Check out new podcasts made by your classmates! This course (Fall 2021), may have been the best yet!
Learn about Paul Bunyan, the Kitchenaid Mixer, Hershey, Smokey the Bear and more!
Check out new podcasts made by your classmates! This course (Fall 2021), may have been the best yet!
Learn about Paul Bunyan, the Kitchenaid Mixer, Hershey, Smokey the Bear and more!
Across from the Washington Monument, towards the western end of National Mall rests a massive construction that holds the fearless and humble statue of Abraham Lincoln. In my feeble millennial mind, the monument had been there since Washington’s tower was built in 1888. It always seemed to be in the background of photos of historical events for example, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War Protests, and the Women’s Rights Movement.
Lincoln, as the assassinated 16th President of the United States, is an iconic being in himself however the historical context shaping the construction and symbolism of the memorial makes the actual site of the Lincoln Memorial iconic as well. Built in a time when women had just earned the right to vote, and soon to follow the outbreak of the Vietnam, then the red scare, the Lincoln Memorial has witnessed and partaken in a lot. Considering that many Americans have taken pilgrimages to the statue, and many movements have found themselves at Lincoln’s feet, the powerful symbol of Lincoln’s Memorial is apparent. What exactly is this symbol however? Beyond seeing Lincoln as the Great Emancipator, it is interesting to consider what ideals his statue represents to lead leaders like MLK to choose this site for their own iconic speeches or marches.
It is safe to say that just about every aspect of the memorial is symbolically placed. The first thing you notice is the temple-like pantheon that houses Lincoln’s statue. The thirty six columns holding the structure symbolizes the thirty six reunited states at the time of Lincoln’s death. Beyond this literal symbol, the appearance of the temple-like structure is also symbolic of Lincoln. He appears as a Greek god would, in the center of his marble home and this was done in an attempt to highlight the reverence and idea of holiness of Lincoln’s legacy. Adding to the holiness, The character of Lincoln is also symbolized by the three-chamber design of the interior. The center of the chamber contains the statue of Lincoln with one hand clenched the other free to symbolize his strength and simultaneous compassion. The other two chambers contains inscriptions of two Lincoln speeches- the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address. These were chosen because they were seen to also be powerful examples of his character. The two speeches further exemplify the notion that Lincoln is both a strong and compassionate friend invoked of liberty.
There are plenty of false symbols including the rumor that Lincoln’s hands were designed to symbol American Sign Language letters. Despite false interpretations the fact remains that the Lincoln Memorial is a revered symbol of Lincoln as an iconic human. The whole structure of the memorial was strategically placed to represent certain qualities of this President. The temple design subconsciously alludes to the god like status we have placed on Lincoln’s status overall and the whole design alludes to the fact that Lincoln will forever be an enshrined icon of freedom and liberty.
Since the fateful attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, the atomic bomb has loomed in American culture as a highly disputed icon. Opinions of the atomic bomb and its use in World War II range from necessary evil for the war effort to a deplorable war crime and from a favor to the Japanese people to an important piece of American history to be studied thoroughly. The question of how the story of the atomic bomb should be told has brought into contention America’s role as liberator or villain, victor or war criminal. Some attempts to simply convey the historical facts of the situation have been dragged into the muddy debate. The divided public opinion over the atomic bomb and its story as part of American history brought to mind another American icon that is a hot topic, especially in recent years: the Confederate Flag. This flag and the atomic bomb may seem to have little in common at first. One is a catastrophic weapon used by the U.S. military in WWII and the other is a square or rectangle that became famous (or infamous) in the Civil War over half a century before. But they share a common thread in that their histories, modern interpretations, and justifications are feverishly argued about.
The Confederate Flag that immediately comes to mind and that is the subject of debate most often is not the actual flag of Confederate States of America, but a battle flag used by specific armies in the confederacy. Since the Civil War and Reconstruction, the flag had been used in other capacities. Military units consisting of mostly Southerners used the flag in World War II. It has been used by state flags, political groups, popular culture, and countless other instances. Today it exists as a disputed symbol. Some argue that the flag embodies hate, racism, and the divisions of the American Civil War. Others assert that it is a matter of local pride for Southerners and their history. Arguments in local and national politics frequently flare up over whether the flag is inherently racist, should it be allowed in government or public spaces, and whether restrictions over the flag and its use are violations of the right to free speech.
