You’ve probably read a million lists about people who’ve made millions, done this and done that. That’s fine, of course – I write some of those lists. But today’s list is a bit different – it’s a list of globally known figures that have been mightily influential. Only they’re all fictional. Here are seven of them.
1. Elsa (Frozen)
The world’s reining singing figurine and ice royalty, Elsa, glided onto our screens in 2013, helping Disney scoop more than a billion in gross sales worldwide. Elsa is an icon in her own right thanks to her wonderfully catchy ballad about liberation and self-acceptance, “Let it go, turn away and slam that door!” which is sung all over the world. According to Entertainment Weekly, Frozen’s cameo on ABCs Once Upon a Time resulted in a 31% rise in ratings. Elsa has eclipsed Barbie as the best-selling toy in America, according to this article in the Huffington Post.
2. Robin Hood
Did Robin Hood ever exist? You know my answer... I have no proof though; I’m choosing to believe he didn’t live. Robin Hood espoused a particular belief that if you’re rich, you’re fair game: you can be stolen from. It’s a belief that some countries would appear to agree with. Is it really OK to steal from the rich, even if the booty does go to the poor? If it’s not OK, why is the guy hailed as a hero by so many?
Barbie’s place is still assured in the pink hearts of little girls around the world. Yes, her position as queen may have been usurped, commandeered by the singing Elsa, but she’s still hanging in there. Not just girls, but women too want to look like Barbie and put themselves through all manner of procedures to achieve the ‘Barbie look’. But Barbie is no more the innocent, blue-eyed, blonde-haired plastic role model she once was; she’s no longer the doll with the skinny frame and perfect looks. No, Barbie has evolved with the times. We now have Hispanic Barbies, African American Barbies, and tattooed Barbies.
Barbie has spawned a world of copycat toys all over the globe (such as Sindy Doll and Crissy and Velvet Dolls). She’s also inspired movies and songs.
4. Katniss Everdeen
A comparatively modern addition to this list, Everdeen, the Hunger Games heroine, has cemented her position as a feminist icon and box office smashpot. Her influence extends to places as far flung as Thailand, where her three fingered salute (which she displayed in Mockingjay) was used as a form of “silent resistance” to Thailand’s May 22 Coup.
5. Big Brother
Big Brother is watching you: the concept of Big Brother was created by the writer George Orwell, for his book 1984. Big Brother’s presence can be felt whenever a government passes a law that people feel might curtail their freedom. Big Brother is feared, an intimidatory figure forever lurking around in the background of our lives. This fictional creation has inspired documentaries, reality TV shows, films and books all over the world; we all know him, and we all fear him.
6. Rosie the Riveter
If you don’t recognise Rosie the Riveter by name, you will probably recognise her in posters. Rosie convinced women that they were capable of doing anything – and they responded. Rosie managed to inspire armies of working-age women to take an active part in the war effort (World War 11), many taking on traditionally ‘male’ jobs, and is therefore a feminist icon in her own right. Although Rosie was an American creation, she inspired other countries such as Britain to use advertising as a means of encouraging female participation in the war effort.
7. Mr Poo
Taking his rightful position at the bottom of this list is Mr Poo, an anthropomorphized piece of, well it’s obvious, and that exhorts people to use the toilet through dancing and singing. In India, “open defecation” is a significant problem in India, and Mr Poo, UNICEF’s creation, has managed to put a lid on things: more than a million people have pledged to “take their poo to the loo”.
Do you know of any other fictional, yet influential figures? Add them to the comments box below!