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Watching A Car Crash

February 9, 2007

Yesterday a new high, or low, was set in America. 

Thursday between 3:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. the Chicago Tribune website, a well respected and informative spot on the internet, which has a spot in my faves, experienced the highest number of hits ever in its 11 years on-line.  That record was then smashed again when a new one was set the following hour on their site.  The news of the death of Anna Nicole Smith made a sensation that even 9/11 couldn’t compete with on-line.  That says a great deal about the state of America today, and our fascination with celebrities.

I don’t follow pop culture to any great extent, but I was aware over the years that this very tragic figure had captured the interest of many of my fellow citizens.  I thought her case to the Supreme Court was quite interesting, and the death of her son last year truly sad.  Many Americans followed her every move, watched her narcissistic television show, and laughed at her silliness.  I think many never really understood her celebrity was due to the fact that she was just a celebrity. That is where we are today in our celebrity soaked culture.  She wasn’t a star, and she had no real talent.  She was a cute puffball that was exploited by far too many people for all the wrong reasons.  And too many Americans bought into that exploitation, so it just continued.

Her tragic life started long before anyone knew who she was, but once we saw the car crash that was her life start to careen out of control, we still watched it. And I would argue many egged her on to finish the deed.   In her death tonight America is consumed with endless hours of television news, radio talk shows, and we all know the motion picture contract is just days away.

Are we at all aware as a nation that we too are part of the reason she died? If drugs played a role in her death we of course were not there encouraging her to consume a toxic overload.  But when we supported her actions in commercial ways while seeing her self-destruct year by year, don’t we have some guilt on our collective hands?

Pick up Newsweek magazine and see the two young faces on the cover.  Think about Anna Nicole Smith.  Are we watching another car crash in slow motion?

Not a light thought today.  But I think it worthy of our attention.

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