Anna Nicole Smith is already a ghost, hyper-dressed for the role. Her pink satin, the ostrich feathers, the campy smile and drowsy eyes are both a promise and a parody of romantic love.
And, well, where is her ghost? We see it on the web, her image surrounded by a cacophony of voices. They all have their own questions which they only imagine are unique. Who is the daddy? Which pills? What kind of injections did she give herself? Why? How?
Isn't it funny how we persist in seeing parallels with Marilyn Monroe, that Anna Nicole herself engineered, and we simply do not see anything at all to do with other famous accidental overdoses --
"She didn't suffer."
That's what we hear most of all. Who really knows? I think she did suffer -- especially in the months after her son's tragic death in her hospital room where she recovered from the birth of her baby girl.
Anna Nicole, while alive, paid the price of being part of the world of phenomena while she should really have been a part of the not-real, as she straddled the divide between the myth, the Hollywoodized, gazed-upon, the victim of the voyeuristic fanzine, and a stop along the way of this year's Graveline Tour.
Now that she really is dead, a shimmering rhinestone ghost, there is no cognitive dissonance. She is a construction, an exaggeration, a camp elevation of the notion of romantic transcendence. She is not flesh and blood. At least not any more… Anna Nicole is now what she always was, pure camp. Before, we may have forgotten to maintain our position of being in on the joke with a knowing wink and a nod.
Perhaps it's time for a paradigm shift with respect to camp.
Susan Sontag suggested that for camp to be camp, for drag to be drag, the author (or performer) and the audience have to be complicit in the intentionality of it all. They have to know that they're creating a parody and are exaggerating. It's not camp if it's not on purpose. You have to know you're doing something deliberately exaggerated, and it has to be very tongue-in-cheek. Otherwise, you just have bad taste.
Paradigm shift? Let's turn to Thomas Kuhn and the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I always thought he was the coiner of the phrase, paradigm shift. But, I was recently introduced to the French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard, whose work on the spirit of scientific investigation was published in 1938. Did Kuhn borrow ideas from Bachelard?
Let's look at a paradigm shift for camp. Let's say that camp is phenomenological. Teleology has nothing to say in this equation. Camp is in the eye of the beholder and "innocent camp" may be almost more a stroke of genius than the intentional mockery of bourgeois striving.
In the aftermath of her death, Anna Nicole seems to be on the verge attaining the screen immortality she sought. Ironically, it's through over-the-top camp television, The Anna Nicole Show. The last time I checked, it ranked #498 at amazon.com. I'm sure that Anna Nicole would hate it that her immortalized image would be that of zaftig Anna, and not the svelte Trimspa spokesmodel.
On the other hand, perhaps that is part of the construction, the farce of reality television that she created. As an exaggerated play on reality television, The Anna Nicole Show was camp magic.
I'm sure that somewhere in the world of phenomenological projections, the shimmery, rhinestone-studded, pink-satin-draped ghost of Anna Nicole Smith is smiling.
The Casket Scarf of Anna Nicole Smith
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