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, July 17, 2009

Disgraced religious figure Fred Phelps

One of the most bizarre examples of recent times of that old-time religion run amok is the ministry of Baptist preacher Fred Phelps, whose message is that God hates gays.

Phelps hailed from Mississippi, the son of a railroad cop, or "bull." As a youth he kept to himself but became a good boxer. When he "got religion" at a 1946 revival, he got it bad. His leanings were decidedly Old Testament, and he deeply believed that wives should be totally subservient to their husbands--or else.

Phelps was admitted to West Point but chose not to go. Later he dropped out of Bob Jones University and a Canadian Bible institute, but finally graduated from Washburn University in 1962. Later he added a law degree.

A man of extremes at whatever he chose to do, Phelps zeroed in on gays as the target of his holy wrath. Whatever went wrong, Phelps would blame on America's harboring of gays. His often tasteless and hurtful picketing got him arrested numerous times and also got him disbarred.

One of Phelps' lowest blows was picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was beaten to death by homophobic good old boys. Phelps' pickets marched with signs claiming that Shepard had gone to hell. He predicted the same fate for Fred Rogers (TV's Mr. Rogers), which was not unlike the Rev. Jerry Falwell warning his flock not to let their children watch The Teletubbies because one of those amorphous cartoon creatures, Tinky Winky, was gay.

Phelps also preached that 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina were the result of God punishing us for harboring gays. Oh, brother.

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