Monday, February 13, 2012

Role Models

Whitney Houston died on Saturday, February 11th at age 48.

She’s being touted as a role-model for young black girls.

I never liked Charles Barkley when he was a Philadelphia Seventy-Sixer, or ever, actually. I always thought he was a smart-mouth arrogant asshole. But I loved one of his quotes: When media idiots called him a role-model he said, “I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids.”

Similarly, just because Whitney Houston could sing and became a pop-music idol does not mean she is a role model for youngsters. She was a talented singer, and a not-too-bad actress. But she also was an unstable drug-addict who needed to go into rehab time-after-time.

Ignoring her flaws and calling her a role model reminds me of a comment I recently received on Facebook. I had roundly decried a chain-letter type post. The postee commented that if I didn’t like something, I should just ignore it.

Ignoring things we do not like is neither helpful nor effective.

We cannot opt to pick-and-choose character attributes when we call people role models for our youngsters.

Role models for adults are different from role models for kids. An adult who has been in jail and who has become a pillar of his community, or a recovered drug-addict may very well be seen as a role model for adults with similar problems. But to point to Whitney Houston who never conquered her demons and say she is a role model for young black girls makes celebrity a god and excuses egregiously bad life choices as mere peccadilloes.

And another thing…must we suffer through days and days and days of media attention on celebrities or well-known people who die? I was sick of Joe Paterno before he died. The blockbuster media death orgies for him made me hate him. I have found Whitney Houston's life tiresome for many years. I don’t like her any better now that I cannot escape the media's obsession with her death.

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