Time’s Up for This Cliché

8 years and counting...

8 years and counting…

Andy Warhol made many unique contributions to popular culture. I wish he would have made one fewer.

When the pop-art guru said, in 1968, that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, I don’t think he intended his words to become the de rigueur insult in response to every single last stinkin’ internet article about a current celebrity.

I happen upon this hackneyed cliché at least a dozen times per week, and it always irritates. But, like Joan Crawford discovering a wire hanger in her daughter’s closet, I finally snapped this Tuesday. The online article that sent my synapses into electric fury appeared on a popular entertainment site discussing an alleged feud between early ‘90s pop singer Sinead O’Connor and current pop singer Miley Cyrus over the usual nonsense from which celebrity feuds are contrived.

The feud is irrelevant. The reader responses, however, made me very grumpy (pointlessly so to the people around me, it turns out. Their reactions were rather less passionate than mine). Not only did at least 412 people write, “Your 15 minutes of fame are up, Miley,” another 275 wrote, “Weren’t Sinead O’Connor’s 15 minutes of fame up 20 years ago?”

Dear people who write things on the internet: Please, for the love of Zeus, stop using “15 minutes of fame” in reference to people who are actually famous. I don’t think that’s what Andy Warhol meant.

You see, Miley Cyrus is actually famous. She’s a multimillionaire, has sold millions of records, has performed before hundreds and thousands of fans and many millions more on TV, and has been a widely recognized public figure since March of 2006 when Hannah Montana debuted to huge ratings.

Lindsay Lohan, Kanye West, Kristen Stewart, Ben Affleck, and other reviled celebs who draw similar comments are actually famous too, and many have been for a long time. Way longer than 15 minutes.

Being a commenter on entertainment web pages who comments that famous people aren’t worth commenting about because they are almost not famous anymore… well, that’s like me, a blogger with a web footprint the size of a post-it note (the small kind) saying no one uses Facebook anymore.

My relative obscurity won’t stop me from offering this bit of advice, though: I implore you, internet commenter, to stop using the expression “15 minutes of fame.” It is a cliché. Clichés equal bad writing. When you use clichés, it means you are unable to express your own thoughts. Or, more likely, that you don’t have your own thoughts. And there’s really no reason to leave a comment about Miley Cyrus on the internet if you have nothing to say, is there?

15 minutes of fame… Your 15 minutes is up.

43 responses to “Time’s Up for This Cliché

  • wantonwordflirt

    Well said. (I think MIley should see a doctor….her tongue doesn’t look too healthy in this photo. )

  • Raymond

    That 15 minute sh*t is so 15 minutes ago…could not resist.

  • Eric Tonningsen

    Perhaps their ill-used reference is more wishful thinking… as in, please make it go away.

  • Gry Ranfelt

    Hannah Montana’s tongue gives me shivers. Why is it so white?! What the hell does she eat for it to look like that?!
    I agree with you on the cliché. Generally I wish people would quickly look over the comment box before posting the same thing as 100 other people did

    • ericjbaker

      She subsists on a diet of marshmallows and mozzarella cheese.

      In addition to the redundant comments, I see a lot of comments from folks who obviously only read the headline and are reacting based on assumptions about the content.

  • Kevin Brennan

    You’re absolutely right. A good example of a real 15 minutes of fame scenario is the “The Rent Is Too Damn High” guy. And he’s gone now. He’s not famous. He had his 15 minutes.

    I wish we could have a “your fame is over” election. Now that might be productive. Miley might be voted off the island, but so would The Kardashians, Ryan Seacrest, and Russell Brand. And, of course, the cliche itself would be eliminated.

    I second the concerns about Miley’s tongue. It is truly disturbing.

  • Jill Weatherholt

    Well said, Eric. Miley should use some of her millions and invest in a toothbrush and toothpaste and scrub that tongue. That is foul!

  • JH Mae

    Does molly make your tongue white.. ?

  • nrhatch

    I don’t often read articles about celebrities. When I do, I almost never feel inclined to comment or read through the existing comment thread.

