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.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Notorious celebrity: Theodore Kaczynski

Known to America as the Unabomber (university and airline bomber), former math professor Theodore Kaczynski pled guilty to sending letter bombs off and on over a span of years. Doing so saved him from the death penalty. Instead, he was given life without chance for parole.

Growing up in Chicago, he was brilliant but a social pariah. Math was his great love, and he and his unusually high IQ graduated from Harvard and went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.

Kaczynski was hired in 1967 to teach math at the University of California at Berkley, but he remained there for only two years. Two more years after resigning his academic position, he moved into an isolated cabin in Montana, making a spare living via odd jobs.

The first of 16 letter bombs he mailed to a strange variety of targets was in 1978, the last, in 1995. His letter bombs killed three people and injured 23 more.

In 1995, he offered to stop sending the bombs if a major newspaper would publish his "manifesto," in which he railed at the things that irked him most about modern-day life, especially as regards technology. The manifesto was published both in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

His younger brother David recognized some of his words and thoughts and turned him in to authorities, who arrested him at his cabin.

His lawyer's attempt to have him found not guilty by reason of insanity failed.

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