Whitney Houston's funeral will be held this Saturday in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, but it won't be quite the private affair you might expect: the funeral will be broadcast over the internet, to allow her fans a chance to witness the ceremony. According to her publicist, Kristen Foster, Houston's family — I assume; I'm not sure who else would be the ones to give permission — will allow the Associated Press to stream the event (available here) as well as satellite broadcasters. Details about the service are scarce, but here is what we have learned at the moment:
Houston's funeral will be at New Hope Baptist Church, where she sang as a child. Her eulogy will be given by gospel singer Marvin Winans, a Grammy Award winner and longtime family friend. Afterward, Houston will be buried in Fair View Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., according to her death certificate.
So, is this weird? Is it too morbid? Is it a crass exploitation of someone's very personal tragedy? I'll admit that writing about someone's actual funeral service as if it's a major sporting event or TV special feels decidedly strange. (Like, why the hell do we need to be told about the details of the service?) But in the end — and maybe this is because I generally trust in people's better natures — this feels like an incredibly kind move. Because no one would bat an eye if this were an intensely private, completely closed-off event. But Houston did have fans, tons of them, who felt as strong a connection to her as people can feel towards a famous person they don't even know. And while their sadness is certainly nothing compared to that of the singer's friends and family, it's still there. Houston's family didn't have to share the ceremony with them; that they're willing to do so is an unexpected and generous sort of gift.
Also, shit — if I'm famous when I die, I'd want my funeral broadcast on every network and streaming live on at least five big-name websites. Parades are kind of a tall order, but if I can get some random people to sniffle from the comfort of their own living rooms hundreds of miles away, I think that's pretty good.