Friday, February 09, 2007

Saint Anna Nicole

It's the Death of Nixon syndrome. An utterly unsavory character dies and the press just melts and starts spinning them into sainthood. Yahoo News! has a headline that says "Why we cared about Anna."
We? Speak for yourselves, you purveyors of cheesy dreck. I don't care.
Let me rephrase that. I care. I care that an utterly talentless, ignorant slut was able to hold our collective attentions for more than 10 seconds. And on account of what? Her Barbie on steroids looks? Her unabashed, vulgar hogging of the spotlight? The fact that she was happy to make herself into a walking freakshow for celebrity? That she was proud of her ignorance?
Her strange life seemed to veer from one outsized struggle to another. She struggled famously with her weight and with her family. She sometimes even struggled to speak without slurring. She had a TV show that could be so embarrassing you'd want to watch it with dark sunglasses on. Much more tragically, she lost her 20-year-old son. Five months ago she had a baby daughter and now two men claim to be the father.

In other words, she was a perfect pop culture icon. By contrast, another famous creature of Internet celebrity, the chic-er, more sophisticated and chillier Paris Hilton has much less to fascinate us, grainy sex video notwithstanding. It's hard to feel sorry for her.

Of course, compared to Anna Nicole Smith, La Hilton looks like Audrey Hepburn and Madame Curie rolled into one. But that is the problem with vulgarity. There is no sense of proportion.
There is no compassion for Hilton because she happens to be rich, while Smith "overcame" the classic self-pitying stuff that makes this country go gaga: a bad home life, teen pregnancy, poverty.
Well, there are a lot of people born under those circumstances that overcome them with far more dignity and unfortunately far more anonymity as well. Now, should she get a medal because she was craven enough to shake her humongous fake tits in front of an aging billionaire, or of salivating TV executives or Trimspa hucksters? Because she was, like our President, incapable of speaking English? There is absolutely nothing to admire in her, except her idiotic ambition, if you think that ambition without self-improvement is admirable.
I would think that a perfect pop culture icon would have something to give us in the way of culture. Once upon a time, our pop culture icons used to have talent (think Elvis, Jacko, Marilyn, Audrey, James Dean, Jim Morrison, Janis, etc). This oversized trash can had the gall to compare herself to Marilyn Monroe. Some professor had to come out in Monroe's defense and set the record straight:
The compelling mix of beauty and vulnerability is just one quality that has led to comparisons with Marilyn Monroe, another sexy, tragic blonde who Smith liked to compare herself to. The comparison is tempting, but the difference is monumental.

"Marilyn Monroe was an artist, a real performer, able to evoke in audiences a real empathy and a passion," said Richard Walter, a film professor at UCLA. "There is NO comparison." And yet he sees one strong point in common: the simple beginnings, the climb from total obscurity to fame.

And why is a life without fame one of "total obscurity"? Most people aren't famous and we don't live in the dark. We have meaningful, productive, human lives.
If Smith is an icon of anything, it is of what is wrong with this country: the immature, cartoonish sexuality, the willful, arrogant ignorance, the hunger for fame without merit.

No comments:

Post a Comment