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, July 7, 2009

Misc.: Robert Williams

African-American psychologist Robert Williams is a very accomplished man, but most Americans who remember him at all will remember him for a word he coined in 1973: Ebonics.

Ebonics was a blend word, taken from the words ebony and phonics. Other scholars and writers have called this linguistic variety American black vernacular English.

Williams, a professor of linguistics at Washington University in St. Louis, published a 1975 book, Ebonics: The True Language of Black Folks, in which he spelled out the origins of black vernacular. The roots he traced were mainly from West Africa, and what he called Ebonics was contributed to by English as spoken in the Caribbean prior to 1800, with French and Spanish influences thrown in around the edges to form the Creole patois.

Some members of the public scoffed at the term Ebonics or feared that if it were taken seriously, black children's linguistic education might suffer. Such arguments were especially loud when the school board in Oakland, California, began teaching Ebonics.

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