She made very selfish decisions.
          Apologetics aside, God’s grace is so very abundant (thankfully), but consequences remain. Unfortunately her family (unfairly) bears the consequences of her actions. I hope, upon my death, people reflect on my good attributes and also on my bad attributes and learn something from my mistakes.
          I personally noted her death in the news and moved on. Sad for her family. Minding my own business I moved on and left it at that. If it weren’t for the question asked above I wouldn’t have known about the photo nor the flag controversy, etc.

    • Laura says:

      You do realize, Michael, that I only used Whitney as an example? The question was not about her…

      • mssc54 says:

        Yes Laura I realize that. It’s for the same reason people on the highway have to slow down and rubber-neck at the accident on the other side of the highway.

  2. Joy says:

    I think this is just terrible. Is nothing sacred? This “leak” is terrible. Who would do this without permission? People who do stuff like…….

    I think in some cases people do this. I personally find it in really bad taste. I have a picture of my great grandpa in his casket and I could never understand why my mom had it. The only explanation was that both of her grandparents died within a very short time of each other and she didn’t make it to NY for his funeral. I always thought they sent it for that. But YUCK! I don’t even want a funeral never mind something like this.

    Remember you asked about the heebie jeebies??? This is another thing that give them to me.

  3. SKL says:

    My family is not one to take photos at funerals. It’s not the sort of thing you want to remember all the time, I guess. It kind of icks me out, but maybe that’s just because I’m not used to the idea. I went to my friend’s dad’s funeral, and all the man’s children posed in a line next to their dad’s coffin for a last photo with Dad. On a photo near the casket, there was an old photo of his own mom or dad where he and his siblings had done the same thing. So I guess it’s family tradition for some people.

    That said, to say that publishing it for money is in bad taste is the understatement of the year. It’s disgusting. It’s disturbing. It ought to be illegal. In fact, probably the only reason it isn’t illegal is that nobody would think humans could be so offensive on purpose.

    Like you, I don’t want to see it. I didn’t even want to see Bin Laden’s dead face. I can hardly stand going to funerals and looking at the person in the coffin. I almost couldn’t go up to my granny’s coffin. I’m sorry. I hope that publication goes bankrupt and disappears from the face of the earth.

    • Joy says:

      Unfortunately SKL, people buy these magazines. It won’t stop until people stand together and don’t buy them.

      Who “leaked” this photo is what I’d like to know. It’s got to be someone involved in the funeral. The family wouldn’t.

      Don’t you think funerals used to be almost like a party. People took them different back then. Neither Paul or I want one and our kids know what we want. I think it’s a very morbid custom.

      • Laura says:

        That’s interesting, Joy… I want just the opposite. I don’t want people mourning at my funeral. I want people to celebrate my life and remember me with a smile. I don’t much care if it’s “improper”, hardly anything in my life is “proper”.

        But I completely agree on the idea of taking a picture of a dead person. I think it’s disrespectful. Did SHE want this photo on the cover of a magazine? Yes, she lived her life in the spotlight, but somehow, I don’t think that this is what she would have wanted. People, when it comes down to it, are pretty vain. All of us. Except maybe extremely religious or spiritual people like the Pope or the Dalai Lama… I cannot imagine that anyone would want a pic of their dead body up for sale. At the very shallowest, it’s not their “best” side…

      • Joy says:

        I should have explained better.I think “back in the old days” people “celebrated” death. We took really good care of our cemeteries and we honored those who died. Now it seems like people just go to a funeral home, get sad, cry and go home and drink. There are no happy things going on. It’s all just sad. When I die I want to be cremated and I want everyone to gather together. Have some songs playing I liked and read a poem and maybe say the benediction, throw a flower in the air and scatter my ashes in a nice spot. I think funerals make too much money. The business has gotten too big and they play so on your emotions of the time when you’re grieving. Why give them the money? So they can put you in a box that cost thousands of dollars and then put it in the ground? It makes NO sense to me. I didn’t mean I didn’t want anything. Just not your “normal” funeral.

  4. Joseph says:

    Me personally, I really don’t care what people do to me after I die. I’m gone. Disrespect my character, desecrate my corpse. I’m gone.

