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By Maxwell Kelly

This blog post is in response to the blog “Michael Jackson: Humanitarian and Environmentalist”.

The post in discussion argues that Michael Jackson should be considered an American icon, not just for his best-selling albums and chart-toping singles, but more for his humanitarian work and environmentalist work. Jackson’s two songs Heal the World and Earth Song epitomize this attitude and work according to the blog post. To back up this claim, statistics of amounts of money given to certain charities and organizations are used throughout. The personal significance to the writer is also emphasized which creates helps realise how Jackson is an icon to the blog writer. However, I’m not too sure whether this helps the case for Michael Jackson being a US icon since it does not state how he is an icon for all of America. Instead it may have been better to focus on media reactions to Michael Jackson or record sales to emphasise how much of an icon he was for America.

The blog does, though, use an impressive amount of factual evidence which is relevant to the argument of Michael Jackson being an icon. This include the figures donated charities, apparent acts of kindness and his lyrics in Earth Song and Heal the World  which add to the idea that Jackson was a humanitarian. However does it actually convince me into the idea that he is an American icon? I’m not too sure. I feel that again maybe the inclusion of the national perception of these acts would make the claim he was an icon for America more convincing.

One slightly worrying concern with the argument is the willingness to gloss over his controversies such as the sexual abuse allegations that have been filed against him. Especially given the nature of today’s world with the ‘MeToo Movement’ is it really wise to just ignore these issues to just one or two lines, especially for a supposed humanitarian icon?

By Carys Vickers

Starbucks Coffee is a worldwide phenomenon, and certainly an American icon. The Temple student’s blog evaluates Starbucks’s merchandising and media representation to describe how it asserts an American image across the globe.[1] Written in a clear, understandable way, the blog convincingly argues that Starbucks has significant foreign recognition as an American icon.

However, although the blog describes how Starbucks makes foreigners feel like ‘genuine Americans’ (perhaps too bold an assumption, given the lack of supporting evidence), it is not always clear what this actually means – what makes Starbucks uniquely American? One suggestion could be how Starbucks combines the social tradition of Italian coffeehouses with the fast-paced, commercial nature of American cities, thus exemplifying the mixing of cultures that often characterises America. Furthermore, the company was named after chief mate Starbuck from the American classic Moby Dick. Aiming to evoke ‘the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders’, the name firmly ties Starbucks to American history and literature. [2]

An interesting feature discussed in the blog is the American way of Starbucks employees writing the customer’s name on their cup. This could be explored further; along with the seemingly endless ways to customise drinks, Starbucks provides a more personalised experience than other coffee shops. This reflects the key American ideals of freedom and individualism by prioritising customers’ choices over the company’s convenience and efficiency, another example of how Starbucks is a specifically American icon.

To conclude, this blog could improve in its evaluation of what makes Starbucks an icon unique to America. Although touching on some of Starbucks’s defining features, it often does not detail what makes these specifically American. Nevertheless, it certainly provides interesting and relevant information to describe how Starbucks is recognised worldwide, and successfully explores the methods it has used to reach this position.

 

Bibliography

American Icons Temple. ‘Starbucks Coffee’. Accessed 20th Feb 2018. <https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/starbucks-coffee/&gt;.

Marshall, Colin. ‘The first Starbucks coffee shop, Seattle – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 36’. The Guardian. 14th May 2015. <https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/may/14/the-first-starbucks-coffee-shop-seattle-a-history-of-cities-in-50-buildings-day-36&gt; [Accessed 20th Feb 2018].

Starbucks. ‘Company Information’. Accessed 20th Feb 2018. <https://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information&gt;.

[1] ‘Starbucks Coffee’, American Icons Temple, accessed 20th Feb 2018 <https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/starbucks-coffee/&gt;.

[2] ‘Company Information’, Starbucks, accessed 20th Feb 2018 <https://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information>.

