On Fridays I get out of work about the same time that school lets out for younger students. My subway ride home is filled with kids of all different ages, shapes, sizes and races who remarkably all look exactly the same. Every single Friday, I can find at least one girl rocking a Miley backpack, some leggings and lots and lots of lip gloss.
It’s a comforting constant in my life, much like passing a Starbucks on every corner or finding an episode of Sex and the City on at any time of night. I’ve come to expect it, even enjoy the high pitched squeals, sickeningly sweet smell of body spray, and live rendition of “See You Again.” But after catching a clip of Sean Hannity praising Kim Kardashian for her role model status in young girls’ lives, I started thinking about the idea of celebrities as role models.
I was left with a lot of questions, the most obvious being: does the fact that Kim Kardashian isn’t a hot drunken mess like the rest of young Hollywood really make her a role model? I mean, has Sean Hannity seen the sex tape that made her famous? And what does she do exactly that young girls should look up to? Her reality show? Her curvy body?
It took me a few moments (and a couple shots of whiskey) to get past the idea of Sean Hannity doing “research” in front of his laptop in a dark room at midnight, and once I did I still had no idea what to think. The whole celebrity-as-role-model thing has me totally torn up.
On the one hand, my biggest fear may soon be realized: a generation of Mini Mileys all grown up. Slim girls in blond wigs walking around chomping on gum and talking with a Southern twang. It’s an image that haunts my dreams.
But I know how irrational that is; I mean, I grew up along with Britney and I’ve yet to shave my head or pump out two babies, so who’s to say girls aren’t smarter than we give them credit for? Maybe people aren’t looking to celebrities to learn how to behave, but actually learn how not to behave. Maybe watching Lindsay Lohan wither away to nothing isn’t inspiring kids to diet, but rather showing the world of impressionable kids that it’s not cute to skip a meal…every day….for a month.
And isn’t it a parent’s job to sort out the good stuff from the bad? To explain to their kids that it’s OK to be an innocent and well-mannered teenager (a la Taylor Swift) and totally not OK to get drunk and show off your panties (a la everyone else in Hollywood)? But at the same time, if we leave the parenting to the actual parents, does that leave celebrities off the hook? Again, I’m perplexed. I can’t even sort out my own thoughts!
What I do know is that no one in the spotlight signed up to mold the minds of an entire demographic, yet it’s something that comes with the job (kind of like celebrity stalkers, papparrazzi, and free gift bags, except, you know, more heart-warming). Everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and it’s only celebrities who are forced to do so on the cover of Us Weekly. I can see how that could be a lot of pressure – lord knows I wouldn’t want some of my not-so-finest moments caught on camera and smeared all over the media. But at the same time, is it really that hard to remember how to put on a pair of underwear?
Come on, celebrities, you can’t control everything but you can control some things, and I’m pretty sure undies fall into the latter category.
I know it’s unfair to ask people to change who they are simply because young people are impressionable, but young people are impressionable. They haven’t learned their own god awful, embarrassing, I-will-never-do-that-ever-again, lessons and I don’t think they should have to just yet.
As you can see I’m still a bit torn. I’m not even sure where I stand on the topic.
What about you? Do you think celebs should be more careful as role models?