    Just 2 simple ways to I avoid “unnecessary suffering.” 😛

  • Bryan Edmondson

    Besides enjoying the photo of the chick with the pasty tongue this whole post lost me. It left me feeling ignorant, humiliated and offended.
    In general, this article demands that I possess some knowledge of current events, have access to a TV, or have read the types of Magazines that I see scattered about hair salons in the local shopping mall.
    I object to the uses of certain words, phrases, and unfamiliar names in this post.
    Example = Miley Cyrus (Never heard of her.) This needs a citation.
    American based search engine Google defined Miley Cyrus as follows “Between her cleavage-baring dresses, salvia-smoking videos and that photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, it’s become increasingly apparent that Miley Cyrus has no intentions of being identified with Hannah Montana for the rest of her life.”
    (Dear Google, I speak English. Why don’t you? This was not helpful. )
    The blog post refers to “1968” (Dear Author, I was three years old in 1968. Maybe you allude to Captain Kangaroo. )
    Blog Post mention: “Early ‘90s pop singer Sinead O’Connor” (Dear Derick, I can’t remember the early 1990’s. I was stoned and in junior college.)
    “Wire coat hanger in the closet?” (What the hell does that mean?) Needs a footnote.
    de rigueur insult” (I do not speak Portuguese.) Insulting.
    In conclusion, Eric J Baker: it seems unfair to assume that I exist as a flapping pendent in the stadium bleachers of pop culture.
    p.s. All this pompous writing advice really got my goat.

    • ericjbaker

      Dear Reader,

      Thank you for your comment. Mr. Baker appreciates your thoughts and will be sure to take them into account when creating future posts.

      Please do not reply to this message. It has been generated by a computer, and computers are not interested in your drivel. However, artful nudes are welcome.

      • Bryan Edmondson

        If I ever write something well thought out, on any subject of true significance, I have to follow social psychology and inter-group theory and then conform to all sorts of tacit, silent, but agreed upon conflict-resolution rituals.
        But that is not in my blood. So I say what other people only think.

        If I do not kiss a with doctor or quote the Bible people are standing in line to lynch me. That is my best writing. And I would not do that on this blog.
        So superficial will have to to do. 🙂

  • Dave

    Great picture, Eric. And I, too, am a bit concerned about the pasty tongue. Yuck. Oh, enjoyed read your post as well 🙂

    • ericjbaker

      Poor Miley. I was going to post a more restrained image, but it just didn’t fit my [insert French word or phrase that means “style that people have come to expect and represents my way of thinking about the world”]

  • change it up editing

    Eric, I never fail to learn something wonderful while reading your posts. YOU, my dear, are a treasure. Carry on.

  • 1WriteWay

    I’m still waiting for my 15 minutes of fame. The cliché may likely be gone before I get to enjoy it. BTW: I thought Cyrus’s tongue was maybe dyed to match her outfit. Oh, and, great post, Eric 🙂

  • Janna G. Noelle

    Personally, I think another Warhol contribution we could have done without is that painting of the Campbell’s soup cans. Campbell’s soup itself sucks too.

    • ericjbaker

      mmmm mmmm, gross?*

      *reference to Campbell’s old “Mmmm, mmmm, good” ad campaign. I’m providing you with an opportunity to make another age joke.

      I doubt Warhol would have been caught dead eating that stuff. He was probably attempting to re-frame (no pun intended) perceptions about art by making a portrait out of something banal and endlessly reproducible. That is, portraits are meant to capture the unique essence of their subjects.

  • Richard Leonard

    If I ever got any minutes of fame I wouldn’t know what the hell to do with it. My daughter was the target age of Hannah Montana at the time and watched her show religiously, so unfortunately I am familiar with her alter-ego who wants to do away with her former character. Interestingly, daughter, now 15, seems to have wisely severed all emotional ties with the volatile singer/actress who payed her. To paraphrase Gotye, Miley is just someone that she used to know.

    Now, back in topic, Miley is probably only famous because of her father. Or, perhaps because of her father’s really bad song. I wonder if she would be so well known if her father had a decent song, or no song at all! 🙂

  • Bryan Edmondson

    Reblogged this on Creative Interests and commented:
    Decided to re-blog this post by Eric Baker. A prolific writing mentor whom I hope will follow me on Twitter,as soon as all those federal charges against him are dropped and the allegations of running an unlicensed casino are withdrawn formally. Even if he really is guilty

  • Arkenaten

    Did Warhol have a 10 minute category? And who would you recommend should be in it?

    I think Jagger would likely be in the 83 minutes category.

    • ericjbaker

      Are we talking God minutes here? Cuz I thought those were supposed to be, like, a million years.

      Wow, Sir Mick is 83,000,000 years old? Christopher Lee must be from the late Jurassic then.

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