It’s a sad story that will probably only get sadder, as developments develop, regarding the sudden death of tabloid-headliner Anna Nicole Smith. It could be noted, though, that the death is the first of the recent surge in celeb-gossip, “celeb-reality,” and celeb-overexposure. Think Us Weekly. Think Paris Hilton. Think Perez Hilton. Think The Surreal Life. It’s no secret that celebrity fascination has reached an over-the-top proportion in recent years. I’m not one to judge, I find myself reading sites like DListed and The Superficial. I watch some of those terrible “celeb-reality” shows on VH1. Many of us do.
So, here comes the death of Anna Nicole Smith at the age of 39, very likely due to some sort of lifestyle excess. It’s the same lifestyle excess that we, as rabid consumers, love to joke about and gorge ourselves on every week. Quite frankly, I assumed Pete Doherty would be the first one to go. But, Doherty is a great example of our fascination with celebrity lifestyles that are on the brink of madness and illness. And, for a brief second last night, there was an eerie hush over the sea of celeb-gossip meters. You know we’re in bizarre times, when CNN is devoting as much airtime and space to these events, as the likes of Perez.
Is there anything to be learned from the death of Anna Nicole Smith? Not really. Will it change patterns of readership and fascination with “trainwreck” celebrities? Doubtful. I’m still leaving these celeb-gossip sites in my Bookmarks. I’m still flipping through Us Weekly. I still think Best Week Ever is one of the best shows on TV. But, what does change after yesterday, is that sense of invincibility. With Anna Nicole Smith, dies the idea that these stars can go on forever. This is nothing new to anyone over the age of 20, but it should send a wake-up call to fans every age younger. Regardless, it’s a different landscape for today’s million-dollar celeb-gossip industry. At least for a few days or so, it just won’t be the same.
Coincidentally, Anna Nicole Smith’s passing came a mere five days after the 48th anniversary of “The Day the Music Died,” when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” tragically perished in a plane crash. It was the first rock ‘n’ roll death. It wouldn’t be the last.