With the invention of Twitter, Western society is transforming further into a culture built on overexposure and hyper-interest in celebritydom. Americans may not know why, but they’re increasingly fascinated with everything that superstars say and do. Fan and paparazzi behavior may be a lot to handle, but I argue that it’s A-OK.

It comes down to this: Celebrities wouldn’t be celebrities and musicians couldn’t make a living without supporters. Fans may be crazy (so, so crazy), but they’re a vital cog in the machine that fuels the arts industries.

This brings me to Ms. Whitney Houston. Did the pressures of fame drive not only her but also our recently deceased boos like MJ and Amy Winehouse to self-destruction? Maybe. But no matter how hard the paparazzi pushed these beloved songsters, that interest is something that comes with the territory of success. And whether those in the spotlight relish the attention or shy away from each flash of the camera, it’s all just part of the deal.

Yes, the demands on celebrities are intense and probably a little excessive, but nine times out of 10, the journey to becoming famous involves a career choice. And when people like Whitney go door-to-door in Hollywood in search of a record deal or film gig, they’re accepting the risk that their career is going to take off and spin out of control.

Stars can and do lead normal lives — there’s definitely the option of handling success in a healthy way. Artists like Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp live without shunning the media but also without resorting to drug-induced antics for attention, and it’s at no cost to their careers. But not everyone who graces the pages of The National Enquirer is level-headed. Drugs have a habit of turning celebrities into jokes, and unfortunately, as Whitney lost control of her addiction, she lost a lot of personal credibility.

Fast forward to her funeral, which was liveblogged from every corner of the globe. Did she deserve her demise? Of course not. I love Whitney as much the next “It’s Not Right”-singin’ fool, but if she couldn’t handle the pressure, it was her duty to get that booty out of the industry — if not for herself, then for her child (drama intentional).

Our culture wants to believe that celebrities are superhuman, and fans demand a lot from them. But I say stars are asking for it.

—EDITH FREYER

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The death of the Prom Queen of Soul has reminded me that I am pro-celebrity privacy. Not to say that her fans were the death of her, but there’s something real here in terms of the societal pressures experienced by the stars.

It looked as if all the balloon shops in the world had vomited Valentine’s Day paraphernalia onto the streets outside New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday, a week following Whitney Houston’s death and the day of her funeral. As the golden hearse carried the deceased pop star through crowds of people on MLK Boulevard, love and remembrance were sincerely communicated — but when is it too much? However true and lovely it is that fans gush their feelings about Whit’s death, it may also be accurate to say the pressure of the media — always linked back to the fans — may have been a factor in the drug use that led to her death.

We Americans tend to crush our celebrities with attention until they bleed Propofol. Illustrious singer Tony Bennett said it himself at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy Beverly Hilton party dedicated to Houston. Bennett’s ballsy commentary about recent celebrity deaths was reported in TMZ as follows: “First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston. Let’s legalize drugs, like Amsterdam, it’s a very sane city now.”

Whether or not you agree with Bennett in terms of legality working as an effective means for a safer, saner country where there are fewer drug-related deaths, the trend is present and the deaths of these artists are largely romanticized. Maybe if they had more privacy, this wouldn’t be a problem.

US Magazine’s “Stars — They’re Just Like US!” feeds the fuel to America’s ever-too-curious fire. It’s not just that celebrities deserve some privacy — they do — but why are we so invested in whether Jessica Alba does her own grocery shopping or Russell Crowe picks his nose?

Privacy aside in the case of Whit, the past is the past, and Whitney does deserve recognition for some killer dance tunes. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” recorded in July of 1986, is such a staple song that my modern dance teacher made up a competition jazz combination to it to pay our respects — and that was a large surprise.

Though I believe iTunes’s decision to raise the prices of her hit songs by 60 percent less than an hour after her death and the vomiting of heart-balloons at her funeral were both a bit excessive, Houston does deserve some lovin.’

—JULIA SMITH-EPPSTEINER

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