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.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Victim Lynndie England

Twenty-year-old Lynndie England of West Virginia took the heat for higher-ups for the horrendous treatment of prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. In 2004, photos began to appear in U.S. media showing England pointing at naked prisoners' genitals ad holding one, dog-like, on a leash.

On one hand, she appeared to be enjoying what she was doing very well. On the other, she was clearly following orders from people higher up the chain of command.

America had always prided itself as a modest, decent nation that accorded its war prisoners humane treatment. The Neocons of the George W. Bush administration, on the other hand, took the low road. It seems very likely that the orders to torture and humiliate came from the CIA, perhaps even from Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld.

As so often happens, however, England and six of her fellow guards took the blame and punishment while the higher-ups comfortably lay low, applauded by the Far Right.

England came to Iraq as a member of a reservist MP unit. She had already been married and divorced once, and before arriving in Iraq, fell for a fellow soldier 10 years her senior. England had his child, but he later married another member of their Abu Ghraib guard unit with whom he had been two-timing England.

The unfortunate England was tried in 2005 and sentenced to three years in military prison. After serving 521 days, she was paroled in March 2007 and was given a dishonorable discharge.

The moral of her story is that if you are going to be a skunk, be sure to be a high-ranking skunk. Then you really can be all that you can be.

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