Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Who Decided that Celebrities Were Obligated to Be Your Child's Role Model?

Today on Twitter, as I scrolled down my tweet list, a particular one caught my eye. A woman asked why, since Marilyn Monroe was a drug abuser and died of a drug overdose (which is still hotly debated), do so many girls look up to her as a role model. I wanted to answer her question, but since it was Twitter, I didn't have enough space to tell her exactly what I thought. If I had, I would have answered her by asking, "And what makes you think that she was obligated to live her life according to your expectations?"

Celebrities aren't role models, they're celebrities. They get to be celebrities because they're movie stars, musicians, or sports figures, or politicians, or sometimes for no reason at all other than they're spoiled rich girls who have a reality T.V. show. Celebrities are created by the public and they're often people who we wouldn't necessarily choose as role models for ourselves or our children. And since it's the public who has given them their
celebrity status (often for acting in ways that is less than role-model worthy), why do we put them up on pedestals and insist that they live their private lives according to our moral and ethical standards?

If I might make an observation here, I don't believe girls look to Marilyn Monroe so much as a role model as they admire her for her physical beauty and her mega-celebrity status. Marilyn is more than a celebrity, she's an icon. She was never "role model" material nor did she ever pretend to be. She was a sex pot, blonde bombshell and she used it to her advantage. She had affairs with the most powerful men on earth, and she was never a "good girl".

Marilyn Monroe wasn't Mother Theresa, nor did she ever pretend or wish to be. Nor did she ever expect to be your little girl's role model.

© K. Lynette Erwin, 2014

1 comment :

  1. Brava!

    Between the public and the "starmaker machinery", as Joni Mitchell called it, celebrities are continually put at a disadvantage. It is also applied to politicians and anyone else who finds themselves in the public eye.

    These are people like the rest of us. It is the public who deems them to have been somehow appointed by Divine Right and thus models for the rest of us. The problem is, they are held up to standards that we ourselves don't, or can't, live up to. Seriously, if people who look to celebrities as role models would apply that expectation on themselves instead, the world might be a better place!