When I was growing up I had no role models – well no famous ones at least. There were no posters of sports stars and celebrities who inspired me – though I am ashamed to admit Akshay Kumar adorned the back of my door for a brief period. (An episode I can only blame on the effect of artificial food colourings on a child’s brain). Back to the topic at hand though.
I did have role models in my family though – I admired my sister’s dedication to her studies, my father’s cool head and my mother’s way with people. There was the uncle upstairs who could identify every raga known to classical music and a Sanskrit teacher who was the epitome of knowledge and goodness. But I wasn’t one for knowing what was so-and-so’s favourite food, what what’s-his-name’s dog was called, or how many shoes her-name-fails me had. But that was just me I guess.
While the rest of my generation idolised sports stars and the odd thespian, today’s children look up to a whole host of pr-savvy, media packaged stars from every field imaginable. Footballers and their wives are revered and worshipped everywhere. But how accountable can we hold them?
After their recent Ashes victory the England Cricket team went on a 24 hour partying binge. The papers splashed pictures of a red-eyed Freddy Flintoff holding an assortment of alcoholic beverages and cigars, being supported by team mates as he stumbled in to No 10. While most people felt that it was a well-earned celebration, there was a section of the media and public that felt that Mr. Flintoff was setting a poor example to all those kids who thought of him as a hero.
Even more recently, Kate Moss has been all over the tabloids and telly for snorting cocaine and having lesbian threesomes with others of the infamous Primrose Hill Set. The 31 year old supermodel is said to spend £200 a day on coke and her on again off again druggie boyfriend doesn’t help matters. After the grainy images of Ms. Moss snorting lines off a CD were published, the media was sure that her million pound contracts with Dior, Burberry and H&M would be under threat. While the former two fashion houses have not made any comments regarding the incident, H&M initially supported Moss and said that they had no intention of terminating her £1 million dollar contract. But in a sudden volte-face a day later they issued a statement saying that they had had to let go of her as her actions were in conflict with their no-drugs stance. A wise move, as most of their clientele are young teenage girls who already think that Ms Moss rocks.
But is it fair? As much as we all bitch about them, celebs do have a tough time. How would we like it if our every move was scrutinised, our every outfit attacked and every aspect of our life dissected. Would making millions every year make up for having a messy divorce and custody battle becoming tabloid fodder? Should a role-model status be foisted on celebs who – lets face it have no business being role models? I mean seriously, other than being blessed with great cheekbones and a photogenic face what has Miss Moss got to teach kids? It’s the media that makes these celebs out as demi-gods and the same media that snatches the pedestals away from under their rather fit rear ends.
It’s hard enough being a teenager today. For many of them, as sad and pathetic as it sounds, these celebrities are the only people they have to look up to. But who should we blame? Celebs who don’t take being a role model seriously? The media for
over–hyping anyone with a modicum of success in their chosen field? Kids for not being more discerning in their choices? Or parents for not providing their children with someone to look up to closer home?
All this makes me very grateful for the role models I had growing up. I know their birthdays, what their favourite food is and till date none of them have had a not-so-secret drug habit. Thanks for not screwing up Mom and Dad.
UPDATE The media frenzy continues...all the tabloids today reported that Miss Moss has been dropped by Burberry, Chanel and possibly Vanderbilt Jeans. The head of the Met POlice Sir Ian Blair wants to get personally involved with a case investigating her drug habits, and social workers are going to see whether she's a fit parent or not. 'Cocaine Kate' and 'Kate Cracking up' are the buzz words of the day...