Monday, May 30, 2005

Fifteen minutes of fame....what Andy /really/ meant, dammit!

The most famous Andy Warhol quote of 'em all, now a household phrase invoked at every opportunity for fame, fortune, visibility, et cetera....and yet, we regard it as a ration, a set and finite span of time to be used or wasted and then--"out, out, brief candle"--no more.

Personally, in that spirit I haven't even begun to nibble at my own fifteen minutes, barely done a thing to try and seize the spotlight for myself. Why?--because it might be for the wrong reason. I don't want to waste my time on something that might be unworthy, petty, something less than all that I'm supposed to be and to show. Some people, you can tell when their fifteen minutes has come--there's a completion you can feel, that in a way this event, this issue encapsulates them, and they aren't going to turn up again, in news or in memory, except in relation to that one thing. A one-trick pony, perhaps, a one-hit wonder. The ironing is delicious.

Some people, on the other hand, may show up in the radar beam--even in the highest levels of celebrity--but you get a feeling they're not done yet--their story/saga/movie of the week has yet to receive its final draft from the writing team; there's still another twist or two to come in the theme before one can close the casefile.

And yet, what did Andy really mean? What he really said was, "In the future everyone will have fifteen minutes of fame." Not that that was a maximum allowance--more of a minimum lifetime requirement, I'd say.

And yes, it was a typical idealistic-artistic manifesto-ish thing to say...but do you see where he's coming from there? It's like a sabbatical rest-day law, or mandated health benefits....everyone deserves, everyone will, by virtue of their equal rights as human beings, be guaranteed fifteen minutes of fame. Absolute, word-on-the-street, everybody-knows-your-name fame. People will think of you, will notice you, will not ignore you. You will be a somebody. Everybody will be somebody. Nobodies of the world, unite--we shall not be invisible.

And of course, as most manifestos are apt to see far less than the original lofty spirit of their intent, we have a degraded version of that around us constantly now. Reality TV--game shows--lotteries--contests (and their underminings) that have far less to do with worth or quality or dignity than with the most atavistic drives for attention. People will eat maggots for attention, dress up in a cow costume for a singing audition, sell their bodies for advertising space, expose themselves and fight with their families and lovers onstage...anything to be noticed.

Does anyone see the desperation here, that after so much time this situation of fame has become even worse than before?--that there's a Never-Neverland (geez, thank you, Jacko...) of the "celebrity" world, which we hope to connect to if we're lucky, and then the everyday world of "real people" scrabbling to get out of the general crab-pail?

Look at that, and look at the socio-economic situation. Look at the gaps and the poverty of attention, how fleeting it is and yet how far people will go on a hope to escape their poor anonymity. Andy Warhol may have been a total pop-culture flake, but when it comes to fame his dream of the future has yet to be realized in its real and revolutionary form.

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