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American Icons

Icons are symbols or representations of values that transmit culture. Icons can be people, places, or things, such as movie stars John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone to Disneyland, McDonaldÆs and the Statue of Liberty. As Kroes (1999) argues, ôFrom the high rhetoric of its political ideals to the golden glow of McDonaldÆs arches, from Bruce Springsteen to the Marlboro Man, American culture washes across the globeö (464). Hollywood cinema is responsible for the creation and transmission of national icons that have transmitted American culture (i.e. values) around the globe. From John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, and Ronald Reagan to Elvis Presley, Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood, cinema stars embody the values of American society that are transmitted to cultures around the world.

Simpson (2004) argues that a ônational iconö is someone who ôby the mere mention of their name, will remind people of their countryàthey are representatives of their nation to the rest of the worldö (1). Film stars like Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and countless others have served such roles. Over time as cultural values change so do the cinema icons that embody them. HollywoodÆs initial cinema icons embodied frontier values. One of the most successful of these was John Wayne. WayneÆs success stems from his purposeful choice of roles that portrayed him embodying heroic values. Never mean, petty or cowardly, WayneÆs screen persona included lawmen, military men, and empire builders. Wayne understood cinema as a means of projecting an ideal set of core values that would resonate with filmgoers. As he once said in an interview, he knew he was acting and never confused himself with the iconographic roles he portrayed; ôThis Wayne thing was a deliberate a projection as youÆll ever seeö (Grenier 1996, 3).

If Wayne was considered the most significant icon of his era, it was because he portraye...

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American Icons. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:40, June 02, 2020, from