    Likewise, I don’t care about Whitney, she’s gone. She won’t be offended as, she’s gone. The problem I have is the disrespect to the family left behind. It’s the “here and now” that I care about. This applies to any human being’s family, and not just so called celebrities.

    The problem is that society puts celebrities on a pedestal. The crux is society exalts these ‘celebrities’ and in turn the ‘celebrities’ take advantage of this to their benefit. Society creates these celebrity statuses. So it should not be a real shocker when society wants to see such pictures and hear fascinating stories of these ‘celebrities’ both in life and in death. Don’t blame the tabloid or the alleged funeral director. Blame society. If there was no desire for this material, there would be no attempt to publish this material.

    • Joy says:

      Yes. You’re so right Joseph. Until we stand together united, this will continue to go on. I wonder how the biggest section of society deems this to be alright? How did we come to this? I think because we let things go too far and then there’s no going back. Sports are too rough and machines go too fast. We really need to slow down and appreciate life.

      You’re also right about another thing. This has NOTHING to do with Whitney Houston. People have done this. You know, when she first died, I couldn’t even go on FB for a long time. I’m still not back there fully. People say such cruel things and like you also mentioned, she does have a family. A daughter, mother, aunts and MANY other family members who all this is hurting.

      Anyway. Everyone was in an uproar with the flag going to half staff the day of her funeral. OMG!! You would have thought she raped and murdered small children. Well so what? So what that the flag was lowered. They do it all the time. Why is it I didn’t see any Joe Paterno posts a few short months ago? He knew young boys were being sodomized and raped and he did NOTHING yet nobody uttered a single ounce of disgust? Michael Jackson? Nobody said anything then either so what’s up with Whitney haters? We lost 4 beautiful young girls one day last week in a terrible tragic car accident while they were on their way back to North Dakota Sate. I know for sure Minnetonka and Rogers lowered their flag the following day.

      I got an email from my brother in law yesterday and in the subject line it said “Whitney Houston” and I thought to myself “oh Kevin, this is so nice of you” knowing how much I loved her music and I open it up and it had a list of solders who died and it said “the flag wasn’t put at half staff for these hero’s.” What the hell does that have to do with Whitney Houston? How in the world is that her fault and who’s starting these things? It’s getting to be ridiculous.

      So, who should the flag be lowered for? It’s up to the governors of the state. Should it just be for the military? ONLY the military or should there be strings on that too? Should you have to die IN a war? What about Vets? Obviously they didn’t die in a war. Who decides this stupid crap up?

      This really isn’t about Whitney Houston. I’d like to know what it “really” is about. There are some people protesting WAY TOO MUCH.

      • SKL says:

        I didn’t know that about the flag. I agree that what someone decides about the flag locally after WH’s death has nothing to do with WH. She didn’t make that decision. It doesn’t change anything about her. Get irritated with the decisionmakers, not her or her individual mourners.

        I agree that there is a lot of discretion regarding when the flag gets lowered, and that’s how it should be. It should be a local matter. I suppose some of you would get angry that the flag was lowered for a police dog that was killed in the line of duty in a small town. It was important enough to the people in that small town. Sometimes I think people need to mind their own business a little more.

      • Laura says:

        I had a real problem with Christie ordering the flags to half-staff. To me, that honor belongs to “civil servants” – police, fire, military, and governing staff – like the mayor or the governor. And yes, I would absolutely include K-9 units in that – police, fire, military, whatever. They are officers, just like their human partners.

        But to lower it for an entertainment figure, I don’t agree. I didn’t know they lowered it for Paterno, but if I had, I would have objected, as well. I think it was such a controversy for Houston, because both Houston and Christy are public figures.

  5. SKL says:

    Here’s another take on this. What if you were a living “celebrity” right now? How would you feel if someone could do this to you after your death? How would it change the way you think and act?

    It may be true that we won’t care what we look like or who sees our photo after we die. But for celebrities, a big part of “who they are” is what the public thinks of them – and right or wrong, how they look in each and every photo is part of that. Many people believe that the things they do in life are important partly because of the legacy they will leave when they die. So yes, the “death image” matters in my opinion. Can you imagine how people’s impressions would change if JFK’s brains-blown-out skull in the coffin were the last published image of him? How about Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, so many others who are remembered in their prime based on photos?

