In 1968, Andy Warhol predicted everyone would be world famous for fifteen minutes, at some point in the future. Perhaps he was right, and that future is already upon us.
At the time he made his prediction, being a celebrity was thought of as glamorous and almost entirely positive, so those who believed Andy Warhol’s premonition were probably rather excited at the prospect of becoming one.
In those days, as it is now, celebrities were tormented by the paparazzi, who endeavoured to capture moments of their private lives in an effort to squeeze further entertainment from them – and without the stars, there could be no paparazzi. Yet, since the introduction of video-sharing sites on the Internet, the word ‘celebrity’ has adopted an entirely new meaning, along with the term ‘paparazzi’.
The paparazzi have found work without chasing stars, since privacy can be stolen from any one of us. And anyone may become a celebrity, for an endless variety of reasons, and to be known as one can be either a positive or negative experience, depending on the nature of the films.
The modern-day paparazzi have the power to make ordinary people celebrities, when they film entertaining moments of their lives and post the footage on the Internet, and anyone with a mobile phone with a video-recording facility, access to the Internet, and a questionable morality has the potential to become a paparazzo.
There are a growing number of websites where the new-age paparazzo’s work can be displayed, and while larger sites may be monitored to some degree, the smaller sites may not. ‘Toxic Junction’ is one such smaller site, and should you browse through the first twenty videos under the category ‘most popular’ you might assume that to become a celebrity requires no talent whatsoever. All one need do is live one’s life, since there is certain to be a moment between and including one’s birth and death that others will find entertaining.
(Note; Toxic Junction’s format has changed since creating this blog.)
There are some videos you are advised not to watch unless you are over twenty-one, and with good reason, since they are deeply disturbing – yet, all you need do is click a button to declare that you are, with no proof required.
This site supports examples of spycraft larger sites may reject. The title ‘Guy Caught Wanking in Office’ is rather misleading, since his employees set up a hidden webcam to capture his clandestine free time. Equally, ‘Dude Caught Wanking in His Dorm’ isn’t entirely accurate, since the captors of his privacy found their way into his room by entering the code on his locked door.
It seems the modern-day paparazzi will go to any lengths to acquire entertaining moments from the lives of ordinary people, and bestow celebrity status upon them. Spying on others appears to have become a new pastime, and to be a ‘Peeping Tom’ or ‘Keyhole Kate’ seems increasingly acceptable.
Such actions can have tragic consequences, as when, in 2010, a young musician committed suicide, after he had discovered intimate moments he had shared with his gay lover had been discreetly filmed by his flatmates and broadcast on the Internet.
Although his reaction to Internet infamy may seem to have been extreme, I empathise entirely with the level of distress he must have felt, since I have been defamed through the Internet’s short film industry, and if I didn’t have children, or could have coped with the thought of their grief, I think I would have ended my life too. It’s hard to explain how it feels when you sense countless people ridiculing you, who know nothing else about your life.
Once I realised I had become an Internet blooper-star, I moved to the north of Europe, where my children live, and far away from where I received my Internet identity. I have no idea how intensely my infamy has followed me because I rarely leave home – I’m afraid to go outside, in case I am recognised from the short films.
I don’t want to be seen with my children because I don’t want them to be drawn into the public humiliation I face, so I avoid going out with them. And on the rare occasions I do, it’s never to a public place – not even to a park for a picnic and to play football, as we used to.
I am even afraid to go to the shops, and feel ashamed to admit my children do most of my shopping for me. I haven’t managed to pluck up the courage to visit a dentist either, and I am blessed with English teeth, so I’ve lost a few because of the neglect. Recently, I removed an infected molar using a pair of pliers. I have lived in this manner since I received my unwelcome celebrity status four years ago.
Initially, when I realised what had happened, and had made up my mind suicide wasn’t an option, I was overwhelmed by a desire to add what I saw as the missing soundtracks to the short films in which I had appeared. I wished to add the rest of my life to the moments stolen from it, so the stolen moments would make sense. I felt I should disclose the events that had led to a breakdown, and my resulting infamy, so I wrote an account of my somewhat troubled life.
Perhaps others, who find themselves in my position, will wish to do the same, with the hope of feeling whole once more. Some, however, may feel the stress of Internet stardoom too great, and end their lives without saying much at all, like the young musician, who only wrote – ‘jumping off the G.W. bridge, sorry.’
