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Saturday, January 05, 2008

FAME Question

Since David Bowie's birthday is coming up Tuesday, I had fame or Fame on my mind.

Someone's Twitter page recently read that he could not believe that someone didn't know Vincent Price. I do. There's a real generational chasm about fame.

A recent cover of Us Weekly indicated that Heidi Montag called off her wedding to Spencer because of behavior MTV failed to show. Trouble is, I had no idea who Heidi Montag was, or whether she looks better after undergoing "a lip enhancement procedure." Or who Spencer was.

I understand that Fergie, who was/is in the group Black Eyed Peas 1) is engaged to some hunky TV star and 2) peed in her pants this year, but I don't know the details of either.

When I heard that Britney Spears' sister got pregnant, I didn't appreciate why a big deal was being made until I discovered that Jamie Lynn Spears is the star of a Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 where she plays a role model for young girls.

And who the heck is Tila Tequila that Tom the Dog hates so much?

Conversely, people who used to be generally famous aren't anymore. The average 13-year-old doesn't know who Walter Cronkite, once "the most trusted man on television" is.

I remember that about 30 years ago, Andy Rooney had a series of specials. On one of them, or maybe on his regular 60 Minutes gig, he posited who he thought was famous, his definition being that people in a wide range of ages would know. Paul McCartney, yes. Michael Jackson, pre-Thriller, pre-nose job, pre-sex trials, was not. So, Johnny Knoxville of Jackass doesn't quite make it now.

1) Who used to be famous but isn't anymore because a new generation has come up that doesn't remember him/her?

2) What are the criteria for what makes someone famous? I think it's a long career that transcends their initial niche: Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods in sports, e.g. or Oprah Winfrey in talk. Showing up in a lot of popular TV shows and/or blockbuster movies: Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Will Smith.

3) Who might become famous? One can never tell, of course, but Miley Cyrus a/k/a Hannah Montana, seems to have the possibility. Heck, even I know her.



Anthony said...

In the age of viral media and YouTube, Andy Warhol's "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes" seems spookily prophetic. Of course, if I was to ask most of my college students who Warhol is, they would shrug their shoulders. Shooting from the hip, I would say that fame, for this current generation, is a more complicated matter than it was for previous generations.

Scott said...

1. Dick Van Dyke. I know he meant a lot to entertainment world when he was on top of his "game." But I know very little of his work, and I can't see anyone younger even knowing that he was an actor.

2. I think long careers that throughout are very good. Jack Nicholson is the first that comes to mind. He continually gives off great acting performances and all three of his Academy Awards came in different decades.

3. Not sure. Though I think your selection of Miley Cyrus is a good one.