Anna Nicole Smith mattered, but why?

Aliens_lIt’s a question we’re having a hard time answering at PopWatch. Of course, Anna Nicole Smith‘s passing deserves to be mourned by those who knew her. And yes, it’s news. (That issue became the subject of a snark-free EW email chain yesterday when it broke.) But why is everyone suddenly trying to make her death a great, personal loss? Last night, Entertainment Tonight ran behind-the-scenes footage of her last interview, showing her embracing ET‘s Mark Steines when they met days ago for a tour of her new home. Yes, we get that you’d interviewed Anna Nicole many, many times, ET, but we also get, at least from that footage, that she wasn’t that great of an interview. (No matter how many times Steines tried to get her to describe what it felt like to be standing on the floor that Dannielynn would learn to walk on—we’re serious.) And why is CNN touting tonight’s Larry King "special coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s sudden death." And why is ABC planning to take a look back on her life on tonight’s special 20/20? And why is footage of her being administered CPR probably destined to air sometime, somewhere before then?

I guess we’re confused because, as PopWatch editor Gary Susman notes, "She had no discernable talent, other than being herself. She created a fair amount of entertainment product without actually being an entertainer. She’s not even a very good cautionary tale, in an E! True Hollywood Story sense — what lessons, really, can we draw from her life and death? It seems we spent more time laughing at her (especially on E!’s Anna Nicole Show) than with her, but it’s hard to say she was exploited, since she seemed so eager and unabashed on camera. She opened herself up to merciless public scrutiny, and yet we can’t say we knew her at all."

Honestly, if her last film Illegal Aliens (pictured, featuring Patrick Burleigh and Smith) actually gets released this spring as scheduled — TMZ has the trailer — will you be more likely to see it because her death has piqued your curiosity, or will you be more determined than ever not to go? (Before you answer, know it costars Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, talking about "mind-control suppositories.") If we’re not invested enough emotionally in her to go see her movie (and surely most of us aren’t), how do we rationalize being so caught up in the spectacle surrounding her death? Maybe that’s not confusion we’re feeling. Maybe it’s guilt.

Comments (67 total) Add your comment
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  • junior

    Maybe because we, the public, knew who she was and what she was going through and she was a person and now she’s dead. Maybe that’s why it matters. I’m done with Popwatch. This was tasteless, and slightly confusing since you guys are supposed to be entertainment journalists. You couldn’t figure it out. What’s to figure out. She was a big-time model turned paparazzi target over the last 15 odd years and now she’s dead. It’s not that hard. Goodbye.

  • t3hdow

    I dunno…it is a pretty weird feeling. I heard about/found out about Smith’s death three times and I said the same thing each time: “man, that kind of sucks.” I wasn’t particularly sad, but it was surprising. It sucked that she died so soon after her son’s unexpected demise and mere months after her daughter’s birth. She didn’t really lead a productive life and considering the many risque/idiotic things she’s done for fame – in recent years, she sounded drunk most of the time – I can’t say I’m feeling much remorse. That’s life I suppose…RIP Anna.

  • Some Guy

    Wow you are disgusting for writting this. It sounds like you hated the woman. How can you say she isnt a cautionary tale? She started off fame and money hungry, then battled depression, drug use, the death of her son and now shes dead. This is a perfect example of what fame, money, bad parenting and being around bad people can do to someone. Sure she made her own bed in the end but its obvious shes been crying for help for years. Im sure those around supported her habits and made matters worse. Its sad, a tragedy because this could’ve been avoided just like her son’s death and many things in her life. Her own mom is on TV, heartlessly stating her daugher was fame hungry and that she had it coming. What does that say about her that she goes on TV to make statements like that? Dont you think her mom is on TV for attention? Where do you think Anna got it from? As for you, your sad, saying such awefull things about a life you will never understand. Grow a decent human heart.

  • Bekkah

    I feel sorry for the little girl. You are guaranteed two things in life .. death and taxes. When you time is up, your time is up. If you choose to help it along, you are hurting the people you leave behind. So sorry for Daniellynn Hope. Now they are fighting over her and I feel basically for the money Anna may or may not have inherited.

