Characterization of Popular Culture Icons in LIFE and TIME Magazines

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Marshica Stanley (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rebecca Adams

Abstract: Popular culture icons are physical objects of everyday use that make the everyday meaningful. They are ideas, both old and new, that are at the mercy of its viewer, meaning whatever the viewer desires whenever the viewers desires it. Celebrities with iconic images are global figures worshiped by the public. Their images appear to the public through the media and have their images transmitted globally through the media. No research currently examines the characteristics used to describe the idea of the icon in media. Research studies the use of stereotypes to depict women, racial minorities, as well as sporting individuals. The characterization of sporting individuals is frequently related to their gender or race. This research examines the differences in characterization of eight individuals with iconic images from the entertainment and sports industries in LIFE and TIME magazines. The eight individuals (Muhammad Ali, Babe Didrikson, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Wilma Rudolph, Babe Ruth, and Oprah Winfrey) were selected based on the number of appearances they made in icon literature listing individuals as icons. Gender, race, and occupation differences are analyzed as well as trends in characterization over time. The individuals are also examined to determine which individuals have the most iconic images. Content analysis was conducted of magazine articles about the eight celebrities. The articles provide narratives about them as an ideal as opposed to them as a people. Results indicate that Whites, males, and entertainers have images that generally average more characteristics used to depict them to the public than Blacks, females, or sportsmen and women. The results also suggest that only four of the individuals have images that truly embody iconic qualities. This research illustrates the prevailing preference for people with iconic images to be Whites, males, or entertainers, questioning the place of the public in the attitudes and biases the eight iconic images represent.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Popular culture, icons, characteristics, media, stereotypes, men, women, racial minorities, sporting individuals, women, gender, race, Life Magazine, Time Magazine, prevailing preferences
Popular culture $z United States $x History $y 20th century.
Stereotype (Psychology).
Popular literature $z United States $x History and criticism $y 20th century.
Life (Chicago, Ill.) $x History and criticism.
Time $x History and criticism.
Mass media and culture $z United States $y 20th century.
Stereotypes (Social psychology) in literature.
Racism in popular culture.
Women in popular culture.

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