Thursday, July 2, 2009


The Oxford English Dictionary defines an icon as a devotional painting of Christ or another holy figure, typically on wood, venerated in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches; a person regarded with particular admiration or as a representative symbol; or a computing a symbol or graphic representation on a VDU screen of a program, option, or window.

Last week on a certain social networking site, I posted that the death of a particular pop entertainer was not news. Many of the responses to this post were surprisingly spirited and in direct opposition to my opinion. Within the responses and correspondent media coverage, the word “icon” was frequently employed.

While I apologize for hurting any feelings, I have not changed my opinion. Now one week later, the necessary spectacle that has become the funeral, the will, and the family feud, continue to unfold. Consequently, substantial revenue is being generated. Celebrity and entertainment appear to determine the bulk of those we would call our cultural icons today. The question that compels me is: When did our icons change? Indeed, did they?

A Survey

In the past century, whom do you consider a representative symbol of a particular time? I am very interested in your response. Please select three individuals you believe are “icons” from the decades listed below. They can be drawn from any arena including, but not limited to, the Arts, Politics, Religion, Business, Literature and Entertainment. Please send the names of the individuals you consider to be icons to no later than July 30, 2009. Please use the definition as defined by the aforementioned Oxford English Dictionary (icons are not necessarily good people). I will compare the results to my own “icons” and share the results in September.

I encourage you to pass this on to interested friends and acquaintances.

1920 – 1929

1930 – 1939

1940 – 1949

1950 – 1959

1960 – 1969

1970 – 1979

1980 – 1989

1990 – 1999

2000 - 2009


  1. Michael Jackson is indeed an icon... certainly not in the original literary sense (but we all know, words and their meanings change and develop over time) but he definitely did define music for a decade - and that is a huge accomplishment. Criminal or not, Michael Jackson was an amazing artist.

  2. As a response to the question above, I'd list:
    Bill Clinton (1990-1999)
    Michael Jackson (1980-1989)
    Perez Hilton (2000-2009) - he has revolutionized blogging - the internet changed because of Perez