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Published on May 27th, 2010 | by Rudolf

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Guest Post: 3 Irish Celebrites Who Impacted Global Popculture and Why

This is an interesting guest post from Rudolf giving his thoughts on pop culture and on the influence of three ‘celebs’ of Irish heritage on global pop culture. Let’s hear your thoughts.

– Darren

When you think of Popular Culture, chances are you think more of teen idols Miley Cyrus and Robert Pattinson than of more prominent figures, such as JFK or Paul McCartney.  This, however, is a result of the “dumbing down” of a term that is anything but dumb to begin with.  On the contrary, the term Popular Culture—or Pop Culture—refers to a totality of ideas, perspectives, images, and political and social attitudes of the 20th and 21st centuries, as derived from art, music, film, consumer media, politics and even religion.  Popular Culture, therefore, encompasses much more than passing fads or elitist trends, having more to do with the people who set them than the actual trends themselves.  For instance, consider Paul McCartney’s musical legacy, Georgia O’Keefe’s influence on art, and President Kennedy’s insurmountable affect on world politics.

Paul McCartney

Born June 18th, 1942, to Irishman James ‘Jim’ McCartney and British-born Mary ‘nee Mohan, Paul McCartney is the most successful singer-songwriter in the history of popular music, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, in addition to a poet, painter, entrepreneur, film producer and political activist.  Having sold 100 million singles and 60 gold discs, Paul McCartney wrote and recorded 188 charted records, to include 91 Top 10 hits and 33 Number Ones, internationally.

In the United States alone, McCartney achieved 32 No.1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 list.  In the United Kingdom, he has contributed to the production of more No.1 singles than any other artist in history, to include 17 achieved with The Beatles, one solo single, “The Pipes of Peace,” and the collaboration, “Ebony and Ivory,” with Stevie Wonder.  Voted “the greatest composer of the millennium” by BBC News Online readers, McCartney’s “Yesterday” is considered the most covered song in history, with more than 2,200 recorded versions.

On April 21st, 1990, McCartney drew 184,000 people to Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—the largest stadium audience ever.  On July 2nd, 2005, McCartney’s performance with U2 of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released an unprecedented 45 minutes after being performed.

In 1998, the British government awarded McCartney with an honorary knight-ship for his contributions to popular music.  In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in May 2000, the British Academy of Composers and Songwriter’s awarded him a fellowship.

McCartney’s first venture into film occurred in 1981, with the production of Rupert and the Frog Song, a short animated film for which he wrote the music and the script.  McCartney followed this with the 1984 film, Give My Regards to Broad Street, which included the No.1 single, “No More Lonely Nights.” In 1995, McCartney directed Grateful Dead: A Photo Film, a brief documentary about the Grateful Dead band.  Regarding the project, he is quoted as saying, “If Andy Warhol can film the Empire State Building for three hours, I figure I can do something with four rolls of film.”  The nine-minute short was shot at the Grateful Dead House, and premiered at the New York Film Festival the following year.

In addition to his songwriting, Sir Paul McCartney published Black Bird Singing, a book of poems in 2001, and the children’s book, High in the Clouds: An Urban Furry Tail in 2005.  McCartney credits his mother, Mary, and his father, Jim, with cultivating his love of reading from an early age.  While his mother read to him almost daily, his father enjoyed crossword puzzles and often enlisted the help of his sons, Paul and his brother, Michael.

Painting is perhaps the least known of McCartney’s contributions to Popular Culture.  Though McCartney grew interested in art in the late 60s, after meeting artists Andy Warhol, Cleas Oldenburg, Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, it wasn’t until 1999 that he allowed any of his works to be displayed.  McCartney’s first exhibition of some 500 finished works opened in Bristol, England, to include portraits of John Lennon, David Bowie, and Andy Warhol.  In October 2000, he exhibited works in New York and London, as well as the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.  Of the Walker Gallery, McCartney said, “I’m really excited about it.  I didn’t tell anybody I painted for 15 years but now I’m out of the closet.”

Sir Paul McCartney’s political activism extends to animal rights and anti-landmine campaigns.  It is said that McCartney and his first wife, Linda, became vegetarians while watching lambs in a field, over meal of lamb, though McCartney sites the Disney film Bambi as his original inspiration for becoming involved in animal rights.  In 2006, McCartney and second wife, Heather Mills, traveled to Prince Edward Island to protest seal hunting, drawing international attention and political heat from seal-eating countries, Labrador and Newfoundland.  McCartney has also publically criticized the Chinese fur trade, and regularly contributes to a host of charities.

On June 18th, 2006, McCartney celebrated his 64th birthday, as first examined at the age of 16 in the Beatles song, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”  Regarding the occasion, Paul Vallely of The Independent wrote:

“Paul McCartney’s 64th birthday is not merely a personal event.  It is acultural milestone for a generation.  Such is the nature of celebrity, McCartney is one of those people who has represented the hopes and aspiration of those born in the baby-boom era, which had its awakeningin the Sixties.”

Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keefe was one of the most influential painters of the 20th century.  Her floral paintings, such as Black Iris III (1926), helped revolutionize the world perspective of femininity, while her landscapes did for the Southwest what Van Gogh did for the South of France: immortalization of a place and time.  Her work was pivotal in integrating Irish-American art into the world art scene.  In 1962, O’Keeffe was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1977, President Gerald R. Ford awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor bestowed on American citizens.

Following her initial success in the 1920’s, her work continued to gain popularity in the 30s and 40s.  In 1936, her completion of Summer Days brought her numerous accolades.  In 1943, her first one-woman retrospective was held at her alma mater, the Art Institute of Chicago, with her second retrospective held in 1946 at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, marking the first retrospective held for a woman at MOMA.

O’Keeffe’s paintings have inspired countless artists, writers, photographers and filmmakers, to include singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, writer and political activist Charles Lindbergh, and her photographer-husband Alfred Stieglitz.  Stieglitz’ portraits of O’Keeffe in the 20s caused a public uproar, as many of the portraits were nudes, when nude photography was considered pornography.  O’Keeffe’s embracing of her sexuality is linked to her legacy as a feminine icon of the 20th century.  Her retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1970—one of the final exhibitions of her life—brought O’Keeffe to the foreground of the Women’s Rights Movement, where she remains.

O’Keeffe spent the last years of her life on her ranch in Taos, New Mexico, affectionately called “Ghost Ranch.”  Before her death in 1986 at the incredibly age of 98, she is quoted as saying:

“When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore . . . unless the Indians are right andmy spirit will walk here after I’m gone.”

O’Keeffe’s home and studio was made a National Historic Landmark in 1998.  In January 2006, the fossil of a newly discovered species, unearthed on Ghost Ranch, was named Effigia okeeffeae, “in honor of Georgia O’Keeffe and her numerous paintings of the badlands at Ghost Ranch and her interest in the Coelophysis Quarry when it was discovered.”  In 1991, PBS aired an American Playhouse production, entitled “A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz,” and in 2009, the Lifetime channel aired a biopic, starring Joan Allen as Georgia O’Keeffe and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Stieglitz.

John F. Kennedy

John-f-kennedyThough Paul McCartney and Georgia O’Keeffe were both of Irish descent, neither one of them expressed such pride in their Irish heritage as JFK.  During his 1963 visit to Ireland, he expressed this pride simply, saying, “This is not the land of my birth but it is the country for which I hold the greatest affection,” and during his address to the Irish Parliament:

“It is that quality of the Irish–that remarkable combination of hope, confidence and imagination–that is needed more than ever today. The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not. It matters not how small a nation is that seeks world peace and freedom, for, to paraphrase a citizen of my country, “the humblest nation of all the world, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error.”

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, and one of the most respected Democratic leaders of the 20th century.  He began his career in military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 in World War II.  From 1947 to 1953, he represented Massachusetts’ 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, and from 1953 to 1960, he served as a U.S. Senator, before defeating Republican Richard Nixon in the 1960 Presidential race.

John F. Kennedy was the first and only Catholic president, as well as the first Irish-American president in U.S. history.  He is the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.  Contributing factors include the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, in addition to his involvement in the Space Race, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and the early stages of the Vietnam War.

Nearly 50 years after his assassination on November 22nd, 1963, John F. Kennedy remains one of the most beloved U.S. presidents in history, and continues to rank high in public opinion approval ratings.It does not matter if you are a democrat or a republican, JFK can still touch your soul when he speaks these words:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

(these words are spoken after watching the video for about four min)

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Senior blogger who writes at www.letitflow.com – your one-click stop for all the latest news on celebrities, fashion, high-tech gadgets, luxury cars, exotic travel destinations, and much more! I live in Sweden and really like life here. Get in touch!



6 Responses to Guest Post: 3 Irish Celebrites Who Impacted Global Popculture and Why

  1. Emlyn says:

    Love Georgia O’ Keefes work. Has a real timeless quality to it…and i always lump her in with Ansel Adams – despite his being a photographer and mostly black & white based. They were great friends i believe. I also knew Paul McCartney painted, but must check that out more so. Great and informative post!

  2. Emlyn says:

    And yes, i do believe there is a definate dumbing down of culture these days…iconic status being given to people with no real talent beyond a pretty face and armies of screaming followers (and true talent always outlives both) 😉

  3. I expected the author on this to be Jack Charlton! McCartney and O’Keefe are taking the Irish connection too far – where’s that Irish culture/heritage show in what made them famous?

  4. Rudolf says:

    Emlyn

    I agree, there is a lot of comercial crap out there but I also belive that quality, nisched artist is actually easier to find these days then ever.

    The culture of sharing stuff on the internet is making it easier to find new stuff. U do not have to advertise as much as you have done in the past. I think this is specially true when it comes to nisched artist. Their fans is sharing their work

    Broad commercial stuff, still neads a lot of advertising 😉

  5. Rudolf says:

    James

    I am not Irish, I am Swedish. I am also standing outside, lookin in. I could missunderstand what Irish heritage is but I wrote it from my perspective. That does not necessarily make it true.

    Our views about Swedish culture are probably very diffrent 😉

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