As millions today celebrate a celebrity who started out sleek and sexy and wound up puffy and bloated, it's a good time to pay homage to another star who is following the same trajectory. That's right, folks: Anna Nicole Smith.
Unlike Elvis, however, Smith has no discernable talents, save an insatiable desire for fame that overrides any sense of shame she otherwise might feel. Star of her own reality TV series, The Anna Nicole Show, Smith won E! television the largest premiere audience for any cable show when her series debuted two weeks ago. This week's offering lost some viewers -- and that's a pity, because Smith's show imparts some important, cautionary lessons about the tragic price of pursuing fame.
If you had wandered into Sanctuary Theater in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 8, you might have seen a most unusual spin-off of patriotic imagery. As Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" blared over the sound system, performance artist Bridget Irish and her crew, wearing nothing but George W. Bush masks, covered their bums and crotches with red, white and blue paint. Then they swooped, smeared and daubed themselves on a sheet of paper. After a few minutes of Slip'n'Slide action, and a sprinkle of glitter for the stars, "A Flag for Bush" was done.
The unveiling took place amid the giddy whirl of a $1,000 ticket, all-star production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 10, 2001. Raucous merriment had come and gone: Ensler conducted a chorus of ecstatically groaning celebrities, Glenn Close urged the audience to reclaim the c-word by yelling it at the top of its lungs. Then Oprah Winfrey recited Ensler's latest monologue, "Under the Burqa," and a hush fell over the crowd as Oprah exhorted its members to "imagine a huge dark piece of cloth / hung over your entire body / like you were a shameful statue." As the piece wound to a close, a figure in a burqa ascended to the stage. Oprah turned and lifted the head-to-toe shroud.
If movies came with stage directions for how audiences might react -- "audience cheers," "audience screams" -- there would be one scene in Who Is Cletis Tout? that'd be marked "audience leaves." Not with the huffy fanfare -- popcorn boxes rattling, purses gathered up with vehemence -- that a really bad movie inspires. No, Cletis isn't memorably vile enough to merit that hot and self-righteous exeunt stage left. Rather, audiences should depart with the calm feeling of taking their lives back, the empowering thought that perhaps there is something better to do than be held hostage by a winkingly self-referential bore of a movie.
Perhaps what's most disappointing about Gary Winick's new film Tadpole is how little it resembles its amphibian namesake: It has none of the squirmy, half-grown, wonderfully and weirdly alive charm of a tadpole. And there's another thing .
"Ooh, 'tadpole' just sounds so spermy," said one Prospect colleague.