An icon is a person or thing that is representative as a someone or something. In the past, people would paint Icons of their gods/idols for religious purposes, to show respect and their devotion. Icons are formed during a certain point and time an for a certain culture – according to their current idols/gods. Thusly as time passes icons change to new ones as societies gods change and old ones are interpreted differently by the new generations.

In the past, icons were usually religious – it was something everyone valued and could relate to. But in todays world, celebrities are societies new gods. I think that Warhol does a beautiful job with this MOMA 05 Andy Warhol. Gold Marilyn MonroeMarilyn Monroe piece to show that transition. She is shown as our figure of glamour, ideal beauty and sex, societies version what has meaning, all the while the artwork is placed on a gold background. History shows us that ancient icon paintings were also placed on gold backgrounds to show the reverence and value of the individual being represented. It is a tie to the past and present, showing how our ideals and views of icons have changes to a different category of figure, but we still have kept our idols. There are even celebrities that in almost every sense made Marilyn their god/idol. Actresses like Meghan Fox – who has a tattoo of Marilyn on her forearm – wants to emulate Marilyn so strongly that she basically tattooed an icon on her arm. In associating herself with this modern icon, she could also be declaring, that just like this famed goddess of seduction, she also one day would like to become an icon/idol to others.

Magazines are like our monthly icon image. Each week is a new and beautiful celebrity that individuals spend time with. They will either read about their lives, lifestyle, or looks. Now I am not saying one is good and the other is bad (which is hard to do when talking about religion) And I am not saying that looking through a magazine a few times a week makes you a celebrity worshiper or that you have no faith. I am looking at this purely objectively, comparing artworks and energy spent by different generations. It is very interesting to observe how society has not lost their icons as centuries have passed, they have simply shifted to a new type of “god”.



“People believe what they want to believe. Because the guy who made this was so good that it’s real.”” This opening quote to the new movie American Hustle is an absolutely perfect introduction to talking about the importance of originality to the monetary value of paintings. A painting gains its economic value through cultural determinations on what society believes to be important in assessing art works. Now one of the huge factors is that the painting is the original, not a forgery or reproduction. For example a Claude Monet postcard is worthless compared to an original painting, even though they are of the same exact image. But what does this mean in the world of forgeries? Is an indistinguishable forgery of the same work really such a big deal? In society, the institution the owns the painting is hugely affected because of the price difference – from $150million to $400,000.

The issue I am trying to raise is that who determines what makes something an original and what makes something a fake? Nearly 20% of all paintings in museams are amazing forgeries, does that make the painting worthless because even though the images is the exact same in every way, the individual who held the brush was different than you originally believed? Which Mona Lisa is the right one? Which one is worth more? Granted originality results from the paintings uniqueness, but does the source really matter that much? I believe this debate can be brought into how society feels about celebrity objects. For example, how a sweat rag becomes worth significantly more to others if it has be used or even held by Beyonce. It is all about an individuals perspective and what THEY deem to be valuable.

The-Fine-Art-of-Appraisal-4Just like this De Kooning that is worth over 154 million – a dollar amount I can not even comprehend. Not only is the fact that this painting is worth so much determined by opinion (because in my opinion it wouldnt not be even close to that valuable, to be it is quite ugly). But should an individual care so much if what they have hanging in their home is exactly the same as this in every brushstroke – exact the man holding the brush? Should it really turn that painting worthless?

In my opinion, forgeries are not a bad thing (to be blunt about it). To me, if they are the same, there is no difference as to which is the original. Value is determined by opinion, and opinion is determined by belief. Some museums are so desperate to have paintings by certain artists, that when a good fake comes along, they act just like Christian Bale said “They believe because they want to believe”.

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Even with all our “cultural advancements” and “noble” progress as a human race to people of difference genders and ethnicities as equals, we still have an impossibly long way to go. For example, within the past 2 years, more than one female celebrity has said goodbye to their long lengths of hair for a short, sometimes buzzed cut, pixie hair-do. Some have done it to follow trends, personal taste, donate to charity, hair damage, or have had to chop it off for a role. That’s great, fine, and dandy. The problem from these extreme hair cuts is the extreme reaction from the public. According to pretty much any media source from Twitter to 9gag, cutting your hair cut is synonymous with losing your vagina. When Emma Watson cut her hair to mark the end of the Harry Potter series, she was told by several sources how she was no longer sexually attractive to men, asked if she was “coming out of the closet”, and actually had a hard time getting acting jobs. All because of simple short hair. To the world – short hair on a woman is a sex change. Longer hair is feminine, and men love women with long hair, so you know – women must only dress to impress the opposite gender.

Miley Cyrus is a more recently talked about version of the same story. She cropped of her hair saying how she has never felt more beautiful or empowered. Yet the Twitter universe had a few of the same reactions: She now is a boy, it is for publicity, or “Why would you hate on her, she cut off her hair to give it to charity”. As if a woman needs a reason like giving to charity to cut her hair. Nothing to do with looks or personal preference or because they like that look on themselves, to look that “bad/ugly” you must have had an ulterior motive, like a child actor trying to shed their “good girl” image.

