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Friday, February 9, 2007

Goodbye, Norma Jean

I don't know much of anything about archaeology. But I have read that its practitioners find out the most about a civilization or society not from its monuments, but from the writings and possessions of The Average Citizen. Part of me hopes that whomever is looking at our present day ten or twenty thousand years hence can tap into the Internet. I would guess that the researcher of a distant tomorrow will be more than a little puzzled about the diversity of opinions concerning one Anna Nicole Smith.

On one hand she was, to be kind, the Ultimate Cliche Made Flesh. It was as if the cartoon that opened her self-named reality show had taken life. But there was no Pygmalion behind this Galatea, no one guiding a topless dancer from Houston in What To Do When You Hit The Jackpot [To hear Hugh Hefner tell it, he did what he could when she was picked as "Playmate Of The Year" in 1993. Oddly enough, I tend to believe him. But once the deals came from outside his company, there was little he could do.].

For most people, becoming the fantasy bed-partner of 14-year-old boys who never grew up could be enough. A comfortable living can be made from being a "Playmate Of The Month", never mind "...Of The Year". But God, or Fate, or Whatever you believe hands out Fortune, wasn't quite done shaping this little Cautionary Tale. She enthralled, wedded, then outlived an 89-year-old multi-multi-millionaire. Of course his stepson said she wasn't entitled to his step-father's 550-million [It seemed like there was enough there for everyone. Couldn't they have just split the estate? I guess not...]. A long court battle ensued, with both sides taking notable victories. Last June, the stepson died. His family said the courtroom maneuvering would continue. Now, both principals are gone. But the battle will continue, if only to ensure (or not) the future of Ms. Smith's 5-month-old daughter. Who's her daddy? Oh, that's another whole series of questions! Indeed, a whole cottage industry developed around the life of Anna Nicole in the field of gossip research [some of today's biggest gossip stars did their internship in one of the many areas of Smith exploration: weight (up? down? stagnant?), relationships (no way to summarize that topic briefly...), the Court battle (see above), or what she was selling (are you looking a little suspiciously at your TrimSpa this morning?), just to name a few.

And yet, the question remains: why all this interest in someone whose chief claim to fame was, as the old joke goes, being famous? Any one's guess is as good as mine, but you've read this far, so here goes. The world loves a good Cinderella story, especially if it has a little bedroom intrigue to keep it interesting. So Anna Nicole dropped her top instead of her shoe! She still found a Prince (or old King, as the case may be). It almost seems a shame that she never really got to enjoy life.

Around the Building, the consensus last night was that most people felt at least a little sorry for poor lost A. N. Smith. And when was the last time that a group of average Americans legitimately felt sorry for someone worth hundreds of millions of dollars? Maybe we're all afraid that, confronted with mindless wealth, we'd be just as lost as she was.

2 comments:

Viola said...

Mike, this is a good write up and my husband and I have discussed this atlength as well. It's true - at the end you only feel sadness and pity for the whole ordeal...for her.

BeautyIsRelative said...

it is a sad story. i hope that her daughter has a better life