Joe Queenan finds that icons aren't what they used to be:
For a number of reasons, the term "icon" cannot be used the way it is currently being tossed about. If your nickname is Wacko Jacko, if you have forked over tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits in which you were accused of child abuse, the term "icon" is probably not le mot juste. "Iconic" carries with it a subtext of moral elegance. It is not interchangeable with "famous" or "powerful" or even "brilliant." This is why Henry VIII, Attila the Hun, Oliver Cromwell and Satan are rarely described as "iconic." They were interesting chaps, they put a lot of points on the scoreboard, and they changed the world forever. But iconic? No.