Goodbye, Abnormal Jean
In life, Anna Nicole Smith was a walking, talking, giggling and jiggling tabloid headline: Playmate of the Year, gold-digger, trophy wife. Fluctuating weight, unpredictable scandalous behavior, drug abuse. Reality-television train-wreck, and finally grieving mother. In death, she becomes an icon of Warholian celebrity. She has become the poster child for the TV-age American Dream: fame and fortune as a goal, not a result of talent or achievement. Make no mistake, Anna Nicole Smith had no talent whatsoever. Her notoriety was based solely on her ability to remain notorious. Next up: Paris Hilton, whose only contribution to society is her prominence in society's so-called "high" regions.
Most interesting to me has been the wall-to-wall coverage of Smith’s passing by the television media, which has portrayed her in death as some combination of Marilyn Monroe, Mother Theresa and Mary Magdalene. Perhaps this is a post-mortem apology for treating her entire life like a series of punchlines to jokes you wouldn’t tell your mother. It’s all fun and games until someone loses their life.
Now sit back on your couch and watch as we learn nothing whatsoever from her life or her death. As we increasingly celebritize destructive behavior, the behavior has to become more and more destructive in order to titillate. Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and their ilk will continue to make dysfunction and amorality into disposable entertainment. Ozzy Osbourne’s family gives way to Gene Simmons’, which will give way to Marilyn Manson’s, and eventually, I promise you, Charles Manson’s. American Idol will continue making fifteen-second celebrities out of people with dreams bigger than their talent or self-awareness. And no one will pay any attention whatsoever to what happens to these people when the red light on the camera turns off.
Somewhere in America, some pretty young blond-haired blue-eyed girl is starting today on her dream to become the next Anna Nicole Smith.