The Fame Game

Way back in 1968, Andrew Warhola, better known as the iconic American artist, director and film producer Andy Warhol, the celebrated pinup boy of the uber-cool 1960s visual art movement known as Pop Art, made what was to prove a profoundly prophetic statement. “In the future,” Warhol proclaimed, “Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

In the third millennium, social media phenomena like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have turned the concept of “15 minutes of fame” into a veritable art form. But I was nonetheless bemused and intrigued to read of the recent arrest of an alleged YouTube prankster charged with unregulated high-risk behaviour after he allegedly leapt headlong off Brisbane’s Goodwill Bridge.

In Queensland, under section 14 of the Summary Offences Act “unregulated high-risk behaviour” is strictly prohibited and carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment. But the leaper, who purportedly has around 60,000 YouTube subscribers, was also apparently happy to have his performance filmed as part of a viral dare known as “silly salmon”, in which the participant is challenged to dive into the nearest body of water whilst simultaneously thrashing frenetically like a fish out of water, and the whole allegedly illegal exercise then uploaded to YouTube for all the world to see and enjoy.

The arrest of the alleged Silly Salmon brought back to mind the curiously perverse consternation expressed by some old-time urgers a decade or so ago when certain Gold Coast-based bikies and other questionable characters began publishing Facebook pages trumpeting in lurid detail their professed unlawful activities. As one outraged old knockabout commented to me, with a disgusted curl of his lip, “What the hell’s gotten into these young blokes? When I was up to tricks, a good crook kept his mouth shut, and never told nobody nothin’.”

It seems Warhol’s future is now.

Chris Nyst

Lawyer, Novelist and Film Maker

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