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 14, 2009

Misc.: Ward Churchill

At every U.S. university, there are a few professors more adept at getting headlines than most. Such a man has been Ward Churchill, iconoclastic professor of ethnic studies and defender of the Native American.

Churchill, whose dress, demeanor, ever-present sunglasses and long, mid-part hairstyle all projected the image of the gun-totin' campus revolutionary, made more claims to Native American heritage than he could support. In this, he was hardly alone, as many a campus has had faculty who, for whatever reasons, claimed to be of American Indian extraction but whose nearest connection to same was wearing a bow tie and an Arrow shirt.

Churchill, then at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found national celebrity--more of it than he might have wished--in 2001, soon after the 9/11 tragedy. He published an essay in which he opined that some of the Americans working in the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns" and got what they had coming to them. These comments about the chickens coming home to roost infuriated most Americans and put him in the position of being an embarrassment to his university, which began examining his scholarship for signs of academic misconduct.

The outspoken professor was fired in 2007 for a combination of what his university deemed falsification and plagiarism. Churchill sued for wrongful termination, and a jury found in his favor, although they awarded him nominal damages: $1.

That verdict was overturned by a judge in 2009.

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