Hard to believe, but Charles Barkley said his famous “I am not a role model. Parents should be role models.” almost 20 years ago.
Recently I posted about 50 Cent’s obnoxious tweets and celebrities that have used the R word. Just the other day, a close friend (whose son has Type 1 Diabetes) sent me a video of Conan O’Brien being “funny” by doing this spoof called Super Diabetic Mario brothers. Lose a foot, get some insulin…it’s hilarious <not>. There’s a bunch of controversy surrounding Daniel Tosh and some alleged jokes he made about rape being funny. All this got me thinking back to my college days and Sir Charles and his famous statement……….what should we expect from our celebrities? Is it reasonable to expect them to be role models, especially when your income is based on your popularity and your visibility?
In a word, yes.
Trish at Yoke: I think all adults are role models for children. If you happen to be famous, then you have a larger audience and a larger reach and therefore more responsibility for your actions and words (the world, quite literally, is watching). Some of the best role models are those who screw up and pick themselves and move forward with dignity and humility.
I could rant for DAYS about how I hate how crazy upside down our world is……it’s just maddening to me that a special ed teacher or a nurse makes 40k a year while a celebrity makes 40k a day, just for playing pretend and getting your hair and make up done. And then some of them have the audacity to say that it’s hard work! Gah! Trying being a nurse’s aide in a nursing home for $8 a hour, if you want to see what real hard work is. I’m starting to rant, so I’d better stop. The system is what it is, and I am just thankful that there are lots of celebrities out there who do use their fame and money and influence for good. When you think of the reach and the influence some of these folks have………it’s just sad that they don’t use it for good. All the time.
I’m not uptight, I’m not a prude. I’m not saying you can’t have fun. Sure, drink it up (responsibly) and have a party. Just don’t drive afterwards. Get to be the best that you can, honestly and ethically (without lying, cheating, stealing or performance enhancing drugs). Trash talk on the court or on the field, we get that that is part of the game. Just don’t use terms like retard or autistic or other disparaging terms off the court or in an interview. You can’t have it both ways………if you want us to always watch you, know who you are….then we’re always going to be watching. Always. Especially in today’s digital age.
I think we ALL need to consider OURSELVES as role models as well. Because you never know who is looking up to you. I look up to other women as mothers, as bloggers. I used to work for a ministry for High School kids – and it was eye opening: high school kids are dying for people to look up to, to lead them. Unfortunately, it’s the ones in the spotlight that catch their eye first. I believe if you seek the limelight as a profession – if you put yourself out there to be famous and notable – then you have the responsibility to be someone worth respecting and being looked up to. Whether you want it or not, people (particularly YOUTH) will look up to you. For the rest of us “Average Joes” – we also need to be people worth looking up to – because just maybe, we can catch those kids before they look to the less-than-savory celebrities. I do agree that we as a society have put celebrities up on too high of a pedestal – which needs to change. But until it is changed, our youth will look to these celebrities because they don’t know otherwise. ~Stephanie from Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom.
I agree with the notion that parents should be the first role models, but we all know that not all parents are good parents (or even good people) and in some communities the kids are just starving for someone to look up to. What they end up finding is celebrities. And while I don’t think that anyone in the public eye should automatically be given celebrity status, I think that if you make money due to your public status, then you at least have the responsibility to not be a jerk. And by jerk, I mean–watch what you say. Why do you have to be funny at the expense of others? Take a hypersecond before you speak, so that you can mold your vocabulary, eliminating words like retard and other insults. In the words of my friend Joey………don’t make my job harder!
I’m sorry-but the fact that Michael Vick is a HERO cause he’s a great football is a bunch of BS. I’m not a crazed dog lover-I do have a dog that I love. But the guy should be OUTTED from ANY professional sport. It’s not a RIGHT. It’s a PRIVILEGE to be an actor, athlete, politician…PRESIDENT….any of it.
Yes, it is the parent responsibility to teach right and wrong but why do I have to work HARDER when my son says to me ‘Mommy, why did he kill dogs? Mom, Dante Stallworth drove drunk and KILLED someone-yet he gets to play football and live his fabulous life?’ Or the countless athletes who committed other heinous crimes. NOT acceptable in my book. And I’ll FOREVER stand by my word. ~Joey Fortman, RealMomMedia
Exactly. If my kids listen to rap, I don’t want to have to explain why 50-Cent said what he said. I don’t want my friend Laura to have to explain to her kids and their friends, who LOVE playing Super Mario Brothers, what Super Diabetic Mario brothers is, and is B going to lose his foot? How about if you guys just stopping being jerks and saying stupid things like that?
And not just to make my life easier, but how about because it’s the right thing to do!
Another blogger chimed in: I was appalled last year, when I learned Marion Jones is out on the speaker circuit, at some pretty big conferences. You know the Olympic champion who took performance enhancing drugs, then lied about it to a grand jury, and ultimately went to jail. She’s now on the speaker circuit with the message that lying is bad, I was wrong, and you can overcome your past. But to my knowledge, she hasn’t done anything redeeming (at least she didn’t speak about it) other than get hired to speak about what she did. To me that’s using her celebrity for the worst. People are only interested in her because she was a champion, and now she’s capitalizing on her deception and jail time.
Susan from Your Professional Writer says: I think that so many of today’s “celebrities” haven’t really contributed to society in a way that warrants celebrating. Which of course is part of the problem. If they’d done things really worth celebrating, then they’d likely hold themselves to that higher standard, right?
I wish I could post all the comments from the Philly Social Media Moms, but this post would just get too lengthy. But it’s all very good food for thought.
Nancy at Defeating the Squirrels says: Maybe it’s because my kids are older but I think as parents we have a responsibility to be our kids’ positive role models and we can’t expect total strangers to help mold our children’s attitudes in a positive way. Yes, one way or another there will be influence, I just don’t think we have the right to insist to a ‘gold standard’ of behavior from people just because they are famous. We do have a right to expect it of ourselves.
And this is where I disagree…because these people basically earn their entire income based on people watching them. If we are not watching what they are doing, they are not popular, they don’t get good paying gigs. It’s really that simple. And if you’re going to earn your keep based on my purchasing a movie ticket, downloading some tunes or tickets to a sporting event…then I do get to have a say. Unfortunately, not enough of us are voting with our wallets. We’ve become too forgiving, but that’s another post for another day.
What do you think?
Edited, October 2012: I’m editing this, because the issue needs to be brought up again, as a celebrity (who really is famous just for being loud and opinionated) used the R word as her go-to insult.
Over 215,000 followers. In under 140 characters, she gave the ok that it’s ok to use this word as an insult. Why is it we can’t insult people or be cheeky or funny, without using a word that is so hurtful to so many?