It’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.