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 11, 2009

Victim Stella Liebeck

A noted victim of the self-inflicted variety was Stella Liebeck, who in 1992 spilled a hot cup of coffee in her own lap at a McDonald's drive-through window.

Mrs. Liebeck, 79, of Albuquerque, was seated on the passenger side of her Ford. The spill occurred when she was trying to remove the lid. She was badly scalded and had to spend eight days in the hospital and had skin grafts.

Then began an interchange between Liebeck and McDonald's. She sued for $20,000; the company offered $800. Her lawyers argued that the coffee had been too hot (Never mind that darn few people want coffee that is merely warm). Never mind, as well, that accidents happen and that we should shoulder the responsibility for those we bring on ourselves.

In the end, a jury decided that the company should bear 80% of the blame and found for Mrs. Liebeck in the wonderfully excessive amount of $2,900,000. The award was reduced by a judge to $640,000. Both sides appealed, and eventually an out-of-court settlement was reached.

Liebeck died in 2004 at age 91.

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