Fifteen Minutes of Fame · 11 July 2010

People do crazy things to get noticed by TV cameras. While watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer matches, I saw people with all sorts of costumes and face paint getting displayed on the screen. Many just had beautiful faces and they all mugged for the camera, especially when they knew they were on the big screen. All the time I could not help but wonder whether they were using up their fifteen minutes of fame.

Andy Warhol said, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes,” and it seems that everybody believes it to be true. People do whatever it takes to get on TV or in the newspapers. Sports fans put on face paint, dress up in crazy costumes, or show off their bodies in audacious ways. Some crazy fans even go to the extreme of only having body paint covering their upper bodies in the middle of winter. And they get their friends together to spell out the name of their favorite teams on their chests. I actually thought this was an American craze until I watched a few matches of this year’s World Cup.

What has amazed me about the World Cup fans is the lengths to which they go in their dress to get noticed or at least show their fervor. I have seen beautiful face painting and gaudy chest painting as would certainly be seen in the U.S.A. But I have also seen elaborate costumes that would have made Monty Hall from Let’s Make a Deal proud. There are crazy hat and outlandish wig wearers. There are matadors and mascots. There are flag wavers and flag wearers. There are lots and lots of World Cup lofters. And there are the beautiful people. They all mug for the camera and wave or blow kisses at the camera when they see that they are showing up on the big screen in the stadium. They wave for the whole world to see. And they use up a few moments of those fifteen minutes of fame.

I do not know if everyone will truly enjoy their fifteen minutes in the world spotlight, but just in case we do all get those minutes, I would like to spend my world-famous time more wisely than just being picked out by the camera at a sporting or other public event. I would rather have people know me for my writing or teaching prowess than for me waving at a football game. I would rather people google my name than come across my anonymous mug on the internet.

That is because I believe that if I am truly going to get my fifteen minutes of fame, I would like to turn it into something more substantial than just being a face in the crowd shown to the world. I would rather be one of the people that the commentators actually recognize and name when the camera pans over the spectators. Of course, all of this assumes that Andy Warhol was actually correct.

I happen to think that he was correct. Most people will probably have their picture in the paper or at the very least on the internet at some point in time. Some people will even be recognized with their names for something sordid they did in their youth. But I think that Mr. Warhol got the time frame wrong. Most people will be world-famous at some point in their lives. But they will only enjoy it for fifteen seconds. Maybe even less. Some people will point to their faces on TV or the internet as somebody who was at some World Cup match. Others will point to their hand on the picture of the crowd watching their country’s team on a TV at a large venue. Others will point to a location of that same picture and say, “I was right there, but you cannot see me.” And they will all have enjoyed their fifteen minutes (or seconds) of world-fame.

I will not be one of the people who wave at the camera at any of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer matches. I will not be painting my face or dressing up to get noticed by Monty Hall or the camera operator at some sporting event. I will not be an anonymous fan waving to the camera any time soon. But perhaps somebody will search for my name or remember a column I wrote and pass it on to a friend. Maybe someday, I will enjoy my fifteen minutes of world-fame for my writing.

I believe that I will eventually get my fifteen minutes (or seconds) of world-fame. I just hope I have not already used it all up.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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