I, along with tens of others, was shocked with the news of Anna Nicole Smith’s death this past week. It was depressing news that a B-list celebrity suffered from what seemed to be an innocuous death. What was even more depressing was the media’s obsessive, nonstop, wall-to-wall coverage of Smith’s passing.
CNN, FOX News and the like were fascinated with this American travesty. CNN at one point went 90 minutes without a commercial break to report ‘breaking news’ which was repetitive and, quite frankly, newsless. Smith’s death was dragged on and on until it was no longer news, but rather an annoying tabloid topic which apparently garnered high ratings for news networks that couldn’t find the time to report actual news.
The networks desperately tried to come up with new theories to explain Smith’s mysterious death. Rumors of needles and methadone, without a credible source, reared their ugly heads on more than one occasion.
Most notably, there was the ‘Death Fridge,’ which apparently consisted of butter, Slim-Fast and possibly fat-free yogurt. These miscellaneous items, according to Fox News, could have contributed, in some way, shape or form, to Smith’s demise. You will be hard-pressed to find another load of faux news this year.
In this past week, Smith’s passing has taken precedence over the Iraqi war, global warming and other numerous political issues. Why? Because Anna Nicole Smith is that important. Geraldo Rivera went so far as to call Smith the ‘American Princess Di.’ Yes, he compared this ex-‘Playboy’ playmate to a graceful and charming humanitarian. I wonder if other countries share this view; I wonder if even America shares this view. I’m praying the answer is a resounding ‘No.’
It seemed that for a split-second, the networks were covering her death as if it were Sept. 11. Undoubtedly, her passing is sad news, but it should not control the airwaves for an entire hour, much less an entire day.
But I won’t lie. I was glued to the television set with thoughts racing through my head. Nearly on the verge of having blood drip out of my ears, I was wondering why these channels would go so far as to praise a controversial gold-digger like Anna Nicole Smith.
She was no icon, by any means. The only mark she left in history was her infamous marriage to billionaire tycoon James Howard Marshall II. She married a man 63 years her senior because she loved him. It wasn’t for the money. No, it was because she loved him. Many Americans tease and joke about this matter but what they fail to realize is this is America’s tragic love story. And maybe that is why we, the viewers, were subjected to an overdose of Smith on television these past few days.
One might argue that the news networks celebrated the life of a true romantic. Something along the lines of ‘We will never see a person as warm and loving as Smith again for decades.’ I argue that we will never see another gold-digger like that for centuries.
I don’t hate Smith, not by any means. I’m sure many Americans don’t as well. But after countless hours of being spoon-fed her life, trials and tribulations, I think I have the right to be a little agitated. And that tiny agitation can build up to an annoyance which in turn sparks a small disliking that can ignite a deep, momentary hatred. It just so happens that I was writing this piece during that momentary hatred.
My final words to Anna would have been: ‘Anna, we hardly knew ye.’ But now thanks to the media, I know you all too well and wish to know nothing about you once more.
Brian Nguyen is a second-year literary journalism major.