It seems that everywhere you look, there they are, wanting to grab the limelight, wanting their 15 minutes of fame. This was the attitude taken by Ian Burrell in a recent article he wrote for The Independent. But this phrase "15 minutes of fame?" How did a quote from the pop-artist Andy Warhol become so ensconced into the Western World's psyche?
The full quote that is attributed to Andy Warhol is: "In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes." These words were spoken in 1968. I like the quote. I find it incredibly portentous.
If we go back for a minute to Burrell's Independent piece, the essence of the article was his views on how the media as a whole has a wealth of tricks up its collective sleeve to lure people into the spotlight. But don't just think reality TV here, though of course, this is a massive part of it. Think also of the myriad of kiss and tell stories that we so often read. All these chances, all these opportunities to make a deal and go public, just for the sake of being paid to go public. The media pays vast sums of money. Why speak of this? Well again, I want to quote Andy Warhol here. He said: "Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art." Here, he was speaking in 1975. It's a mess quite frankly. Fame is cheap but the money's good. Everyone wants to be a star. Being a star is big business.
Let me try and pull it all together by thinking a little about what Stephen Fry recently said in an interview with Jack magazine when asked about his views on 21st century fame. He spoke of it being "less stylish", "more self-conscious."
I think he's hit the nail on the head here with his talk of there being a distinct lack of style. My sentiments exactly. Hypothetically speaking, and disregarding chronology, were I to switch on the TV and watch Parkinson, I would hang onto every word that the likes of Audrey Hepburn said. Regrettably these days, I'm far more likely to get the turbo-charged spillage of Jade Goody. See the difference between these two people? One was a personality, the other's just a person. Big Brother alone is spewing out enough sewage to last a lifetime. When you consider Pop Idol et al also â€¦ no, it's not good. You have to earn fame before you exude star qualities. Now, they just earn via a kiss and tell and expect fame.
You have to put Warhol's quote into context, to see the people that he was surrounded by. The parties he hosted at his studio, The Factory, were rife with people wanting to be famous. He could see where it was all going. It was on his doorstep. He was surrounded by all these people. They wanted fame for fame's sake. The signs were there even then. Drag queens, hustlers, would-be actors, addicts all vying for his attention. No talent, just star struck nobodies.
Obviously, Warhol was being ironic. Surrounded by these hangers-on, with no hope of real fame, he had already, in his work, captured the images of those he felt to be truly famous.
I've been fortunate enough to see a couple of pieces of Warhol's work up close and you can almost smell his words, know what he meant. When I visited the Centre Pompidou in Paris, I was able to look at his lithograph entitled 10 Lizes. I'm not here to decipher what he meant by reproducing an image of Elizabeth Taylor's face 10 times. Suffice to say, being bombarded by a large canvas with her image repeated, you inherently understand what Warhol's idea of fame really was.
It isn't selling your story to a tabloid, nor is it the huge presumption that I am remotely interested in watching you brush your teeth on Big Brother. Nor do I wish to watch you learn how to sing. Learn how to sing, then if I like your finished product, I'll line your pockets. But if I don't like it, don't go crying to the tabloids, because I won't be reading your story. You have to earn my respect before I'm even remotely interested in what you have to say.