Anna Nicole Smith died last Thursday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. She was 39 years old. Did you know she was 5’11”? For some reason, this irrelevant trivia has stayed with me since the CNN announcement late last week. But then, so much of Anna Nicole Smith’s life seemed a little like irrelevant trivia, didn’t it? I mean if Hollywood had produced her life as a film it would have flopped because of unrealistic plot lines, hyper drama, and bad acting. But it, and she, was real. It makes you wonder who loved that woman that they didn’t stop her, get her the help that she so obviously needed. I’m no shrink or forensics expert, but it seems pretty clear that this was one disturbed woman; she needed help, whether it was emotional or psychological help or both.
I was watching something or other night before last (one of the news channels, forget which), and Danny Bonaduce was on, commenting on Anna Nicole Smith. Now before you poo poo this, as was my initial instinct, as one train wreck commenting on another, let me just say that although Bonaduce has his problems, he’s pretty smart and very savvy. He’s also doing what Anna Nicole Smith would or could not do: controlling the head turners and neck craners who pass by his life at a snail’s pace, and he’s making a good bit of money doing so. Anyway, at one point he said that (and this is a paraphrase) everyone was culpable in the tragedy of her life; everyone from the handler who let her on stage drugged out of her mind and unable to talk to the people around her who got her drugs or looked the other while she took them to the viewer who didn’t turn the channel. Thunk.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe all of us had something to do with her life’s decline, her tragedy. Maybe by watching that reality show, by buying those magazines, by tuning in to the Hollywood “news” shows . . . maybe by doing all these things and more we enabled her plight. Obviously, not all of us watched or bought–even I, who love reality television, just couldn’t watch the “Anne Nicole Show”–but, hey, I’ve watched plenty of shows with her on them, and I know exactly what’s gone on with her and her life, and never once did I think seriously that she needed help or that she was a sad, tragic figure. Well, okay, I did feel sorry for her a few times with the public humiliations and press attacks on her weight, but I never . . . well, I never took her seriously. She was a human being, and I didn’t really think of her as one. At least not until she lost her son Daniel last fall.
Now I know that we are all responsible for ourselves, that ultimately we cannot blame anyone for anything (or at least this is how I feel, what I believe), so I know that there is more than enough blame to go to the woman herself. But if she were mentally unstable? Or incapable of rational decisions because of drug use? Or a combination? Well, someone somewhere should have done something, no? And just how culpable are we, the viewing public?
Apart from the circle of greedy enablers–there was a lot of money to be had from letting her crash and burn like that, primping her and propping her up for the camera–you have to wonder . . . well, don’t you? I mean how likely is it that a 20 year old just dies? And then five months later a 39 year old just dies? Judge Judy was on Larry King and was asking this same question when he asked if she thought there might be foul play, and it brought into focus something that had been floating inchoate in my mind . . . what if someone killed them? Wouldn’t that be the final plot twist in a larger than life Hollywood tragedy?