I suppose there are people much more deserving of compassion than Anna Nicole Smith, but I can’t think of many. That sounds condescending, though I don’t mean it to be – she was, as so many people have pointed out, a “girl who came from nothing” and managed to make “something” out of herself. Perhaps she’s an example of the American dream, as some suggest, and she might even warrant an entry into that fucked-up club of Great Blondes that she was so desperate to join … but to me she’ll always remain a vicious caricature of all she aspired to become.
There have been some attempts the past couple of days to portray her as some sort of wounded bird that we secretly loved and publicly mocked. But you and I both know that’s bullshit. Anna Nicole Smith was never a beloved American icon – at best, she was a cautionary tale.
You know those clips of American Idol in which the rejects stagger out of the audition room sobbing that they “wanted to start out famous” and are now shattered that they have to “go back to being a nobody”? Well, Smith was the one who went on and did it. She became famous (used to be called "notorious" in the old days) without having much to back it up, unless you count fake boobs and marriage to a rich old man; and used that fame to further her "career".
And her career was… herself. She appeared on the cover of Playboy: an upscale version of what she used to do with her body in the pre-Howard Marshall days. She got brief glimpses of hope – she replaced Claudia Schiffer as the face of Guess jeans – hopes that flickered on and off throughout her life. But they didn’t last, and Playboy remains her foremost achievement. In many ways, it was the perfect vehicle for her – you didn’t know what she sounded like, what was going on behind the scenes. All you saw was that voluptuous mirage of the glamorous blonde pouting back at you.
It was apparently a lesson she took to heart as you can see in footage – whenever a camera’s on, she can’t stop flaunting her body; the moment it's switched off, a somewhat expressionless woman takes over. It all came to a head with that awful, compulsive reality series, The Anna Nicole Show. "Anna Nicole’" was originally a persona she created for a nobody with an eighth grade education from Texas. It ended up defining who she was as a person and what her life was all about.
Mainly, she became a topic of much ridicule. The material was simple – remember Conan O’Brien whining unintelligibly as he walked down imaginary stairs? He carried on for the best part of a year and still managed to be hilarious to the bitter end – and amply available. She ensured that personally, both by her behavior in public and the people she surrounded herself with.
Consider the panel that Larry King cobbled together the day of her death to pay tribute to her life. It featured among others:
- Monique Goen, wife of Trimspa CEO. Think Ann Coulter with fake tan. Yup, just that frightening. Managed to insert the word "Trimspa" into pretty much every other sentence.
- Joanie “China” Laurer. Former pro-wrestler and sometime acting colleague. Sobbed, mumbled, castigated media for making fun of Smith before Mrs. Trimspa stepped in. “I asked Anna about China…Joanie… whatever she calls herself,” she sniffed, “and she said China was some sort of stalker.”
- Penny Genovese. “Close friend” and Trimspa … user? Fan No. 1? Whatever. They became “friends” when Trimspa flew Smith out to be her maid of honor as part of a publicity stunt. “We met for the first time that day and became friends. Stayed in touch. That’s the kind of person she was.” Lady has no clue.
- Some Guy Whose Name I Didn’t Catch and Don’t Care to Know – I know what he looks like and will run if I see him on the street. You should do the same. Produced a couple of her Z-list movies. Visibly torn up at the loss of his cash cow. Did a nice bit of publicity for their last venture, coming soon to a video near you!
- And, of course, Donna Hogan. Sister and author of Trainwrecked – a forthcoming Smith expose. Said Smith was jealous of her because she had a daughter while Smith only had a boy (until five months ago anyway). Not even Larry understood that one. Anyway, she was another mumbler who was clear about one thing and one thing only: she HATES Howard K. Stern. Oh, and the last time she met her sister? Ten years ago.
Can you imagine dying and leaving that crappy bunch to deliver the eulogy at your funeral? Worse still, can you imagine one of the above raising your infant daughter?
Of course, said daughter comes with three possible fathers, all of them chomping at the bit to prove they’re the very opposite of deadbeat dads – Larry “I called her my sweet potato” Birkhead, Howard K. “Tragically and forever wounded” Stern, and the most recent entry, Frederic Prinz von “I’m married to Zsa Zsa Gabor and never divulge the details of my private life." (Except when calling a fucking press conference to announce it.) Anhalt. She sure could pick them, couldn’t she? This is why God invented birth control people – the gene pool is a sacred thing, effluents should be kept out.
The little baby has bigger problems than a dead mother, a tailor-made dysfunctional family and an iffy father though – she’s also a potential heiress. Everyone’s talking about her "well-being" but seriously, you think that group of vultures isn’t sitting with an eye cocked at her inheritance? The next time you throw yourself a pity party because your life sucks, imagine being that kid.
Sadly, the notoriety Smith courted all her life isn’t going to end with her death. It’s going to go on for weeks and months as her tangled legal affairs are set to rest, and then it’ll pop up at random moments as her child grows up.
And nobody’s really going to care, because her place is already being filled by Paris Hilton and her herpes. And when she’s gone, someone else will follow. Because they all want to be famous and talent is no longer a bar – as long as you look the part, somebody out there’s got a slot you can fill. Anna Nicole Smith was Vickie Lynn Hogan’s ticket to fame and her very own Frankenstein’s monster. She swallowed Vickie Lynn whole before she died but she’ll be back another day, in another form… and we’ll have this conversation all over again.