As gross as the public Anna Nicole Smith became later in her life, I will always remember those amazing Guess? Jeans print ads. She was featured in small-town and farm settings, wearing a gingham blouse to go with the jeans. In my memory (I can’t find any copies of these ads online), Anna Nicole sits on bails of hay, rides in a convertible with a scarf on her head, leans against a fence; unaware of her exotic looks, feeling right at home in a “Last Picture Show” world.
Those ads almost perfectly embodied pop culture in America in the 1990s: A dream landscape of baby-boomer nostalgia…a yearning for the pre-1960s pleasures of a simpler life, black and white movies, amber waves of grain, innocent yet abundant sexuality.
Back when those ads ran, I think everybody wanted to live in that world. Even Bill Clinton chased the dream with a similar idealization of long-ago, imagined times, Monica Lewinsky. Monica was the earnest co-ed to Anna Nicole’s serene country girl. Same kind of childlike face and voluptuous figure, same innocent, idealistic facade.
And the same big mess when the dream faded into the ethers, and the aging dreamers moved on — to the emergencies and disasters of the 2000s, to the disappointment of realizing how meaningless these fantasies always were.
With Anna Nicole Smith’s unfortunate but seemingly inevitable passing, the 1990s finally goes down the memory hole, gone for good. Those times weren’t meant to last.