Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On a pedestal

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...

17 comments:

Shyam said...

Hey, celebs are celebs because they WANT to be in the limelight. They cant have it both ways... I mean, they cant expect only favourable publicity. If they've got dirty linen, it's gotta come out :)

I'll say I agree with you about the role models I had growing up... my dad, my mom, my cousins. And thank goodness for that! (I admit to a sneaking adoration of Amitabh Bachchan, though.)

Sujatha said...

SF, your thoughts on this topic reflect mine exactly. Just because a person is good at one thing, is successful at it and makes a lot of money being successful at it doesn't make him/her a role model. It is unfair to them. If a celebrity willingly takes on that role, more power to him. And you're right, parenting plays a huge role in this.

ammani said...

Not all of us are lucky enough to have family and friends we can look up to. So young people take to idolising celebrities who are often portrayed by media to have 'made it'. Where the meaning of success is confined to 'being rich' and 'being famous'. Celebs too court media when it suits them. Selling exclusive photos of their weddings and holidays etc. So once they've decided to sell out their lives, they cannot go back and say, you can only write what's good about me and not when I'm snorting cocaine. I'm rambling...

Anonymous said...
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TomCruiseChellum said...

How about the following role models?
1. TomCruiseChellum
2. Swami RameswaranandaavdhoothaTheertha Bahadurji
3. UpperHand Ammachu
Now for a few negative role models
1. Kuchi
2. Saddam Hussein (the original and the dulipicate)
But if you do metta the meditation of loving kindness, category 1 and category 2 will seemlessly blend into one category for that purpose and for the purpose of loka samastha sukhino bhavanthu
But for being role models, no. No chance

krishna rautela said...

nobody is a celebrity unless he is made into one... it is the public who craves celebrities and makes them. just i imagine our little howmtown local celebrities... their legends told by little kids, magnified 10 folds with each rendition.

in the end everyone is imperfect. gandhi ji screwed up with his family life while he went around becoming mahatma...

i guess public deserves what they get...

Sakshi said...

Its a classic case where...how do i put this...hmmmmmm....yup.

Its like a knife...i mean a knife in a surgeon's hand will save a life...whereas a knife in a murderer's hand will take a life.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

shyam - i agree, but still it must be awful to have a walk in the park with your dog a matter of national interest

sujatha - exactly...the problems start when the media starts foisting celebs with 'role model' titles and the celebs think they have better things to do than be one

ammani - feel free to ramble on my blog anytime!

tc - u'd make a fab role model - if you're not one already that is :)

krishna - please tell me how i deserve jordan and peter andre :D

sakshi - hmm in this case it;s a joint in someones hand :))

Kiwilakhs said...

Shoe,

Hi, first time here, came thro Shyam's blog. And I have to agree with Shyam (althought I don't always do that;). They just can't have it both ways. And ny experience has been that publicity is another drug most celebs (you will note I don't say all) can't get enough of, wherther is a good or bad.
As for role models, put me in the 'lucky ones' list!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Point to note - kids nowadays, when asked what they want to be, say "A celebrity". Doean't matter how.

Were we the same? Don't think so. Your take?

J.A.P.

Sakshi said...

Talking about role-models....

take a look at this...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050923/en_afp/colombiabritainun_050923001254%3b_ylt=A9FJqZLeezNDjhUBlQQmncUF%3b_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

kiwilakhs - thanks for dropping by... you're right alot of celebs are addicted to the amount of coverage they get - and don't mind going to any lenghts to get it

JAP - completely agree with you... most of us answered doctor, engineer,etc when asked what we anted to be when we grew up. kids today seem more interested in being famous - at any cost.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

sakshi - interesting link... lets just hope she doesn't punch anyone when she's there. do want to point out that when models lend their support to charities they get flak from the press who say they're only doing it for publicity... guess they can't win either way

krishna rautela said...

as for peter andre and other such androids...i guess we must blame the neighbours...( though we have mallika sherawat who has done it all by herself)

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Mali&Madhu said...

HEY!!! What's wrong with Akshay Kumar? How many waiters turned karate black belts turned Bollywood actors do you know? Personally I find that inspirational? Not to mention that he married into Dimple Kapadia's gene pool which gives him some bonus points... (although the last only as far as men, who have seen a lot of 70s and 80s Hindi movies, are concerned I guess..)

Erik Mann said...

another great post...cool blog...erik