About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hoaxer Tawana Brawley

It is perhaps a wee bit mean to include Tawana Brawley here, inasmuch as she was a hard-pressed 15-year-old when, in 1987, she hoaxed the public into thinking she had been raped. Her allegations were happily seized upon by the Rev. Al Sharpton and two lawyers to advance their anti-discrimination agenda, but the matter backfired on them when it became apparent that Miss Brawley had been fibbing.

Brawley, an African American, came from a troubled home and was afraid that she would be beaten for having skipped school to visit her boyfriend, who was in prison in a nearby town. Instead of 'fessing up, she went missing for four days, then smeared herself with dog excrement, used charcoal to scribble racial slurs on her own body, crawled inside a big green garbage bag, and lay down in the street.

When police were summoned, she told of having been raped by three white men, one of whom wore a badge.

The black community was understandably incensed. Bill Cosby helped raise money for her legal representation, and around a thousand people marched in her support through the streets of her hometown, Newburgh, NY.

Joining in her support were the Rev. Sharpton and two prominent civil rights attorneys. One of Miss Brawley's alleged attackers was identified as Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones,who promptly sued the three, plus Brawley, for libel.

Brawley's story fell apart when a neighbor came forward and said that she had seen Brawley crawl into the garbage bag and lie down on the sidewalk and no physical evidence of rape was found. Pagones won his suit.

This appears to have been a hoax that was used to advance a social agenda--an important social agenda, but one better advanced in more honest ways.

Brawley converted to Islam and assumed the name Maryam Muhammad.

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