Posts Tagged ‘Icons’

The American Flag

1)The national flag of the United States of America, often referred to as the American flag, consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the “union”) bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the Union. The seven red stripes stand for the 7 continents of the world. Nicknames for the flag include the “Stars and Stripes”, “Old Glory”,and “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

  • American ships in New England waters flew a “Liberty Tree” flag in 1775. It shows a green pine tree on a white background, with the words, “An Appeal to Heaven.”


  • The Continental Navy used this flag, with the warning, “Don’t Tread on Me,” upon its inception.


  • It is said to be the oldest known American flag (that is, a flag intentionally designed and used to symbolize the country), and the oldest to use 13 red and white stripes for this purpose. It was carried by the Minutemen when they were called out on April 19, 1775, for the Battles of Lexington and Concord.


  • On January 1, 1776, the Continental Army was reorganized in accordance with a Congressional resolution which placed American forces under George Washington’s control. On that New Year’s Day the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston which had been taken over by the British Army. Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted above his base at Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).
  • In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.
  • On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
  • Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

2)The Grand Union Flag (also the Continental Colors, the Congress Flag, the Cambridge Flag, and the First Navy Ensign) is considered to be the first national flag of the United States.[1] This flag consisted of thirteen red and white stripes with the British Union Flag of the time (the variant prior to the inclusion of the St. Patrick’s cross of Ireland) in the canton.


The Grand Union flag was first hoisted on the USS Alfred, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 3, 1775, by Lieutenant John Paul Jones. The event had been documented in letters to Congress and eyewitness accounts. The Grand Union flag was used by the American Continental forces as both a naval ensign and garrison flag through 1776 and early 1777

By the end of 1775, during the first year of the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress operated as a de facto war government authorizing the creation of an army, navy and even a marine corps. A new flag was required to represent the Congress and fledgling nation, different from the Red Ensign flown from British vessels and British Union flags carried by the King’s troops.

4)The design of the flag has been modified 26 times officially, since 1777. The 48-star flag was in effect for 47 years until the 49-star version became official on July 4, 1959. The 50-star flag was ordered by President Eisenhower on August 21, 1959.


The modern meaning of the flag was forged in December 1860, when Major Robert Anderson moved the U.S. garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Adam Goodheart argues this was the opening move of the Civil War, and the flag was used throughout the North to symbolize American nationalism and rejection of secessionism.

Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory, flown from forts, embassies, and ships, and displayed on special occasions like American Independence day. But in the weeks after Major Anderson’s surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew—as it does today, and especially as it did after the September 11 attacks in 2001—from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads. For the first time American flags were mass-produced rather than individually stitched and even so, manufacturers could not keep up with demand. As the long winter of 1861 turned into spring, that old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.

6) and 7)The flag of the United States is one of the nation’s most widely recognized symbols. Within the United States, flags are frequently displayed not only on public buildings but on private residences. The flag is a common motif on decals for car windows, and clothing ornaments such as badges and lapel pins. Throughout the world the flag has been used in public discourse to refer to the United States.

10)The flag has become a powerful symbol of Americanism, and is proudly flown on many occasions, with giant outdoor flags used by retail outlets to draw customers. Desecration of the flag is considered a public outrage, but remains protected as freedom of speech. In worldwide comparison, it was noted that the United States is not unique in adoring its banner, for in Scandinavian countries their flags are also “beloved, domesticated, commercialized and sacralized objects”.


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Slideshow Dream Team

After my presentation, I was told the US basketball tem in the ’92 Olympics of Barcelona – most known as “The Dream Team” – was not that much an American Icon. What do you think about it ? Here is my presentation text and slideshow, please leave a comment to express yourself on the question !

The Dream Team is the nickname given to the American basketball team during the 1992 Summer Olympics of Barcelona. This team is considered by many specialists and journalists to be the greatest sports team ever assembled and the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet.

I – The origin

In 1988 and as it happened in every Olympics since 1930, USA sent a basketball team only composed of college players who were stars of the NCAA, the college sports championship but had no professional experience and they only managed to finish at the third place, winning the bronze medal. This defeat was considered as a disappointment and that increased calls for professionals to play in the Olympics. The International basketball federation advocated for this and the decision was agreed in 1989, despite America voted against this proposal. This decision started the phenomenon of the Dream team as USA Basketball wanted to take their revenge from the previous Olympics and gather the best players they could have. The first time the word Dream Team was on the cover of the famous magazine Sports Illustrated of February 18, 1991 with five superstars playing in the NBA, the US basketball league.

