In the media, many items and persons of popular culture have been called "iconic" despite their lack of durability; and the term "pop icon" is often now used. Some commentators believe that the word is overused or misused.
A web-based survey was set up in 2006 allowing the public to nominate their ideas for national icons of England and the results reflect the range of different types of icon associated with an English view of English culture. Some examples are:
Matryoshka dolls are seen internationally as cultural icons of Russia. In the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle symbol and statues of Vladimir Lenin instead represented the country's most prominent cultural icons.
The values, norms and ideals represented by a cultural icon vary both among people who subscribe to it, and more widely among other people who may interpret cultural icons as symbolising quite different values. Thus an apple pie is a cultural icon of the United States, but its significance varies among Americans.
National icons can become targets for those opposing or criticising a regime, for example, crowds destroying statues of Lenin in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism or burning the American flag to protest US actions abroad.