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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg

Highly celebrated as a well intentioned whistleblower is Daniel Ellsberg, who was the Rand Corporation military analyst who in 1971 tuned over the so-called Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other large U.S. newspapers in an effort to shorten our nation's war in Vietnam.

A Harvard Ph.D. in Economics, Elleberg had spent two years working for the State Department in Vietnam. He saw that the U.S. war effort there was doomed to failure and took note of how the U.S. public was being fed optimistic lies about our progress there.

He returned to Washington and became part of a team doing a study of classified materials about the war. With the aid of another Rand Corporation analyst, Anthony Russo, Ellsberg managed to make photocopies of some 7,000 pages of documentation. Unable to find a senator bold enough to introduce this material of the floor of the Senate, he instead turned the documents over to the New York Times, which assigned a team of its own to review them.

In 1971, the Times published what was intended to be the first of a series of articles based on these papers. The Nixon administration quickly got a court injunction that prevented the paper from publishing further installments.

The copy was turned over to the Washington Post, which immediately published story #2. Again came a government injunction. Eventually 15 more newspapers were involved in bringing out all the facts from what by then had become known as the Pentagon Papers.

Thwarted, President Nixon authorized the ill-starred group called the White House Plumbers (burglars) who did the celebrated Watergate break-ins that brought down his administration.

Ellsberg and Russo were charged with espionage, but in the midst of the administration's many embarrassments, the charges were dropped.

Ellsberg still is a protester. He was arrested in 2005 for trespassing while taking part in a protest of the war in Iraq.

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