Mary Grabar

A voluptuous rotting corpse was where much of the media attention was directed the week of Ash Wednesday.

Of course, the footage did not show the corpse, but only images of a young, buxom blonde woman of various weights and levels of sobriety. One chilling image showed her very pregnant, her face painted as a clown, and obviously hallucinating. One of the men who claims to be the father and who now is fighting for custody of the baby born just weeks after he filmed the drug trip, is heard saying as he aims the camera, “Is this a mushroom trip?” The pregnant woman cannot understand the question and the cameraman, Howard Stern, says, “This will be worth a lot of money.”

Can anyone say, “sociopath?”

Is there anything more chilling than this blatant exploitation?

And why are we fascinated?

Money, sex, celebrity, a corpse, a baby.

Reportedly, a movie starring Reese Witherspoon is in the works.

Why do we watch such stuff? Well, we’re glad we’re not Anna Nicole Smith now.

We have the life lesson of a young woman who started on her downward path by first letting herself be exploited by our national pimp, Hugh Hefner, by posing in his magazine. Hefner had the audacity to issue a statement after her death, calling her “a dear friend who meant a great deal to the Playboy family and to me personally.” “Family values” are dirty words to such pimps and pornographers, yet they appropriate the word “family” in this perverse manner.

And then there was Smith’s “marriage” at age 26 to an 89-year-old billionaire and the fight with his children all the way to the Supreme Court regarding inheritance.

Who has won?

It is certainly not this woman attempting to exploit her own sexual appeal.

But you would have thought this was a female version of the Horatio Algier story, from commentators’ remarks about Smith’s “determination,” her chutzpah, so to speak. She made it against the odds—from dropout waitress to billionaire world-wide icon.

An American success story.

It was the American Dream that naturalist writer Theodore Dreiser wrote about at the beginning of the last century. His heroine “Sister Carrie” uses her sex appeal to climb to the top, by working as an actress, stepping over the men in her life to get there. And there Dreiser leaves us at the end, with Carrie on top in what he depicted as a Darwinian capitalist society.

The novel is a grim portrayal of a struggle that lacks tragedy. Such is the universe of the atheistic naturalist who, through the lens of science, sees an animal-eat-animal world. Dreiser’s own diaries reveal a life of joyless promiscuity and drug use—in fact, real depression.

Our age is an age of depression, not tragedy.

Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at Her writing can be found at