Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pop Icons

Today I would like to discuss pop icons. Pop icons are basically just people, places, or things that owe most of their notoriety to over exposure than to other qualities like talent, true beauty, or earth shattering insight. Pop icons are often the result of intense lobbying and marketing by the media, commercial interests, or the icons themselves. I have nothing in particular against pop icons. I just sometimes struggle to understand why a particular person, place or thing rates being held up as some sort of beacon of popular culture.

Some pop icons have a brief shelf life. Others hang in there until such time they are coronated as art, a historical marker of a culture gone by, or honored as representative of some movement or cultural mindset. Brings a tear to the eye of any ad man out there.

The Hoola Hoop - an endearing reminder of a period when America was happy as if it had a brain. Mindless, repetitive, and produced nothing but a good sweat.

The Cambell Soup Can - Already an icon from years of being opened in America's kitchens, this undeserving container was then made forever famous by a no talent hack artist in New York. Or was it the can that made the no talent hack artist famous and an icon in his own right? It doesn't matter. His paintings of this can and other everyday items command millions of dollars now. And that is all it takes in this country.

The Peace Symbol - At the time it became popular, it represented a nod in the direcion of the peace movement during Viet Nam. It has come to represent the same now, but for a smaller crowd. It is now viewed with disdain by many who feel it is just the symbol of "Liberals gone Wild". Hated so much by some on the right, that I imagine somewhere in Fox News land, some wise acre would like to fuzz out the symbol like the ads with coed's flashing their boobs.

The Swastika - Originally a religious symbol used by many cultures. In 1920 the Nazis adopted it. Under this banner, many people died and many people suffered. Now used to represent the worst kind of human inclination.

Elvis and Marilyn - Combining these two makes sense. Giants in their time on this Earth. In death, almost granted a divine status by those too young to have been around. Excellent examples of being more famous dead than alive.

Watergate - A bungled break in toppled a president and created a moniker for political scandal of almost any kind. If it has "gate" tagged on the end, you know somewhere some pol is in deep shit.

Coca Cola - The coke symbol is recognized in all four corners of this planet. Tenacious marketing and over bearing expansion forced this icon of American imperialism onto every sign in the world. Or so it seems anyway.