"WHEN DO UPSTARTS BECOME ICONS?"
With the death last night of Neil Armstrong, the news headlines were full of the passing of one of the world's icons. And they were right.
Armstrong was one of the quietest, most humble, self-effacing men you could meet. He treated his trip to the Moon as another day at the office, and the fact he was first man on the Moon could well have been alphabetical rather than because he was leader of the Apollo flight. Until the day he died he gave very few interviews, never argued with the conspiracy theorists (after all he KNEW he'd been there!), became a professor at a university in order to teach, rather than be praised and only criticised the US government slightly when they scrapped manned space missions. His take on the latter was that one day they'd start again and our little bit of lifetime is minute in comparison to the time Man has in order to achieve true space flight.
He was a gentleman all his life and respected and loved wherever he went. He was truly an icon and it would be fitting if they buried him on the Moon.
So what makes an icon?
I can think of plenty of iconic "celebrities" who led far from blameless lives, who acted like idiots and imposed themselves on other people. They all had one fairly obvious thing in common:-
- Keith Moon (drummer with The Who)
- James Dean (the actor)
- Most of the people mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue".
- Alfred Hitchcock (from what we hear now was a predator)
- Henry V
- Henry Ford (not a nice guy at all, and a racist with strong Nazi tendencies)
- Paul Revere (his historic ride was not the success we believe, nor was his military career. He was however a good silversmith and the first man to work out how to roll copper sheets in order to clad ships' hulls)
- The Great Grimaldi (A clown and one of the highest paid entertainers in the early 1800's. In fact he was a depressive, due much to the tragedies that dogged his life and when he visited a psychiatrist who didn't know who he was he was advised to go and see The Great Grimaldi who was guaranteed to make anyone laugh!)
- Sir Francis Drake (a semi-legal pirate who thought nothing of taking credit for other people's deeds
So what do they all have in common? Fairly obviously....they're all dead.
Each was famous during their lifetimes, but none become an icon until they died, at which time most of their less tasteful activities were forgotten. They had something during their lives they meant they weren't forgotten, and must have been charisma. Even Hitler had charisma and to some even he is an iconic figure in spite of his misdeeds.
There are few celebrities alive today who, like Neil Arnstrong, can be classed as icons even during their lives. Among them though are:-
- Sir Steve Redgrave
- Sir Paul McCartney
- Margaret Thatcher (you don't have to agree with her, but she's still an icon!)
- Sir Bobby Charlton
- Sir Tom Finney
- The Queen
- Sir David Attenborough
It's amazing how many are retired footballers and to be honest I can't imagine any (except Lionel Messi) ever being icons, except for the wrong reasons to the wrong people.
It's a shame that as one Armstrong is revered for what he achieved and how he behaved, another Armstrong (Lance) was stripped of his successes and accused of being a drugs cheat (though not proven to be one). If they do bury Neil on the Moon that would be a fitting memorial for eternity to a man who always was and always will be an icon in every way.
Blog on, Dudes!