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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Victim David Howard

The name David Howard was on the minds of many Americans in 1999 when this government worker fell victim to people's bad vocabularies, or perhaps to his own good vocabulary.

Howard was director of constituent services in the administration of Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams. Howard was discussing a tight budget with several members of his staff when he used the word "niggardly."

The word means stingy or miserly and has nothing whatever to do with race, but one of the staffers apparently was unfamiliar with the word and took it as a racial slur.

After a complaint was filed against Howard, the mayor appeared unclear as to what should be done. Williams probably knew the actual meaning of the word, and that Howard had not used it as a racial disparagement, but he waffled badly.

Howard resigned, despite the fact that he had none absolutely nothing wrong. Howard is white, the mayor and the complaining staffer, black.

Enter PC complexity. Howard is gay, and the gay community rallied to his defense, causing the mayor to offer Howard his job back. Howard indicated that he would like to return to work, but in a different position.

The Howard affair was truly one of the oddest incidents in the convoluted history of political correctness, one in which good intentions rubbed up against the failure of the U.S. educational system to turn out people with more than basic vocabularies.

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