Icon or Identity?

Christmas went by in a blur as 2013 dawned on us all, and we were reminded that even though we may have checked out of hobby-land for a couple of weeks, a very major event was happening in the world of Marvel…..the death of Peter Parker as the iconic Spider-Man.  Yes, another comic hero passes before our eyes ushering in a new era.  Is Spider-Man gone?  No….just the man behind the mask.  Fan spoiler coming up here in the next sentence, so beware!  The man who was Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius) is the new man behind the mask and spandex.  You can read the book to find out all of the nitty gritty details and theorize on how Peter Parker may once again be resurrected in the future.  After all, that is what is bound to happen.  Comic books are famous for such plotlines with major characters.  Shock and awe is good for business!

Pop culture has seen its share of identity-changing stunts for some of its biggest icons.  Obviously, Spider-Man is not the first.  It has happened with Batman (see Azrael), Captain America (Steve Rogers out and John Walker, who later became U.S. Agent, in), and even Hulk (Grey, Green, or Red).  Outside of the comic book world, we have seen cultural icons like James Bond, Obi Wan Kenobi, Peter Pan, Willy Wonka, and Dracula portrayed by multiple actors to much success in the world of film.  All of these actors have had the gift of fame which begs the question of who we love more.  Is it the people behind the mask or the characters they play?

We live in a very disposable world where the flavor of the month has sunk the biggest pop stars the music industry has served to a ravenous public, yet others have carried on past the expiration date and remain gigantic even as their performances wane.    We have seen political stars rise and fall at a whim, while some endure regardless of the tarnish they bring to their legacy.

How can it all be explained?  What is the difference between those that burn bright and those that fade away without a whimper?

Truth be told, every successful individual in the public eye needs a good role, a good character, or a good story to build around them.  Without these ingredients, talent and good intent is sadly not a recipe for longevity.  In the end, the mystique that surrounds the individual is what transcends!

Madonna created a brand, image, and a personality.  She was no longer Madonna Louise Ciccone.  She made herself into a character that has become the story.  The Kennedy name has brought with it guaranteed political success through a series of great tragedies, no matter the individual or the deeds.   And Arnold Schwarzenegger will always have a following regardless of personal troubles and time because people have fallen in love with his fictional roles (such as Conan and the Terminator).  Stories give life to our memory.  And we cannot deny these effects on our psyche.  We are as bound to them, as we are to our families and friends in many ways.

Spider-Man will survive without Peter Parker.  Dracula has outlasted the great Bela Lugosi.  James Bond is still saving the world without Sean Connery.  The legend and lore are enough to carry us all on the many more journeys of fascination and adventure.  We are ready for 2013 to be another year of Great Stories, great characters, and making great memories.

We, at Great Stories welcome your thoughts on this topic, and we would also love to hear who your favorite cultural icons are!

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