Posted by: nhfalcon | February 7, 2009

Maybe Charles Barkley Was On To Something…

You know, when I first saw this commercial I thought to myself, “This scumbag is just trying to come up with excuses for being a scumbag. If I say ‘I’m not a role model,’ then I can flagrantly foul people, gamble, and do whatever I want, and nobody can say anything about it.”

It wasn’t until I got older and (hopefully) wiser that I realized what he was really saying. He wasn’t trying to write himself a blank check for any future asinine moves he might pull in his life – he was actually trying to help all of the rest of us!

He shouldn’t be a role model. No professional athlete should be a role model. No celebrity of any kind should be a role model. We should not be looking to these people to be shining examples of how to live. We should not be looking to these people to raise our children for us. We should rely on no one but ourselves to get our own shit together and then keep it together. We should rely on no one but ourselves to be parents to our children.

Why shouldn’t celebrities be role models? Because they’re human beings – nothing more, nothing less. They’re just like you and me. They make mistakes, they have flaws, they suffer weaknesses, just like the rest of us. Just because they have more money and fame than the rest of us does not mean they are better than us. 

Given all of that, I think we also might want to lighten up a little bit when celebrities screw up. So Christian Bale went bonkers on his Director of Photography on the set of T4. So what? You’ve never lost your temper for what in retrospect turned out to be a pretty silly reason? He didn’t need to apologize to the rest of the world for that tantrum. He only needed to apologize to one person, and he did that.

So Michael Phelps took a hit off a bong at a party. So what? How many 23-year-olds have done that? If you were him, after all the pressure he’d been through during and since the most recent Olympics, wouldn’t you  have wanted a little something to take the edge off? Again, he didn’t need to apologize to the world. He needed to apologize to his parents, his teammates, and his sponsors.

I have no doubt that Little Man will wind up idolizing somebody (likely many somebodies) as he grows older, and that’s fine – as long as Cookiemaker and I are there along the way to keep things in perspective. If some athlete or actor/actress or musician or author or scientist or politician or whoever captures his fancy, then good (depending upon who that person is, of course – I’d much rather have him idolize Curt Schilling than Manny Ramirez). Cookiemaker and I just have to remember to keep things in perspective for him. That’s our job, not the celebrities’.

Now, before you think I’m the one writing celebrities a blank check, please realize that I do think Barkley forgot one important thing in his little public service announcement. While celebrities shouldn’t be role models, whether they like it or not, they are. They need to realize that because of their fame and fortune their lives are going to be under greater scrutiny than Joe Schmo’s, and, as a result, their foibles are going to be exposed to a greater degree than Joe’s. Sorry, A-Rod, but that’s part of your job description, right up there with hitting a baseball and cheating on your wife with Madonna. You need to accept the fact that if you’re Axl Rose or Amy Winehouse or Lindsay Lohan or Bill Clinton or Bill O’Reilly that your every move is going to be watched. And in the 21st century, that means even moments that you think are private may very well not be, because everybody has a cell phone nowadays, and nowadays every cell phone has a camera. If for no other reason than your own personal reputation, pay a little more attention to what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, ok?

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Responses

  1. Yay! You pretty much preached my sermon. I have said, probably ad nauseum, that I have no use for “celebrities.” I may or may not be entertained by their work (book, movie, painting, athletic endeavor, etc.), but I certainly have no further interest in them, their lives, their goodness or badness.

    I think part of raising a child is helping them with their ability to distinguish between entertainment and value.

    I’m not comfortable with just saying that celebrities maybe shouldn’t be role models “whether they like it or not, they are.” I don’t think parents should exhibit any “fandom,” so that their kids don’t have an example of a trusted person giving credence to the famous.

    I think the term “(fill in the sport) hero” should be expunged from everyone’s vocabulary.

  2. I think role models should be the people in our everyday lives – our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, and mentors. I’m standing right next to you on this one.


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