Popcast: Who’s in Charge of Telling Whitney Houston’s Story?

The Popcast is hosted by Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times. It covers the latest in pop music criticism, trends and news.

When a meaningful, transformative artist dies, battles over legacy are a given. But Whitney Houston’s death posed a different kind of challenge. The second half of her career, which involved public battles with drugs and vastly diminished recording output, had already undone much of the good will earned in the first half, in which she was one of the most popular and powerful pop stars of the 1980s and early 1990s.

“Whitney” — a new documentary, sanctioned by her family and her estate — addresses this challenge by largely ignoring her meteoric rise. Instead, it attempts to unpack what caused her star to fall so precipitously. It also is an implicit reply to “Whitney: Can I Be Me,” another documentary on Houston’s life from the British filmmaker Nick Broomfield that was released last year and attempted to answer similar questions, without the family’s approval.

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