Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith is Dead at 39
And How Many of Us Rubbernecked?

"Anna Nicole was," Herron said, "in both her actions and her physical being, such an overexaggerated version of what we both lust for and loathe in our society. Bombshell blonde? Family feuds? Lots and lots of money? Weight troubles? Obscene self-revelations on TV? She had it all."

"No question, she was beautiful," said Behar, of ABC's "The View." "We know people like to watch dysfunction. But beauty gives you something extra to look at. Dysfunction and beauty: Now that's something to watch."
--from "What Made Us Care About Anna Nicole Smith?"

Anna Nicole Smith was a beautiful car crash.

Now, normally, I am an avid avoider of any sort of rubbernecking on the road. In fact, I make it a point NOT to look at wrecks. I have been known to spout heated invectives at people who stop for a look-see and mess up already horrendous Miami traffic. You know, you just know with a capital K, that they're hoping to see body parts flung all about.

Me, I really, really do not want to see anybody dead, and I could happily live my whole life without a glimpse of dismembered or charred humans sprawled on asphalt.

But I have given in to rubbernecking celebrities. I sometimes am unable to resist the uberwhacked parade on my television, whether it was the first season of THE OSBORNES or some episodes of THE SURREAL LIFE or an episode here and there of that show with Anna Nicole Smith.

I remember when I first saw her in some advertisement in a woman's mag. I thought she was absolutely gorgeous. After she became notorious for her general weirdness, I caught a glimpse of her on video/film. I thought she seemed really stupid and overblown. I mean, I'm sorry, those breasts are scary, scary like Pamela Anderson's and those pouts and cooings were nauseating. (Two beautiful women who have done abominably freaky sh*t to their bosoms, and I'm sure God gave them lovely breasts naturally. But, okay, that's a rant for a different day.)

Then her reality show came on and hubby and I watched, astounded that this woman managed to function at all. The baby talk. The slurred speech. The stunning ignorance. The spoiled manner. The glazed eyes. And she'd lost a good portion of her model mystique to avoirdupois.

And yet...

I remember one scene, one, where she's been dolled up for some event, and this mental and moral car-wreck faces the camera with supreme confidence and, snap, a switch is hit somewhere in that (seemingly) drug-hazed anatomy. She is "on." She is oozing seductiveness and availability and all sorts of sinful promises, and her skin is glowing and her bosom is heaving and her eyes are half-lidded...and she's transformed.

And I got it. I got why men fell at her feet.

Then she went back to being drunken, incoherent, vulgar, and weird.

But I'd seen what her talent was. She could turn on this other Anna that was astoundingly sexual and feminine and luminous and...irresistible.

But she couldn't sustain it. Soon, the real Anna came out. And she was pitiable.

And maybe that was part of her appeal, too. Some men (maybe many) like the idea of being a rescuer, the knight in blue jean armor. Some men want a woman they can pamper and coddle and protect. Anna Nicole gave off that air of neediness mixed with that amazing ability to morph into sex on legs. And that fair, blonde allure of hers--that idealized coloring favored by our culture--only added to the sexual bombshell magic.

I quickly bored of her life-schtick and we stopped watching her show. It was just too icky for any extended viewing.

So, yeah, I got why she became a hit in the men's mag crowd. I got why some billionaire would fall under her spell. I got why people watched her show. And then I dismissed her as a pretty flake with nothing interesting to say.

Then her son died.

As messy and dumb and avaricious and debauched and self-absorbed as Anna Nicole was, she was also a woman who had a son (and then a daughter). And any woman who loses a child is gonna get big time sympathy from me.

I prayed for Anna Nicole that week when her name was all over the papers, when Daniel died. You can't dismiss pain like that. And even though the selling of her son's photos was insanely tacky--money, oh, yes, money always loomed like a god in those episodes of Anna's reality show and in the stories of her life journey-- she was still a woman who in the midst of joy (new birth) suffered the greatest blow a parent could suffer.

So, I was sad for her when I heard the news last night. I'd fallen asleep on the couch, after two days not sleeping well, and totally dozed off before hubby got home, only to groggily emerge from sleep to hear the update on the telly.

Thirty-nine is no age to die.

I think I was sad, above all, because I had hoped Anna Nicole would have time to straighten out her life-mess. I figured time would erode the value of her physical allures and force her to find a deeper well, a nobler motivation, a higher ambition than sex or wealth or fame.

But she didn't have time.

So, yeah. I'm sad for Anna Nicole and for her baby girl, who I hope will have grace showered on her from on high and gets to walk a better path than her mom's.

Pray today for Anna Nicole's daughter.

If it turns out that drugs did Anna Nicole in--diet or recreational or otherwise--she'll be another cautionary tale, joining the heap with Janis and Jimi and Belushi and a Kennedy or two.

I'm tempted to say that celebrity can kill, but I suspect whatever kills a celebrity started growing in them before the cameras paid attention.

PEOPLE and STAR and US magazines will probably sell a gazillion issues of its "Anna Nicole's Dead" issue.

And we'll move on. We'll watch those shows about housewives in Orange County, or some gangster's kin dating and overspending, or whoever is going to be the next Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey combo. And we'll listen to the Kathy Griffins of the world ridicule the Anna Nicoles and Clay Aikens while pursuing celebrity themselves with single-minded callousness. And we'll seek out whatever else is amusing and tinged with vanity and obsession and greed and ignorance and cruelty.

Beautiful car crashes are such dreadful, primitive fun.

Our rubbernecking goes on.


Suzan Robertson said...

Any woman who loses a child has my sympathy, too. Been there.

Anyway, Anna Nicole was high up on the use and be used list. I didn't watch her show. I only watch Battlestar Galactica and the news, occasionally. TV has just become a vast wasteland to me, and I can no longer comprehend its insanity. I feel sorry for Anna Nicole's wasted life. I'm awfully sorry for her child. I pray that she is surrounded by loving people who have her best interests at heart. You'd think that these celebrities would learn from their peer's mistakes, sheesh.

Mirtika said...

I'm guessing that when they look at other celebrities, all that is visible is wealth and beauty and glamour, and that dazzles away the sight of multiple divorces, drug addictions, drunk driving, adultery, suicide attempts, abortions, casting couches etc.

But I think the bigger problem is that the celebrity way of life (the dysfunctional one) is not seen as a necessraily bad thing. How many folks still really think divorce, multiple marriages, promiscuity, recreational drug use, and doing all sorts of seedy things for moolah are a big thing? I'm guessing they just figure, "Well, it's just how life is now. Everyone does it." A recent survey said that the number one ambition of college youth today is TO BE RICH.

I'm guessing that and fame were on the top of ANS's list. And she got them. Didn't seem to do her much good.


SolShine7 said...

I was so sad when I heard the news. I never got into the whole Anna-Nicole rage but she always had this lost little girl look in her eyes. I, too, hoped that she would find REAL love in Christ.

She reminded me of Angel in Francine Rivers' "Redeeming Love". Hopefully, some women will see the Light because through her tragic death.

p.s. I sent Stuart my sample post for Spec Faith.