Web reaction swift and brutal to Anna Nicole death

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Minutes after word of the death of stripper-turned-celebrity Anna Nicole Smith, the blogosphere began the autopsy of a life lived in the headlines, and the verdict wasn’t at all pretty.

From different corners of the Internet, commentators who once considered Smith worthy only of off-color jokes purported to seek out the deeper cultural meanings of her death. Most came up brutally short.

Instead many observers reveled in jokes about the size of the former Playboy model’s breasts or the extent of her drug problems -- topics thought to be fair game in the world of celebrity gossip.

Blog search site showed mentions of Anna Nicole Smith spiked fivefold on Thursday. Still, at little over 44,000 mentions, Smith measures only one-tenth the blog star power of pop music sensation Britney Spears.

The occasion gave free rein to the pseudonymous savagery which passes for informed commentary on the Web.

Such cruelty contrasted with the tone of respectful shock used in blanket coverage of her death on cable television.

"Anna Nicole Smith's condition downgraded to dead," one writer on news commentary site coldly noted. Thousands of visitors had posted remarks within hours of her death. here Fark commentator "LikelyCulprit" posted a photo of a beached whale entitled "preliminary autopsy photo."

A little over an hour after word of Smith's death at age 39 was splashed across CNN television, a memorial open-discussion about her was created at

A player at a macabre celebrity death pool site called won double points by predicting Smith. Other picks for 2007 included Fidel Castro and horror film actor Christopher Lee., a celebrity site that shot to fame with revelations about actor Mel Gibson, bemoaned how Smith's last movie, "Illegal Aliens," set to be released in April, may now be in doubt. here.

AOL, the parent company of the celebrity dirt-digging site, here was quick to provide a trailer of the film.

Additional reporting by Braden Reddall