The Beatles, Lennon, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and, dare I say it, David Bowie. What do all these people have in common? Each is/was prolific, for one thing. They each have a touch of class and definition about them – a je ne sais quoi. One thing for certain is that they all possess the status of ‘icon’.

Bowie’s imagery is still used today.

I recently watched a documentary about Bowie (‘David Bowie: Five Years’, which can be found here) and, like a wall, inspiration hit me. Wave after wave of ideas and strands of thought popped into my head. Bowie does not inspire me in the cliched sense. He literally inspires me. I wrote a poem, the length of which I have never stretched to before and I pondered writing a song, whilst watching the documentary.
Being an icon suggests to me that they are not just a memorable piece of culture but something much, much more than that. An icon is someone who can make a person want to change what they do or who they are, as well as securing their place in pop culture history.

I wrote an essay on iconography a few years back and a large part of gaining that status is branding yourself. For example, Michael Jackson branded himself by wearing the single white glove, the too-short trousers and created a dance move of his very own – the Moonwalk. Each of these things remind us instantly of Michael Jackson. If somebody was to give a shrill squeak of surprise, perhaps, the first name on everybody’s lips would be Michael Jackson.
Branding yourself allows you to slip, seamlessly, into the public’s consciousness and remain in the psyche of a generation for maybe a century or more thereafter.

When watching the Bowie documentary I noticed how branding was definitely not something that Bowie was interested in, particularly during the 80s and onwards. Alter-egos like Ziggy Stardust, lightening bolts across the face and two-toned irises are, of course, a stamp which can belong only to Bowie himself but it was less because of a need to secure his place in the psyche, rather than creating a niche for his own amusement. I daresay that it was, in part, an attempt to secure his name in the great spectrum of Great British culture but as I say, it was more than just creating a prolonged future for himself.

Where am I going with this? Well, forget about the 80s and the Thin White Duke for a moment and reel your minds back to the present. This very moment in time. Pluck an artist/band that could be considered ‘iconic’ in 40, 50, 60 years time. Other than Madonna, who is also of a different time. Difficult, isn’t it?

There are the ‘modern day Beatles’ (I cringe, even as I write it), One Direction. Can you possibly name anything that distinguishes them from any other modern day boyband? No. That is not because you refuse to retain any knowledge of them but because there is not one thing that is distinctive about them. I remember that their fans once named Niall Horan as being ‘the one who likes carrots.’ I need not say anymore . . . The Beatles themselves, on the other hand, sparked a revolution and did such original work that even their album covers became pop cultural references, which are used around the world 46 years later.

The Beatles' Abbey Road album cover, still as iconic as the day it was created.

The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, still as iconic as the day it was created.

The age of the icon is over. There are no great phenomenons anymore. I blame the gradual degradation of music over the past 20 years – the nineties may have brought me into the world but its achievements ended there – but I also blame the prevalence of social media in the modern era. There was once a time when if you wanted to learn anything new about somebody like Elvis, you would need to read a music magazine, which spawned on shelves but once a fortnight. If you wanted to learn anything new about Michael Jackson, you would have to wait for the newspapers to fabricate something new. Michael had maybe three interviews during his entire career. He rarely sat on a couch with anybody in front of a camera because he didn’t need to. His talent – and ‘act’ – sold his albums.

Gormless vampiric fame-whore, Kim Kardashian, sold her integrity for her fifteen minutes and a pot of gold.

Today, we don’t want to know anything about our ‘stars’ because we don’t need to know anything about them. Five Years highlighted the fact that Bowie never gave his fans everything. He always held something back. It left a hunger for more of him. The mystique surrounding him was almost too much to bear. He continues this tactic even today. When, The Next Day, was released in 2013 he refused to give any interviews for it. The excitement around the album alone was enough to get people to buy it. It is an extremely clever business trick. It is very much the ‘ringing phone syndrome’. We cannot leave a phone to ring – we must know who it is calling. With his album, we didn’t have any information about it so needed to hear it to set our minds at rest.

The only people even close to being considered an icon today are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and whatever else they can use as a makeshift marketing tool. They speak like a normal person. They even speak to us via outlets like Twitter and have become one of us. They are no longer totally unreachable because we can speak to them whenever we like. Social media and the technological age altogether has stripped away the mystique of celebrity and shot it dead with a binary-coded gun.
Not only is it social media that’s the issue. Let us not forget that we have the portable encyclopaedia that is Google now. If we want to know something – a celebrity’s age or height – we just need to tap at our phones for thirty seconds and we have the answer. Where is the mystique in that?

