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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mass/serial killers: Charles Whitman

Apparently suffering from some form of mental illness, 25-year-old University of Texas student Charles Whitman opened fire from the observation tower of the Austin campus' tallest building, killing 14 and wounding 31 more.

Whitman was born in Lake Worth, Florida. His father was abusive, yet Charles became an Eagle Scout and later enlisted in the Marines. After separating from military service in 1964, he enrolled at UT-Austin to study architectural engineering.

In 1966, Whitman snapped, first strangling his mother, then stabbing his wife to death.

Posing as a maintenance worker, Whitman gained access to the Texas Tower's upper deck, where he spent the next 96 minutes firing with deadly accuracy at random targets below. A policeman in a small plane circled the tower, trying to divert Whitman's efforts.

Finally, a small group of men stormed the deck, killing Whitman with a shotgun blast and subsequent gun shots. A medical examination showed that the shooter had a small brain tumor that likely contributed to his deadly state of mind.

The Whitman case caused many U.S. city police departments to establish SWAT teams.

No comments:

Post a Comment