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[Posted on behalf of Ioni]

The AmericanIconsTemple site offers an array of blogs exploring Barbie as an American icon. Many highlight how she represents the American woman and how she fits into American culture both past and present. However many of the blogs look at the negative side of Barbie as an icon and how her portrayal of women is unfair and inaccurate. Focusing on the issues of body image and low self-esteem, interesting points are made about her body proportions and provocative outfits. Images have been used in some to show how Barbie would look as a real woman if her body proportions were the same, showing a less ‘perfect’ body shape.

One blog named ‘Can Barbie Win?’ offers a different perspective to many of the other American icon blogs. The blogger states that Barbie does offer diverse versions of the original doll, using a range of skin tones and different aesthetics like tattoos. Despite controversy that Barbie is an inaccurate representation of femininity, this blog states that American people are giving Barbie power by buying the products and not boycotting them. Therefore, if Barbie is seen as an unsuitable icon, people can try to change it. This is an interesting way of looking at an American icon, showing how Americans have the power to choose which figures represent their society. The blog also exclaims how Barbie will never be able to satisfy everyone and that people will always be unhappy with the diversity of the doll. Although this is a fair statement to make, perhaps further attention could have been made to what companies of influential toys like Barbie could do to improve the images they are putting across to American society.

This post is in response to, “Johnny Cash: The Incarnation of America”[1].

The blog’s main argument is that musician Johnny Cash is the ultimate American icon. The author states, “Every American can somehow identify himself with Johnny Cash.”[2] While I believe that this is true, I also think that if we change the word, ‘American’ to simply, ‘person’ it is still a very accurate statement. Most people – myself included – find it easy to make connections between their own lives and Cash’s life, whether that be due to going through monetary struggles, dealing with complex relationships – familial or romantic – or even, in some cases, addiction.

The blog also compares Cash to Elvis. While I agree that Presley was perhaps more of a staple of popular culture at the time, I think that both musicians now share the status of musical legends, especially to those of us in the Western world. The writer makes a good point about how, “Country music does not export that well in other countries.”[3] And I very much agree with this comment. I would argue, however, that Cash’s music transcends genre. Undoubtedly, most will call him a country music star, but there is a lot more to it than that. His materials often embraced staples of other musical genres such as rock and roll, folk, blues and gospel.

The blog touches on the idea that Johnny Cash embodied the ultimate American. On the face of things, he was. He was a hardworking, God-fearing patriot from rural Arkansas. Although, I think that he was representative of people in general, and not just Americans. By this, I mean that the turbulence of Cash’s life – the peaks and lows of not just his musical career, but his personal experiences – is something that we all face, and his overcoming adversity in the most unlikely of circumstances is what makes him a role model for so many people. For this reason, I would say that Johnny Cash is not simply an American icon, but a global icon.

 

[1] edwindutilleul, ‘Johnny Cash : The incarnation of America’, published May 8th, 2016

< https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/johnny-cash-the-incarnation-of-america/>

[accessed 23rd February 2017]

[2] (Ibid.)

[3] (Ibid.)

The writer of this blog hits the ground running with a punchy introduction which immediately captivates my attention. Soon afterwards, the writer does well to summarise the birth of Coca – cola as a product and advertising brand very succinctly, adding in relatively lesser known pieces of interesting information along the way, such as the fact that John Pemberton, the creator of Coca – cola was ‘wounded during the war and like many other he became addicted to the morphine used to relieve pain.’[1], which eventually led him to creating the concoction that we all know and love today. The writer eventually leads the story of Coca-Cola into the present day, and how for the company goes to establish itself as a brand and American icon, for example: ‘Coca-Cola spent almost 2 billion $ for print, radio and television advertisement in 2001 and since 1886 the brand used more than 45 different slogans’.[2]All throughout the blog, the writing is complemented with relevant Images, illustrating an aspect of Coca-Colas growth, for example a timeline of the creation of the iconic shaped bottle. I am glad that the writer has also taken time to raise the very valid point that the creation of Coca-Cola wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for everybody either, rightly talking about for example, ‘The sugar, [making] people addicts and [it doesn’t] help the fight against obesity in the US or in Mexico, it can [lead] to heart attack, diabetes, stroke … And aspartame is less known so maybe less safe.’[3] However, to be even better, the writer could’ve fleshed out these points more, giving more information about the damage the Coca-Cola Company has inflicted to natural water sources around the world, or possibly even the waste plastic the company churns out yearly. Apart from this, this blog does very well.

[1]Marie Allice, ‘Coca-Cola : American Icon‘, published 4th May 2016 <https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/the-cheerleader/&gt;, [accessed 22nd February 2017]

[2] (Ibid.)

[3] (Ibid.)

There are many ways in which America can be represented symbolically, and Lucinda’s blog expresses how the Disney Logo can showcase the vast and diverse country into a microcosm, with also Disneyland itself incorporating American Culture and values within its theme parks. The blog delves into how Disneyland is a product, and ‘a multinational mass media corporation.’[1] A place where dreams come true and having visited Disneyland Florida myself, I mainly share the same perspective as Lucinda, seeing it as a place of nostalgia, a birthplace and celebration of childhood memories and a chance to feel like opportunity and adventure awaits around every corner of the park. However, I feel like the blog doesn’t touch on some American values and Ideologies that Disney and Walt, its creator, has incorporated in the product over the years, for example American Exceptionalism, the idea that America is superior and is a land of opportunity. This would make sense as Walt was politically active during his lifetime and the park is impressively visual and stunning to the eye, boasting visual American culture all over the attraction. In addition to this, my visit to the Florida park made me feel like Disneyland wanted to incorporate the ideology of the ‘Nuclear Family’ with hordes of American families cramming into the attraction every single day, basking in the sunshine, proudly taking in what the country has produced, and taking in the opportunities that the park offers. A highly family oriented day.  However, the way the blog paints how Disney reflects America is accurate and highly interesting. The mention of other Disneyland theme parks being created around the world such as Paris and Hong Kong is a crucial point to include, as it reflects how much of an influence America is to other countries, and exemplifies Disneyland as a globalized hot spot.