Icons are untouchable, beyond the realms of the ‘norm’. Ziggy Stardust would not be sat in the corner in your local club, Jessie J could and that is why the age of the icon is over.

A story broke recently (here) about a heroic band of men who possibly saved hundreds of lives thanks to their bravery. It would be fantastic to know you are that guy who, in movies, throws themselves in front of a cowering weed of a man to protect them from a gun-toting lunatic or a bus. Sadly, I am not that guy. I am more likely to be the cowering weed.
I think I would be too much of a blubbering mess to do anything helpful in a crisis situation and I fear I would be unable to sacrifice myself, like the guys in the linked story did, and would probably use a small child as a human shield instead.

In the face of danger a hero stands tall before a civilian and protects them from a speeding vehicle or a bullet. In movies and books there is always that guy who dashes into a busy road, tackles a small child out of harm’s way and proclaims something like, “Go on son, my life has been lived. You can now live yours!” In a similar situation I would be watching from the street wondering why nobody is doing anything to save that small child.

There are even real-life ‘Kick-Ass’ type superheroes, who dress up in a morph suit and a pair of yellow dish gloves and kung-fu the crap out of the local drunks and druggies. These people are amazing and I admire them greatly but my Wednesday nights are reserved for The Great British Bake Off, not fighting crime on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent.

The most heroic thing I have ever done is run away from an angry mob of chavs during the summer of 2005. I am sure, however, that many of you have performed an abundance of heroic deeds throughout your rich and varied lives and I would love to hear them. Don’t forget to comment below and tell me your heroic actions, or make me feel better and tell me the most cowardly thing you’ve done when faced with danger.

This past week I have been back in touch with family after ten years of estrangement. Not blood relatives, oh no. The WWE. Now, I can already imagine a few people rolling their eyes when reading this and they are the reason for this post.

My fiancé (yes, it’s still new so any chance I get to use it, I do) has been taking the absolute piss out of me ever since I started watching it again. I understand why. It’s scripted, it’s fake, it’s this and it’s that. I know this, believe me I do. I am not under some illusion that it’s all real, they all hate each other and yet decide to road trip around the world together. I know it’s scripted. However, I enjoy it. The fact that people still believe ‘they don’t get hurt’ is of course ridiculous because each and every time they step into that ring they risk their lives. Whether they fall badly or simply get screwed over by gravity, their necks are literally on the line and one mishap could spell not just the end of their careers but also their life. A broken neck or spine is no laughing matter and that should be taken into consideration before badmouthing the profession.

Why are some sports considered prestigious and worthy of adulation whilst others are ridiculed?

Football, for example, is placed on a pedestal and people worship the ground the players walk on and this is considered normal. However, football is full of spitting lunatics who get angry with other spitting lunatics for stealing a bag of air from under their feet and kicking it into a giant net. I can understand the appeal of watching football but in relation to a sport like wrestling, where skill is imperative – a matter of life or death (or at least very serious injury) – football is surely less worthy of such respect?
If grown men cry at football, nobody bats an eyelid. If I was to cry over a wrestling match, however, everybody would lose their minds and call me childish.

I am unable to comprehend the reasons. Society is a very strange thing indeed.

I have been to live events and the atmosphere is, as the commentators say, electric. You can feel the excitement in the air like rain before a storm and the camaraderie among fans is fantastic. Never have I felt threatened around WWE fans. The fans live for the sport and don’t take it, or themselves, seriously. That is how I sum up the WWE – good, clean, harmless fun that doesn’t take itself seriously.
The same cannot be said for sports like football, where violence is every bit a part of the sport as the games are.

Returning back to the WWE after ten long years away genuinely feels like returning home to family. So please, on behalf of the WWE Universe, stop telling us it is fake and let us enjoy it.

Oh and for anybody who still thinks wrestling is childish . . .

I posted just over a week ago about some of the reasons I left Facebook. Today, much like Professor Farnsworth, I no longer want to live on this planet.

I know how you feel, buddy.

I know how you feel, buddy.