These debates are somewhat similar to the debates over the atomic bomb. Was it necessary? Do military needs justify the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians? Can we remember the bomb without celebrating it or villainizing America? All of these questions and many more are still being pursued, just as the debate over the Confederate Flag is no where near settled.
Two of the most popular industries to come out of Japan is manga, the equivalent of comic books, and anime, the equivalent of cartoons. These works explore a variety of subjects ranging from super-powered individuals fighting for their friends to immersion into traditional stories. However, they extend beyond the imagination, as they also tackle real-world events. The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki acted as direct influences on many creators. One author, Keiji Nakazawa created a manga loosely based off of his experiences as a survivor the bombing of Hiroshima. Barefoot Gen includes what the city went through as the bomb detonated, and it is truly a gruesome depiction that is hardly able to be comprehended. It goes through the very real circumstances of how countless people were not expecting their lives to be cut short, and those who survived had to deal with grief and hopelessness. Other creators make more subtle nods to the bomb and its effects. While the actual dosages of radiation received by the victims are unknown, there were an increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and mental retardation among many children, both born and unborn. Since so many children experienced mutations due to the bombs, this was translated into manga and anime as “radioactive mutations or having some extraordinary powers, in addition to taking on more adult responsibilities at an early age.” Numerous creators also pin the blame of the bombings on the fight for power. Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira portrays adults and their lust for the alien technology “Akira,” which ultimately consumes Neo-Tokyo.
The subject of the atomic bomb is taken very seriously in Japan, which is in stark contrast to its portrayal in American cartoons. Nowadays, the mushroom cloud (which is made due to an atom bomb) is used as a comedic device in some cases. The famed Spongebob Squarepants often uses it to exaggerate the destruction caused by a character. I am unsure how Japan sees this use, but I doubt it is seen with the same humor as Americans see it.
The destruction of the atomic bomb had major significance that ushered in a new era of political and social history. The danger of fallout and world ending events was brought to the forefront of American cultural and military thought. From this new climate, many tried to grapple with this fear of nuclear annihilation in numerous ways outside of film and other means of communication.
One of the most powerful tools these post-apocalyptic songs have is the level of imagery conveyed in them. It’s this imagery that best conveys the social commentary of the songs. One such is David Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ (1972). “News guy wept and told us, Earth was really dying cried so much his face was wet then I knew he wasn’t lying”(1) The song conveys the Earth’s upcoming destruction and the reaction to it. It’s just one of the many examples of the reaction to the Cold War climate of possible nuclear annihilation.
In 1976, Billy Joel released ‘Miami 2017’ the opening line alone, “I’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway”is a similar kind of haunting imagery like “Five Years.” This song ties into Billy Joel’s own thoughts of New York at the time of a financial crisis, “I just had these apocalyptic visions of buildings burning and skyscrapers collapsing”(2) The apocalyptic feel of the song, ties into its connotation of its location in the “future” from the time of its release. Still the song conveys the anxieties of the time, for both New York and the mentality seen in the 1970s in a post-war America.
Finally, in 1980, Peter Gabriel released “Games without Frontiers” this song, is one of the many in Gabriel’s discography that connect to elements of social commentary. This kind of commentary is even evident in Gabriel’s songwriting in Genesis using wordplay and puns to convey internal problems in England in ‘Aisle of Plenty”. The song compares politics of the times and world leaders to children. The official video even features an atomic bomb going off and duck and cover videos to reinforce this connection to his anti-war themes and social commentary.(3) The songs title even conveys this, with the advent of the nuclear bomb old rules of warfare are outdated.
Throughout the decades following the end of World War II and into the Cold War, there was global change both socially and political. Many had to grapple with questions of the end of the world, that are now bubbling to the surface again in an intensely divisive political climate. The use of the atomic bomb encapsulates real world horrors and anxieties that many tried to addresses. This shows the power of the icon that is the Atomic Bomb and the long lasting effects it had on culture of the era that followed it.
