Could anything knock Anna Nicole from the news? Certainly not the fact that she was starting to rot even though the story was still hot. King Solomon might have found a way to use that information to find the person who cared most, but that isn't really the game here. Not with this crowd.
It took another blonde bombshell blowing up to catch anyone's attention. And that is certainly what Britney is. Hers is a world-class meltdown, with everyone watching.
It used to be the scandal was that people would sit behind locked doors, refusing to get involved, while the victim screamed in the face of death. Now we sit in front of our televisions and monitors, catching all the action, as celebrities self-destruct before our very eyes.
Sometimes it's hard to know what's worse. Do you look? Or look away?
Where are these girls' mothers?
Anna Nicole could have used a mother long before the only issue was fighting over the body.
Britney could use one right now.
Having a baby is no way to find love. It's the last refuge of unloved girls. Is it any coincidence Britney has two?
She's in rehab, she's out of rehab, bald, wigged, tattooed, hysterical, roaming the city — my kids and I follow the Britney reports waiting for some other shoe to drop. Will someone stop this? Is anyone in charge? The former Mousketeer is now in freefall, and there is no club around her — just two bodyguards, I keep reading. Where is everyone else? The entourage is MIA. And she needs one.
If things go badly, as they so often do, we will all say: Saw that coming. So why not do something?
The criminal justice system waits until there are no alternatives and then says it's too late. And it is. School systems are afraid to act until they have the proof they should have acted earlier. Communal responsibility gives way to individual freedom to destroy yourself and those around you.
Everyone laughed when Hillary said it takes a village. But it does. For grown-ups, too.
Maybe it's time to make it easier to check someone into rehab, and harder for them to check themselves out. Not a danger to herself or others? According to whom? Who is letting her in and out of rehab clinics? Who is failing to keep her in? Who is not trying to sign her in? Why are we not asking these questions? Impolite? To whom?
Anna Nicole Smith muttered and drooled on TV for years. Did anyone think there was a problem? One of the highlights of her show was reportedly watching her pass out from drinking or drugs. Did anyone worry that she wouldn't wake up? The hairdresser in the Valley didn't want to cut Britney's hair, but she seems to have no scruples about selling it. Does anyone?
We watched Britney grow up before our eyes. We fed her fame. Now what do we do? Just watching is both not enough and way too much. Someone needs to do something to help this girl, even if that's not how she would define it.
Liberals have long fought against the strictures of a state that decides what's best for you, much less assumes you don't know that for yourself. We constitutionalized the process of dealing with those who don't know better, giving them the rights we would want, not being them. But some people clearly don't know what is best for them. And that is their problem, or one part of it.
There has to be something better you can do for people who are clearly in trouble, falling apart, unable to take care of themselves, than putting them on television and watching.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.