I’ve riffed before about collective forgetting of movie stars. Even those who were huge during their time…phffft. Four and a half years ago I lamented how Montgomery Clift, once regarded alongside Marlon Brando and James Dean as one of the most respected and influential ’50s movie stars, has all but disappeared in the minds of younger GenXers and Millennials. Don’t even talk about Generation Z.

Recently Cesar A. Hidalgo, director of the Collective Learning group at the MIT Media Lab and a principal developer of Pantheon, a software program that quantifies, analyzes and measures global culture, stated that almost every ostensibly famous person vaporizes after 30 years, and that some start to fade after only five years. It’s a brutal process.

The opening paragraph of a 1.10.19 Nautilus article titled “How We’ll Forget John Lennon“: “A few years ago a student walked into Hidalgo’s office at MIT. He was listening to music and asked the student if she recognized the song. She wasn’t sure. ‘Is it Coldplay?’ she asked. It was ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon.”

For 16 years Lennon was iconic, and then, 38 years and 38 days ago, he was murdered. Right now he might as well be cigarette smoke as far as many most under-35s are concerned.

Name some hot-tamale movie actors who were happening 10 or 20 years ago but are now all but forgotten. I hate to be cruel about it, but Josh Hartnett is on that list. Hartnett on fleeting superstardom: “I know what it’s like to be in that whole world. I was up there for a couple of years, and it was uncomfortable. I think trying to stay at the top is a shortcut to unhappiness.”