The first lady of our bastard celebrity media nation has died today... apparently from a lethal dose of methadone and antidepressants on the floor of a room at the Hard Rock Hotel, and was there any other way for her to go? It's a death nearly as fitting as an aging, drug-addicted Elvis on the toilet seat, if not nearly as culturally significant.
For those of us only marginally exposed to the celebrity culture - e.g. seeing it on the magazine covers when we're getting our pre-packaged salads and pop-tarts rung up at Ralph's, you may wonder, just who was Anna Nicole Smith, and why was she famous anyhow?
Well, each of these questions has a short answer and a long one, but I'll try to minimize my usual waxing philosophical and keep the answers at least marginally brief.
Who was Anna Nicole? Well, she was a small-town girl from Texas, who like so many other young, desperate and similarly situated souls, turned to the old brass pole to make a living. But much like when Eva Peron shunned her black hair for blonde, it was when Anna went under the knife to turn her pear-shape into an "hourglass" when things really started to take off - and as a foreshadowing of how she would conduct the remainder of her adult life, when she sized up, she went big, very, very big. Soon it was a bigger town, and soon after it was Playboy magazine and Playmate of the year, and finally it was every Texas girl's dream, marrying an oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall II. Unfortunately, or perhaps in Anna's case, fortunately, her oil tycoon was almost 90 years old, and in failing health, and the marriage ended the next year, when Marshall died, $1.6 billion dollar estate intact. A 12-year legal battle ensued, and in a tasty bit of the ironic marriage of politics and celebrity, ended up (in-part) in the Supreme Court. Oh yes folks, THAT Supreme Court.
But who was she really? Perhaps none of the timeline above can portray the Anna Nicole that many of us became acquainted with through her wildly popular reality TV show (creatively dubbed "The Anna Nicole Show"). There, Anna was a train-wreck of a human being - grossly overweight, vapid and painfully inarticulate, co-dependent, foolishly wealthy, and chronically mismanaged. Saying that Anna Nicole had some "emotional problems" would be like saying the current weather up north is "a little chilly." But like much reality TV, dysfunction sells, and that made Anna the hottest thing since, well, Puck. Of course, many of us have come to know the magic of editing can magnify things... Ozzy may not be as baked-out, nor Jessica Simpson as absent-minded, nor Britney as trashy... okay wait, that might be going too far... But the point is, that "reality" tv is hardly as real as we are led to believe, but there was a real sense that Anna wasn't putting us on, that she just might be this shell of a human being, filled up mostly with self-loathing and prescription drug residue. And when the glamor finally returned, through the alleged magic of Trimspa pills (and what most of believe to be a substantial rekindling of her affair with amphetamines and a failure to eat for a few months), there was a sense of temporary grandeur to it all; like the red-carpet scene that we know will be a dirty sidewalk just a few hours later. We love it nonetheless.
"Trimspa, Baby!" accidentally became a rallying cry for the unwittingly desperate, and tagline for those wearing manufactured beauty as if it were real, and it's accompanying awareness of just how short a trip it would be back to ugly and ridicule. And perhaps then, Anna Nicole was the perfect spokesperson.
So why was Anna so famous? Well, I needn't wax on about our culture of celebrity worship. That subject has been covered by others who are far better versed than I. So the short answer was simple, there wasn't a very good reason. But there wasn't the backlash that normally accompanies the mystifying talentless fame of say, Starr Jones. Because Anna knew she was all blonde and boob, and not a whole lot else. She did everything big, because she could, but she absolutely did not take herself too seriously. One might even argue, she didn't take herself or her life seriously at all. It's hard to hate someone driving towards a cliff, even when they're doing it in a Ferrari, when they're not running anyone over to get there. Anna's simplicity, while perhaps a sad statement on our culture values, made her, personally, almost impenetrable to public hatred.
But there's no mistaking the fact that sex, drugs and rock & roll, as a lifestyle, tends to beget tragedies in disproportionate amounts. And while many of us can feel bad for Anna for losing her son, the people around her, and ultimately her own life in principle, it's hard not to feel a little bit of "I-told-you-so" all the same. Anna didn't have the good sense to surround herself with good advisers, and even as a lawyer myself, I would question the judgment of ANYONE who marries their attorney. It comes as a surprise to no one that those closest to her couldn't save her.
In the end, I think Anna, like Eva, wouldn't have us cry for her. She lived how she chose to live, on her terms. True, if she had stayed in small-town Texas, she'd probably still be alive, and so would her children. But, you have to appreciate the tragic beauty of a simple woman that decided to go big, and got just that.
LEISURE - CELEBRITIES
Copyright © 2010 Glenn T
Don't cry for me Brangelina...
Copyright © 2010 Glenn T
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