  • Stacy

    Her death shouldn’t matter to anyone other than her family. In that regard it’s tragic. But for the rest, The only effect her death has is to slightly raise the national IQ average. This was a vapid, talentless, gold digging waste of space who conducted her life and death devoid of an ounce of dignity or class and doesn’t care enough for her newborn child to stay sober and raise her. She could only be “famous” in a culture such as ours that finds stupidity adorable and opportunism admirable. If you people want to mourn someone you don’t know, mourn the brave nameless soldiers in Iraq who were killed today. Their names won’t be printed because the space is needed to showcase a woman whose contribution to America is to say to little girls that all they need to get ahead is ginormous boobs and no brains whatsoever. Then realize, if we’d all stopped wasting time on tripe like her show and instead picked up an occasional newspaper, they needn’t have died in a needless war at all.

  • Mel

    I think you are being too harsh on PopWatch. I think Joshua Rich is right. Smith was pretty much famous for being famous. Maybe it sounds cold but one of the thoughts I had after I saw it on the news, after feeling sorry for her family, was maybe now we don’t have to see Anna Nicole Smith on CNN anymore.
    I agree with EW: It’s notable that she passed away, but it’s not “news.” She’s not a president or someone who contributed something that made a difference in people’s lives, like art or a book, or the films of someone like Steven Spielberg. I can see 20/20 devoting an hour to him, but Smith? How many “career” highlights can they show for her?

  • brandonk

    I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that she’d died. I feel pretty much the way I felt when I heard her son had died…it was a sad end to her sad life.

  • janine

    I would have seen it anyway (on DVD) but then again, I got excited about Miss Cast Away and the Island Girls.

  • Greg

    I too found this article in poor taste. Maybe you are correct about her career and her contribution to society, but the woman has been dead for like 24 hours. Couldn’t you maybe wait a couple of days before speaking ill of the dead? Also, if people want to mourn, who are you to ridicule them for it? She was a public figure. She obviously had a substantial fanbase. I know it is your job to provide commentary on entertainment news, but in the case of someone’s sudden and untimely death, show a little respect. If you can’t say something nice…

  • NineDaves

    wow ew. i totally agree. i’ve been pretty indifferent about her for a while now. it’s sad that she couldn’t turn her life around, but i don’t think she ever wanted to. i won’t go around saying i’m hurt by her death at all. but damn was she good in the naked gun 33 and 1/3.

  • Dave

    Yawn. Kudos to whomever pointed out that she’s famous for being famous. I cannot understand why this is national headline news, other than it maybe being a really slow news day. Oh well, I’ll always remember her for turning out to have a wiener at the end of Naked Gun 3.

  • paige

    i feel bad for her because i felt she was getting overloaded with too much for the past year and half but at the same time, i hate it when a “public figure” dies and everyone gets all optimistic about someone everyone felt so negative about. its definately guilt, but madonna said it best when she said everyone kisses your ass when you die… she’s right. brace yourselves everyone when paris hilton bites the big one.

  • Renie

    I’m done with Popwatch. Shame on your for even posting this. Aren’t you the ones that have for years used Ms. Smith for fodder? If Ms. Smith matters to any of us, it’s because all publications (from all media sources) contribute to making us believe that she is of importance/significance. Regardless of what she wanted, the media wanted us to feel something towards her in life. Now, everyone is having a field day in her death. We are all flawed but it absolutely unspeakable to throw dirt at someone who isn’t around to defend themselves. Ms. Smith hasn’t even been dead for 24 hours and somehow people find it necessary to question her relevance? If you believe that, explain to me the relevance of Paris Hilton, Kim Cardashian, Nicole Richie, Brody Jenner, every Reality show contestant?

  • t3hdow

    To Some Guy:
    In Mandi Bierly’s defense, a celebrity getting rich and then eventually hitting depression and addiction is the average Hollywood rags-to-riches-to-rags story. For god’s sake, VH1 made that perfectly clear with their ‘Behind the Music’ series, stories about former child stars hitting incredibly desperate lows, and even now with the reality shows ‘Breaking Bonaduce’ and ‘Shooting Sizemore’. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not insulting the aformentioned people involved in addiction and hope they get clean before it’s too late, but these ‘cautionary Hollywood tales’ have been told so much, it’s about as common as hearing a news report about a fatal car accident or a domestic murder.

  • Nick

    Junior…you’re a loser. It’s EWs JOB to talk about things like this…even if they are controversial. It’s called (here…say it with me…) en-ter-tain-ment jour-nal-ism. There ya go, friend!
    Ballsy piece, nonetheless. Her death is tragic because her life was sad…I agree with Stacy about the Iraq soldiers…but is our shallow society that much of a surprise for those who are offended by this piece?
    Its sad she died, but should she really be featured on 20/20, True Hollywood Story, etc etc…..sad to say, but no.

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