A pop icon is a celebrity, character, or object whose exposure in pop culture constitutes a defining characteristic of a given society or era. The categorization is usually associated with elements such as longevity, ubiquity, and distinction. Moreover, "pop icon" status is distinguishable from other kinds of notoriety outside of popular culture, such as with historic figures. Some historic figures are recognized as having reached "pop icon" status during their era, and such status may continue into the present. Pop icons of previous eras include Benjamin Franklin and Mozart.
Usually, the pop icon status of a celebrity is contingent upon longevity of notoriety. This is in contrast to cult icons, whose notoriety or recognition may be limited to a specific subculture. Some pop icons have left a lasting and indelible mark in the area of their career, and then gone on to attain a lasting place of recognition in society at large.
A common element of pop icon status is the ubiquity of imagery and allusions to the iconic figure.[note 1] It is common for the figure to be recognized and even celebrated in areas outside the original source of celebrity status.[note 2] An example of this is Albert Einstein, a physicist whose image and legacy have been represented in comic strips, T-shirts, greeting cards and many other contexts.
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Often pop icon status implies distinguished association with a societal ideal or archetype. It is not uncommon for iconic figures to have a nickname or sobriquet that is used to emphasize this association. Sometimes the very name of such individuals is even used as a synonym for common words or ideas.
A number of pop icons are distinguished for having died at a young age. These include James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, River Phoenix, Jean Harlow, Tupac Shakur, Bruce Lee, Janis Joplin, and Marilyn Monroe among others.
Some pop icons, such as Mickey Mouse, Big Bird, Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Harry Potter, the Simpsons, and even Sherlock Holmes are fictional characters. Even inanimate objects have been recognized as pop icons.
See also 
- Chaplin, Joyce (2006). The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00955-7.
- Nettl, Bruno (1995). Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06468-2.)
- Dearborn, Mary V. (December 9, 1999). Mailer: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN 978-0-395-73655-5.
- Gottesman, Ronald; Brown, Richard Maxwell, eds. (1999). Violence in America: An Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80487-5.
- Ratcliff, Ben (November 6, 2002). The New York Times Essential Library: Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings. Times Books. ISBN 978-0-8050-7068-2.
- Kaku, Michio (April 2004). Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-05165-0.
- "Icons of the century". Variety100.com (Variety). 2005, presumably. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Schmidt, Robert (February 24, 2004). "The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons". Blue Corn Comics website. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Vail, Mark (April 1, 2002). The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B (2nd ed.). Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-705-9.
- Sheff, David (April 27, 1993). Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children. Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-40469-9.
- "The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon". Teaching with Historic Places. National Park Service. October 16, 2006.
- Boot, Max (1998). Out of Order: Arrogance, Corruption and Incompetence on the Bench. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-05375-9.
- "Beckham 'greatest pop icon of all time'". BreakingNews.ie. Thomas Crosbie Media. November 12, 2003. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Kim, Esther (March 7, 2011). "Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in 2011". seventeen.com. Seventeen.
- "Beatles named 'icons of century'". BBC News (BBC). October 16, 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Danesi, Marcel (2007). Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 112–113. ISBN 0-7425-5547-X.
- "Bee Gees To Be Named BMI Icons at 55th Annual Pop Awards". BMI.com. Broadcast Music, Inc. March 27, 2007.
- Guha, Rohin (August 28, 2009). "Madonna, Mariah Carey, & Whitney Houston: Why Queens of Pop Will Flop". blackbookmag.com. BlackBook Media.
- The Canadian Press (August 17, 2008). "Pop icon Celine Dion wows her Canadian fans". CTV News. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Elle UK. "Donatella Versace: "Lady Gaga is a pop icon"".
- Cullen, Jim, ed. (2001). Popular Culture in American History. UK: Blackwell Publishing. p. 280. ISBN 0-631-21958-7.
- "Janet Jackson Music News". popculturemadness.com. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
- ""Pop icon" Michael Jackson dead at 50". ECHOROUK Online. June 26, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Pareles, Jon; Sisario, Ben; Stelter, Brian; Barnes, Brooks (June 25, 2009). "Michael Jackson, 50, Is Dead". Arts Beat (The New York Times). Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Garcia, Cathy Rose (October 21, 2009). "Fierce Beyoncé Rocks Seoul". The Korea Times. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Eskridge, Sonya (October 10, 2012). "Beyoncé drops 'A Star Is Born' role". S2S. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Tagliaferro, Linda (March 2000). Bruce Lee. Lerner Publications. ISBN 978-0-8225-9688-2.
- Rosen, Jody (July 16, 2012). "How Usher Became A Pop Icon". Slate.
- http://www.rcarecords.com/news/global-pop-icon-britney-spears-join-la-reid-and-simon-cowell-%E2%80%9C-x-factor%E2%80%9D-judges%E2%80%99-panel. Missing or empty
- http://www.omaha.com/article/20091230/LIVING/712309969. Missing or empty
- http://www.tulsaworld.com/blogs/post.aspx/Spears_quits_Pop_icon_Britney_Spears_wont_return_for/52-18497. Missing or empty
- http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/jay-z-s-roc-nation-signs-deal-with-pop-singer-kylie-minogue-news.4365.html. Missing or empty
Further reading 
- Danesi, Marcel (2007). Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 112–115. ISBN 0-7425-5547-X.
- Cullen, Jim, ed (2001). Popular Culture in American History. UK: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-21958-7.