    Honestly, one of the reasons I want to be cremated and not “laid out” at my funeral is that I saw my granny laid out, and I know she would not have liked how she looked to all the people who came to her funeral. I don’t want to worry on my deathbed about post-death facial hair growth, for example. Bad enough I won’t be at my best when saying goodbye to my closest loved ones; at least they won’t be just looking at the surface.

    • Laura says:

      When i was looking for a pic, and for other info on this bit, I googled “celebrities in caskets” or some such search. I came across Michael Jackson, Elvis and MLK. Steve, history buff that he is, tells me that there are death photos of Abraham Lincoln.

      I think my problem with this is not the casket photo – because like he pointed out, the photos of Lincoln are now historical, as opposed to sensational. My problem is the sensationalism of it. If Houston’s family wants to take a bunch of pics of her dead body, fine. But don’t plaster them on the cover of the Enquirer. That’s just trashy. And honestly, though she had her moments, “trashy” is not a word that I’ve ever associated with her.

      • SKL says:

        I know, there are even videos of JFK’s head being blown away (although they are grainy). It’s not the fact that there are photos, but the fact that the photos are intentionally being publicized like this (for profit) so they will be the final and lasting image of WH for those who choose to look at them. A living celebrity would not want this, so why should such liberties be taken with a dead celeb?

  6. Karen Joy says:

    I think its awful to publish these photos.Its a terrible thing to do to the family members.I for one dont understand taking pictures of your deceased loved ones either.A family member of mine has a photo of my Mom in the casket and I HATE even the thought of there being a pic of her like that.Why?Why do you want that?I will say in that time of mourning I cared what both my parents looked like.I fixed both their hair as it was done wrong.For me it mattered at that time.Joe said it that they arent here so that person doesnt care,who cares whats done to the body.True,BUT the family left here cares.I know in my head they arent in their body any more but that person is how we knew them all these years and it matters to us left here,I wouldnt want them disrespected.So I feel awful for celebrities family’s!We are all human beings with feelings,celbs or not.

  7. Joy says:

    I agree SKL. It really doesn’t hurt anyone when a flag is lowered. You’re also right about small towns. It’s done all the time. I also think when people get all preachy and high and mighty it doesn’t do any good and I feel it just makes other people sad. I don’t care what she did in her private life. It has nothing to do with what a great musical talent she had. They are two separate issues. I loved her MUSICALLY, not personally but it still doesn’t mean that her family deserves to hear this crap and it wasn’t up to them anyway. The governor of New Jersey is the one who ordered it so why put all this blame on a dead person and why can’t people just let her rest in peace? It’s only hurting her family now. How right and fair is that?

  8. Nikki says:

    Absolutely not! I would be mortified if any of my loved ones “final image” was shown to the public. Famous or not, that’s no ones business but the families.

    The very last time I saw my father, he was in his casket. I wish I would not have seen him that way. It didn’t even look like him. They shaved his face. I was 19 when he died, and never in my life did he shave his beard. That image is burned into my brain. Part of me didn’t believe it was him, at that time. Had that image been put in the newspaper along with the article that was written, I would have been one pissed off daughter! No way!

    • SKL says:

      When my granny died, someone gave the funeral director a photo from when she was much younger. So he did her all up with makeup and such, and it didn’t look like her at all. She never wore makeup when I knew her, and so on. The closest mourners were just too beside themselves to think clearly about things. So it was like I was at a funeral for some stranger. Too weird.

  9. I think the family should publish the picture if they want to. I, in turn- could look at it, or not. I think it’s horribly disrespectful to leak a picture of the deceased celebrity to the public. The maggot that did this probably received a large sum of money too. What some people will do for money is disgusting. IMHO, the public has no right to anything. Not a damn thing. Why would they? Just because someone is famous, and you go to their concert, buy their CD, watch their movie, admire their beautiful paintings, or whatever the case may be- doesn’t give you a stake in their lives, as if they are a company and you bought stock. It just means you adored their “art”. That famous person, is just human afterall, just like we are. That’s just my feelings.

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