Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anna's tragedy

So the results are finally out. Larry is the dad, and the other five can now go home and contemplate whether or not the month-long media circus was well worth it. Now I'm not sure if they're satisfied with the results, but am positive that, at least, we are finally going to be spared this 'virility contest' that was getting increasingly tiresome and boring.

However, much as I express my sympathy on her passing, I find it rather puzzling as to why Anna Nicole Smith's death should garner such huge publicity. It's not as if she was hugely talented or even drop dead gorgeous. Alright. The jury might still be out on that one, and I concede that a sizeable chunk of the male population are going to miss her terribly.

But I'm still hard pressed to find out what really made Anna Nicole Smith so famous that even two months after her death, Entertainment Tonight on Showtime keeps featuring the same subject over and over again. I can understand blanket coverage for the first two days, but even now? Two months later? Puzzling, to say the least.

It was, probably, her drug overdose that heightened the sympathy factor. Maybe. Drugs, drinks and fast living have had a hand in the death of many showbiz geniuses in the past, and Anna Nicole Smith has just joined this illustrious list that has included Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, James Dean and others.

However, it does seem rather worrying that Anna Nicole Smith was even considered worthy to be included in this list, and that comparisons were drawn between her and Marilyn Monroe. I agree that most of these great dead celebrities were, somewhat, unhinged at a certain level, but it has to be made clear that not everyone in the celebrity circuit who is unhinged is a genius. Sometimes the person is just... unhinged.

Marilyn Monroe, for instance, was not just a sexy bombshell, she was, also, an extremely talented and skilled actress, and has a portfolio of work to demonstrate this fact. It's true that much attention has been given to her affairs and to her sexy allure, but all said and done, if she is still remembered for her allure even almost half a century after her death, then, it is safe to assume that she must have something in her that deserved such remembrances. There were others who were sexier but they aren't remembered with the same 'candle in the wind' fervour.

Hence, it does seem rather tad premature to compare Anna Nicole Smith with Marilyn Monroe because, for one, Anna does not have a substantial body of work that would stand the test of time. It would be silly to use her performance in the Naked Gun movies and the reality tv specials as worthy examples because they just aren't in the same league as the body of work of other dead celebrities. And two, her claim to fame, apart from being Playboy's Playmate of the Month, was her marriage to J. Howard Marshall II, the octogenarian oil tycoon who and the subsequent fight over inheritance claim with Marshall's son. So, in a sense, she has been famous for being famous like many others who populate People magazine and Hello.

So why this sudden urge to elevate Anna to such super-human status?

Now let me pause here, and say that I do feel sad that Anna had to die young and die in such a sad state. The paternity dispute over her baby, in particular, was a sorry spectacle, and no person - living or dead - should have to go through such an insult. Perhaps if she had lived longer one would have had the chance to see her in a more positive light, and perhaps, her potential would have been realised. But that was not to be, and therein lies the tragedy of Anna Nicole Smith.

But still, it does not explain the blanket coverage given to her death by news organisations and entertainment/celebrity journals. I may have to hazard a guess though, and assume that this blanket coverage said a lot about news organisations and news consumers in general than it did about Anna Nicole Smith. It clearly amplified
a craving for a heroic figure to mourn over than an actual feeling of loss over her passing. It, also, showed that in the 'newsmaker' circuit there was, hardly, anyone worth emulating and so, an almost-celebrity like Anna Nicole Smith was chosen for such 'greatness to be thrust upon her'.

Or was the reason too deeper? And was her death that much needed distraction that people needed after the continuing violence and cynicism and deception that has followed the current war in Iraq, the uncertainty over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, the doomsday scenarios of global warming unraveling itself?

It could be any reason at all, and I hope, it isn't what I suspect because, no matter who it is, no one should be mourned out of a need for distraction. Anna Nicole Smith may have been a non-entity as far as her talent goes, but she was a human being first and foremost, and because of this fact alone she deserved better. She needed to be treated as a person who died and not as a media event that had to be milked for all its worth.

In a few months time, the media will have forgotten her, but her loved ones will remember her and miss her for a long, long time. But the media won't care how they cope with this loss because the media will have gone searching for the next big sorry victim to gloss over.

This is the way it goes, and it's a pity that there will be many more Anna Nicole Smiths for us to read about, talk about, feel sorry for, and agonise over. Ad infinitum ad nauseum

1 comment:

junoesque said...

grist for the mill..it will die its death in course of time...
:))