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In this brief paper, we shall be discussing the life of three great American personalities. Namely: J.F. Kenedy, Michael Jordan and Elvis Presley. We shall be examining their life to justify if they qualify to be addressed ad heroes or icons, or both. To do this, we shall first find out the meaning of icon or who a hero is. This will put us in a better light to understand how the extra ordinary feet they accomplished in their lives qualify them for the unforgettable and super human fame they occupy, not only in American history, but in the world as well.According to Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary, (2001), an icon is somebody famous. “Somebody or something widely and uncritically admired, especially somebody or something symbolizing a movement of field of activity”. Can these three personalities under scrutiny fit into this category? We shall find out soon. The dictionary further explained that “An icon is characterized by fame relating to or characteristic of somebody or something admired as an icon”. Similarly, it describes a hero as a “Remarkably brave person, a performer of a brave action, or conspicuous possessor of other admirable qualities, – a war hero”. It also sees a hero as “Somebody admired. A person who is admired for outstanding qualities or achievements”. This is illustrative enough.By way of analysis, all the three personalities we are analyzing here qualify as icons. But Michael Jordan and John F. Kenedy stood out as heroes. This is because, their achievements are unprecedented in the annals of world history in the field of sports and politics which served as their platform.To do justice to this write-up, it is better if we take the characters and analyze them individually. And we shall take off with:John F. Kenedy.J. F. Kenedy’s life was unusually remarkable because he was an over achiever, attaining incredible feats at such tender age. At the age of 43, he was elected the 35th president of United States of America and served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Before then he represented the state of Massachusetts from 1947 to 1960, first as a member of the US House of Representatives, and later in the Senate, before becoming the president. He demonstrated unusual leadership dexterity judging from his handling of the major events that characterized his presidency. These includes the USS PT-109 incident, the second world war in the South Pacific, the Bag of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, and the American Civil Right Movement, as well as the early events of the Vietnam War. So much happened in the American history during his presidency that so much was put onto his responsibility, and despite his age, he handled the whole issue as a matured and seasoned statesman. These events created an automatic heroic image of him in the heart of Americans.John F. Kenedy derived his fame from the many “firsts” he accomplished. For example, He was the first, and to date, the only Roman Catholic to be elected US president. He was also the first person born in the 20th century to have served as president, At age 43, Kenedy is the yongest person ever elected president of the United States of America. But he was not the youngest president ever to serve as president. Kenedy was the last Democrat from outside the south to be elected, and the last president to be elected while serving in the U.S. Senate. All these achievements conspired to create both a hero and an icon of him from all perspectives.Without doubt, J.F. kenedy qualified both as a hero and as an icon. He represented an epitome of the American dream. He was globally admired, and only few critics ever had anything uncharitable to say against his personality. His many “firsts” was also  heroic achievements. He was also considered brave having fought in the world war.According to numerous scholars and pundits, one of them being Carty, T.J, (2004). JFK’s victory in 1960 symbolized America’s evolution from a politically Protestant nation to a pluralistic one. The anti-Catholic prejudice that many blamed for presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith’s crushing defeat in 1928 at last seemed to have been overcome. However, if the presidential election of 1960 was indeed a turning point for American Catholics, how do we explain the failure of any Catholic–in over forty years–to repeat Kennedy’s accomplishment? There was the assumption that JFK’s successful campaign for the presidency ended decades, if not centuries, of religious and political tensions between American Catholics and Protestants. Religion, and Catholicism in particular, informs U.S. political life in subtle ways that and had affected who becomes the president of America. But Kenedy ended all that myth.John F. Kenedy, “commodified” and to some reasonable extent commercialized his fame, by exploiting his popularity into money making venture. For example, The President was closely tied to popular culture. Things such as “Twisting at the White House” and “Camelot” (the popular Broadway) were part of the JFK culture Vaughn Meader’s Family” comedy album – an album parodying the President, First Lady, their family and administration – sold about 4 million copies. On May 19, 1962 Marilyn Monroe sang for the president and raised lots of money. Kennedy and his wife “Jackie” were very young in comparison to earlier Presidents and first ladies, and were both extraordinarily popular in ways more common to pop singers and movie stars than  politicians, influencing fashion trends and becoming the subjects of numerous photo spreads in popular magazines.The Kennedys brought new life and vigor – a favorite word of Kennedy – to the atmosphere of the White House. They believed that the White House should be a place to celebrate American history, culture, and achievement, and they invited artists, writers, scientists, poets, musicians, actors, Nobel Prize winners and athletes to visit,Contrary to the heroic and iconic fame which JF. Kenedy attained, most people argued that his reputation is undeserved. His immense popularity, according to some critics, was the result of the optimistic beginnings of many programs declared to be of great benefit to the United States, its people, and various global issues, and the national trauma of his assassination. The Civil Rights Act which he sent to Congress in June 1963 was, in large part, conceived by his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and it was signed into law by his successor to the Presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1964. So the glory of such accomplishment should not be given to him.Others point out that Kennedy started the process which led to the U.S. getting involved in a complete Vietnam War. They point to Kennedy sending 16,000 military advisers and introducing napalm defoliants strategic hamlet, free-fire zones and jet planes to the Vietnam conflict, which the previous administration was not willing to do.He was accused of having an ilicit affair with Gene Tierney who was separated from her then husband fashion designer Oleg Cassini in 1946. He was also accused of being sexually involved with Marilyn Monroe, and many believed that Meryn Monroe was killed because she threatened scandal.Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot (1998) presents a critical analysis of the Kennedy administration, stating that Kennedy “was probably one of the unhealthiest men ever to sit in the Oval Office,” because of Addison’s Disease and a bad back, as well as recurring childhood illnesses and venereal infections.  Robert Dallek’s An Unfinished Life (2003) is a more traditional biography, but itMICHAEL JORDAN.By popular acclaim,  Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. He was a  phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of fundamental soundness, grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire. Jordan single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar. His accomplishments on the field of basket ball and outside of it can only be described as legendary in a culture with an inexhaustible passion to rank, to quantify, to compare and contrast everything, Michael Jordan became the universal measuring device for appraising greatness. Jordan the athlete, as well as cultural icon, had such an effect on global society, that descriptions of standout athletes, in other sports, as well as top artists, business executives and elite achievers in any field Were compared with him.  He was so universally adored, much more than any other athlete. In China, school children ranked him with Zhou Enlai as the two greatest figures in twentieth-century history. The children knew Zhou because he helped create their Communist Revolution. They knew Jordan because he miraculously floated through the air as both an athlete and as a pitchman for American-produced advertisements for Nike shoes, which the children avidly followed on television. His coach in Chicago, Phil Jackson, believed that Jordan “had somehow been transformed in the public mind from a great athlete to a sports deity”—especially when an amazed Jackson saw people kneeling before the statue of Jordan that stands in front of the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls.LeFeber, W, (1999), captured his fame when he wrote that, In China, schoolchildren ranked him with Zhou Enlai as the two greatest figures in twentieth-century history. The children knew Zhou because he helped create their Communist Revolution. They knew Jordan because he miraculously floated through the air as both an athlete and as a pitchman for American-produced advertisements for Nike shoes, which the children avidly followed on television. His coach in Chicago, Phil Jackson, believed that Jordan “had somehow been transformed in the public mind from a great athlete to a sports deity”—especially when an amazed Jackson saw people kneeling before the statue of Jordan that stands in front of the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. That is simply extra ordinary.He led the NBA in scoring a record 10 times with a 31.5 points per game average, another all-time mark. What made the achievement even more remarkable was that he did so while playing the other end of the floor as well. Nine times he was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team, and in 1988, he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.From the above facts Michael Jordan qualify both as a hero and as an icon. He lived his life without any scandal, except his recent divorce with his wife, which was more or less a private affair.Jordan being black, symbolized serious racial myths. The media tends to endow Michael Jordan with physical strength and dexterity that is almost magical. In contrast, white sports stars are portrayed with less natural talent. They are depicted as having to work harder to be successful. This seemingly harmless racial myth seriously influences the occupational choices of black youth. Recent generations tend to select professional sports as their only career choice. Psychologist Othello Harris (Miami University of Ohio) (Le Feber) researched these racial stereotypes in the media. Harris has divided this stereotyping into three main themes.Advertisements emphasize the athletic abilities of African-American players, but downplay intellectual abilities. They are portrayed as more suited for the court than the boardroom. In print ads, black athletes are seen with slogans like, “Basketball is the life. The rest is just details.” or “The game doesn’t end.” . The myth goes on and on.Michael Jordan more than commercialized his skills, He commanded so much  money and power in the world, of the late twentieth century. Jordan was an African-American athlete who earned $30 million a year for playing with the Bulls and twice that amount from his endorsements and personal businesses. He earned multi millions from Nike and countless other commercial endorsements. Elvis Presley.Elvis Presley, known simply as Elvis or The King, derived his fame as a musician who changed the face of music around the world. Dubbed the King of Rock and Roll, Presley’s gyrating hips, long, dark sideburns, and unusual style of rock music made the entertainment industry, as well as its followers, stand up and take notice. Elvis was probably one of the most loved “personalities” of all time. To this day, many years after his untimely death, devoted fans still mourn him and make the pilgrimage to Graceland, his beloved home in Tennessee. In the late 1960s, after a period of declining fame, he remade himself into “The King,” a melodramatic icon known for his sequined karate-style jumpsuits and mega concerts.Elvis qualified as an icon, but can not be fully described as a hero. Reason, he was admired all over and loved by many, but his action and activities were not brave. Heroes are brave persons, but Elvis was simply a great musician. According to Golbert Samie (1997). In a conversation affirmed that,  “Famous in life, Elvis Presley has become even more famous in death as an icon of American music and TV-era celebrity”. He was no doubt an icon, but not a hero.Presley became the teen idol of his decade, greeted everywhere by screaming hordes of young women, He opened the door to both black and white rock artists. More important, he served as the great cultural catalyst of his period. Elvis projected a mixed vision of humility and self-confidence, of intense commitment and comic disbelief in his ability to inspire frenzy. He inspired literally thousands of musicians. . Elvis’s Memphis home, Graceland, has become a permanent shrine to the singer and many of his followers even after his death.Unlike Michael Jordan, he did not command much commercialization as is known today. But the popularity of his music brought him so much wealth, He made wealth from his various TV, films, and other commercial programmes he was involved in. Even till date he still make more money than he ever did when he was alive.Presley was not loved by all. Those who did not worship him found him despicable (no one found him ignorable). Preachers and pundits declared him an anathema, his Pentecostally derived hip-swinging stage style and breathy vocal asides obscene. Racists denounced him for mingling black music with white (and Presley was always scrupulous in crediting his black sources, one of the things that made him different from the Tin Pan Alley writers and singers who had for decades lifted black styles without credit). He was pronounced responsible for all teenage hooliganism and juvenile delinquency.

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