In this country we have a very large celebrity culture, and it sometimes seems as though people can become a ‘celebrity’ for not really achieving anything at all. Kim Kardashian anyone? Just take a look at the magazine covers next time you’re walking down the street, chances are a reality star, or celeb scandal will adorn the front cover.
So where are all the people who are in the public eye for actually achieving something? Why aren’t authors, sport stars, or entrepreneurs getting magazine covers? Why aren’t actors and models on the front cover for promoting charities not just for topless photos or shopping sprees?
Probably because that’s boring and won’t sell magazines.
But why is that? Why is it that people who in society we try and ensure our children don’t end up like, such as the people on “Jersey Shore”, or the women on “The Real Housewives” franchise, who treat each other horribly in the most part, are the ones given the most attention by the media? Is the message we are sending to the kids of today that being on tv is the end game, that it is the mark of achievement?
Sport starts are always being blasted by the media for not acting like the role models they are to kids, when they get drunk, post racy pictures on the internet, or do a ‘Tiger’. That is because, being a role model comes with the territory for athletes, as sport is a big part of not just American life, but societies around the world, and thus athletes are expected to act as such. The same does not seem to apply to reality television stars though. The women on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for instance are applauded for public cat-fighting, and have become instant tabloid successes for it. Snooki from Jersey Shore, who despite being arrested for public drunkeness and being described as a ‘wannabe Lindsay Lohan’, (which, due to LiLo’s current emotional state, is probably not a shining character reference), has become so famous she was asked to be involved in the ball drop in Times Square on New Years Eve, although this plan was thankfully dropped at the last minute. Take original Atlanta housewive DeShawn Snow, who ran a foundation, highlighted her charities on the program, and tried not to involve herself in the drama of the other ladies. But, she was axed from the program, for displaying a lack of drama, and ‘being too human for a circus show’.
So why is it, that we just accept their bad behavior, but condemn others in the same public position for theirs?
People are very quick to just write it off and say that reality tv is just a guilty pleasure and nobody takes it seriously, so it doesn’t matter how the people act, because people are just watching for enjoyment, not for life tips, whereas it is accepted that sport stars are role models to kids. While I agree that the majority of people tuning in every week to see who Snooki will get in a fight with, what insane thing will come out of Kim’s mouth, and just how much Sheree loves herself, are just watching for fun, the influence they and their shows can have on some people can’t, I repeat, can’t, be ignored. Just look at the stats, last weeks episode for The Real Housewives of Atlanta, was the highest rated program of the night, averaging 2.3 million viewers, winning every demographic. Fox News Channel (FNC) however, had an average primetime news audience of 944,000 per day only.
When I was young and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was answers like ‘doctor’, ‘marine biologist’, or ‘dancer’ that I gave. But when I asked my 9 year old cousin recently what she wanted to be when she grew up all she said was ‘famous’. How can it be argued that people don’t take the celeb infested culture seriously when young kids in America are wanting to grow up and just be ‘famous’ like the Paris Hilton’s, Kim Kardashian’s, Kendra Wilkinson’s and NeNe Leakes’ of the world?
What we need to be highlighting through the media is people that can actually provide positive role models, and not people who just reinforce the stereotype of greed, egocentrism and materialism. Although I understand that television is mostly for entertainment only, we as a society need to be more vigilant in what we demand from the media, and what we will watch and let our families watch, which hopefully in turn will bring some integrity back into the notion of ‘celebrity’, so that the nine year old girls of the world will aim higher than merely being famous.