1Bowie, David “Five Years” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWm03wYBTbM
2 Dan, Poepenbring “Miami 2017” The Paris Review Jan 4 2017
3Peter Gabriel, Games without Fronitershttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xZmlUV8muY
Images of album covers from google images
After the detonation of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the whole world stood in awe. According to The University of California: Los Angeles, it was the first attack of its nature on behalf of the United States, and its detonation led to the death of approximately 150,000 in Hiroshima and 75,000 in Nagasaki. This devastating attack on civilians did not only garner Japan’s surrender in World War II, but also planted a seed of fear into the world. Some can debate it was the first time that the United States was seen as a force to be reckoned with, while others perceive it as one of the most horrific and inhumane acts committed by the U.S. These points-of-view are crucial to the perception of nuclear weapons in America decades later. During the 60s, at the height of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States found itself in a frightening situation regarding nuclear weapons. While the conflict never culminates, the fear of being victims to a nuclear fallout was permeated into the minds of young Americans. This fear did not gradually dissolve and has been recently heightened as a result of relations between the United States and North Korea.
The Washington Post reports that tensions between the United States and North Korea have subsided and have been in talks of an agreement regarding nuclear weapons and their usage, but nevertheless the looming fear of being thrust into a nuclear war is real to many. What does this mean for the United States? Fear of being subjected to a nuclear war has been a ubiquitous facet of the lives of many, and the development of nuclear arms has not ceased. According to the Washington Post, Abraham Denmark, a former Asia official at the Pentagon, warns: “I’d caution against too much optimism because we’ve been down this road too many times before”. It also reports that residents should possess a small emergency kit with items such as: sturdy shoes, petty cash, and three days’ worth of food and water, among other things. This, however, is in the unlikely event of an attack by North Korea. Therefore, should the United States really be worried about the possibility of a nuclear attack? It is hard to say and is the cause for speculation.
Almost 73 years ago now, the future of warfare was changed forever with one simple move, (Or two). That move was the dropping of the Atomic bomb first on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and then on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. This altered the way war could be perceived to an already bad killing of people changed to the utter annihilation of an entire nation. Once these were dropped, multiple nations started developing and testing their own nuclear weapons, including the Soviet Union and Great Britain developing their own within ten years of the drop. France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea have all also tested their own nuclear weapons in the more recent past, with North Korea being the latest in 2006.
Right after the ending of World War II came the Cold War. This was a silent battle between the Communist country of the Soviet Union and the United States, and there were multiple threats of nuclear warfare. In 1962 came the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union put a plan in motion to install missiles in Cuba in response to rumors that the United States was planning on overthrowing the Cuban Government and assassinating Fidel Castro. Eventually there was a standoff and the Soviets backed down, but a nuclear war seemed to be very possible.
Now, with Donald J. Trump as the president of our country, the possibility of nuclear warfare feels even more present than before. When running for president, he used the option of nuclear weapons as a real way to deal with problems. He tweets all the time about random stuff, including nuclear policies, etc, such as in December of 2016 when he tweeted out that the United States needs to expand its nuclear capabilities. He has also tweeted about North Korea as a threat as well a Russia. “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”1. He talks about nuclear war like there is a winner out of it, but no one would come out on top. More recently he also tweeted about Russia and that they would shoot any missiles down that are aimed at Syria, but boasts that we have “smart” missiles. He acts like a child trying to prove he is the best. The evolution of the Atomic bomb from World War II to now is honestly horrifying and the potential war to come is terrifying. Read more
It was August 8th, 2013 when I first saw my favorite band in concert. The Killers were on a worldwide tour for their newest album “Battle Born.” I remember hearing the first note and tearing up. I remember screaming “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone” as loud as I possibly could. The song was “Miss Atomic Bomb” and I will never forget that moment in time. But what does this have to do with American icons? I’m glad you asked because it has EVERYTHING to do with modern day representation of the atomic bomb.
Sure, I could go on and on about the references to the atomic bomb made in both the song and music video, but there are some particular mentions I want to explore. First of all, the song is called “Miss Atomic Bomb”, so who was she? Well, it’d be helpful to set the scene by saying that The Killers are from Las Vegas. That being said, the Yucca Flat just outside of Las Vegas hosted 739 nuclear tests from 1951 to 1992. Because Vegas was a blossoming city, the chamber of commerce decided to provide a unique tourist experience by capitalizing on the bombings through advertisements and calendars. Soon Vegas became the hot spot for all things atomic. Thus, Miss Atomic Bomb was created.
