ENTERTAINMENT

Whitney Houston Could Only Be Herself With Bobby Brown, Documentary Director Nick Broomfield Tells HuffPostUK

Whitney and Bobby had more in common than it appeared.

13/06/2017 15:29 BST

The well-established Whitney Houston myth has it that pop’s tragic princess would have led a long, happy life had she not chanced upon the negative influence of ‘R&B bad boy’ Bobby Brown.

Howver, this fractured fairytale bears no relation to reality, according to Nick Broomfield, maker of the new intimate documentary ‘Whitney: Can I Be Me’

The film shows Whitney and Bobby partying together, including their wedding in 1992, and Broomfield tells HuffPostUK that theirs was a natural meeting of minds, similar backgrounds and shared references: 

“Whitney grew up in a tough area which makes you understand everything.

“She came from a very poor background, it’s even worse now. It’s only 45 minutes from Manhattan and you can buy a house on Whitney’s street for $20,000.

“The brothers got her the drugs, it was all around her, it wasn’t something that she’d been a princess and kept away from until Bobby Brown came along. They had the same reference points. They had a lot of fun together. That’s who she really was.”

L. Cohen via Getty Images
Whitney on the day of  her engagement to Bobby Brown

For Nick, Bobby is not the real villain of the piece, but rather a weak character stumbling around for his own identity in his superstar wife’s shadow:

“Bobby was just struggling for his own identity, very much in love with Whitney but he would also go with other women, in pathetic power play. And it really upset her, it devastated her, but he would do it over and over.”

The film makes it clear that one the great tragedies of Whitney’s life was parting from her long-time companion, many say lover, Robyn Crawford, with whom she’d grown up and lived together, despite the disapproval of her mother Cissy Houston, and the burgeoning pressures of superstardom. Broomfield says:

“Robyn comes through very strong, you feel her love, whether they’re singing, or just in the room together. They have a real thing. 

“You get a strong sense that they were together. Robyn gave her support and love. They lived together, from the tiny flat with no stove to the mansion that came later.”

For Nick Broomfield, who confesses he didn’t know much about Whitney Houston before embarking on the film, but was drawn to “the disconnect between the talent, beauty and power of this extraordinary woman and the horrible, condemning verdicts that greeted her death”, the lesson we can take from the film is to treat our idols with more compassion:

“I feel that she was a fun-loving, very generous, giving person who made countless millions so happy, but the world was unbelievably judgmental with her at the time when she needed support and understanding,

“She needed the same kind of generosity that she had given out, instead of which she was the brunt of talk show jokes. She already felt bad about herself, and she retreated even further.

“It was a super tough set of circumstances, being the first massively successful crossover artist, she paid a massive price for it.”

‘Whitney: Can I Be Me’ is in cinemas from 16 June 2017. 

Whitney Houston Through The Years