Others might hide away until they are old, and won’t be recognised any more, which is a thought passing through my mind. And there are those who may never be able to explain the circumstances leading to their unwished-for-fame, like the ‘Crazy Man Taking a Poop at Winnipeg Square’ – (Quote; Toxic Junction)
Unfortunately, adding the rest of my life to the moments stolen from it, with the hope the short films would be understood, proved an almost entirely futile endeavour. I arrived at this conclusion when I realised that not everyone who has seen, or will see the films would read the book. There may also be those who read the book but haven’t seen the films, which may lead them to search for the films, and if they were to find them, it would increase their popularity and therefore worsen my predicament. There is also the question of a language barrier, since the Internet is universal.
So, I assume there is no way I can ever feel whole, and there will always be those who judge me as a person solely from those moments stolen from my life. I suppose I just have to accept that I am a disposable element of the entertainment industry, along with every other blooper-star.
Perhaps it is inevitable that the Internet’s short film industry will have its tragedies and claim its victims, just like Hollywood, and perhaps it will claim even more. My life has been damaged beyond repair, but no-budget films have been produced, people have been entertained, and in the glassy eyes of the entertainment industry, maybe that’s all that really matters.
I have not given up hope though; I have written this article and made a pencil sketch of the illustration, which is posted above. I would have used ink and watercolour, but I couldn’t afford the materials. There are no rags to riches stories for blooper-stars, I suppose. On the contrary, I would say, since I was a resident of the Salvation Army Hostel for Men at the height of my fame, where I lived for five months.
Now, I live in a block of flats, and I’m surrounded by them, which makes it almost impossible to gather the courage to leave home. I long to live in the countryside, so I may go for walks with my children and enjoy my privacy, but I have a feeling it’s just a fruitless hope, along with others, like wishing a dentist would pick me up from home and dedicate a day to fixing my blooper-star smile.
Today was unusually angst-ridden, for several reasons. Firstly; I left my home for the first time in fifty-one days. I wouldn’t say I’m agoraphobic, since I love being outside, especially in nature, and it isn’t a simple case of scoptophobia either; a fear of being stared at. I don’t think there is a name for the condition one develops as a blooper-star, at present.
Secondly, I have decided to re publish the book I wrote, even though the initial intent with which it was written is lost. The reason is due to a growing sense of planetary unrest. I am reluctant to publish, and if you choose to read it, or have read it already, you may understand why. Yet, you may understand why I feel I would turn in my grave if I didn’t.
The combination of self-confinement, Internet stardom, smoking copious quantities of cannabis and carefully considering my troubled life, led to a level of insanity I had never experienced, and directed the course of the book to an ending I could not have envisioned. I saw how our global civilisation had grown to be the way it is. I saw how it should be, and could be, and embarked upon a fantasy within which I was given a unique opportunity to make a paradisaical world manifest. I am quite obsessed by the revelations contained within the fantasy, and sense I’m supposed to share them with others. In fact; I feel I have little choice in the matter.
If you would like to read the book, just click on the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser window. When you arrive at the site click ‘preview’, where you will find the whole book. If all else fails, you could visit my blog.
(Link to Lulu.com and another blog)
Super-stars are often asked how to become famous. If I were asked, as a blooper-star, how to avoid fame, the advice I would offer would be this:
‘Always be well-behaved. Never let your guard down, not even for a minute, for a minute of your life is all that is required to plunge you into the giddying depths of blooper-doom.’
However; should you ever find yourself in such a predicament, please remember who you are – you know you are much more than an unfortunate moment of your life. And should the going get tough, remember the words of Nietzsche who said;
‘The thought of suicide is a great consolation: with the help of it, one has got through many a bad night.’
(Note; I didn’t realise that Nietzsche was considered an anti-semite at the time I wrote this blog. If I would have, I may not have quoted him. But then; was he? Or did his sister manipulate his writings after his death to suit her own right-wing tendencies?)
I try to remember these words, together with those of my great grandmother, who said:
‘When they’re talking about you, they’re giving someone else a rest.’
Maybe remember this too, and try to feel good for that ‘someone else’.