The roster was announced in May 1992, four months before the Olympics.

#4 Christian Laettner – the only college player of the team

#5 – David Robinson

#6 – Patrick Ewing

#7 – Larry Bird – considered as the best shooter in the history of the game

#8 – Scottie Pippen – remembered as the lieutenant of …

#9 – Michael Jordan – “His Airness”, the GOAT, greatest player of all time

#10 – Clyde Drexler

#11 – Karl Malone

#12 – John Stockton

#13 – Chris Mullin

#14 – Charles Barkley

#15 – Magic Johnson – the best point guard in the history, he invented the notion of showtime with his team, the Los Angeles Lakers and applied it to Team USA. He was also known for being the first seropositive athlete who still played after he revealed his disease.

Coach Chuck Daly

II – A crushing success

Before the Olympics, the US team trained themselves to international competition with the Tournament of the Americas, a competition between countries of North, Central and South America. For their first game together, Americans defeated Cuba 136-57, winning by an incredible 79 point differential. It led to a famous quote from the Cuban coach who said after the game “You can’t cover the sun with your finger.” This first win was the only the beginning as Team USA won this tournament, beating Venezuela in final, only with a 47 point differential. During this tournament, Team USA won their games by a crazy average differential of 51.5 points.

After a week of training in Monaco when they spent more time in casinos than on the court, USA arrived in Barcelona with the status of superstar, eagerly awaited by the fans of course, because it was the first time all these players played basketball in Europe, but also by their opponents as even the other teams in competition went to the games with cameras to take pictures of these players they had never seen before in flesh and bone and who were their idols. This status didn’t only have a bright side as they had to live in a hotel the whole time of the Olympics because of the terrorist risks in the Olympic village.

During the Olympic competition, USA was opposed in the first round with Angola, Croatia, Germany, Brazil and Spain. For their first game of the competition against the African team, the Dream Team clearly wanted to send a message with a 68 point win, 116-48. The captain from Angola stated after the game that “those guys were on another level—a galaxy far, far away” The rest of the Olympics will be pretty much the same as they won every game by at least 32 points, this differential occurred during the final against Croatia and a 117-85 win for the gold medal.

Despite this astonishing domination, Americans enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other in a casual setting, often playing cards all night and, for Jordan, playing several rounds of golf daily with little rest. For instance, Charles Barkley walked around the city alone despite the threats. When asked where his bodyguards were, he held up his fists and answered, “This is my security.”  Barkley was later described as “the number one U.S. Olympic ambassador” for his visits in popular places such as La Rambla, where he met with adoring crowds such as anybody would do.

Opposing teams were nonetheless overwhelmed by the talent of the American roster, losing by an average of 43.8 points per game. The Dream Team was the first to score more than 100 points in every game in an Olympic. Its 117.3 average was more than 15 points more than the best scoring average before 1992. The level the US team showed in this tournament is still considered more than 20 years later the best ever seen in a basketball competition.

III – Why this team was iconic ?

  • Sense of the show

The Dream Team didn’t only play a good and solid game, they added a show dimension to their game, with a lot of spectacular moves such as no look passes or devastating dunks. As the US is known for its tradition for the show, the cinema, these players managed to give to a sport a sense of entertainment, which has never seen before, except in the NBA and which suits perfectly to America in the XXth Century.

  • Bringing people together

This team was made of 12 players with many different stories, many different backgrounds and some of them had a true rivalry with their clubs. For instance, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the two biggest stars of the NBA in the 80’s, but they were almost perfectly different. Bird is a tall White man, with Irish origins, a fantastic player but with almost no physical abilities : he wasn’t fast, wasn’t strong, he didn’t jump high. He played for Boston, an industrial town on the East coast. Johnson was is Black, who is always smiling and who loves to make the show, with spectacular fashion. He was extremely high for a player who organizes the plays of his team. He was a great representation of his town, Los Angeles and all its exuberance. But for the time of the Olympics, both players played and lived together in perfect harmony, only focused on winning. Basketball brought people together and erased the differences, even in the stands. The atmosphere of the match between Team USA and Cuba was almost like a party, even after all the political conflicts the countries had.

