I often find it tough to sympathise with celebrities. They dominate the front page of many websites, as though news about the sprog they’ve managed to give birth to is of any interest to anyone apart from their immediate family. But at the same time, I understand that the tomes dedicated to celebrity guff and faux pas is a symptom of an obsessive public rather than the cause of it.
The part that has me slamming my fist on the table more than anything though, is when the public get a view of a celebrity’s lesser known, and probably most human part of their personality. Mouths are agape, and tut-tutting echoes through the airwaves the moment that a celebrity is found to be doing something outrageous and out of character with the persona that has been carefully crafted by their PR firms.
“They’re a role model!” the crowds bleat and the comments sections of news sites vomit, “What of the people who look up to them?” Of course, when I say “people” it invariably means impressionable children.
And it’s that term “Role Model” that I see readily applied. At what point in time does a regular, free-thinking human being realise that they should be looking to model their behaviour of an individual who has been blessed with the one-in-thousands chance of being good looking, good at sport, good in front of a camera, or good with the gab?
The notion of sports people, celebrities, politicians, and pop stars being “role models” triggers my gag reflex.
What is a role model?
It must be some kind of moment of clarity as the fog of reality drifts away and some child thinks “Bugger my parents being the major influence on my behaviour and tastes, I’m gonna inhale reality television until I find a real person to look up to.”
So, parents who are looking at any moment to admonish a celebrity for the terrible crime of being human probably need to consider why on earth they put so much weight on someone else to involuntarily mentor their offspring.
I recently became a parent. I understand that this does not automatically make me the most qualified person on the planet to comment on these things, despite other people seeming to believe firmly that because they reproduced that they are somehow more enlightened as a result.
Because I have managed to partner up and go-halves in a baby, it does not give my opinion any more weight than other peoples’. However, should my child come to me one day and indicate that they feel that x-celebrity is most whom they identify, I will have a few simple statements for them.
- This person has no investment in you, and in the event you meet them and they feign an interest in you, understand that it’s mostly superficial and done because it’s part of their job.
- This person cares little for your adoration and attention, in that you are a lone face among a sea of fans, each one indistinguishable from the other.
- Placing some kind of arbitrary standard for them to meet will only result in disappointment when they don’t meet it, and further disappointment when you realise they truly lack regret in disappointing you.
A good role model
The counter to my opinion, is that these people are public figures. Regardless of whether a drug addicted actor such as Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan, a bad-boy footballer like Ben Cousins, or somebody from a reality TV show whose life solely consists of getting drunk and having sex like Snooki. The fact is that these people are in the public eye, which therefore makes them a “role model” by default.
This is weapons grade bollocks. If all public figures are potentially role models, then every single reality show should have a revolving door of forlorn personalities insincerely apologising as they file through, each one sorry for their poor behaviour or ignorant tweets. Also considering that each of these reality shows features some kind of bizarre caricature of reality, I think that society will be better for not considering these people as “role models”.
The notion of sports people, celebrities, politicians, and pop stars being “role models” triggers my gag reflex and has me yelling randomly in a manner I normally save for when Today Tonight appears on my television.
They may not have a six-pack, or perfect hair, but I believe that the main performer of “role-model” behaviour, should be on the parents.
For one, it means that the role model actually has a tangible reason to keep up a good standard, and will show some regret in the event of disappointing the child. Or at least the regret won’t expressed in some staged press conference where they read a sheet of paper that articulates their supposed sorry-ness, which quite often is “sorry I got caught” or “sorry others were offended”.
I understand that kids that play sport and will look up to those who are elite in that field, but that’s probably where the line stops. At the field. Sportspeople are just that: People who are elite at a sport.
Television personalities are just that: People who appear on television to present information for people to consume. Not one of them ever proclaimed to be elite at being human and they are thrust into a world that many of us do and will not have the luxury (or curse) of joining.
Finally I get to my point
If regular folk like you or I had that level of expectation heaped upon us by virtue of our occupation, within minutes we’d be frothing at the mouth, rocking in the corner with our faces covered in a half folded copy of the Messenger.
To remind your children that they only need to look to those celebrities as leaders in the field will probably cushion the disappointment when your child learns that Mr Johnny Football-Player or Ms Jane Science-Lab-Dweller are actually arrogant jerks, or the even more horrifying realisation that maybe Gordon Ramsay isn’t that much of a loud mouthed boor.