Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | December 18, 2009

Are Celebrities Supposed to be Role Models? I dont think so


With all the ballyhoo about Tiger Woods all over the tabloids, I can’t stop but wonder why today’s celebrities are required to lead squeaky-clean, scout-like lives. Sure, one can say that “scandal sells,” but why is it that these days when a famous person screws up, he or she had to go on an ‘apology

tour’ and begin showing signs of having found God or something like that? It’s not like most of us

expect them to be role models or anything like that.

Things were certainly like that in the past. Take for example Frank Sinatra, who pretty much schtupped anyone he wanted without much consequence, even when he was married to Ava Gardner (come to think of it, he dumped his first wife to be with her. And don’t get me started on his marriage to Mia Farrow). The same goes with other Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and specially Warren Beatty, who only quieted down after meeting Annette Bening when he was in his late forties.

Don’t forget that fact that all of them had their little vices: Richard Burton, Gardner and Grace Kelly all drank themselves into a stupor while on the sets of their films. For example, during the making of Pandora, Kelly was having an affair with Clark Gable and while bored she would check out the (ahem) endowments of African males working as extras on the film. Everyone knew what was going on, but there was no need to purge – after all, these were stars that were expected to misbehave, unlike common everyday folk. Also, their handlers shielded their shenanigans from the media – could you imagine Rock Hudson being kept in the closet for that long in today’s atmosphere? Even Hollywood insiders were in on these stories, but kept them from the public in exchange for access.

Nowadays, things are quite different: a drunken Kanye West made a scene at the VMAs and wound up getting his tour (with Lady Gaga) cancelled as part of the backlash, even after being dragged before the talk-show cameras to apologize for his actions. Ha hard-partying Britney Spears was forced to go to rehab and prove that she had changed before she could have her own comeback after having a very public breakdown in 2008. Last summer her tour was a hit – but in exchange she had to relinquish control of practically every aspect of her life (according to a report published on Rolling Stone a few months back).

If you ask me, I think that we have become a tad too British in our obsession with celebrities’ private lives. As for me, as long as an artist did not abuse, hurt or kill anyone, whatever he or she chooses to do

while out of the spotlight is of no concern to me. I don’t expect artists to be role models (remember the criticism Madonna got when she first got pregnant at 40 years of age? Some people actually wrote that she might be setting a bad example to teen girls — please!!!) That is why I never stopped watching Woody Allen films or enjoying Chris Rock’s comedy. Their personal lives have zero influence on me, and I don’t think it should have any impact on others’ either.

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