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Study says think again – 15 minutes fame can actually last decades

Does fame lacking any basis in accomplishments last only 15 minutes?  Well, a new study now says no.  It does last many years.  Sometimes decades.  Even in the world of entertainment, where fame is fleeting and transient.

Researchers studied the names mentioned in approximately 2,200 US daily newspapers, weeklies, and more infrequent periodicals over a period of several decades using Lydia, a research project in natural language processing (NLP) that reduces text streams to time-series data on the news volume associated with each news entity and their juxtapositions in sentences, articles, and newspapers with other news entities.

They discovered that, contrary to popular belief, most people who become truly famous in a given year, stay famous for decades—no matter what field they’re in, including sports, politics, and other domains.

The study looked the mentions over a decade, and they found those old names are still circulating.

For example, in a random sample of 100,000 names that appeared in the entertainment sections of more than 2,000 newspapers between 2004 and 2009, the 10 names that showed up most frequently were Jamie Foxx, Bill Murray, Natalie Portman, Tommy Lee Jones, Naomi Watts, Howard Hughes, Phil Spector, John Malkovich, Adrien Brody, and Steve Buscemi. All have been famous for at least a decade and all are still much talked about today.

Unfortunately for the new entrants and fortunately for the old ones, the turnover of the fame-but-unaccomplished names is rather low, despite the common wisdom saying otherwise.

Ninety-six percent of those whose names were mentioned over 100 times in the newspapers in a given year were already in the news at least three years before.

So, for all those people who thought that folks like OJ Simpson, Kardashians or Tommy Lee Jones in the US or folks like Rakhi Sawants, Poonam Pandey, and Sherlyn Chopra – and even Veena Malik from Pakistan – are trying just the wrong route need to think again.  Things do get more or less long term for such people in terms of staying in the fame business.


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