Arts & Entertainment

Union Jack reclaims pop icon status after Brexit

By Raul Bobe

London, Jun 22 (EFE).- The United Kingdom’s flag, better known as the Union Jack, is highly revered by a large sector of the British society to the extent that pop culture has adopted the iconic standard to create designs of upholstery, clothes and sell commercial music around the globe.

Dua Lipa, a British pop singer with Albanian roots, wore a Union Jack suit jacket by Vivienne Westwood during her victory performance at the 2021 Brit Awards.

Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, pop legend David Bowie and The Who guitarist Pete Townshend have sported the Union Jack at one point in their music careers, proving that styling the British banner is not a form of novelty or patriotism, but rather a pop icon that managed to pass from a generation to another without losing its freshness.

Edwin Heathcote, architect and design journalist, believes the Union Jack managed to become one of the icons of pop culture since the end of WWII, and successfully distanced itself from its nationalist roots, a stigma that the Brexit threatens to bring back.

After leaving the European Union, the flag reappeared as a symbol reaffirming the British identity, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a Union Jack face mask during conferences.

The flag has never had a law regulating its use, allowing it to be reproduced ad nauseam in various shapes and colors, which English literature professor Nick Groom believes it gives the impression that everyone has ownership over it, not just the government.

“We shouldn’t allow a political faction to take control of it, that’s a potential problem, but also a responsibility for everyone in this country to prevent that from happening. The Union Jack doesn’t stand for Brexit,” he says.

The prominence of the Union Jack design in pop culture took off during the Swinging Sixties in London and was paraded by legendary bands the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. It then reappeared three decades later in the 1990s during the Cool Britannia movement.

However, the Union Jack has a dark side, too. Its design recalls the colonial past of the British Empire and remains present on the flags of  Australia, New Zealand and even the American state of Hawaii.

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