Please bear with me. I'm questioning the logic of this post even as I'm writing it.
I write Eulogy articles in order to reference those personalities who I liked and respected in life. While I'm certain that the death of any human being would leave a significant impact on people -- most notably those individuals close to him or her -- it would take a special person to leave a significant impact on people who aren't even on the same level of proximity. There are many people who walk this green earth of ours, but there are very few of them who leave this world a great deal poorer with their passing.
Anna Nicole Smith was most definitely not one of those people. She was, frankly speaking, not even a person I liked, let alone respected.
Her claims to fame were, to be honest, quite dubious: She was a stripper, a model, a B-movie actress, and a Playboy playmate. She married a decrepit old millionaire who was over four times her age, and then engaged in an incredibly complex legal battle over his estate when he died. She lost her once-voluptuous figure by gaining a massive amount of weight, and then starred in a terrible personal reality-TV show once she managed to shed some of the excess poundage. She gave birth to a daughter, lost her son to a drug overdose, and gave a seemingly drunken performance in one or more awards shows. And in the most dubious of dubious ends, she met a lonely demise in a celebrity-themed hotel and casino less than one week before Valentines' Day.
In other words, I felt that Anna Nicole Smith's so-called claims to fame were little more than attempts at grabbing our attention, and they got stranger and stranger with each passing month. Her whole life seemed slavishly devoted to landing her face in the tabloid headlines as often as humanly possible.
In this way, I gave up long ago on finding anything redeemable in what she did. Every time I spotted an article on her in the morning paper, I turned the page. Every time her painted face or grating voice came on the television display, I reached for the remote control.
In the hours following the sudden announcement of her demise, I scoured the Net for any initial reactions I could find. Most idle netizens seemed shocked at her sudden passing, but it didn't take long before even the most casual observers began echoing the sentiments above. Hers, it was pointed out, was a life bereft of any relevant point whatsoever. She was nothing more than a pothole in the middle of the celebrity highway, a braying donkey in the middle of life's banquet. Now she was gone, and it was time to get on with our lives. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Ding, dong, the witch is dead.
And in the end, I found that to be one of the saddest things I've ever encountered.
It has been said that, for the dead, there is nothing worse than the realization that one has been forgotten. But I believe that this is wrong, that there is at least one other prospect where the dead are far worse off. That is the realization that, no matter how hard you tried to make it otherwise, people everywhere will remember you with nothing but hatred and revulsion in their hearts.
Anna Nicole Smith was found dead on a Thursday afternoon in a Florida hotel, and the first thing that many of us assumed was that she had finally wasted herself into oblivion.
She would not have wanted it to end this way. All she ever wanted from us was our love, admiration and attention. What we ended up giving her was a bunch of skeptical remarks and a lot of extremely incredulous stares. She thought we were laughing with her, when in reality we were doing nothing more than laughing at her.
And the tragedy of the whole thing is that she never realized why.
I never liked Anna Nicole Smith, much less respected her. To me, she was everything that was wrong with the American Dream, and in some cases even far worse than that.
She may have been a non-person in the long-term scheme of things, I suppose. She may have been one of the so-called potholes on the highway of life. But she was also a completely harmless woman who did things just to get people looking in her direction, and she doesn't deserve to be sentenced to an antipathic eternity just for that.
I still don't so much as pretend to like Anna Nicole Smith. But I don't pretend to completely understand her either, and when I finally realized that, there was nothing left but the fact that I felt profoundly sorry for her and her throwaway life.
We should never speak ill of the dead, no matter how far they might have fallen in life.