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.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Victim S. R. Sidarth

Better known to the nation as "Macaca," politically active University of Virginia student Shekar Ramanuja Sidarth was in 2006 a victim of a disdainful right-wing slur delivered by George Allen, a former Virginia governor and in 2006 a Virginia senator.

Allen was campaigning for reelection, and Sidarth was assigned by rival candidate Jim Webb's camp to attend and videotape Allen functions.

Appealing to the state's right wing, Allen dismissively pointed to Sidarth, inviting rally attendees to give a welcome "to Macaca here." Most of the crowd hooted appreciatively. Sidarth was embarrassed.

Most Virginians were unfamiliar with the word "Macaca," which reportedly is derogatory racial slang used by French colonists in North Africa for people of color. Actually, Sidarth, an Indian-American, was born in Virginia and, like Allen, had played the all-American sport of football. He wrote sports for his campus newspaper, had been an intern for Sen. Joseph Lieberman and was a competitive chess player.

The fallout from Allen's ill-considered remark was considerable. The senator, a Californian by upbringing, had portrayed himself in such as way as to appeal to Virginia's Bubba and Bubbette crowd and earlier had been criticized for having a Confederate battle flag displayed in his office.

Allen lost to Webb in the election by a fairly narrow margin. Sidarth went on to campaign in 2008 for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in the Democratic presidential primary.

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