The Trouble With Amy Winehouse

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - February 20, 2008

The recent Grammy Award telecast was a hoot. I love music and there were some memorable performances.

There is no greater fan of Tina Turner than my beautiful wife, and to see her take the stage after years of retirement was fantastic. I mean, the woman is 68, for goodness sake. She can still rock out and clearly can teach the newer generation a thing or two. Beyonce, with whom she performed, emulates her musical idol in her own career, and Tina’s influence is found throughout the music industry.

Influence goes a long way in pop culture. The most disturbing example of this was the coronation of Amy Winehouse. For those not familiar, Winehouse is the extremely talented, yet troubled singer/songwriter who captured three of the big four music awards. She took home five Grammys, including Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and was the big winner of 2007. Her drug addiction, arrests and bizarre behavior have made the tabloid news, but her elevation by the Grammys with award after award sends a message that contains troubling influences.

Her travails are well-documented. Winehouse has been battling drug addiction for years. She and her husband were arrested in Norway on possession charges. Winehouse was found wandering outside her home in disarray and in questionable wardrobe. On another occasion, she and her husband were discovered bruised and bloodied outside a hotel. It is well-documented that she has been in and out of rehab for years.

The most troubling revelation is the posting of a video of her purportedly snorting crack cocaine and boasting of using Valium and Ecstasy. Local authorities are investigating.

I am not naïve. I know that drug use is pervasive in the music industry. I also understand there are a great number of people who enjoy music even more by using their drug of choice.

But therein lies the problem. It seems that we give a wink and a nod to celebrities who use illegal substances, yet we will proclaim ourselves to be an anti-drug society. We will spend millions of dollars on drug policies to discourage kids from using them, but then we’ll promote international television broadcasts featuring known drug addicts.

If this hypocrisy is difficult for you to reconcile, imagine what your 14-year-old is thinking when you tell him to “Just Say No,” yet a drug abuser is making millions, being applauded by audiences and has her CD in your car stereo.

The Grammys have made a determination that popularity and talent supersede individual responsibility and the law. By bestowing their most-coveted awards upon an individual who is clearly out of control with drug addiction and self-destruction, the message is clear: Do drugs, become addicted, get arrested and jeopardize your life and you’ll reap stardom and riches.

Is the Grammys responsible for Winehouse and her behavior? No. But an organization representing thousands of members of the music industry can choose not to condone the illegal and disturbing actions of its performers.

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