About two months ago, I was enjoying an episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ when suddenly, just as Lucy was about to embark on one of her hilarious antics, the channel cut to ‘Breaking News.’ I was intrigued by, and a little afraid of, what horrible news they would present. Then, for about 10 minutes, photographers were shown waiting for a man who, according to the text at the bottom of the screen, would inform them of the cause of Anna Nicole Smith’s death after examining her autopsy report.
Annoyed as I was by a report I found completely useless, I nevertheless did not change the channel in hopes of it returning to its regular programming. After 23 minutes and a lot of incoherent babbling on the part of the medical examiner, the news report gave its final statement, claiming that they were unaware of what killed Smith and would get back to everyone in a couple of weeks when they found out; they then switched back to the show, which, by this time, was rolling its credits. Needless to say, I was furious.
The last time I remember a news flash delivered with such an air of importance was on Sept. 11, 2001. Never would I have imagined any celebrity news story being given the same amount of coverage as that disastrous event, particularly one about a woman who was famous for being famous, whom I had heard about only once or twice about before her death, and whose biggest accomplishments were being a Playboy Playmate and marrying a man four times her age for his money.
What’s worse is that less than a month later, another channel I was watching had a sudden news flash as well, this time broadcasting Smith’s funeral. The funny thing is, the attendees took the coffin under a huge tent with the reporter stating that this was to be a private funeral. Yet despite that, for the next half-hour, the channel kept broadcasting aerial views of the tent, attempting to get a glimpse of the procession within. Are you kidding me?
Is this what America has come to? Mindless, Tinsel-Town obsession to the point where celebrity gossip overrides important news stories of relevant events? Smith’s death was unfortunate, as any death is, but how can you expect me to feel remorse for it, even after the demise of her son, when on the other side of the world hundreds of people are losing every existing family member they have in the blink of an eye? Many have expressed sympathy for her now-motherless daughter but, without trying to sound trite, the Iraq war has created many orphans, ones who are not heirs to a multi-million-dollar fortune and unable to lead healthy lives. This excessive degree of concern for Smith’s daughter and negligence of those unfortunate orphans is worrisome. On the day Smith died, several hundreds of faceless people whose names we will never know died as well and not one of their stories was deemed more important than hers.
However, I cannot claim that America is the only country suffering from celebrity mania; the biggest news story on Spain’s ElPais.com shortly after Smith’s death was Britney Spears shaving her head bald. Wow. If she is getting that much attention from making a mere change of hairstyle, imagine what will happen when she passes away. The world as we know it may just come to an end.
Several less-publicized yet important events have occurred in the time surrounding Smith’s death, including a plane crash in Indonesia, a tsunami in the Solomon Islands and ongoing conflicts and numerous deaths in Iraq. It’s almost as if the media wants to prevent us from knowing what’s really going on in the world. And the American public is playing right into their hands; they’re eating up all the celebrity gossip and making it personal. In fact, many people have been quoted referring to Smith as their ‘American Princess,’ comparing her to the likes of Princess Diana. Right, because Diana walking across land mine fields in Africa, wearing almost nothing for protection to make a point, is the same as Smith walking across Fantasy Land runways, wearing almost nothing, to make a buck. Touch