Tuning Out The Anna Nicole News

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - February 21, 2007

It is nauseating to witness the macabre carnival that is the media coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death and the rabid consumption by a twisted public.

Unless you have been holed up in the jungles of Borneo, former Playboy Playmate and TV reality star Anna Nicole Smith recently died of questionable circumstances in a hotel/casino in Florida. Her public story is rife with the titilating, sordid and tragic events which advanced her status as a bona fide celebrity, if not curiosity. Now that she has passed away, the media that was instrumental in elevating her persona in the world of entertainment is seeking payback by harvesting rating points and cash from her dead body.

I am not in a position to question the public life of Anna Nicole Smith. Again, we are privy only what we have witnessed on television and in supermarket tabloids. But there is no question Smith’s comparatively outrageous behavior was entertaining to some and her quest for stardom was advanced by her private drama made public. Still, there should be a red light that goes up when the minutiae of her death trumps any other event in the world and becomes the most engrossing news story of the day.

The last straw for me was the insensitivity displayed in media. I watched a roundtable discussion on Fox News Channel featuring that standard bearer of good taste and decorum, Geraldo Rivera. He was callous, rude and so disparaging in his comments that I literally had to change the channel. My initial thought was how pathetic for him to use the death of this woman, as controversial as she may have been, to advance his own position.

Jack Cafferty of CNN cracked a terribly tasteless line in his report, too. As he was tossing back to the anchor for a tease, he said “And Anna Nicole Smith is still dead.”. My goodness. This is not the work of a gentleman, but rather the utterance of a buffoon.

Although media types like Geraldo and Cafferty may be criticized for their maladroit handling of this story, a certain level of eye brow raising must go to those who fuel this type of shabby and exploitative programming: We, the American People. Why do we have reports, ad nauseum, about the death of Anna Nicole Smith? It’s due, in part, to America’s obsession with celebrity and a heightened interest level when one falls.

(As I am writing, I am being treated to a “body language expert” on the Bill O’Reilly show dissecting Smith’s last interview and a segment with her companion and lawyer, Howard K. Stern. As the report continues, there is nothing valuable or revealing in her analysis. But, it doesn’t matter. It’s another opportunity to run tape on Smith and to raise questions about the veracity of Stern’s sincerity. The implication of nefarious elements in this case seemed to be the real objective.)

The job of a television executive or a magazine publisher is to present a product attracting the largest audience in order to charge the highest rates which leads to profitability and satisfied shareholders. Apparently, they believe the broadcast of tasteless invasions into a dead woman’s most intimate events, while dead or alive, is fair game. The economic principle of supply and demand applies here. The demise of this tawdry programming is in the hand of the consumer. Stop the demand and the supply will end.

In other words, do as I am doing right now. Change the channel.

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