Andy Warhol was famous for his quote, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” In this age of reality TV, 15 minutes stretches on forever.
There was a time when one had to actually succeed at something (or die in the process) to be considered worthy for cinematic or literary portrayal.
Not anymore. Now you can have your life as a fluid receptacle for six different men-at the same time-laid out for all to see on Wonkette.com because you’re a bored little rich girl working up there on Capitol Hill, only to land yourself a book deal (look up “Washingtonienne” at Amazon.com). Either that or you can sit in Donald Trump’s TV board room and act like a colossal ass while working to become his next super-duper helper. There’s literally no price too high to pay to be famous. If only it were for just 15 minutes.
Then we get to Cindy Sheehan. When she emerged a year ago, one would have had to have been a heartless thug not to feel at least some sympathy for her, even if you didn’t agree with her on the issue that’s brought her to the public’s attention. After all, she lost her son in Iraq. Like Lila Lipscomb of Fahrenheit 911, herself a mourning mother following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, one couldn’t help but feel for the tragedy that’s befallen them. But even that has its limits.
Among those who oppose the war in Iraq-or any war for that matter-next to the actual soldiers that fight in it, the families of those soldiers have a great deal of credibility. If Cindy Sheehan believes the war is wrong and we should get out now, then I’m fine with that; she’s certainly entitled in more than one way to hold such an opinion as well as to advocate her opinion in any matter she chooses. This last sentence is a disclaimer for the overwhelmingly hyper-sensitive among us who will bring out the first amendment defense argument whenever they encounter a criticism they don’t agree with (lately you can find these people on the lawn, in circular formation).
Where I draw the line is when I learned recently that not only does Sheehan now have a book deal, she’s also in talks to have a movie made about her long and distinguished year-long activist career. Reportedly she’ll be portrayed by the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, Susan Sarandon; was Barbara Streisand not available?
Cindy Sheehan will always have a certain segment of the population that worships the ground she walks on. You can usually find that segment hanging out with Susan Sarandon and Cindy’s other new friend Jane Fonda (and let’s not get into that perfect example of why traitors deserve the end of a rope) all the way out in Hollywood.
Many other people, even many who once had great respect for Sheehan, now find her to be either a liberal tool or just too eager to embrace the spotlight, as in the morbid Vanity Fair pictorial of her lying face down on her son’s grave. Can you say “Pet Cemetery,” anyone?
Reality TV, like hanging around with liberal movie stars can give someone the impression that 15 minutes of fame is a perfectly natural occurrence. But it’s not because not everyone was meant to be famous.
It’s even worse when some who get that fame spend entirely too long on stage.
Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student in the history department. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.