Oh Anna, we hardly knew you

After a week of wall to wall Anna Nicole, I'm coming around to the view that maybe there's something compelling about her life story. Probably there's more than one thing.

Here's something that occurred to me. Anna Nicole is Horatio Alger turned inside out and bent. She came from the lower class, and by all rights had no reason to expect anything better than soap operas, trailer parks, and the occasional big night out at TGI*Fridays. But then she married way, way above her station and won herself a life of privilege and luxury.

In a weird kind of way, Smith deserved all of the riches she got. Whereas Alger's heroes embodied the values that nineteenth century America held to be indicative of desert -- exhibiting compassion, determination, and a strong work ethic -- Smith embodied the artificial, superficial and transitory attractiveness that signal merit in our modern reality tv culture.

The thing is, when we turn our attention to Anna Nicole we aren't basking in her success so much as marvelling at the trainwreck of her life. Part of this is just an everyday fascination with spectacle, but it also has to do with the ambivalence we feel about the worthiness of the criteria by which she won success. At some level we see Anna Nicole as illicitly occupying a place beyond her station, and we see her dislocation, indignity, and death as a form of comeuppance. We think, that is, that her success was undeserved and that she has been justly punished for the path she took.

I don't know what any of this implies about where the body should be buried.

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