Starbucks Blog Response

[Posted on behalf of Northumbria Student]

The blog begins with a brief history of Starbucks showing its origins in Seattle its rise to the most iconic coffee brand in the world. In doing so, the author has adequately established an argument as to why Starbucks is an American icon.

By focusing on the rise of the number of Starbucks coffee shops that there are in the years from 1971 to 2010, the author provides evidence of the growth of the company further solidifying the notion that this business is an American icon through the use of a statistical graph. The graph shows the enormous jump in the presence of Starbucks shops worldwide in the decade between 1996 (when the company opened its first store outside of North America) and 2006, a jump of roughly 1200%.

The author then assumes that non-American people feel as though they are American when they purchase a coffee in one the Starbucks stores. Although the author makes the valid point that Starbucks was the first coffee shop to provide the experience of take-out cups with the customers names written on them, the concept of feeling like an American because you buy a coffee at Starbucks seems illogical. The service of a product with middle-eastern origins is available at multiple coffee chains found around the UK (which all offer incredibly similar environments in which to drink coffee to Starbucks), not just Starbucks, making it a western experience rather than an American one.[1]

However, by highlighting the use of product placement in popular worldwide media outlets (TV and Film), the author has shown that the brand of Starbucks is a brand that these outlets do want to be associated with. But in using this as evidence of the iconic status of Starbucks, they have shown that the business wants to be associated with a medium that is unquestionably more of an American icon than Starbucks itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Scott (2015). The History of Coffee Houses – Driftaway Coffee. [online] Driftaway Coffee. Available at: https://driftaway.coffee/the-history-of-coffee-houses/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Scott, “The History of Coffee Houses,” driftaway.coffee, Accessed 20/02/2018, https://driftaway.coffee/the-history-of-coffee-houses/.

[Posted on behalf of Northumbria Student]

This Blog is correct in stating that Starbucks is indeed an iconic business, It is an example of how American business is ever increasing its influence on the World and the blog attempts to draw on this point in the graph showing the exponential increase of stores once Starbucks opened outside of North America.

However the Blog fails to justify what distinguishes Starbucks as an American icon, it attempts to explain what feelings the purchase of a Starbucks coffee invokes in the customer, in brief the customer feels American. The reason this argument is flawed is because it is unsubstantiated if fails to produce sources to substantiate their argument, excluding the graph used the argument regarding the consumer relies totally on the opinion of the author.

The question as to whether Starbucks is an American icon could have been better explained by establishing what constitutes an American icon what are the myths, ideas and symbols which are distinctly American, this Blog only highlights America as Starbucks’ country of origin. Yet exploring what are the characteristics of iconic American brands and measure Starbucks against those characteristics would have presented a stronger case for Starbucks’ status. For example what is typically iconic about American brands is their exceptionalism, the need to rise and spread their sphere of influence over the rest of the world and in doing so becoming business empires.

The point raised about the usage of the brand’s logo in the media could have been better justified too in showing the idea that an American brand is inescapable yet the argument in the Blog fails to explain why this manner of usage is important in defining it as an American icon its more an example of a successful business.

[Posted on behalf of Northumbria Student]

Upon first reading the ‘FLOTUS- Michelle Obama’ blog of April 29th, 2016, the way in which the writer came to the decision of choosing Michelle is already indicative of her place as an American icon. They begin by outlining her background which, although perhaps does not account for her status as an icon, is important in understanding how she reached the position she did. One advantage of the blog is that the writer focuses on Michelle Obama as an individual rather than in the shadow of her husband, with only a passing reference to her scaling back of work during the Obama campaign. Though the blog is successful in outlining her many achievements and therefore solidifying her place as an icon, it could have been useful for the writer to have looked at the achievements of previous First Ladies (e.g. Eleanor Roosevelt); this could have been a beneficial comparison as to show whether she went beyond the role of her predecessors, as there is the question of whether she is only seen as an icon due to her current popularity, or whether she will be remembered as an icon in fifty years’ time. It gives valuable insights into some of the positions on her résumé, as this is information that is not often widely known by the general public, and so could strengthen her image in their mind. In concluding the blog, the writer makes a strong closing statement which sums up the argument, leaving the reader with a sense of concurrence.

