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September 13, 2008 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Do you know any epithets that are used commonly for celebrities?

I am teaching a unit for middle school students that involves reading some in-depth Homer. I want to start my unit by talking about people who are larger than life: sports athletes, singers (hip-hop, primarily), actors and actresses. Particularly, they need to have an epithet that the students might recognize. I will be using this to move into a discussion of clever Odysseus and grey-eyed Athena.

Bonus points for any references to African American culture that might be used as a comparison tool.
posted by aetg to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Tell me, O muse, of that glorious crank, who lived in a trash can on the legendary street of sesame: Oscar the Grouch.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:32 AM on September 13, 2008 [5 favorites]

They're still calling Madonna 'Material Girl'.
posted by troybob at 10:55 AM on September 13, 2008

"King" James LeBron; Michael "Air" Jordan; James Brown "The Godfather of Soul" and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business"; Aretha Franklin (The Queen of Soul and Sister Ree).

Here's Wikipedia's article on honorific titles in popular music, which is full of more suggestions like these last two.
posted by cgc373 at 11:04 AM on September 13, 2008

Sing, O goddess, the anger of young Jeezy, that
brought countless ills upon Gucci Mane.
posted by nicwolff at 11:08 AM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: I remember reading somewhere that the adjective "pillow-lipped" had been picked up by reporters to describe Angelina Jolie and that it's hardly ever used to describe anyone else.
posted by pised at 11:14 AM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wilt the Stilt
Cedric the Entertainer
posted by bonobo at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: Lil Wayne.
posted by smackfu at 11:20 AM on September 13, 2008

Probably no middle school appropriate but, there's Firecrotch.
posted by kimdog at 11:32 AM on September 13, 2008

Ah, so what you're looking for is kind of like a nickname that a writer would use as a synonym for a person's name so they wouldn't have to keep repeating their name in a piece, one that would actually be recognized by most familiar with pop culture. E.g. use of "Tha Doggfather" for Snoop Doggy Dogg.

That one fits the form, too: "Sing, O heavenly choir, of Tha Doggfather, whose many styles—and legal fees—soared high above that of mere mortals."
posted by limeonaire at 11:37 AM on September 13, 2008

Sugar Ray Robinson, Cool Papa Bell, et al.

You get the idea. Boxing and sports in general has a million of em.
posted by SaintCynr at 11:38 AM on September 13, 2008

The term "domestic doyenne" attached itself to Martha Stewart at least fifteen years ago. I don't think it came from Stewart herself, and I almost never see the noun "doyenne" used otherwise. (Sorry that Stewart is about as far from hip-hop as you can get.)
posted by cirocco at 12:18 PM on September 13, 2008

Helen Thomas as 'the dean of the white house press corps'.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2008

The Governator
The King of All Media
The Italian Stallion
posted by nowonmai at 1:43 PM on September 13, 2008

The Queen of Mean
The Prince of Darkness
Wacko Jacko
The Rock
posted by carmicha at 3:56 PM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: Wikipedia's nicknames category might also be useful to you.

Jay-Z aka J-Hova comes to mind, though that song's a few years old.

Nearly every fighter in the UFC has a nickname. Rampage Jackson, who was one of the coaches on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, and was arrested a couple months ago for a hit and run, might be a familiar figure.

My hip-hop knowledge is not what it was a few years ago, though. I bet your students know a lot more than I do and might in fact be the best source of pop culture sobriquets. It would be pretty awesome if you gave them an assignment where they brought in an example of a celebrity or song with a well-known nickname and had a discussion of what their nicknames meant, why they're so common, etc.

(And if you ever want to discuss the Downfalled By Their Hubris trope that is common in ancient Greek literature, you can pull out a lot of these rappers and sports stars again!)
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:53 PM on September 13, 2008

Comics/movie characters -
the amazing Spiderman
milkd-mannered reporter Clark Kent
Robin, the boy wonder
Gotham's millionaire vigilante, the Dark Knight, Batman
Superman, the man of steel

Sports -
eg, nicknames used in basketball
baseball nicknames, listed by team
list of sportspeople by nickname

Satan, the prince of darkness, the lord of flies (etc - he has a lot)
Jesus, the shepherd (etc)
God, the heavenly father (etc)
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:02 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is why I like AskMefi: every question turns out to be answerable by Wikipedia.

Lots of good suggestions, some of which I cringe to use in my middle school class. Pillow-lipped (I shudder)? Some of which I don't think they have ever heard of (Helen Thomas?)

Metroid Baby: thanks for the suggestions about using them in class. I do think I'll have them bring in some of their own ideas. They are also going to be creating their own epithet for themselves which should be interesting.
posted by aetg at 5:57 PM on September 13, 2008

Check out popbitch.
posted by acro at 6:08 PM on September 14, 2008

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