How do you become a one word household name, like Marilyn or Elvis?
Why are they so popular, so fascinating?
As I get older, I seem to appreciate these icons with a better sense of awe…. but not so much in my younger days.
Maybe that’s because I thought that I too, was one-of-a-kind. That anybody could be anything they wanted. And what you wanted was always: the stars. I was going to be something… didn’t know what… but something big… or important.
I didn’t understand that one-of-a-kind, means just that: one-of-a-kind. One in a million, one in a generation, a century, one in the sea of humanity. These people are not a fluke- there is something to their awe.
It’s not easy to do: icon status.
It doesn’t come to you merely by birthright or hard work or by your genetic make-up. That kind of behavior grants you top-tier, but not icon status. Yep- lots of people have serious credentials, impressive resumes, but they are no household name. So what is it?!!
One evening, I was at Barnes and Noble and spotted a book on Marilyn. I decided to take a look at her once again, and see if I could see why about half of everyone on the planet knows her name. Growing up, I knew who she was, but never could understand her enormous appeal. I had figured that for her time, she was a stand-out because she pushed boundaries and of course, was very sexy. Whatever.
I began to look at her pictures.
And that’s all it took
There is something incredible about her, and something I have yet to see duplicated, even in our age where women have shown everything and then some and where we have endless possibilities with computer editing.
She was a siren and a vixen. She was delicate, naïve, innocent and certainly guilty. She is creative, focused, confused, determined and lost. She has a face like a diamond and of course her body speaks for itself (outloud). Her eyes are irreproachable.
Nowadays, there are so many pictures of incredibly beautiful women. But for the most part, there is something lacking in them- in their eyes, their face, their posing. I can’t really describe it, but to say that it is the “x factor” that makes Marilyn still captivating. If you read about her and look at her pictures, I think you will see what I mean. Whether you like her or not, there is some magic to her.
I’m not alone here. Millions of people see this in her. Indeed, she is a pin-up girl, and if you google her name, you’ll see image after image of her desperately trying to look sexy. It seems ridiculous to me, but for her, it was what she poured her whole soul into and all that seemed important. She had a rough upbringing -shake that up with a naturally robust libido and some unfocused genius, and you get the Marilyn cocktail. She was mixed up and mislead and made many mistakes, but her desire was genuine. I had not thought she was genuine- but you can’t get more so.
Just watch this little clip and you’ll see what I mean:
Is he adorable or what? The gleam in his eyes, the natural charm. The crazy dancing, the chocolate soda voice- he was incredible. I can see why he was such an earthquake on the scene in the 50’s. Just look at the guys who are the background singers. That’s how everyone else acted. Then there’s Elvis.
He was an original. He had true creative thought, doing whatever came bubbling up from his very soul. And of course he was talented. But it’s that creative thought- originality, bringing something all new to the table and the audacity to do it. So difficult for the rest of us, but so easy for Elvis.
As for me? My icon-making days are over and squandered- and really, were never there in the first place. And rather than placing great value to it, I look at iconicism as more of a fascination than something I want to be. Besides, I can barely make do with one household knowing my first name.