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, June 23, 2009

Whistleblower Frank Snepp

Frank Snepp had been the CIA's top analyst of North Vietnamese strategy in Saigon and was one of the last Americans airlifted out of that city before its April 1975 fall to the communist North.

In the American forces' inglorious and embarrassing departure, many South Vietnamese who had worked for our side were left to be killed or imprisoned, which Snepp could not stomach. He was convinced that the entire evacuation was botched from one end to the other and wrote a book detailing his complaints. The CIA went to court to prevent the book's publication.

The CIA's position in court prevailed because of the employment contract that all CIA employees sign when they join the agency. The agreement states that they will not discuss their agency work without the prior approval from agency brass. The courts denied Snepp any royalties from his book.

Although Snepp lost the battle, he might have won the war by writing a second book about his legal wrangles with the agency. He also taught journalism in California and became a television producer in Lost Angeles.

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