Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Day Dysfunction died…the short, hard life of Anna Nicole

When I was young my parents told me not to exploit people who had obvious mental problems. Therefore I never really got into the whole Anna Nicole reality TV thing. Even a few minutes of watching her revealed that the woman’s life was an ongoing train wreck. I actually felt nothing but a sense of sadness when I would happen to catch her antics on TV while channel surfing.

I think it says volumes about how coarse our culture has actually become (and about our fascination with dysfunction) that in death her tragic and pathetically short life has taken on an even larger role. She is pretty much ubiquitous now on cable TV…one may mistakenly think that her death was actually important given the amount of coverage that it is getting. I can’t remember a time since Lady Di met her untimely end in a Paris tunnel when all of the worlds press seemed to have a single minded focus on one story.

Why is America so fascinated by sleaze? She was a waitress, a stripper, a Playboy centerfold, a drug addict and one of the great gold diggers in history. She was briefly married to J. Howard Marshall, a 94 year old billionaire who died shortly after marrying her. She then proceeded to make a claim to half his estate and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court before it was settled. It is rumored his family gave her 400 million dollars to get her to go away. Not bad for a few months marriage where given the age of the groom she probably did not even have to apply her best talents.

I think we are fascinated with Anna Nicole because she embodies all the things (drugs, sex, money) we like to look at from a distance. A woman who due to a weakness of character, suffered a complete loss of control fuelled by her own addictions and demons. And all of this happened on TV, in our living rooms actually. We perhaps self righteously conclude that despite all the bad things we end up doing, all our bad decisions, at least we are not Anna Nicole Smith.....and that makes us feel good.....


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