C'est La Vie – unless you're a celebrity

Imagine the following scenario: A little more than three months after the death of a close friend, any random chump with an Internet connection can read about her turbulent sex life, drug addiction and problems with her ex-boyfriend – all courtesy of private diary entries that she wrote more than 15 years ago.

If you’re rightfully appalled at the above situation, you’ll be equally offended to hear that Universal Rarities, a Corona, Calif. auction house, recently sold the personal diaries of former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith to a group of investors for $500,000. If you’re like most Americans, on the other hand, you’ll be morbidly fascinated to read the 60 pages released to the Associated Press to generate publicity for the sale. Just in case America hadn’t endured enough intimate details about the buxom blonde before her untimely death, she’s back – and her post-mortem career is, not surprisingly, more lively than ever.

While Smith was buried long ago, you wouldn’t know it – the disproportionate amount of attention paid to what are essentially private matters warps her life into a soap opera. However, what all gawkers fail to realize is that despite how ridiculous or sensational her behavior might have been, she was still a human being – and it’s time to let her rest in peace.

I’ll admit, when the news first started to break about the Sept. 10 death of Smith’s 20-year-old son Daniel, I was glued to the coverage just like everyone else. Similarly, when Smith herself died on Feb. 8 from an overdose of prescription drugs, it was nearly impossible to change the channel. And yes, I spent the entirety of my spring break watching Court TV analysts’ predictions about the needle-in-a-haystack game of which lover fathered her 8-month-old baby, Dannielynn. The best part of it all – ask me why the story so fascinated me, and I can’t even give you a good reason. It was akin to driving past a horrible accident on the freeway. You don’t really want to rubberneck, but it’s impossible not to stare. I just couldn’t look away.

Of course, anyone with even the slightest observational power will recognize that this certainly isn’t the first time a celebrity’s dirty laundry has been aired in front of the nation, nor is it likely to be the last. We live in a culture of celebrity worship, and the actions of the rich and famous clearly affect and influence ours. Looking at today’s headlines, I’m sure people are dying to know what Kelly Clarkson’s producer thinks of her new album, whether or not Anne Heche is actually a bad mother and how Ryan Phillipe and Reese Witherspoon will resolve their heated custody battle. Let’s be honest here – I’m sure Clarkson’s CD will be melancholic and depressing as always, I don’t exactly remember who Heche is (has she been in a movie in the last decade?) and I’m sure glad Phillipe and Witherspoon’s kids will someday be able to Google the exact moments in which their parents fell out of love.

If for some reason you deny America’s sick celebrity obsession, consider this: A recent CNN.com poll asked its readers whether or not Paris Hilton should be jailed for violating her probation by way of reckless driving. Essentially, this is asking whether the laws that govern every other person living in the United States should apply to celebrities. Want to know what percentage of people, presumably educated enough to browse CNN’s Web site, argued that she shouldn’t go to jail? Eight.

Really, America?

I’m certain that same 8 percent of people are eagerly opening their browsers right now and scanning through Smith’s notebooks full of traumas and tragedies. After all, the headlines promise details about Smith’s “”sex life”” and “”sadness,”” and who can resist a train wreck? As Universal Rarities Director of Operations Jeff Woolf said on the company’s homepage, he “”know[s] you’ll find something you just can’t live without.”” The sad part is – he’s right.

Ultimately, I’m no psychiatrist, but it’s fairly obvious that a contributing factor to this obsession with famous people’s drama is boredom. So, it seems to me that there’s a simple solution to all of this nonsense – go create your own drama. Sleep around, abuse your kids, throw telephones at service personnel, punch paparazzi – you can do it all!

Plus, your neighbors will be able to live vicariously through your issues and they’ll eventually become less reliant on the media to tell us how to think and behave. People like Paris Hilton will subsequently fade into obscurity like they should have a long time ago, and all will be right in the world.

Or, if nothing else, you’ll have a market for those old journals and sex tapes.