Where have all the role models gone?

The concept of the role model has taken a significant beating. Once upon a time, positive role models included athletes, policemen, movie stars, our political and religious leaders, and even our mothers and fathers. In many ways those concepts have stayed much the same. It is just that most of those icons can hardly be considered positive any more, by any stretch of the imagination.

Athletes? The highest profile athletes are in that exalted position due to their arrest records. Wife beating. Drug dealing. Drug usage. Dog execution. And that is not to mention their egotistical, narcissistic, strip-club hanging, gangsta-dressing, tough-guy-acting, braggadocio-heavy lifestyles. Yet, these people are paid million of dollars to act like hoodlums and more often than not are bailed out by their teams and expensive lawyers, while we are encouraged by the marketing campaigns of major corporations (who also pay athletes millions of dollars) to treat these thugs like heroes.

Policemen? How many times can you watch the video of four or five uniformed policemen beating on a handcuffed man before you see that there are bad policemen? How many off-duty shootings of innocent people does it take? How many stories like the Downtown LA gang unit corruption does it take before you stop implicitly trusting policemen? Yet policemen are still put forth as tough guys beyond the law in books, movies, and even by the same news shows that sensationalize the bad cops, and they have come to epitomize personal power, even though the most legal power most of them will ever wield comes from a radar gun and a ticket book.

Movie stars and celebrities? You have to be kidding me. Let’s just look at a few names. Paris Hilton the attractive imbecile. Madonna the flaky nude. Britney Spears the slovenly singer. Mel Gibson the racist. Rap stars? Media-hyped hoodlums that have usurped black culture. This list could go on forever. But, like the athletes, they make a lot of money. They throw their weight around. They are bad, dude, bad to the bone. And yet we keep these people in the limelight for our youth to emulate.

Our leaders? Don’t get me started. George Bush, the megalomaniac? Catholic cardinals, the priestly pedophiles? Just do a Google search on the words “political scandal.” You will get over 2.5 million hits. And it is getting difficult to count the number of religious leaders that rail against prostitutes and gays on Sunday morning and then consort very closely indeed with prostitutes and, yes, even gay prostitutes during the rest of the week. Both prostitutes and gays, by the way, deserve much better company. But these lying leaders are rich, and they are powerful, and therefore they are promoted as role models, despite their duplicity.

And I guess that is what it comes down to in our society. What the American public persona values is money and power, period. As long as you have money or power, or both, it is no longer important what sort of person you are or how many laws you had to break, or how many people you had to hurt, to get your money and power. That is simply disgusting.

Are there good cops? You bet there are. About 100 to one. They just don’t get any media coverage. Are there athletes that don’t feel that they have to act like gangsters? Maybe, somewhere, but they appear to be few and far between. Are there top-level politicians and religious leaders that don’t have major flaws? If there are, they are hiding pretty well.

So what is the answer? Well, we could go back to using Mom and Dad as role models. They may not be rich and powerful, but they have gotten us this far. Further, we could stop paying bad little boys that play pointless games millions of dollars to do it. Even further, we could elect people to public office who care about the country and the voters more than they care about themselves and the corporations that have purchased them. That would make a good start at a solution. And maybe somewhere along the line, we could pay the teachers of our children as much as we pay mediocre major league shortstops. That would signal that we have come a long, long way back to real reality.


Where have all the role models gone? — 2 Comments

  1. Hi, I found my way here via your mybloglog profile on Geeknews.

    I’m not sure of the purpose of the post, though it may just be venting on society which is cool. Try to follow the logic here, it’ll circle around…

    The main role models should be mom/dad/teacher, possibly close neighbors can be bucketized into this group as well. Basically these are the adults that will have the largest span of attention of the kids (coach of the kid’s soccer team for instance falls into the ‘teacher’ bucket as well in my opinion). But even then you can find many examples of where mom/dad went bad (in the news all the time) or the teacher turned into a pervert (ditto).

    We can find fault with all classes of people in society from cops to the newspaper delivery man to the priest and i think it’s always been that way, back in the 50’s, or back a hundred years ago or beyond. So i’m not sure what point your making other than venting on society for being so screwed up. In that case I’m with you, where’s the petition for me to sign to start the initiative to fix this mess? Really, there’s no fixing it, I don’t like that fact but i’ve lost faith that society is fixable when it’s society that dictates for the whole ‘what is good’, ‘what is bad’ and ‘what is acceptable’.

    The problem we have today is that western society is all too willing to move ‘bad’ into the ‘acceptable’ category with a stipulation ‘that bad thing better stop happening and not become a trend’. Yet we do nothing when we see the trend, by the time the trend is noticed it’s too late to unwind the mess, so we move the bar up to the new level of what defines ‘bad’.

    It’s the hard core societies such as Islam where, for the most part, you do not see the type of screwed-up personal morals. Of course, this brings another level of baggage with it for the one-off radical ultra-hard core freaks that kill innocent people in the name of their society (or the god honored by their society).

    Which brings us back to western society that has migrated so far to the liberal side of allowing bad people to do bad things as long as the damage they are incurring is to themselves and a select few unlike a radical muslim that blows up many innocents. So in this one comparison, a westerner can say ‘wow, that’s a whole new level of bad, as long as we’re not doing that, we’re good’. And the bar has been raised yet again as to what society can get away with.

  2. Wow, Andy, thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to really reply to the post. There is a certain amount of venting being done; it occasionally saves my wife from standing in the way of my steam. ;o) But there really is a point.

    I will certainly agree that mom, dad, and the rest of your list tend to be good role models for our kids. The odds of finding respectable people among that group is really darned good. I don’t know what the odds are, but let’s call them 25 to 1, in favor.

    Then let’s look at the potential role models that are being sold to those same kids, from the crib on up, by television, billboards, radio, music, you name it. They see people that have gotten rich for talents that do very little to enhance society. Athletes are not as important as teachers, period. But they attain wealth and power way out of proportion to their societal worth. And they are always on-screen somewhere, acting out, getting busted, getting put in jail. The odds of finding a good role model, from Paris Hilton to Michael Vick to a pederast Cardinal, are about 1,000 to one, against.

    And that, Andy, is the point. We need to quit paying big boys that play games the huge bucks. We need to quit paying attention, period, to the likes of Paris Hilton. And we need to start paying a lot of attention to the ethical fiber of the people that we elect to public office. We need to take our money and our attention and focus it instead on where it will do some good.

    You may have given up on that, but I wish that you would reconsider. If the majority of us refused to pay $200 to take our son to a ball game, the insane salaries would start to come down. If the majority of us didn’t read stories about Ms. Hilton, or watch her shows, or gossip about her, she would just fade away. And if the majority of us cared enough to weed out the low-ethics political candidates, the good guys of both parties would win in a landslide, because the rest of the people don’t vote at all.

    So I urge you Andy, sign this petition in you head and your heart. Just do those three things and you will find more on your own. We can fix this if we work at it.

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