Friday, August 27, 2010

The Role Model Conundrum

I recently had an interesting conversation regarding celebrities and popular culture. During our discussion, my friend noted that she didn't consider celebrities, including actors and sports figures, role models and that she is able to separate their personal lives from their body of work. While I can respect her ability to keep these things separate, I don't know if I buy into the "I can overlook their bad behavior because they are good at what they do" argument.

The role model debate is one that has come up many times before. The issues surrounding Rhianna and Charles Barkley come to mind. It is true that many celebrities did not aspire to be role models. However, by a combination of talent and luck (and even some hard work), these people have found themselves bathed by the constant light of the paparazzi's cameras. While it is understandable that the cameras capture some unflattering moments, is it too much to ask that people, regardless of their fame and fortune, NOT ACT STUPID?

When did being a celebrity excuse you from having to act like a decent human being? Why shouldn't actors and sports figures be held accountable for the same behavior I expect of my college students? Why are people so willing to overlook an actor's or athlete's bad behavior when, if their neighbor did the same thing, these same people would shun him or her?

I'm not asking for celebrities to give up all of their money and go to the desert, and I'm not asking them to be more than human. I'm not asking them to do anything particularly admirable or worth emulating (even though that would be nice). I don't even want them to take up the mantle of role model or hero. However, I do think that they (as we) should do the right thing and not act like jackasses. Would it really be so damn difficult for them to not throw phones at others, verbally abuse their co-workers in an expletive-filled tirade, or sleep with everything that moves? Even with my rage issues, I've managed to go through life without having done any of these three things.