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Many people attribute pop culture as ideas, art, and perspectives isolated to the 1960s. Pop culture started as an era during the 20th century. However, the ideas expressed in pop culture art deeply impact our society in 2010. Undeniably, pop culture influenced art, such as architecture, design, music, and theatre influence this generations entertainment, day-to-day living, and even possibly, our political climate. Three people definitively displaying this pop culture impact include architect Michael Graves, comic book author and creator Stan Lee and his artist Steve Ditko, and musician Michael Jackson. These men have not only impacted society thirty to forty years ago but their presence is still influential today.
Michael Graves, an American architect, whose interest in drawing and painting began within his early childhood and has remained with him throughout his career in architecture. After college and studying abroad, Graves founded his own practice in Princeton, New Jersey in 1964. He began teaching at Princeton University in 1972. As a member of the “New York Five”, he developed a new style of designing called eclecticism, straying from the roots of Modernism which allowed him to emphasize his use of color. It has even been stated that he has become an opponent of modern works who uses humor as an integral part of his architecture. He has received many prestigious awards to include the 1999 National Medal of Arts and the 2001 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. Paul Goldberger, architect critic for the New Yorker wrote Graves as “the most truly original voice American architecture has produced in some time”. Some of his projects include the Clos Pegase Winery in Calistoga, California, the Newark Museum expansion in Newark New Jersey, the Humana Building in Louisville, Kentucky, the Dolphin and Swan Hotels in Walt Disney World Florida, the Hotel New York and Euro Disney, both of Disneyland Paris, and many others. His name can be found on many things from apartment buildings to household appliances found in local Target Stores. During his career, he has not only established the Michael Graves Design Group, which has also won many awards, Graves has published many books about architecture and developed projects with many exclusive clientele. His career in design that is even within retail, clearly demonstrating his ability to take high style designs and make them easily accessible to the common consumer by way of his Target Line This line would include products such as lighting, bath and kitchen aids, products for home, office and personal use to just name a few. Graves has the privilege of being one of the most recognizable names in his field and the prestigious honor of creating more than 300 buildings and projects. We are still counting on more beautifully designed spaces from his organization, Michael Graves & Associates. Along with his exhibitions that have toured the country and world numerous times. Michael Graves is a phenomenon in the architecture world and his work has inspired a new interest in architecture, along with a new generation.
From one Michael to another, Michael Joseph Jackson, a performer, composer, actor, and producer in the age of pop became a global product and pop culture was a global iconic superstar (Barnes A1). Michael Jackson was the seventh of nine children. He began his career at the age of five as the lead singer of the Jackson 5 in 1964. Michael was influenced by others who paved the way of his arrival. From Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, and James Brown, Michael paid homage and made it his mission to acknowledge their contributions by adding a little of them to his craft and liberating himself from the stereotypical images by a white controlled society. Black culture as a movement was never in the forefront until Michael came along and exposed America to it. Michael has helped shape pop culture over his forty-five year career. He made being Black in America acceptable during a time when prime time television refused to show Blacks. Michael was one of the first three black artists to break the social barrier on MTV. Despite this major accomplishment, MTV had to be threatened with non-service of other videos before they would play Jackson. His unifying effect on world youth, and musical savvy are well documented. Fans across racial lines embraced his trademarks by sporting the Jacksonian jackets, white tees, pipestem jeans, and white socks. Michael won a total of thirteen Grammy Awards and has more Guinness World Records than any other artist. The American Music Award presented him with no less than the Artist of the Century Award. Tommy Mottola, a former head of Sony Music, called Mr. Jackson “the cornerstone to the entire music business. He bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and pop music and made it into a global culture,” said Mr. Mottola, who worked with Mr. Jackson until the singer cut his ties with Sony in 2001.
He has influenced dozens of artists in his achievements and popularity. From Beyonce` to Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson inspired a whole world of music and has worked with some of the greatest producers from Quincy Jones to Timbaland. Jackson has considered his great achievement and well deserved award to be the Presidential Humanitarian award from Ronald Reagan in 1984 for his support of charities helping people overcome alcohol and drug abuse. Not only was he influential in the music world, Michael had numerous humanitarian goals and dreamed of making the world a better place. In 1985, Michael alongside Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, and help from Ken Kragen organized the We Are the World project for USA Africa, which aided famine relief efforts in Africa. This project along with Kragens Hands Across America “forced the government, particularly the president, to release 800-million dollars in feeding funds for women, infants, and children,” as stated by Kragen (Devine). Lastly it is worth noting one other area within pop culture outside the world of music that Michael was known to have a fondness which has also had its impact on us today in 2010, Marvel comics. His favorite superhero is Morph from the X-Men.
From the King of Pop to the King of Comic Books, also called ‘Godfather of the Superhero’, Stan Lee helped create many of our comic super heroes that are recognized as icons. Since the age of seventeen, Stan Lee has been in the comic book industry. He began as an assistant editor for the Timely Comics Group. He was later promoted in 1942 to editor. Behind Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Joe Simon, Stan wrote most of the scripts for some of our well known comic heroes today, such as Captain America, Sub Mariner, and The Human Torch. The Timely Group went through some changes in the fifties which would include the name. It was renamed Atlas; however, the sales were still low. At this time in America, comics were not as popular as they use to be.. In 1961, the group had well over eight superheroes. This group of heroes was renamed Marvel Comics. Lee made a few changes working along side Jack Kirby and created some of the popular superheroes that we know today with titles such as, The Fantastic Four, Spider Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, The Hulk, The X-Men, The Silver Surfer, Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos, Daredevil, and The Iron Man. In the sixties, he became editor of the group. Not only was Stan Lee’s empire growing but comics started their growth in popularity. So much so to the point has the comic world grown, that there are now annual events held every year to honor this world that Stan Lee has helped to create. These events are popular and widely known as Comic-Con, WonderCon and Alternative Press Expo. Comic-Con is covered internationally across the globe from Japan to France; from its home in California to New York. Thousands upon thousands descend upon this event every year to celebrate the world that has bought us such words as WHAM! BAM! And Whoosh! which are in the world of Stan Lee. Things went up when Spider Man was released in 2002, quickly followed by the Incredible Hulk and X-Men to the silver screen grossing over eight billion dollars in consumer sales worldwide. Lee has also managed to gain accolades and awards for his vision and artists over the years. He’s even managed a reality show called Who Wants to Be a Superhero. His heroes and villains call to children of all ages. Giving all values of truth, honesty, justice and American Pride, Stan Lee has proven that his work is timeless and his fans are equally priceless as well. Thus the door into the fantastic world of comic books and Stan Lee is open and shall remain so for many years to come. .
Pop culture is a movement like those before it. Although originated during the mid fifties-sixties, it still has a great impact on our lives today as we know undeniably. From music, to television, media to fashion, movies to everyday lives, pop culture cannot be denied and unacknowledged. It is everywhere. The pop culture movement is now more trend savvy than any other era. It is in every facet of our society of our day-to-day living. Over the last fifty years, we have been seeking a greater meaning, but it is a spoken voice through media, architecture, design, music, and even children’s cartoons. It has integrated in with other medians within our everyday existence and will remain forever popular.
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