[1] lucinda851, ‘The Disney Logo as an American Icon’ published February 10th 2014

https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/the-disney-logo-as-an-american-icon/

Accessed 23rd February 2017

According to the Collins English Dictionary (Collins, Glasgow. 1986), an icon is, “ a symbol or analogous to the thing it represents”. President John F. Kennedy, in my opinion, is a fitting topic for your blog. Here in the U.K., your President is thought of, not only as your Head of State, but someone who upholds your values of liberty and freedom.

As chlucie points out in their blog of 14th May 2016, John Kennedy had an influential family behind his bid to become president. When his father, Joseph was the U.S.’s ambassador to Britain between 1938 and 1940, the Kennedy family certainly made a favourable impression on the British public, and were, unusually, kept very much in the public eye. I do wonder though, does it have any relevance to President Kennedy’s iconic status, that his family were ‘sane’?

I have to agree that his wife, Jackie, probably contributed to some of the hype and popularity that followed him. Comparisons can be made here I think, with our own Diana, Princess of Wales, who like Jackie, was a popular and fashionable woman around the world.

Nobody is perfect, and Kennedy certainly had a wandering eye. Pointing out that he was an imperfect man makes him seem more human, and therefore, more likeable.

Mentioning some of the songs and films that have been made about him is definitely evidence to his popularity and importance. Maybe even more could have been made of this, as the lists of programmes and films made about him is seemingly endless.

The 50th anniversary of his death saw a week of all the main British television channels showing tribute programmes, dramas and documentaries about this young man who was taken from his nation and family at a tragically young age, and in such tragic circumstances. Only a true American Icon could have instigated this from a British audience.    

 

References:

BBC at [http://www.co.uk/history/people/john-f-kennedy-9362930] Accessed 22/02/2017

Phillip Whitehead. The Independent. The Independent Digital News and Media, London. 10/10/ References 92.  At [http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment].  Accessed 22/02/2017.

Whitehouse.gov at [http://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/johnfkennedy]. Accessed 22/02/2017.

 

 

Focusing on the cheerleader as an American icon gives an interesting insight into the different ways cheerleading is viewed in the United States. The blog is well written and offers good analysis of the sport, highlighting the sexualisation and stereotypes that cheerleaders often face.

The blog offers insightful comparisons between high school cheerleading; where the organisations tend to be ‘high skill and competitive’[1], and professional organisations that ‘largely depend on physical appearance and moderate dancing skills’[2]. This suggests that in high school and college, actual athletic ability matters in the sport, whereas in professional teams the focus is more on appearance and the attractiveness of the cheerleaders themselves.

Cheerleading being derogatory towards women is suggested in the blog, and despite this fact, young girls still desire to be a cheerleader. This is not necessarily for wanting to take part in the sport, but wanting the attention and popularity that cheerleaders get. The blog points this out well by using a lyric from Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me, in which Swift ‘suggests that she craves the status of the cheerleader for her ability to attract the attention of others, yet the cheerleader is clearly not someone who Swift desires to emulate’[3].

The author contributes an interesting point to the debate in which they bring in the view of their French study partner, who states that ‘she associates the cheerleader with the derogatory symbolism identified’[4] and these ideas have been shaped by American TV and films. The use of this international opinion reinforces the idea of the American icon, as since cheerleading is recognised in this way in different countries across the world, it becomes a truly iconic symbol.

Overall, the blog was brilliant and offered well-researched points about the culture of cheerleading in the United States. It would be interesting to see these points expanded on in an extended essay as the blog was interesting to read.

 

 

[1] Melissa Wagoner, ‘The Cheerleader’, published 27th April 2016 <https://americaniconstemeple.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/the-cheerleader/>, accessed 22nd February 2017.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[Posted on behalf of Alex]

The Morden Tower is one of the most nationally recognised literary landmarks in the U.K. Poetry readings in the tower were started by Tom and Connie Pickard in 1964, with poet and singer Pete Brown performing the first. Many poets were attracted to the tower because of its fine acoustics, appreciative audiences and glorious architecture. Morden Tower quickly became an alternative cultural centre for the north-east of England attracting many visitors to each and every event. Over the past 45 years, it has been able to attract some of poetry’s most famous names to perform readings, including the likes of American poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Following Ginsberg’s invitation to perform a reading at the tower, he said “I felt like a bearded emissary of another hemisphere, and eager to share my magic wares I boarded train north happily”. The influence of an American poet reading at the tower was huge for the north-east of England. His reading of ‘America’ attracted a full audience who were clearly interested to hear the work of the famous poet from the man himself. The fact Ginsberg chose to read his poem America is also significant as it is a key example of Americanisation in Newcastle. This is a clear display of American culture spreading outside of the borders of the United States. As Richard Pell has argued, “Americanisation generally meant the world-wide invasion of American movies, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, mass circulation magazines, best-selling books, advertising, comic strips, theme parks, shopping malls, fast food, and television programs”’ (Campbell and Kean, 332). Morden Tower clearly fits in with debates about the circulation of American culture as it provided a internationally recognised centre for American poets to read their work to a large group of people.