ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The media attention devoted to the death of Anna Nicole Smith is more troubling than mystifying. The 39-year-old former Playboy Playmate of the Year died last week from causes yet to be determined. Aside from her dubious distinction with Playboy, Smith was best known for marrying a very rich and very old man, battling his heirs in court after he died and starring in a cable television program that chronicled her pursuit of shallow aspirations.
Smith was the person she was-a tragic character at so many levels. But did her death warrant the blitz of media focus it has received in recent days? Only in a culture that has lost its sense of moral direction, where celebrity is valued above substance and entertainment supercedes enlightenment.
It’s true, media are the gatekeepers of “news” by determining which events receive coverage and which are downplayed or ignored. National media need to shoulder their share of the blame for fueling the superficiality of our culture, but ultimately the market determines the product. Sadly, we have devolved into a nation of video voyeurs. -DR