We here at Famous For Bad Reasons have been getting an extraordinary number of hits for Edie Sedgwick, all because of the one post I made about chic women with short hair. I would feel remiss if I let all those hits be directed solely at one picture of her with her astrological sign listed and nothing else.
In recent years I did a total 180 on my opinion on Andy Warhol; why I like him now is irrelevant, as that’s a personal taste issue. I used to hate him, though, after making the mistake of watching Factory Girl while alone and sad in my college dorm room. For those who don’t know, Sienna Miller does a surprisingly excellent portrayal of Edie as she wastes away under heavy drugs, which had been supplied to her during her tenure at Warhol’s Factory.
Maybe it’s because I went to a small women’s college, which instilled a vague sense of sisterhood (albeit a fucked up one), but I believe if you lead people into your sordid life, you better take care of them. You don’t let your friends suffer alone. And so, on that day, watching Guy Pearce do a very good Andy, I decided, “Never shall I like Andy Warhol!”
Some think that a biopic like Factory Girl unfairly portrays Andy. But come on? Read his diaries, and make up your own mind.
The truth is Andy Warhol was a trained commercial artist. Capitalism made him, and he became, well, Famous For Very Bad Reasons.
People who make other people famous by marketing them tend to fall on the side of Famous For Bad Reasons. Edie was a self-destructive, sad girl who got caught up in that. She was a waif, and waifs get abused all the time by multimedia conlgomerates, no matter how artistic and human that particular conglomerate actually is. (Can I call a single person a conglomerate? I’d like to try.)
Whenever someone’s personal life is made into art, that life becomes a commodity. Andy Warhol photographed his closest friends and made them très célèbre as a result. This is dangerous territory, when your friends become your business.
So, here I am, listening to the Velvet Underground (how apropos), and I am about to posit The Edie Sedgwick Question:
Is fame ever worth the destruction that comes with being a commodity?
Rest in peace, babygirl.