I stumbled across an article today, during my routine morning stroll through Twitter, that made me question if Earth is a real place. The article in question (this one) is literally about a seventeen-year-old girl changing the colour of her hair. Disregarding the article’s obvious spelling mistakes, it offends me on a cultural level too. We have survived for two hundred thousand years as a species only to be paid to publish poorly written material about the colour of a teenager’s hair. What is even worse is that people read this rubbish! They lap it up in their thousands. They huddle around their glowing screens of broken promises and take nourishment from inane ‘gossip’. If they could pour milk over it and eat it with a spoon they would.

Particular highlights (that is a pun) of the article, for me, lie in the parts where the journalist informs the reader of what colour the ‘reality star’ usually ‘dies’ her hair. A good article, as we all know, relies on the details and the research.

I have said this before on an old blog, that we should just stop reading newspapers. I still believe this. If we stop reading this rubbish, they will stop printing it. I promise you.

I will remind you once again of how ridiculous we have become. A grown woman has been paid actual currency to write actual words about . . . a teenager dying her hair. For all her trouble she didn’t even bother to use spellchecker.

Facebook is a many-splendoured thing and by that I mean tragically depressing.

I recently deactivated my Facebook account because it was beginning to feel like a competition for ‘most desperate attempt to look like you’re having fun.’ If people are not posting selfies with a bottle of vodka in their claws, professing their love for the latest city/country they have visited, or rabbling on about how dearly they love their latest beau, people would think they were dead. What’s that I hear you cry, people would not think they were dead? Well, someone should perhaps tell them that because the Facebook generation have pigeonholed themselves into a very tight corner and cannot seem to be able get out of it. Everyone seems to think that everyone needs to know what everyone is doing. What I noticed most whilst being on Facebook is that, like school, there are cliques. To illustrate my point I have compiled a list, for your amusement, of the kind of people you will find.

The McCartney Wannabe.
You may often scroll down your timeline to find a video made by one of your fellow Facebookians. You wait for it to load, watch the first millisecond of it and then continue to scroll down because yes, you guessed right, it is yet another video of them strumming inanely on a guitar to a tune you couldn’t guess even if a gun was put to your head. Do yourself a favour and enter this person into X Factor so they can be publicly humiliated thus ending your pain.

The Savage Selfie Taker.
This breed of Facebookian can be seen mainly in their homes or at the pub. Their Instagram account will be firmly linked with Facebook so they can bore ALL of their friends at the same time with their unimaginative snapshots of not only them but their cat, dog or Dave the bouncer.

The Family Fiend.
This family member will disturb you to the very core. Families, in your mind, will be a wholesome collective that can do no wrong. WRONG! This family member, usually uncle Terry, will post the most outrageous, offensive drivel you will ever see in your life. They can usually be found sharing posts by ‘Britain First’ or the ‘EDL’.

The Foodie Fapper.
Beware the foodie fapper. This one will eat anything you put in front of them but not before taking a photo of it first. Burgers, salads, toast, you name it, they will shoot it and then devour it. Best not to get in a selfie with these guys if they ask.

The Chav.
This one is pretty straightforward. The chav will usually have more ‘friends’ than possible for them to meet at their age, numerous photos of their five children and the grammar of a dyslexic goat. Their trademark is the misspelling of words such as ‘definitely’ (defiantly), ‘your/you’re’ and ‘haven’t’, which they will replace with ‘aint’ (yes, without the apostrophe).

The Perfect Prince/Princess.

Ugh, is there anything more annoying than a prissy little achiever when you’re trying to trudge through your pathetic, mediocre life? No! This person will consistently make your life a living hell with their sporadic updates on how their latest foray into whatever it is they have tried their hand at has turned out brilliantly.
Top Tip: Find something they are bad at and memorise it for when times get particularly bad.

The Mistaker.
This is the person who has mistaken Facebook for their Twitter account, where it is acceptable to post every five minutes. This user can be found on every other post on your timeline.

To get the most from this list you may want to create a bingo board and mark each one off when you see them on your next scroll down Facebook.

You may be thinking ‘well, why don’t you just unfollow them so you can’t see what they post?’ Believe me, it is not that simple because each and every one of your ‘friends’ will fit into one of these categories. By the time you have finished unfollowing everyone you will be left with your best friend and your mother, which would be like not having Facebook at all. This, my friends, is what I suggest you do – not have Facebook at all. We have a very short time on this Earth, which is shortened on an almost hourly basis by the blue teat of social media. During my four days away from Facebook I have been so much more productive, not least of all returning to this very blog. I urge you to do the same so you too can see how detrimental it really is. Do not live to post, live a life that is worthy of posting.


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