Is it important for famous people to be role models?
This debate was made popular in 1993 when Charles Barkley on the Phoenix Suns starred in the “I’m not a role model” commercial for Nike. After the initial airing there were several people that positioned themselves on either side of the argument. Charles himself discussed his feelings about the controversial topic with the following statement:
“I think the media demands that athletes be role models because there’s some jealousy involved. It’s as if they say, this is a young black kid playing a game for a living and making all this money, so we’re going to make it tough on him. And what they’re really doing is telling kids to look up to someone they can’t become, because not many people can be like we are. Kids can’t be like Michael Jordan.”
– Charles Barkley
Personally I am an advocate that true role models should start and end with our parents, however I do feel celebrities need to understand their actions are constantly being exposed to the masses. I have been fortunate to have amazing parents that always taught me to get educated, work hard and be the best me I can be, while they provided their guidance and wisdom for me to reach my goals. There were days when I would be upset with them and feel like they were being unfair or not understanding my point of view, but in retrospect they were being parents that were showing me how to succeed in life. I know I was not the only one to hear my parents tell me that I would understand one day or if you can’t hear than you must feel! (My west indian friends must have heard the latter constantly like I did).
The issue has been put back in the spotlight with Chris Brown and Rhianna being rumoured to be reconnecting and remixing each others songs. It has been three years since Chris Brown assaulted Rhianna at a pre-Grammy party, but what message is she sending young people now that are watching their situation closely? I understand that forgiveness is important for all of us, but another thing to remember is that we cannot forget either. Right after the incident and following the latest Grammys their were individuals tweeting that he could beat them any day or it must have been her fault for his actions. Is it just me or is this madness? Listen, famous people should be allowed to make mistakes just like the rest of us, yet they need to try and make a better effort to be role models. Many of us have amazing parents that taught us right from wrong, but unfortunately there are kids out there that idolize only what the celebs are doing. Rhi’s mentor Jay Z has gone on the record to say that he will never forgive Chris for how he treated her, so he cannot comprehend why she has decided to get close with him again. She is grown and do as she pleases but I feel that she and Chris need to go their separate ways as they are confusing people in similar relationship. Who are the voices in their camps? The first song that CB came out with as his comeback song was, “I can transform you.” Should I say more?
I am not saying that we need to burn Chris Brown’s albums or never listen to his songs again, because he is extremely talented and has completed the tasks required under the law for his punishment. He must understand that with his actions that he is under a microscope at all times and should (if he has not already) find ways to better himself by speaking out against bullies, abusers or people making light of criminal acts.
To go back to the question posed as the title of this piece, I feel that famous people need not only be role models, but should use their platform to better themselves and speak out against issues experienced or ones they want to avoid.
To be entirely real, we are all role models to someone, maybe family, friends or someone that is watching from afar. The famous people that we watch on TV or read about in the magazines have the pressure of being scrutinized by many, however if even one person looks up to us, we need to make a concious effort to be the best role model possible.
My name is Danion and I’m a Role Model!