One final note is once a woman cuts off her hair and magically turned herself into a boy-lesbian she has opened the doors to be publicly mocked and ridiculed. If a woman changes her hair to something not of a social norm, the world has suddenly gained the right to question her sexuality or gender. Is it because she isn’t following the cultural norms of ‘taste’? That when according to public perception that have made a poor choice and are displaying bad taste.  People have been absolutely down right cruel to these celebrities and their new dos, all because they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that long hair is for girls and short hair is for boys is a stereotype that has long since expired.

In a culture where we see images of these women nearly every store we go to or social media websites we visit, it is important to notice why these images have such an impact on us. We are a class based culture, and what is the biggest symbol of class? Good taste. And the best way to showcase your taste is with your appearance. But our society controls our culture. So the message they are sending is good taste is conforming, its not rocking the boat with new ‘dos’.

Society today there are men with long hair and women with short hair – yet when our idols/roles models start messing start messing with our social norms, we start frothing at the mouth with judgements.

Now I know this is older news, but it was something that came to mind imediately when talking about visual culture. There was a man named Charles Ramsey who was responsible for saving 3 women from his neighbors home, where they had been kidnapped and kept as sex slaves for several years. A tragic story with a happy ending. But here is where I get on my pedistal: the way the media responded to Ramsey once he was interviewed for saving these women. He became an instant figure for a good laugh because of the way he talked. I heard 3 different media sources from the Big Party Morning Show, to the bleep-head (schmoyoho) on the internet that turned Ramsey’s interview into a “catchy tune”, and some youtube reporter stations that kept referring to Ramsey as a ‘character’ – clearly subbing in a polite, non racist word. His social standing to these white reporters was more entertaining than the girls lives he saved.

I know when I first heard the Big Part Morning show not only play this song “Dead Giveaway”, but were laughing, singing along, and saying how entertaining it was, my mouth physically dropped in utter shock. This is a song that not only is making fun of how this man talks and looks, but it is a song about rape victims and the hell their life was. Talk about unbelievable.

The way media reacted to Charles Ramsey is one that is so inappropriate and disgusting. They chose to make light of a horrific situation by highlighting the way a man spoke for cheap and just plain rude laughs. The reports review of Ramsey never once mentioned the rape victims being held captive, instead focused on calling him a “character” and how “unique” of a man he was.  They even said “Now I know he doesn’t look like an American Hero…” Excuse me?!? How dare anyone say that statement. The reporters were so hung up on their myth of the lower class, especially black lower class, that they completely ignored what really happened, to focus instead on his “character” of a personality. He was a dancing monkey that they had freedom to laugh at. Ramsey rescued girls from hell and all they can talk about is their opinion of his social standing. Superiority oozed from these rude jokers. And it wasn’t just these singular incident. Several reporters on the TV and radio were more excited about this new internet sensation then actually reporting the news.


In the world today, we all see and interpret images differently. That is the origin of controversy – our different perceptions. This advertisement was chosen not only for its controversal and dark subject of an advertisement, but also because I found it a bit comical when I first stumbled across it. To dissect what this ad is truly selling though is very disturbing. The short version of a summary is an individual is still a decent human being as long as they drive this car. You can literally get away with murder as long as you drive a Prius.

Now lets decode the image from an analytical standpoint. I can see where the advertising company got their inspiration for this ad: perception is everything and materialism is how one gets the perception they want. How the things an individual owns control how they are seen to the public. The stuff a consumer buys, not their actions, is what people will use to define them. And according to the advertisement, a Prius, which is known for its fuel saving (thus planet saving) abilities, can negate any bad choice and/or action. People will see the Prius as their redeeming quality. Toyota is instilling a guarantee with their car, how it will improve the image your life has and how much easier it will be. They are saying how their product is so amazing, you can do one of the worst things imaginable (say a murdering spree) and still be looked on favorably to others. That’s the power of a Prius.

Here is the catch though, the level of ridiculous of this ad. No sane human being (and the Toyota is targeting sane human beings) is going to look at this ad and think “I can now get away with murder if I buy a Prius. Great!” No one was take this add seriously. it was to be an advertisement different and shocking from the norm that it catches your attention and influences your subconscious into thinking how great Prius are. But not everyone saw the add as a comical extreme to the greatness of Toyota’s car. To some, this add crossed a disturbing line. Murder is a serious and awful matter, one that people should not be making jokes about, let alone jokes about getting away with murder.

Now what makes this advertisement so controversal? Is it that a company is using the angle of murder to sell their products? Or is a mountain being made out of molehill, and should people just see this add as a clever way of bringing the phrase “Getting away with murder” to life? What made this advertisement  create such a stir – was the tagline “Well at least they drive a Prius”, and they also had more posters. Posters of adultery and prostitution. This was a campaign to justify behavior deemed clearly wrong by the general public – yet they somehow escaped judgement because of the car they were driving.