Miss Atomic Bomb was a representation of Vegas. She was a showgirl in a mushroom cloud bikini used to pull tourists to the city. Though her name was supposedly Lee Merlin, there is little information about the original Miss Atomic Bomb. This is a fascinating tale as the U.S. had just recently detonated two atomic bombs that decimated two cities. Despite which narrative the American public was exposed to, they still found a way to capitalize on it and build Las Vegas into the city it is today. The commercialization of the atomic bomb is wholly American in nature as we value capitalism and ingenuity. Miss Atomic Bomb is not only significant because of her association with the bomb itself, but with her representation in present day culture, she could be an icon as well.
First off, I would just to like to begin that I am a HUGE fan of the Kennedy family and think they have made some great contributions to our nation. If I am being completely honest with myself, I have even thought about how cool it would be to marry INTO the Kennedy family so I can become apart of America’s most historic and powerful family.
However, something always did strike me as “odd” when I look at the Kennedy family. I could never really put my finger on it, but the recent discussions we had in class really opened my eyes to some new things that I have never thought of before, such as the influence that Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the mother of JFK, RFK, and Ted Kennedy, among others, seemed to posses in the family and that she could have been the real person that was really driving and preparing their sons for success. Two important things just came out of the sentence: the fact that it surprised me how much influence Rose had and how the family seemed to only prep their SONS for success. This really made me think; WHAT ABOUT THE WOMEN OF THE KENNEDY FAMILY? It seems like all we ever hear about is John F. Kennedy this, Robert F. Kennedy this, Ted Kennedy this, and Joseph Patrick Kennedy III that, but I want to hear more about some of the Kennedy family women, who I may add have gone on to do some quite impressive things. Just to prove my point about the men being the face of the family, I visited the popular website “Ranker,” a site that features polls on almost anything that is reported to have at least 49 million monthly visitors. Lucky for me, I found a poll where the people ranked their favorite Kennedy Family members in order, and the ranking went as follows: John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr., Maria Shriver, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and then Caroline Kennedy.[i] Not only are the four most popular Kennedy’s males, but less than half of the top eight are females! And out of the top eight, the list does not even include Jackie Kennedy, who I thought for sure was going to be ranked in the top five!
I think that this poll, no matter how informal it may have been, shines a lot on one of the most important issues I think we face in America today; the sad reality that women are still viewed as inferior to men in regard to political, social, and economic status.[ii] Look at some recent examples in the United States that just go on to back up this point; Hillary Clinton, a former Senator and Secretary of State, lost the Presidency to Donald Trump, not only someone who has never held office, but someone who did some very VERY question things during the campaign and his lifetime; the fact that men still get more promotions in the workforce over women, even with laws and regulations in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening[iii]; and even in sports a study conducted by the University of South Carolina showed that 72% of all airtime on the television is related to three men’s sports (football, basketball, and baseball), leaving the other 28% up for grabs between almost every other men’s collegiate sport and every single women’s collegiate sport.[iv] Things are like this are truly despicable, and if we want to get to a place where women are finally given the proper respect they deserve, we need to start putting them at the forefront of society and honor them for their achievements, so why don’t we begin by honoring some of the great iconic women of the Kennedy family that the American public never gets to hear about!
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One of the most forgotten in my opinion is Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who seems to get lost in the mess behind the accomplishments of her brothers. However, what Eunice did is nothing short of remarkable. A former Ambassador to France, not only did Eunice do a great job at raising her kids with her political husband Sergeant Shriver, she was able to create what is now known as Special Olympics. This is a very important topic to me as I have worked with Special Olympics several times in the past few years and I think what the organization stands for is great. The sad thing about this is that I did not even know she was associated with the Special Olympics before I read a few biographies of her! This sort of stuff is not something that should be hidden, but instead embraced today. It is shocking to me that JFK and Ted Kennedy are often revered in the public eye for the character when both have had a scandalous past to say the least, but their sister Eunice who I have not found to be involved with any controversial topic, is hidden in the shadows.
