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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Victim Richard Jewell

Richard A. Jewell was working as a security guard at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta when he discovered the pipe bomb that shortly thereafter exploded, killing one and injuring 111. Police eventually settled on Jewell as the most likely suspect.

The news and entertainment media jumped the gun,and some more or less appeared to convict him without trial. Their theory was that Jewell had "discovered" the bomb after having planted it himself--in a bid for publicity.

Actually, he had done the right things when he noticed a strange green knapsack. He hustled people away from the scene and summoned backup. News accounts first pictured him as a hero, then turned on him, although he was never arrested or charged.

Further police investigation cleared Jewell, but by then his reputation had been destroyed. Tom Brokaw had been especially outspoken about his guilt on the NBC national news, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution was pretty rough on him, and the late-night comedy shows labeled him the Una-Bubba.

In April 2005, Eric Rudolph confessed to having planted the bomb. Brokaw's remarks cost NBC a $500,000 settlement, and the New York Post settled for an undisclosed amount. The Atlanta newspaper refused to settle and never had to pay damages inasmuch as Jewell died of natural causes in August 2007, before Jewell's defamation suit came to trial.

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