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 Joe Darby

Joe Darby was a sergeant serving with the 372nd Military Police Company at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and blew the whistle on torture and inhumane treatment of the prisoners there.

In 2004, he sent an anonymous message and a photo disc to Army higher-ups; later he revealed that he was the source of these materials. Darby was promised that, since he was providing evidence against his own unit, his name would be kept confidential, but he was outed by none other than Sec. of State Donald Rumsfeld.

As is the case with most informants, Darby was given the cold shoulder by his former friends and threatened bedly enough that he and his wife had to live for a time in protective custody.

He was the first to call attention to the deplorable state of affairs at Abu Ghraib, and the New Yorker magazine was the first publication to run the story, not the tame, cowed, embedded newspaper press.

And as usual, the whole scandal was blamed on a few enlisted men and their immediate supervisors--people who were very likely only following orders from above. The decision to use torture and humiliation no doubt came from very, very near the top of our military's chain of command, but heaven forbid that any such individuals be held accountable.

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