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Fifteen Minutes of Fame
“In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”
The above quote was made famous by the late celebrity Pop artist Andy Warhol. Warhol, who had earned fame silkscreening Campbell’s soup cans and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, became fascinated with the superficial celebrityism that was emerging during the 1960’s. His famous and often misquoted words about being famous for fifteen minutes was a direct jab at what he felt was a society focused on fame instead of substance. His silkscreens of film and rock star legends were done in part to demonstrate the mass production and superficiality of fame and celebrity. Andy Warhol died before the advent of “YouTube”, “FaceBook” “Twitter” or “MySpace”. He died without ever watching a reality TV show or reading a blog but his words are more true today than they were fifty years ago- today, everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame.
As arts educators we need to help kids decipher genuine talent from celebrity. Thanks to the internet anyone can post a talentless video (endless babies doing anything, horrid dancers, off key singers), write and publish their own books, or post their opinions and photos for the world to view. Just because it is out there, doesn’t necessarily make it good. Our students are growing up in a world where talent is secondary to celebrity. Really, what does Paris Hilton do well? What does she do at all? Today’s young people growing up have less ability to recognize and applaud talent than any previous generation. In the past it was skill and talent that got one noticed, not self promotion. How do we teach students to discriminate between substance and talent and superficial propaganda? Arts education is what helps students develop necessary discrimination skills. When a student creates a piece of visual art or refines a musical arrangement or perfects a dance movement, he becomes aware of the hard work involved in producing the final product. It is only through this experience that we gain empathy for true skill and ability. By maintaining a vital and vibrant arts program in school, we are not just providing an outlet for creativity, we are giving a students an experience that will help shape their perception of what is genuine and what is not.
Andy Warhol was spot on regarding his perception of how out of control celbrityism would become. We can only hope that his additional statement about fame does not also come to pass:
“In fifteen minutes, everyone will be famous.”