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, May 8, 2009

Victim Jessica Lynch

Army Private Jessica Lynch,19,taken captive during the early period of the U.S. war in Iraq, was both a victim of war and of the Bush administration PR machine.

The attractive, blonde West Virginian was in a March 2003 convoy that took a wrong turn, was separated from its larger unit outside Nasiriya and came under enemy fire. Nine of her fellow troops were killed and Lynch was badly wounded when her vehicle crashed. She was captured and taken to an Iraqi hospital, where she was attended by Iraqi doctors and nurses.

One of her doctors tried to arrange to transport her back to U.S. forces, but the vehicle in which she was riding was fired on by U.S. troops and had to turn back.

Knowing this, the military orchestrated a a "dramatic rescue" in which Special Forces broke into the hospital and removed her from the hospital where no one was armed.

The Army attempted to portray Pvt. Lynch as a sort of "Rambette." Reports indicated that she had been shot, stabbed and beaten, but that she had gone down fighting, firing until her ammo ran out. The purpose of this puffery was to fan public anger against Iraq so as to garner support for the coming occupation of that country.

Later, when she had partially recovered, Lynch herself criticized the administration for using her in this way. She indicated that her gun had jammed and that she had never fired a single shot. When captured, she said, she was on her knees praying, not fighting.

But the Army pressed on with its heroic portrayal of Lynch, paying scant attention to the members of her unit who actually did fight, presenting her the Bronze Star and giving her preferential treatment in her discharge and disability pension.

The U.S. public seemed determined that she should be an iconic hero one way or the other, and the news media, embedded, cowed and gauche, went right along with the charade, turning Lynch into bankrollable tabloid-style copy.

Lynch has continued to be honest about what actually happened, but is a living example of what should be PR's motto: "I seem, therefore I am."

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