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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Whistleblower Cynthia Cooper

Cynthia Cooper was vice president for internal auditing at the WorldCom corporation in 2002, when she spilled the beans on the company's phony accounting practices, which made WorldCom appear to be making excellent profits, artificially inflating its stock price.

Cooper took her charges to the board's auditing committee. The firm's chief financial officer was soon fired, an unusual turn of events when higher-ups are shown to have done something wrong. (The usual chain of events includes denial, cover-up, fixing blame on underlings, and paying executives extra for having "managed" the crisis so well.)

Because of crooked leadership, the company very soon had to let go thousands of employees, and its stock dropped like a hot rock. CEO Bernie Ebbers was found guilty of fraud in 2005. The company passed into history, and Cooper started her own consulting firm in Mississippi.

This story is unusual in that the whistleblower came out of it well and the responsible executives above her did not. The WorldCom debacle proved to be the harbinger of many other sad episodes of gross dishonesty in U.S. business and finance and signaled a period in which the American economy was almost thrown into depression due to unchecked greed and gross dishonesty.

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