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Television: Anna Nicole Smith: Look at Me: The Death of Anna Nicole Smith Spawns Media Frenzy

This is the third time I’m writing about Anna Nicole Smith. The first time, it was about her lame-brained “reality” show which had her wandering around a big house, with her then lawyer, Howard Stern, her then still alive son, Daniel, and some other person who is long since disappeared from the scene, following her around on her drug-addled misadventures. It was obvious then that Ms. Smith needed to be directed down a different road. Yes, even then, it was a tragedy. It was a tragedy for her teenage son who blushed deeply when the camera turned on him and Anna made some dumb joke about him; it was a tragedy that no one said anything about her drug use, even then. They just pointed and laughed.

My impulse then was to wrap her up in a big, warm coat and take her to rehab.

The second time I wrote about her was after the simultaneous death of her son, Daniel, and the birth of her daughter, Dannielynne Hope. Just as cameras were ready to catch every freakish angle Anna wanted to throw out, the entertainment “news” shows couldn’t get enough of her grief. They played the same tape over and over of Anna sobbing, paralyzed with the kind of grief only a parent who has lost a child knows. There she was – all traces of her former self gone, well, except for the drug-addled slurring. That never went away. And no one seemed to care. Why is it that Mel Gibson and Kate Moss are raked over the coals for their substance abuse, yet Anna Nicole Smith was shown on television stoned out of her mind? Over and over again. No one ever did anything.

Grief-stricken and hiding in the Bahamas, no one ever checked on Dannielynne to make sure her parents were fit. Even though one son had died and Smith was clearly on heavy drugs, no one ever did what, for example, was done to Britney Spears when she was seen driving her child briefly without a seatbelt. No one could bear Anna Nicole’s grief, and the thought of taking her baby away from her was probably more than anyone could endure.

It isn’t that I’m suggesting Dannielynne should have been seized by Social Services. It’s that no one said a thing about Anna Nicole Smith’s obvious state of incoherence. It’s one thing to turn a blind eye to dangerous behavior; it’s another thing entirely to encourage the behavior by putting her in front of a television camera again and again and again.

And now Anna Nicole Smith is dead. Just in time for February sweeps. She is finally getting the kind of love and empathy she never got when she was alive. She will now be worshipped and adored for decades. But now we’re no longer watching her in present tense. Her life was captured in media images, for better or worse. Her death was something we all saw coming yet no one gave a damn to do anything about it. No one cared because she contributed nothing to society except to provide glimpses into the life of a very messed-up individual.

The real tragedy is poor little Dannielynne. How the baby is being splashed all over the television and in the tabloids is a disgrace. Everyone involved, including we the viewers, should be ashamed. The kid should be left alone. Now that no one knows who the father is, there is no one to protect the little girl. She’s being dragged around by the obviously equally drugged-out Howard Stern, and being fought over by every Tom, Dick or Harry who ever spent any time with the actress during the month the baby was conceived.

There are times when it’s embarrassing to be a human being. How many millions of years of evolution did it take for us to get to a point where something like this is going on unchecked? And we can’t even blame the media. The only reason they play tape of Anna Nicole Smith is because the public demands it. We will have our tragedy. And why shouldn’t we? It’s free, after all. All we have to do is look at her. And it seems we are unable to look away.

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