EIGHINGER: Pop culture does more than entice us -- it engulfs us

Posted: Dec. 11, 2012 6:01 pm Updated: Jan. 8, 2013 6:15 pm

Almost every waking hour of every day we are influenced by what is around us.

We go to see the latest James Bond movie either because we have grown up loving the films -- or because there is a 007 commercial on the television every five minutes.

Less than 20 years ago, very few households had personal computers. Now, almost every room of every house has one.

It's all part of what we define as pop culture. It's what drives us. It's what happens around us. And with today's 24-hour news cycle, social media and living in the moment, pop culture does more than entice us -- it engulfs us. That's why four years ago in this space we began our own version of a Pop Culture Hall of Fame. Each class is a collection of people, events and ideas that have helped shape us in some fashion over the past 50 years.

Here's our fourth Hall of Fame class:



º Bill Gates: The entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist may not have invented the personal computer, but his software made it better. And the fact he's putting some of the billions he earned to use in helping others made him a slam-dunk inductee.

º Bono: The rock legend-turned-humanitarian/political activist has used his position in the world to try and make it a better place. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and has been a Time magazine person of the year. By the way, his real name is Paul Hewson.

º The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Each year when his legend is honored, I am amazed with the impact he still has on peoples' lives. He had a dream, and piece by piece, year by year, it continues to come together.

Class 3: Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs.

Class 2: Barack Obama, Carroll O'Connor, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey.

Class 1: Sean Connery, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Casey Kasem.



º The Columbine High School massacre: The tragedy of April 20, 1999, forever changed how we look at trying to make our schools safer.

º The death of Princess Diana: At the time of her death on Aug. 31,1997, Princess Di may been the most beloved person in the world. Her memory lives on through Prince William and Prince Harry.

º The assassination of John Lennon: I was watching Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell made the announcement of Lennon's death on national television Dec. 8, 1980. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Class 3: Great Recession, Woodstock, 1969 moon landing.

Class 2: Sept. 11, 2001, JFK assassination, "American Idol."

Class 1: Super Bowl, "Seinfeld," Vietnam War.



º Wal-Mart: Sam Walton's concept of high volume and low markup made Wal-Mart the world's biggest retailer.

º McDonald's: Ray Kroc's vision of fast-food restaurants has redefined worldwide eating habits.

º Harry Potter: Author J.K. Rowling's seven-volume series fascinated an entire generation. Most importantly, it made kids -- and adults -- want to read, rather than spending all of their time in front of a TV set or hand-held gaming system.

Class 3: Facebook, Digital camera, DVR.

Class 2: Laptop computer, cellphone, CNN.

Class 1: ESPN, Mickey Mouse/Walt Disney, personal computer.




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