Anna Nicole Smith was a victim - of her own ambition. This much I think is obvious - that her drive to be rich and famous was the central defining factor of her existence. She didn't seem to mind sacrificing other things in the name of this ambition: dignity was not high on her priority list, and even love meant little to her (unless we think she married J. Howard Marshall out of some abiding passion, rather than wanting to get her hands on his billions). In this respect, Anna Nicole (who was born Vickie Lynn Hogan) was not so different from a lot of American kids brought up to believe in the power of money and celebrity (and little else). That's the American Dream - not to be proud, not honorable, not even particularly decent. And when one is presented with such a glittering dream, what is one to do but chase it with gusto? That's what Anna Nicole did. She used her looks to get in Playboy, after years of toiling in unglamorous jobs like stripper and Red Lobster waitress. But she was not content with the lifestyle afforded her through her prominence as a model - she wanted even more. And so she married J. Howard Marshall, an old, rich man, and everyone knew she only did it for the money, and never for a second, I'm guessing, did she question her own desires. It's what we're all supposed to want, right? Happiness and fulfillment through money and notoriety. But a funny thing happened on the way to satisfaction - Anna Nicole discovered, the hard, painful way, that wealth and fame do not sustain the soul. But it doesn't seem that this lesson stuck. She turned to drugs, as many do whose souls are empty; she tried fulfilling herself through relationships, and having children, only to experience more regret, more heartache. And in the end, it would seem, she died more or less from an accumulation of sadness. A sadness that was in the stars from the second she embarked on that journey to notoriety. Yes, Anna Nicole Smith was a victim - she was used by people, most of all herself. For whatever reason, she never learned to value herself. She was only-too-willing to play the buffoon, leaving us to wonder how conscious she was of what a cartoonish, even pathetic figure she'd become. Whatever worked, Anna Nicole was willing to do. As long as there was money, as long as the cameras kept popping. Now, after the final, sad resolution, we look back and see the inevitability of it all. The weight issues, the drugs, the crazy behavior - not the calculated antics of a shrewd publicity-hound but the helpless floundering of a creature set adrift in the stormy sea of life without knowing how to swim. And that's the ultimate sadness of the Anna Nicole saga - that never in her short life did she hit on the idea that wealth and fame aren't all they're cracked up to be, that love and family are not more means to a selfish end. She never stopped wanting what she'd wanted all along; she only became more desperate, more detached from reality. And that's why she's dead now.
Thursday, February 08, 2007