The Culture of Fame

I recently learned that Andy Warhol created Interview magazine in 1969. I never knew that. According to Interview, “he started it to give the kids something to do.” It has also been suggested that he started the publication to get press credentials for the New York Film Festival. Both explanations ring true for Warhol. But the thing Andy Warhol’s Interview achieved was signature Warhol–it made people famous.

Warhol is an icon today because he knew how to get people excited about culture: people, art, ideas, film. He did it in his magazine by letting the reader into the conversation with budding stars using a simple Q and A format. Like most of Warhol’s experiments it was way ahead of its time. It inspired a whole new generation of magazines including, in fact, People. Even the New York Times borrows the format for its Sunday magazine.

This week, more bad news from the Chicago Tribune. More steep cuts. More layoffs. So, I guess this will seem a little like kicking a man when he’s down, but my beef about the Trib is that it never got culture. Its critics lack insight. Its society reporters are clueless about who and what to cover outside of the obvious. In essence, the Chicago Tribune never understood fame. Does it need a Sam Zell to turn the ship? Or does it need an Andy Warhol?