We hope you agree with our choices, but if you don’t, feel free to use the comments to tell us who you would have put here instead.
What child has not been frightened into behaving thanks to the ever-present youthful fear of Santa not providing come Christmas? Almost all western children were told by their parents that Santa would leave them nothing if they misbehaved. I speak from experience when I say that it was one of the most effective methods of stopping tantrums! Funnily enough, though, the fear always dissipates on Christmas Eve as you just know that Santa will be coming – even if you did slip up a few times.
As Barbie has progressed from a pretty young woman to whom all girls could aspire, to something often verging on the likeness of a harlot, one can wonder whether it was Barbie influencing children, or children influencing Barbie. There are certainly many similarities. Barbie has depicted almost every possible female lifestyle choice and I think there can be no doubt that she has been at the start of the path many women have taken in life.
This could potentially lead to a debate about whether Hood existed or not, but I am of the opinion that he did not. Therefore, he is listed as my number eight on the list. I am sure we have all heard someone justifying theft because the victim is wealthy – and where did this justification come from? Not just the principles of redistribution of wealth that many of us live under in Western Society (read envy taxes) but the fact that to this day, we are all raised believing Robin Hood was a hero – when, in fact, he was a thief. Stealing is almost always wrong, and just because Robin Hood gave the proceeds of his crimes to poor people, it is not a valid justification. As for the previously mentioned taxes, there is every reason for us to believe that the majority of people accept these taxes because of their prior belief in the false morality of the Robin Hood story.
This is one for the boys obviously! Even in remote New Zealand where I grew up, all the boys played “Cowboys and Indians”. The cowboy was a great hero with a shining gun who represented the morality of Western ideals: manliness, defense of justice, protection of women and children. No doubt many now cringe at the lack of political correctness involved in the game and stereotype, but kids aren’t politically correct (thank God) and certainly won’t be hindered because of it. The influence of the Cowboy movie genre is indisputable an immense one. Oh – and for those who say “but cowboys are real!” – yes – but this is about the concept – not about a specific person – just as we might say Santa existed as St Nicholas, the concept is bigger than any one person.
How many men reading this list who smoke, are smoking cigarettes with filters? Venturing a guess I would say all of them. Before the Marlboro Man campaign began, “real men” didn’t smoke cigarettes with filters – they were for women. The aim of the Marlboro Man campaign was primarily to get men smoking filtered marlboro cigarettes. The influence of the campaign is abundantly clear today. The campaign is considered to be one of the best in all history. According to Wikipedia, it transformed a feminine campaign, with the slogan ‘Mild as May’, into one that was masculine, in a matter of months.
And now another for the girls! Rosie the Riveter may not be a familiar name, but her picture certainly is. Rosie the Riveter told women that they can do anything – and they did! Rosie managed to motivate an entire generation of working-age women to get out of the home and in to factories to help the war effort. This is probably one of the most influential events of the Second World War. Once the floodgates of women working were open, they would never be closed again. All women working in traditional male jobs have Rosie to thank.
In a short 24 hours, you can fly from one side of the planet to another. This (one of man’s greatest achievements) may never have happened if it had not been for the mythological characters Daedalus and Icarus. The story tells of Daedalus building mechanical wings for his son Icarus and ever since the tale was told, man has lusted after the ability to take the sky and fly. This eventually came true and the entire planet is a changed place as a consequence of it.
The moral of this children’s tale is that self-belief, optimism, and hard work result in achievement – of even the most difficult tasks. The book first appeared in a slightly different version to today, in 1906. It has been regarded by many as a metaphor for the “American Dream”. The popularity of this book may also be a contributing factor to the huge number of self-help and “positive thinking” seminars and books that we see today.
A relatively modern addition to this list, Big Brother has been a influence in so many social protests that he has to be included here. His name comes up every time a government passes a restrictive law or a law which seems to remove aspects of our eternal freedoms. Everyone recognizes his face, everyone knows what he stands for, and everyone is terrified of the potential for our own lives to be governed by our own version of the fictional character. Big Brother was, of course, created by George Orwell for his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Not only can Romeo and Juliet be blamed for much of our ideas of the “perfect relationship” – I think it can also be blamed for a high percentage of divorces. Couples going in to marriage seek the ideal of a relationship based entirely on passion and romance, and when that romance dims (as so often is the case) they feel cheated and believe the marriage has failed. When in reality, passionate romance is not required for a healthy marriage – while respect, love, and charity is. Romeo and Juliet have much to answer for!