A Sad Soap Opera Posing As News

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - March 07, 2007
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I thought it would be over long before this, but I was wrong. The Anna Nicole Smith soap opera appears to have an excruciatingly endless plotline, and I am sick of it.

More than sick, actually - I am angry. Why should we care where she is buried? Why do we have to know every detail of her final moments on earth? Why do we have to peek into her refrigerator, and why are TV news organizations devoting so much valuable air time covering ad nauseam the sad life and times of a third-rate talent whose claim to fame is that she married an old, sick millionaire who died?

I’ll tell you what bothers me most. The story would go away if no one was interested, and the fact that it hasn’t says something about us. The public is eating up this story and I fear it means that we have lost our way. We would rather speculate on the tawdry details of Smith’s love life than face the fact that we are failing as a country to address the issues that really matter - our environment, the horrendous war in Iraq, violence in our homes, the homeless we see and ignore all around us.

In fact, I was stunned when CNN actually covered live the court hearing that determined where Smith would be buried.

That’s just wrong.

And it isn’t over. There’s still the burial, the paternity issue, the money she will or will not inherit from her sugar daddy husband.

Why am I so irritated? Because Smith is just one more example of what the media are hyping breathlessly as “girls gone wild.” Newsweek featured the naughty celebs Paris, Britney, Lindsey and Nicole on its cover. No last names needed - the tweens and teen girls all know who they are and they like them. They want to dress like them. They want to be them.

That’s scary.

There have always been bad girls and boys around who are romanticized and emulated, especially if they’re beautiful, rich and sexy. It’s nothing new. What is new is the overwhelming saturation of the images that fosters a cult-like status of these girls and women. Their influence is vast and a heck of a lot stronger than it would have been back (way back) when I was a teenager. That’s because celebrity gossip is now considered news - and the headlines are dominated by the pantiless, promiscuous and preening exploits of these whacked-out role models.

I would never presume to say that Smith’s life was meaningless or useless. She was a loving mother and a vulnerable human being.

But it is obvious that the only talent she possessed was her ability to exploit her beautiful face and overblown buxom figure. After she died the big question was who was the biological father of her new baby - Howard Stern, Larry Birkhead, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband? Guys kept popping up and claiming to have fathered her child. It would have been funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

The only obvious fact is that Smith was a drug addict and fame junkie who surrounded herself with leeches who claimed to love her.

And our sick fascination with her life and death casts us as a nation of enablers feeding on the image of a sick and tortured soul.

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