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 Rodney King

Rodney King's was the face that launched a few thousand fires and storefront break-ins in Los Angeles in March 1991.

King, a very large African-American man with a fairly extensive criminal history, was pulled over by police following a high-speed chase. He fled because he feared loss of his driver's license because driving drunk might violattte his parole from a previous conviction (for robbery).

King at first refused to get out of the car, then resisted being handcuffed. He was getting the better of the four LAPD officers, so he was twice Tasered. When even that did not stop him, he was hit repeatedly with nightsticks, punched and kicked while on the ground.

A nearby resident videotaped the beating, which lasted roughly a minute and a half. To put it mildly, the officers beat King like a drum.

The four officers were tried for using excessive force; all escaped conviction. The black community of LA went wild, rioting for several days.

More than 50 people died in the riots, more than 2,000 were hurt, more than 3,000 businesses were damaged, and thousands of fires were set. Finally, a combination of Army troops, Marines and National Guard forces restored order. Later, the officers who did the beating were brought to civil trial. There, two were acquitted and two sentenced to 30 months.

King got a $3.8 million settlement and started his own record label. His other "record," of breaking the law,continued to grow, compounded by drinking troubles. In 2007, he was shot and injured during the theft of his bicycle.

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