Anna Nicole Smith R.I.P.: The Perils of Being a Professional Screwup; And Why Enough is Never Enough
News that perpetually fried spokesmodel Anna Nicole Smith died today at age 39 after collapsing at the Seminole Hard Rock hotel and casino near Hollywood, Florida struck me as particularly sad and not unexpected given her current job title.
(As an aside, Fox News is reporting a news agency paid $500,000 for images of efforts to resuscitate her; video of the effort is available here, from German television, if you can stomach it.)
This was a notion that came to me earlier today while I was researching an upcoming story on the reality TV hit I Love New York. While dissecting the show's popularity with realityblurred.com editor Andy Dehnart we hit on the subject of celebrities whose entire career now seem built around self destructing before our eyes.
I reflected on an appearance by former wrestler Chyna on Howard Stern's radio show and accompanying pay-per-view TV show. Nose running, voice slurring, wearing very little clothing, Chyna seemed in desperate need of a detox unit, but instead she staggered into Stern's studio signing autographs and dishing about her oddball sex habits.
I also thought of Anna Nicole, who I had seen propped up by new husband/baby daddy/parasite lawyer Howard K. Stern yesterday, her lips inflated to cartoonishly bulbous levels as she insisted that some other guy trying to get a piece of her money was lying when he said he was the father of her new baby instead of Stern.
This was a paternity fight the celebrity TV shows were salivating over, enjoying the sight of an out-of-it, highy surgeried Anna Nicole slurring her way through another horrific, high profile personal scandal.
(Smith's death also raises enough questions to fuel a Law & Order episode: Did she die from her own excesses or something else? Is it possible she was killed in the same way her son Daniel died in September? Now that she's gone, any potential settlement of the ongoing lawsuit over the estate of her second husband, billionaire J. Howard Marshall, would go to her 5-month-old child Dannielynn -- meaning former boyfriend Larry Birkenhead will almost certainly get his paternity test to answer his allegation that Stern is not the baby's father. There are also allegations Smith's marriage to Stern wasn't legal, even in the Bahamas where the ceremony took place. And if Stern isn't her legal husband and Birkenhead is the baby's father, it's possible Birkenhead may get control of Smith's estate as a custodian of her only surviving child. Beyond bizarre.)
For these types, it's the only remaining ticket to the gravy train that is celebrity life: maintaining a notorious reputation as a perpetual screwup.
Anna Nicole was an adult, just like Danny Bonaduce, Chyna Doll, Jessica Hahn, Todd Bridges and all the other has-beens or never-weres who have made a new career of feeding a vorcious tabloid media with their endless personal foibles.
But maybe we bear a little responsibility for paying too much attention. And allowing people with open psychological wounds to earn six figure salaries displaying their pain for our amusement.
Why Enough is Never Enough
I love our metro columnist Howard Troxler to death. He's one of my favorite writers at the newspaper. But there are not enough words in the English language to explain why I am so troubled by his column plastered across the front page of TBT* today suggesting we should feel sorry for astronaut/fatal attraction nutcase Lisa Nowak.
Let's consider the facts: she drove 900 miles in a diaper and a disguise, outfitted with latex gloves, pepper spray, a mallet, a BB gun, garbage bags and a plan. Howard condemns "behavior that menaces someone else" but begs forgiveness for crazy love-inspired actions, as if Nowak's actions could be compared to somebody who runs a key along a romantic rival's car.
But Nowak confronted her romantic rival with a blast of pepper spray to the face, trying forcibly to enter her car. The police have charged her with attempted murder, saying the only reason something worse didn't happen is because the victim kept Nowak from getting the upper hand.
Nowak's not going to jail, anyway; she has a mental disease or defect defense sewn up. But let's not hand her a load of public sympathy because she had a cool job and unthreatening look.
(as always, click on the photos to enlarge)