Chris Rock has been a comedic provocateur for decades, but a recent joke he made about the iconic songstress Whitney Houston did not go over well, and rightfully so.
The comedian’s now deleted post about the singer raised eyebrows after he hit on Houston’s history with drug abuse, prompting Bobby Brown, Houston’s ex-husband, to come out in her defense.
To be honest, I initially liked the meme at first. I was scrolling on Instagram over the weekend when I saw Rock’s meme, with the sentence, “Me sitting in a meeting that could have been an email” at the top, aligned with a photo of Houston wearing sunglasses. I just knew underneath those shades her eyes were screaming “I don’t have time for this,” a relatable feeling especially if you’ve ever had to attend a meeting like the one he mentions in the workplace.
But as I scrolled down to see the caption Rock wrote under the photo I quickly gasped. “Hurry up I got crack to smoke,” Rock wrote. As fast as I had liked the photo, I unliked it and went about my business. I didn’t think much of it, but also knew that if other people were as disturbed as I was, they would call him out.
And so they did. In multitudes.
Brown quickly came out swinging for Houston, writing under the meme on Rock’s Instagram, “During this time of women empowerment you chose to use your time to humiliate our QUEEN!!!”
As we know, the singer’s history of drug use served as major fodder for tabloids and news media. It was not until two recent documentaries which covered her life, Can I Be Me? and Whitney, that the public was offered a full view of what was transpiring in Houston’s world and the events that led to her demise.
From claims of child molestation, to the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and the pressures of fame, I came to realize that at the end of her life, we were literally experiencing the process of watching one of our heroes deteriorate, and nothing was done until it was too late.
Rock has been called out twice recently over his speech at the NAACP Image Awards which attempted to make fun of the Jussie Smollett/Chicago Police Department investigation in reference to whether or not the actor staged his own attack.
“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes. I know. What a waste of light skin. You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. F—ing running Hollywood,” Rock said.
“What the hell was he thinking?” he continued. “From now on, you’re Jessie from now on. You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”
Last year, a 2011 video resurfaced of Rock laughing wile comedian Louis CK used the n-word during an HBO roundtable which also featured Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais. As Rock, Gervais and CK laughed while Seinfeield refused, it prompted everyone to question Rock whose comedy focused on the nuances of Black life for so long.
Comedy definitely has a responsibility to criticize, provoke, and call truth to power, but I definitely think Rock went too far when it came to Houston this time.
Social media had a lot to say as you can see from the gallery below.