famous for 15 minutes…really?

by Andy Dudas

We are all well aware of Andy Warhol‘s quote, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  At least we think that’s the case.  In 2014, Smithsonian.com published an article shaking the very foundation for which most of us ‘Joe Lunchboxes’ know Warhol to be most famous.  Except maybe for the soup.  It turns out there is a little bit of controversy with who may have actually uttered this often mis-quoted line. Listing at least three other people who may have a legitimate claim to be the originator of this famous phrase, none of them were Warhol.  So…who cares, right?  Warhol himself admitted it wasn’t him but as Smithsonian contributor Rachel Nuwer says, “In the interest of branding, however, it doesn’t matter who said it, only that it worked.”

The quote goes back to 1968.  Yes, this quote is now 50 years old.  Before cell phone selfies, before American Idol, even before cable TV.  The notion of 15 minutes of fame may have seemed unattainable to Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia.  With the allure of the era of Mad Men fading, hippies were moving in next door and The Beatles begging Jude not to let them down, fame may have been harder to come by in those days and reserved for those who had actually accomplished something.

But to what and whom did we attach fame? In 1968 celebrities had names like McQueen(Steve not Lightning), Fonda(Henry, Peter or Jane), John, Paul, George, Ringo, Simon and Garfunkel.  Accomplished performers.  People who actually did something. 50 years later…celebrity has taken on a different slant:

  • PewDiePie.
  • Logan Paul.
  • Kardashian(s)

For better or worse, today virtually anyone of any age with any level of accomplishment can achieve the status of ‘celebrity.’  ‘Going viral’ has replaced ’15 minutes of fame.’

To be fair, and to quell the argument of me being the cranky old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn and turn down their rock and roll, 1968 also gave celebrity status to Tiny Tim and 2018 gives us people like Beyonce and Tom Hanks.

To paraphrase Jay Leno, “I was in the bookstore the other day(that’s how old this joke is) and saw the complete works of Shakespeare for $7.99.  Right next to it, ‘101 Things to do With a Dead Cat’ $10.99.”  Tastes change over time, over generations.  While shows like Big Brother and the Bachelor and Bachelorette are still convincing viewers to tune in, in ’68 you could watch games Dating or Newlywed, and Hee-Haw.  So maybe things haven’t changed all that much.  Maybe it’s the manner in which we consume this entertainment and the frequency with which we do.  There are more media outlets from which to choose and more entertainers providing content.

For every legit A-list celebrity we have, be it fifty years ago or today, there will be those fringe players clinging to the success and notoriety of years gone by.  For me, I would much rather be watching ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ than ‘Dancing With the Stars.’  Do I put Harvey Corman and The Situation(I cannot believe I just typed that…ughh) members of each show respectively, on the same page as a performer?  NO. I. DO. NOT.  But this blog is not about ability, it’s about celebrity.

So for every Justin Bieber out there who is making the most of their 15 minutes, who was only 12 years old when he began posting videos on YouTube and had an album go 15 minute clockplatinum by the time he was 15, there is also a Judi Dench out in the world who was 61 when she was cast as ‘M’ in Goldeneye garnering 1 Oscar win and six nominations over the next 12 years and a seventh a few years later after making her stage debut 38 years prior.  To be fair to Dame Dench, this is more about her international fame as she was quite the accomplished actress in the UK virtually her entire career including a 30 year stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Years from now will we still be talking about celebs such as Paris Hilton or Kendall Jenner or Bruno Mars?  It’s been over 400 years since The Bard left this world and here we are still talking about his celebrity and work.  In 2418…who will we be talking about then?

Andy Dudas 3/19/2018

IMG_7392Andy Dudas has interests varying from painting and singing, to photography and prop making.  Pretty much anything that has a creative element.  Amateur status in all endeavors, he finds art everywhere he looks.  Always seeking his next inspiration.


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