In the last week, we have seen videos emerge showing members of One Direction smoking what appears to be cannabis, and Justin Bieber telling a racist joke to friends; while both of these acts are absolutely deplorable, they do raise the issue of just who in society should be held up as a role model?
We certainly cannot trust politicians to act as role models; they are deceitful and manipulating, as well as have often been revealed to have unsavoury personal lives by means of affairs and expenses claims. Footballers are equally off the list; we have seen biting, racism, drink driving and accusations of match fixing. Musicians have never been great figures to aspire to; drugs, promiscuity and a disdain for respect have become the counterpart of stardom.
What makes the most recent videos so disturbing is that these people are almost worshiped by exclusively young audiences; Bieber’s video was taken prior to his fame, so while being completely reprehensible, it was somewhat understandable that he was not trying to set a poor example. One Direction are aware of their level of influence on their followers, so it is unfathomable as to how they believed they could fail to see the potential repercussions of their actions.
…drugs, promiscuity and a disdain for respect…
So who should we aspire to emulate, or at least elevate to a position of respect? Local figures are by far the greatest example of positive role models; every person had a teacher that never gave up on them; an older friend who was respected; a football coach who instilled laudable values. Role models are not extinct, but we are seeing the wrong people being held up as shining beacons of light in a dark room; One Direction and Justin Bieber have displayed disregard to the responsibilities that accompany fame; when you are in a position to set a good example to younger people, it is your responsibility to do so. An abundance of deserving role models exists in this society, yet they are hidden and ignored by society’s interest in the rich and famous.
The insatiable desire to understand the deepest and darkest secrets of a celebrity has created so many negative examples; rock stars have been vilified for decades for this behaviour, yet technology now means that it is almost impossible for these actions to go under the radar. Pop stars are not rock stars, they are supposedly far more clean cut in their image, yet smartphones and digital cameras mean that any discretion can be captured and circulated; every action could now enter the public eye.
…One Direction and Justin Bieber have displayed disregard to the responsibilities that accompany fame…
The unhealthy obsession with celebrity lifestyles is unlikely to stop, but there is a chance of salvation; children should aspire to positive role models who are rewarded for their behaviour, not negative examples that are given far more attention. Sensationalism will always sell papers or get cursor clicks, but praising positivity is where the solution is for the threat to children’s aspirations.