  • Basketball players as a symbol of world superpower

These 1992 Olympics happened just after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the USSR, putting an end to the Cold War. USA was the winner of this war and with the end of the Soviet Union, they could have the role of the major world superpower. This context was also a reason for the Dream Team. Opening Team USA to NBA players didn’t mean all the superstars would join the national team but America wanted to show to the world how strong they were, and sport was a way to bend the muscles. Even with only two or three of these players, United States would have probably won the gold medal, but they didn’t only want to win, they wanted to crush all their opponents. This idea of a super America was still present decades before when the US took the role of the international referee in any conflict (for instance in South America). After the end of the most important one of this period, they could do nothing but to show they were the best and this is what the Dream Team did.

  • Commercial (capitalism) interests

The Dream Team was not only use for political interests but also for commerce. Their image of superstars was used by many American companies which were able to set up in the European market. The most famous are of course Coca-Cola which was also a sponsor of the whole Olympic Games and the main sponsor of the next edition of 1996 in Atlanta, but also McDonalds which became a partner of the Olympic Games partly thanks to the Dream Team and US pressure. Barcelona was the first Olympics where a McDonalds restaurant was build inside the Olympic Village at the request of the US athletes and especially, the basketball team. Americans were not sure that European food was healthy and would be tasty. The Dream Team was also used for toys or more recently for video games as the best basketball simulation NBA 2K recreated the Dream Team for its 20th anniversary. Sports were used as a tool for capitalism, another symbol of the USA.

  • Brought basketball into a universal dimension

What is the most important for me as a basketball fan was that the Dream Team, gave fans a glimpse of basketball at its finest, and an entire world responded. Since 1992, basketball has exploded in popularity around the globe, rising to a place where it challenges soccer’s status as the  most popular sport in some countries in the world. Much of that is due to the impact of the Dream Team, which attracted fans and followers wherever it went. “It was,” said Coach Chuck Daly, “like Elvis and the Beatles put together. Traveling with the Dream Team was like traveling with 12 rock stars. That’s all I can compare it to.”. In France, three monthlies were created just after the Olympics.  Incidentally, the global basketball community embraced the American superiority in these games. Had young international basketball players resented the Americans for their abilities, they may have sought to develop the credibility of their own professional basketball leagues. As it turns out, the Americans were idolized and these young international basketball players sought to play basketball against the best competition in the world, which was clearly the NBA.  Due to their triumphs in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and their visibility as wealthy athletes, foreign-born basketball players from around the world sought to migrate to the U.S. and compete in the NBA. Thus, the Dream Team was a catalyst for the global migration of basketball talent, and changed the professional basketball forever.

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Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali are two of the most iconic Americans to have ever lived. The readings that covered these two icons uncovered a new side to them that I haven’t seen before. Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks are two people that were very looked up upon at their time, and still are today (maybe even more so). These are leaders who formed the path for human rights today.

Pretty much everyone knows that Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white passenger when the bus was full. What I found to be interesting was Rosa Parks’s female weakness which makes her an acceptable figure to crossover audiences: The Rosa Park’s Story closing sequence further indicates that Rosa Parks’s integration in the “official narrative of national progress” resides in her nonthreatening image as an elderly person (Letort, 36). She was not only an underdog, but by being an elderly woman all hated is put aside. She is seen as innocent and harmless.

Unsurprisingly, Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time. It is important to note that he was born with the name Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and later changed his name to Muhammad Ali because he converted to Islam (Biography Online). Muhammad Ali underwent an extensive legal, political, professional, and personal battle. He was even convicted of draft evasion resulting in being stripped of his boxing title, and became a lightning rod — and a voice — for opinions on the Vietnam War. Muhammad Ali’s willingness to speak out against racism in the United States, and the affect it had on domestic and foreign policy, earned him many supporters and critics (aavw.org). As demonstrated by this poster, Ali was a new type of boxer who had a huge personality and spoke his own mind. He even developed a reputation as the “Louisville Lip”, known for his wit and fast-talking personality. This was unheard of at the time when managers “spoke” for their boxer (BBC, 2004).

Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali are usually put in the same category because they fought for human rights, however they are actually very opposite from one another. Rosa Parks was an innocent victim caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or some might say the right place at the right time. On the other hand, Muhammad Ali was outspoken about his beliefs and defiant towards the war. Nevertheless, both will always be remembered for their courage and strength.


