Friday, August 13, 2010

Celebrity-itis?

By Lonnie Cruse

Hubby is watching tennis on television and I just spotted a rather ancient Queen Elizabeth and an even more aged Prince Phillip in the crowd. In a private box, of course. Well away from the masses. Mercy, I remember when she was first crowned as Queen of England, and then riding along in that fancy carriage to the palace. Quite a few decades ago.

Queen Elizabeth never set many trends nor did she come anywhere near the popularity of her late daughter-in-law, Princess Di. Still, she draws attention and crowds.

In this country we have a mania for celebrities. People stand in line for hours to meet a celebrity. Celebrity look-alikes are everywhere, and Elvis will never be truly gone as long as someone is willing to wear long hair, a white outfit, and wiggle his hips. We wait for hours on end just to watch some star's new movie. Folks actually camped out in tents on the parking lots of theaters to see the latest in the Twilight series. I like vampire movies, but I'm not THAT hardy.

What worries me is that many celebrities don't seem to take seriously the responsibility that goes with this fame. The examples some set are certainly not good for our young people to see. Having to wear alcohol bracelets to monitor behavior? Taking time off to visit personally with avowed enemies of our country and our freedoms? Domestic violence charges. Rape charges. Jail time for shoplifting, drunk driving, etc? Are these really people we should be admiring, idolizing, drooling over? Paying good money to see their latest work, which supports their bad habits?

Yes, there are MANY celebrities to admire. Actors and actresses who move out (literally or figuratively) of the Hollywood scene, who live their lives with dignity, staying out of trouble and behaving like responsible citizens of our country. And we need to support them. But the time was when a celebrity behaved poorly and set a lousy example, that celebrity soon found him/herself permanently out of work and out of favor. It isn't that way today, at least not much. It happens, but not as often as it should.

All I'm saying is, we have a lot of young kids in this country who see some celebrities behaving poorly, setting poor examples, and they see the rest of us either applauding them on, or simply not reacting. Do we really want our kids following these examples? Thinking domestic violence is okay because the accused is popular and cute? Thinking drinking and driving and having an accident is okay because a popular celeb did it and got away with it? And on and on.

We can't do a lot about the behavior of celebs beyond refusing to spend money on their movies or refusing to watch their television shows and hope the resulting loss of income somewhere down the line makes an impression. But we CAN teach our kids that becoming famous doesn't give anyone the right to abuse the rights of others or endanger them. WE can set the proper example. By our behavior. By refusing to support those who behave outrageously. Just my two cents for this week.

6 comments:

Sheila Connolly said...

Apparently there's no school for "How to be a good celebrity."

I agree with you: with fame comes responsibility. When you're a public figure, you can be an effective agent, for good or bad.

When the Dixie Chicks took on George Bush publicly, with "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" I made a point of buying the CD, although I'd never bought one of theirs, because I respected that they were willing to risk their popularity for something they believed strongly.

I believe that album went on to win the Grammy for Best Album that year.

lil Gluckstern said...

Amen, Lonnie, amen.

Julia Buckley said...

Remember what Hollywood and the world did to poor Ingrid Bergman? Today her affair would be considered tame.

Sandra Parshall said...

You're so right about Bergman, Julia. That sort of situation is routine now. The 50-something Charlie Chaplin might still get some flak for taking up with teenage Oona O'Neill, but he wouldn't have to flee the country because of it.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Very interesting!

SallieB said...

Way to Go, Lonnie! You are spot on in every word!