Sometime after lunch on February 8, I was leaving the library for class when I saw several people all standing around one of the televisions. Instantly, I knew it had to be breaking news, so I rushed over to it. I was surprised to find that it was only a report on the death of Anna Nicole Smith. I remained long enough to read the ticker before continuing on my way.
I knew that this story would be a news highlight for a day or two. I had no idea it would be covered continuously for weeks on end. Why? We already knew what happened and what would happen. She died of a drug overdose, which would turn into some conspiracy theory to reside forever in the moon landing, Monroe, and Trade Center nut sites of the internet. There would be a custody battle over the only physical receipt left on J. Howard Marshall’s estate. And eventually, one court would finally get a final say on how much should be dealt to the child that is destined to become another whisper of tawdry Americana.
Of all the things that happen in this world every day, why does Smith fascinate the media? With thousands of reporters, hundreds of hours of daily broadcast time, and state of the art equipment spanning the globe, they bring it all to bear on Vicki Lynn Hogan, shoving her down our throats. However, we cannot blame the media; we blame the people that watch it. It is no mystery why this former walking tabloid scores high ratings for television broadcasts. The same breed of viewers that makes Jerry Springer and Maury Povich top-rated programming is the driving force behind this trailer trash bonanza.
Who was this woman? She began as a stripper with an eighth grade education before going on to become a model, drug addict, and ultimately a whore—both metaphorically and literally. The only positive contribution that Smith left to this world came in a Supreme Court ruling defining equal jurisdiction between federal and probate courts for tort claims. Everything else resulted in entertainment for the fatuous masses and paydays for leeches, like Howard K. Stern, that fed off her reprehensible wake like lame dogs scarfing down table scraps. And now, even in death, she continues to further pervade American culture like a herpes virus that never goes away. She, like Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, and Kevin Federline, is famous for being famous and is the epitome of what is wrong with our reality television culture today. She was simply a symptom of a much larger disease that, unfortunately, I see no cure for in sight.