My overall opinion of the blog is that the writer makes strong statements which I am inclined to agree with, although the issue of whether her status will be as iconic as someone in a similar role should be considered when looking at the effectiveness of this argument.

[Posted on behalf of Northumbria Student]

The blog entitled ‘Rocky, The American Dream’ provided good information regarding the American Dream, Rocky and how this movie became an American icon. The first paragraph is a great introduction as it gives a brief overview of what the American Dream and Rocky is, which will be useful if readers aren’t familiar with these two topics. The blog starts with ‘To me, achieving the American Dream means to rise from the ashes’, which is useful in conveying how the American Dream is viewed from the perspective of an American and shows the ideology of the American Dream is still alive today.

This blog acknowledges the links between gender and race throughout the film. For example, how its ‘filmed from behind portraying him as the average Joe leading the importance of gender in this film’. However, further elaboration on how gender is portrayed would have made this blog stronger for example, analysing the differences between how female and male character are portrayed or how the film is dominated by male cast members, with very few females. It also would have made the blog stronger if it went on further to analyse why the American Dream is ‘a very white, male dream’, for example using the absence of women shown to be striving towards their American dream.

In relation to the topic of race, Rocky is described as a ‘white male’ however the actor who played Rocky’s character, Sylvester Stallone is of Italian, French and Ukrainian descent, which is the opposite to ‘the American image of power: white males’. However, the argument put forward regarding Apollo Creed’s role in the film in relation to white power and the Civil Rights Movement is a good piece of analysis and the reference to the way Apollo was dressed in this scene strengthens the argument. Overall, this was a good blog however further attention to detail would have strengthened the overall argument.

[Posted on behalf of Northumbria Student]

Jimmy Carter arrived in Newcastle on 6th May 1977 to an enormous crowd of Geordies highly anticipating his arrival. Over 20,000 people were in the crowd which Carter addressed during his speech. Not only did this mark the Presidents first foreign tour since taking office but it also saw the start of Friendship Force an organisation created for people to take part in home exchanges, which Newcastle and Atlanta participated in during 1977. The organisation was created ‘to build bridges between the US and the rest of the world’[1] and for participants to obtain a greater degree of understanding between different cultures.

The influence that Carters visit had on the people of Newcastle is still evident today decades after the visit took place. On the 40th anniversary of his visit, various events were being held to celebrate, the main event being at the Civic Centre where President Jimmy Carter made his speech to the Newcastle people 40 years prior. The event contained ‘film footage, photos and personal reminiscences’ all ‘to mark a historic visit that many local people still remember clearly and with affection ‘.[2]

The President’s trip to Newcastle and the affection he received from the people show how much of an influence America had on Newcastle and the 40th anniversary celebrations which where held to mark his visit shows how much influence it still has on this country today. Friendship Force facilitated globalisation by connecting people from all over the globe. It started on Carters trip to Newcastle in 1977, which connected those from Newcastle to those in Atlanta and continues today, connecting people ‘across six continents with 15,000 active members.’[3] It continues to aid globalisation and the breaking down of barriers between people and culture, helping spread understanding and acceptance of different ways of life, something visible in President Jimmy Carters trip to Newcastle.

[1] David Morton, ‘Howay the lads! When American President Jimmy Carter thrilled Newcastle’, Chronicle Live, May 6th 2017, https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/history/howay-lads-american-president-jimmy-12990951. [Accessed 03/02/2018.]

[2] International Newcastle, http://www.internationalnewcastle.org.uk/2017/04/10/join-us-for-40th-anniversary-celebrations-of-jimmy-carter-visit-to-newcastle/. [Accessed 04/02/2018].

[3] Friendship Force, https://friendshipforce.org/who-we-are/. [Accesses 04/02/2018].