Sunday, February 11, 2007


The death at the age of only thirty-nine of Anna Nicole Smith marks the passing of the prototype for fame without merit or achievement.
The woman who aped Marilyn Monroe and at twenty-six said she found ‘liver spots sexually exciting’ when she married an eighty-nine-year-old oil billionaire was the A1, five star, blue chip trailblazer for the multi-billion publicity industry which takes the raw material of ordinary people and churns them out as ‘celebrities.’
There’s no escaping ‘celebrities’ these days because they turn up everywhere, vying for paparazzi and media attention.
Turn on the telly and you find them in ‘reality’ shows or spouting about something about which they know nothing.
Pick up a magazine and they’re on the covers with interviews inside where they voice quotes prepared by publicists who have also pre-arranged the questions.
Go to a supermarket and you are greeted by their diet DVDs and ghosted life stories.
You just can’t get away from them.
Of course, whether or not someone is famous because of their achievements or simply an instant fame freak, what the media and public really want is not the story of their success but the downside of their private lives – the unhappiness, the illicit love affairs, the broken relationships, the drink and drug problems, the depression.
These private shenanigans are the stuff which tabloids use to bury, not to praise ‘celebrities.’
The genuinely famous are usually wise to this and, whether it’s Bill Gates launching Microsoft’s new Vista operating system or J K Rowling promoting a new Harry Potter book, know that after their health, privacy is their most precious possession and go to enormous lengths to ensure publicity is confined to their products.
PRs are employed to keep the private lives names of the really famous out of the media.
But the instant fame freaks who have only got their private lives to keep them in the headlines pay a high price. Fame messes with their heads and may prove so addictive that the return to obscurity can be as painful and difficult as withdrawal from a Class A drug.
The fallout for some of the losers in the recent Channel 4 Celebrity Big Brother sent Jade Goody to the Priory in depression and left Jo Meara, who had been trying to relaunch her career by appearing on it, saying she had felt suicidal.
At the height of the controversy about Celebrity Big Brother, a psychologist who had worked on earlier Big Brother shows, told Sky News he gave it up because of the damage and loss of self esteem he had seen in competitors and the difficulty they had in adjusting to life after the show was over and they vanished back into obscurity.
With her rollercoaster personal life Anna Nicole Smith served the freak fame industry well — better than any publicist could have imagined in their wildest hopes and dreams.
She not only was its most addictive victim but with three men claiming to be the father of her five-month-old daughter, who may inherit £270 million, has left a tragic legacy which will probably occupy the media as well as the lawyers for years.
The sad truth is that she was never really famous or even infamous – but, like all her ilk, simply media fodder.
Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2007. All Rights Reserved