Another woman who was not even ranked in the top eight Kennedys, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, made a very substantial impact on our country. The daughter of RFK, she would go on to become the Lt. Governor of Maryland in the late 90s and serve for eight years. One of the most interesting things I came across when researching her was an article that discussed her political career on CNN that stated, “And certainly it was not assumed, even by the election-oriented Kennedys, that the girls in the family were meant for the job.”[v] This quote only goes on to reinforce the fact that the ladies of the Kennedy family were expected to take a backseat to the men and simply cheer them on, which is a very demoralizing thing that has to hurt the self confidence of any child, let alone a child whose father was a Senator, whose Uncle was President, whose other Uncle was a Senator, and whose Grandfather was an Ambassador and has to deal with all that added pressure.
My final point about the ladies of the Kennedy family has to do with their titles. Now, as we know, the women of the family were not encouraged to seek these lavish offices like the men, but many of them went on to be Harvard Graduates, Lawyers, Ambassadors, Prize winning Authors and so much more. However, almost every woman that I encountered was identified by their husbands or fathers standing, which is reinforced by this picture below.
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Individuals like Rose Kennedy is identified as a the daughter of a Mayor when we all know what kind of impact she had on building this families legacy and icon-ness. Kerry Kennedy is identified as the Divorced Wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, not as a noted Human Rights Activist. And finally Maria Shriver is identified as the first Lady of California through her husband at the time Arnold Schwarzenegger, not by her accomplishments as a journalist where she won a Peabody Award or an Emmy Award winning Executive Producer.
[i] “Members of the Kennedy Family.” Ranker. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://www.ranker.com/list/members-of-the-kennedy-family/reference?var=7&utm_expid=16418821-392.lsOpfJzUQlqASOnl6bIBPA.2&utm_referrer=https://search.yahoo.com/.
[ii] Lee, Marcia. “Why Few Women Hold Public Office: Democracy and Sexual Roles.” The Academy of Political Science 91, no. 2 (Summer 1976). Accessed April 6, 2018. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2148414.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:a64b5b93ed0c2f748db2e787e82801e8.
[iii] Silva, Herminia IbarraNancy M. CarterChristine. “Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women.” Harvard Business Review. September 07, 2017. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://hbr.org/2010/09/why-men-still-get-more-promotions-than-women.
[iv] Swann, Jennifer. “March Madness Exposes How Little Viewers Care About Women’s Sports.” TakePart. March 29, 2015. Accessed April 06, 2018. http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/03/29/college-basketball.
[v] Donnelly, Sally. “Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Just like Her Father?” CNN. July 26, 1999. Accessed April 06, 2018. http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/time/1999/07/26/kennedy.townsend.html.
During their time in the White House as the First Lady and President, Jackie and John F. Kennedy changed everything about how Americans see their First Family. Of course, their visibility as they arrived in Washington had owed a great deal to the fact that it coincided with the growth in popularity of television, but a huge factor in their popularity and their cultural relevance was how Jackie wanted herself and her family to be represented.
Jackie’s famous style has become iconic in its own right. The way she presented herself gave rise to the Kennedy’s image of royalty, or as close as they could get in the United States. The focus on fashion in the White House was something that Americans had never seen before and naturally led to high levels of fascination. Despite things lurking beneath the public’s point of view, such as John F. Kennedy’s poor health and myriad of extramarital affairs, Jackie Kennedy was great at exhibiting elegance and poise. Even in the face of tragedy, she exuded these traits.
The day of JFK’s assassination, she was adorned in her now famous pink jacket and pillbox hat. During Lyndon B Johnson’s swearing in session following the traumatic moment of his death, she kept her outfit on, still stained in her John’s blood. It is a wonder that she kept her cool enough to choose to show the world what had happened to her husband. Newly widowed and covered in her husband’s blood, she remained the Jackie Kennedy people had expected. During the planning of the funeral procession, she still showed her strength and her awareness that the image of her husband’s time as president was paramount. She fought to have a dramatic and marvelous funeral to honor JFK because she truly believed he deserved it.
Jackie Kennedy set the new standard for First Ladies both in the spotlight and behind the scenes by being extremely marketable and popular to the average citizen and by being strong willed and resolute with her family and peers. She created a feeling of majesty for the First Family and engineered the viewpoint of JFK’s term as president as the United States of America’s Camelot. Her achievements for the image of her family are something that future First Families will strive for, but in all likelihood will never attain.
 Harper’s Bazaar, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/trends/g1370/jackie-kennedy-onassis-style-0111/?slide=24