This post is an old piece I wrote while working on the college newspaper where I went to school. I wrote it as a sort of eulogy to Anna Nicole Smith, who at the time had just recently died. I had long been interested in Smith, not for her physical figure, but for her symbolic figure as a version of the American Dream. The last years of here life became legitimately tragic, as in the old-school Greek sense of the word. This can be seen by the course of her actions, which made her rise to prominence again after a protracted period as a national punching bag. This re-emergence, which included positive press coverage, a reality t.v. show and promotional endorsements, was bound up in the figure of her body. It was this body, and the abuses she put it through in order to lose the weight, which ultimately contributed to her death.
She lost her son, she had a baby. The birth and death happened in the same room. She was addicted to methadone. She slipped into the fog. After her death a video surfaced of her in clown make-up pushing a plastic baby in a stroller through her garish mansion. I was amazed. As the video played, the news ticker at the bottom of the screen blithely scrolled "legitimate" news. It was this conjunction of the garish and the serious, posited as unproblematic by the news, which so caught my attention. Through her lunacy and the event of her death, Anna Nicole had somehow forced the news-machine to unconsciously show its hand, peeling back the facade of seriousness to show a reality of frightening absurdity. As one national fantasy played out on the main screen, other bits of news were revealed as similar fantasies when they shared the same screen as they scrawled on their way.
What I ended up thinking was this: that if a performance artist had managed to consciously create a situation which revealed the same truths then it would be a triumph of art. I began to see Anna as a performance artist in her own way, though the rub of it was that she did not know that she was one. The questions and possibilities that arose then were like bright white lights. I never really answered them. I forgot about them in time, but looking back I realize they are still pertinent. Though the rub of it is that by now they are dusty and old, the country has moved on, as it always moved on, the spectacle plays out and resolution is never achieved.
Soo, I wrote this little piece. I came not to ridicule ANNA NICOLE SMITH or AMERICA for that matter, but to bury them.
...AS THE NEWS TICKER AND THE VIDEO SEGMENT...
...slide over each other in the back alley of fox news network, each only hot in the grip of the otherthe quick dirty flash of realization that contexts lock in coitus...cockpits now regular fracture tears porno mag up into explosions snow fall out of sky onto sand…that people continually saw…teeth flashing, smith smiles down into the stroller, out of which stare eyes made of plastic… a babies growth inside her that she regressed towards to meet more quickly on its own terms…wall street journal calls her symbolic of america…covering her and her ‘possibly phantom will’, the news becomes anna nicole smith…a situation she perhaps was the mastermind of…recognized in her face a mask to be worn to cover itself…when bodily movements become symbolic acts...the language of her actions became the language of those discussing them…the point every (performance) artist aspires…as the fire grows in the dirt circle of eulogy, empty bottles leak through hair thin cracks the booze each one of the boys is made brave by…before jumping the fire with flair, shirts come off and disappear into the brush…and even the quiet ones hooting and slapping ass after awhile, worry about collecting booze money for the guy who bought it in the morning…bills never paid, forgotten with good cheer… Smith dies at age 39 in the Bahamas…and next blithe segment the war… a perfect critical commentary…news validated as news the video that remade media…fulfills every requirement of performance art…so what if not intentionally…editors and photographers consciously chose how she would be represented…choosing between two photos as smoke wafts across linoleum tile print…writers sweating out the specific words to be used about her, little dangling pearls…and the readers who responded the way they did…country and culture…a perfect machine…pooling oil and tightening screws…gears sliding in tension to turn each other over…over and over…art it takes a whole society to produce…smith on the news wearing clown makeup and pushing a fake baby in a stroller as the white columns in the background fairly begin to drip the moonshine as shes racing all the televised iterations of her life out into vast black...LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH