The Mourning After: America's Fascination With Anna Nicole

“Anna Nicole Smith was then taken to the hospital, and pronounced dead at 3:54 p.m., eastern time…”

My generation has lost its Paris Hilton.

Yesterday afternoon, while listening to a talk radio station, a news flash hit the air. I was a bit concerned, as the tone of the announcer sounded dire. Was there a terrorist attack somewhere? A fatal traffic accident tying up the freeway? Imminent meteor strike? No, it was that Anna Nicole Smith had been found unresponsive in a hotel room.

“Why hadn’t this been reported every other time it happened in the past 20 years?” I wondered. But it was being reported on this day because rumors were already swirling that Anna Nicole Smith was, indeed, dead.

Television stations then broke in with the news. CNN and Fox News coverage was immediate. It was almost as if America had lost a First Lady — a Yankee version of Princess Di. Both of whom had money, lived under the television lights, and had to marry older guys with big ears to get where they were.

The life of Anna Nicole Smith had many downers, and not only those that come in the kind of bottle that you have to find a ten year old kid so he can get the cap off for you. Her son died last fall in what would appear to be an incident incurred because he simply followed the tutelage of his mother, and she’s left behind a baby.

Anna Nicole often appeared in a way that made Keith Richards seem lucid by comparison, and rarely if ever seemed like a happy person. I used to think that was part of the act, but the really sad part is that it probably wasn’t.

There are two reasons that people followed the weird, messed up, slurry life of Anna Nicole Smith: Either they admired her for acheiving what we’re constantly taught by trial lawyers and a lottery culture us the “new” American dream, which is doing hardly anything of substance and yet getting rich; or they looked upon Anna Nicole as life’s freakshow, and the fascination was the same one we have when passing the scene of a car crash — always slowing down to take a look, but never wishing we were in that particular vehicle.

One possible third explanation for some of Anna Nicole’s following is that her “reality” show(s) made for relaxing television in an otherwise divisive and combative world. She was chronically non-political. You could watch Anna Nicole Smith without wondering if she was a conservative, liberal, communist, socialist or libertarian. It didn’t matter. The only way it would have mattered to Anna Nicole would have been if one politician or another had a say over what happened to J. Howard Marshall’s money or were proposing drilling in Alaska’s pristine silicone reservoirs.

Some people I’ve heard are wondering what the big deal is about the death of “just another drug addict,” as Michael Savage said on his show. Perhaps, Michael, but we have a long history of not only embracing this trait, but of propping up those who engage in it (since they often can’t prop themselves). It’s either because we admire them and strive to be like them, or we want and need something weird and different to entertain us while we go about our lives. I sure hope it’s the latter.

Judging from the entertainment shows and other media venues, the only remaining questions are exactly why Anna Nicole died, and whether or not she’ll be allowed to have a State funeral, be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and have a statue erected on the Mall. My guess is that guys would line up around the block to take a rubbing of that particular monument.

Farewell, Anna Nicole, and if any lesson is imparted from your troubles, I hope that you provided an example of what not to do.

Does anybody else have the feeling that, somewhere, Moses is getting hit on?


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Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: