Meghan McCain vs. Andy Warhol

November 6, 2009
By | 1 Comment

For the curious internet user, copies of the buxom self-portrait Meghan McCain snapped to accompany her twitter post a couple weeks back (which read, “my ‘spontaneous’ night in is my Andy Warhol biography and takeout….I’m getting old”) will forevermore be mere clicks away. Though taken down from Twitpic hours after she posted it, the Google Image search “meghan mccain twitter” provides dozens of identical thumbnails of the photo—row after row, column after column—like a parody of one of Warhol’s iconic portraits.

Warhol, being twenty years dead, couldn’t comment on McCain’s pic or the resultant kerfluffle that bloggers and journalist must have felt injected some much-needed sex into the midweek’s news cycle. That said, a little bit of detail concerning how Warhol documented/mediated his own experiences might compliment these other considerations of the McCain’s Twitter controversy.

Warhol’s most-quoted views on starcraft focused on the media’s/a medium’s capacity to seemingly generate celebrities at will, which people have happily applied to all sorts of online content: blogs, social networking sites, YouTube, etc. But, as anyone familiar with his Screen Tests series knows, Warhol was also intrigued with deconstructing and toying with notions of celebrity aura as well—the “everyday boredom” of celebrity. Indeed, the central premise of Interview—the star-centric magazine he founded in 1964—was to get famous people to talk about anything (no matter how banal) and then publish the results with little or no editing.

Warhol was also happy to record and publish his thoughts. His first book a: A Novel was a phonetic transcription of an audio recording featuring Warhol and his entourage at his Factory studio and out on the town, while his second work, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol—mostly generated from a number of audiotaped conversations—was a deliberately ironic and unstructured collection of quotes and pontifications. Warhol additionally kept meticulous diaries of his daily life (collected, edited, and published posthumously as The Andy Warhol Diaries in 1989) with the help of his secretary, who was on the phone with the artist every weekday morning, dutifully transcribing the sum of each past day’s details: business lunches, work expenses small and large, gossip, opinions on friends and acquaintances, etc.

Just because Warhol is dead doesn’t mean he’s not active online, however. Indeed, his ghost—or maybe his transcriber’s ghost—is on Twitter, busily chronologically posting his diaries. The feed, distilling his entries into single sentences, easily fits the Twitter model. For instance, the same day McCain made her infamous post, warhol_diaries tweeted, “autographed a copy of the philosophy book, was reading it and i wonder why it didn’t make it big-it’s got a lot of good lines in it.” Maybe it was the wrong medium at too early a time.


Tags: ,

One Response to “ Meghan McCain vs. Andy Warhol ”

  1. Erin Copple Smith on November 8, 2009 at 7:03 PM

    This is a really insightful point, Josh. Indeed, Warhol really did seem to be before his time–the cult of celebrity he celebrated and encouraged among those at the Factory would be perfectly of a piece with today’s pseudo-celeb culture. Heidi & Spencer, Paris & Nicole, Kate & Jon Gosselin, and Octomom all seem like living, breathing Warholian fantasy. And you’re right on the nose with Warhol’s pithiness and Twitter posts. He essentially lived and spoke in sound bites.

    Oh, Warhol–if only you were still here to revel in what has come to pass.