Letort, Delphine. “The Rosa Parks Story: The Making of a Civil Rights Icon.” Black Camera 3.2 (2012): 31-50. JSTOR. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/blackcamera.3.2.31?ref=search-gateway:68c41c984b9d447efc726e73dbe9b04d&gt;.

“Muhammad Ali Biography.” Muhammad Ali Biography. Biography Online, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.

“Muhammad Ali.” Muhammad Ali. Aavw.org, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

“Muhammad Ali – The Greatest!” BBC News. BBC, 7 Apr. 2004. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

“Press Release.” Upcoming Muhammad Ali Center Exhibit to Honor Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks. Muhammad Ali Center, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

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The song America is probably the most iconic song out of the many performed in its also iconic American musical West Side Story. The drama takes place in a mid 1950s America, in a blue collar neighborhood of the Upper West Side. It addresses issues of race during this period through two opposed ruling gangs, the Jets (American born but from Polish, Irish and Italian origins), and the Sharks (Immigrants from Porto Rico).

In the original stage version of the musical first interpreted in 1957, the song praises America while depicting Porto Rico as a backward country. Nevertheless, in the 1961 film the lyrics were changed so that in this version, Porto Rican immigrant men deny the positive arguments of the girls in favor of America. The song then symbolizes the way this country was viewed by immigrants as a land of opportunity and the sad realization they underwent after having settled and experienced everyday-life there.

The girls depict the United States with iconic images of big skyscrapers representing corporations, expensive Cadillacs or the boom of the industry (which creates many jobs). They sing about other features of America such as the possibility of credit, which enable them to buy things they could not have afforded before (“I have my own washing machine”), or freedom which was promoted in America at the time.

But when the females present the United States as a country where the American dream is accessible to everyone, the men answer saying that this is not a reality for them. They emphasize on the racism they suffer from in this supposed free and just country because of their accent and skin color which instantly show they are immigrants. The examples they provide allude to their difficulty to get credits at the bank, to find housing at a reasonable price (as they can’t, they have to share rooms) or to go and eat in restaurants because priority always go to white people.

All in all, this song is iconic of America as it really gives an accurate picture of the American society during the 1950s. It is now known all around the world and can unfortunately still be sang in this country for its meaning.


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A lot of this video is the hosts generally being terrible, vapid excuses for news providers and Russell Brand calling them out on it, but there is also an interesting bit where Brand breaks down the ideas of icons and iconography in a really similar way to the one which we used in class. Either way, it is a truly entertaining watch.

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Barbie Survey

This survey was undertaken by participants ranging from ages 18-21 and from different parts of the world. The questions are meant to determine ‘Barbie’ as a cultural icon today and whether it influenced people at a younger age.

The results from this survey show a varied response. But what is interesting, are things in common with ‘Barbie’, what comes to mind when thinking about her. Mostly “pink” but also glitter, girly, plastic, fake and blonde. Despite these ideas Barbie still continues to be aspired to by girls. But as one participant points out, looking like Barbie can lead to being “made fun of”. So this leads to the question of her survival through time and generations and yes she is a “classic” but there is still doubts that she may be pushed aside in years to come.

I think this debate is interesting, whether or not Barbie will become outdated or will she continue to grow with the times? The Barbie franchise has grown massively since the original doll was first produced in 1959 and I feel that it has moved with the times. As women have grown independent, as has Barbie, with the growth of media and movies, Barbie has starred in movies, including the massive Disney Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’. The involvement in a project like this proves not only to audiences but to children that Barbie is an essential toy for children. The relationship of Barbie and Ken has also been up-to-date with trends, announcing their break up in 2004 around the time of popular couple Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears called it quits! This is highly speculative but proves that Barbie is durable as Mattel continues to keep her ‘down with the kids’. The opposing argument is one that is uncertain yet but is likely to come to the forefront in upcoming years. How much longer can Barbie remain an icon, beloved by adults and aspired to by children?

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Growing up I never saw any of the Rocky movies so coming into class my knowledge about the film was very limited. So whenever Rocky was mentioned I immediately thought of an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In this episode Will went back to his hometown, Philadelphia. While there he decided to train so that he could confront his old bully. I found it interesting how this iconic film/scene was reworked on the show. This proves to me that icons are not necessarily  images and people, they can also be scenes from films and videos.

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