Saturday, May 17, 2008

Role models

Y'know, sometimes I really don't know what to think of teenagers.
I can't remember who I most admired when I was younger, but my favourite authors and people like Neil Armstrong were high on my list.

I recently read about this survey. Apparently, for under 25s the most admired woman is Amy Winehouse, and second most admired man is Pete Docherty.

For those of you lucky enough not to know of them, this is Amy Winehouse.
She is admittedly a very good singer, but is far better known for being a junkie. Lately, almost every news article about her is discussing her latest unfortunate relationship, or falling drunkenly down the street, or new photos of her takng drugs.

Pete Docherty is a singer and musician who is also best known for being an addict. He has been frequently arrested for various drug and driving offences, but bizarrely has been let off with almost no punishment, until last month when he finally served a few weeks in jail.

Why on earth are these people so admired by teenagers?
Is it just because they're famous?
Is it because their behaviour makes them seem edgy and exciting?

It isn't just this - just look at the obsession with appearing on Pop Idol, X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent et al.
Oh, and speaking of the last, Britain apparently does not have talent.
(I accidentally watched some of tonight's show...)

Kids seem to be willing to miss classes, exams and so on just for the chance to be mocked by a 'celebrity' judge in the vain hope that they'll get their fifteen minutes of fame before tumbling back to obscurity. According to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, many of their pupils' greatest ambition is to be a singer or actress, and some just want to be a WAG (footballer's wife or girlfriend).
What happened to wanting respect and recognition for their own talents?

There seems to be an ever-increasing idea that anything that doesn't lead to fame isn't worth pursuing.



At 10:03 pm, Blogger Hieronymous Anonymous said...

Sing it, (big) sister!

However, do remember that there have always been teenagers who idolise really crappy people, and that there are always those who don't - who appreciate authors, artists, scientists and the like.

I'm not saying that I think this isn't becoming more prevelant - I think the popularity of reality shows, and the people therein are a sign - but it's not like it's a new phenomena.

And I don't think Amy Winehouse is even a good singer, for what that's worth...

At 11:15 pm, Blogger Rebecca said...

I'm wondering if perhaps it isn't so much 'admiring' or 'idolizing' these people, but perhaps part of this is a realization that even those who 'seem' to be going somewhere are no better and maybe even worse than the teens who appear to be watching them. I remember being a teen and even though it was a very long time ago now, I often felt like a complete misfit and mistake. Seeing and reading about these others made me feel better about myself, that I was not only NOT unique, but in many ways better off than others. I realized that 'hey if THEY can do this, then so can I, and maybe I can even do it better'.

At 11:17 pm, Blogger Rebecca said...

hmmmm, maybe I should make what I just said a bit more clear... meaning that if THEY can do this -be famous (not a junkie), have talent enough to be recognized (NOT being locked up), maybe I could be someone worthwhile after all....and even better than the ones who are all glitter and glamour but underneath even worse than I felt.... does that make sense???

At 11:53 pm, Blogger Mouse said...

It makes a lot more sense now I've read your second comment! ;-)

At 12:58 am, Blogger Nettie said...

Mouse, take some solace in the fact that not every teenager was surveyed and so perhaps it's the ones with half a brain that idolize authors and scientists et al that thought 'I'm not wasting my time with a ridiculous survey, I have more important things to do'.

At 12:59 am, Blogger Nettie said...

I just had to leave another comment because the word verification for this was 'geekf'.


At 3:15 am, Blogger Shawna said...

I remember that even though I liked to listen to musicians, I didn't want to know all the trashy stuff going on in their lives. It seemed so sad to me that they apparently had everything going for them, and they were just throwing it away. I'm sure there are kids out there now who feel the same way.

At 1:15 pm, Blogger MadCarlotta said...

I am just waiting for the backlash to all this crap.

There is always a backlash, right? Right?

Right? 0_o

At 9:35 am, Blogger LaMa said...

Like Hieronymus, I feel teenagers have always idolized people not in control of their lives. Think Janice Joplin, Elvis Presley, Sid Vicious, to name a few which eventually met sad fates because of this.

The reasons behind it are very complex. Young people (indeed young mammals in general) generally have a desire to scout the borders of danger: but not all have the guts to go all through that border or even beyond it. Idolizing people who do, is then a solution to channel some of that thrill.

Moreover, young people in general feel not (yet) in place in society, so they tend to venerate people who stand out of society by kicking againsts it. It's the phenomena that led to the Hippie movement, to Punk, to Goth and Gangsta.

That said: current society indeed puts an overly large emphasis on appearance and celebrity status. The superficial is being pushed more than ever. Welcome to the Paris Hilton era. In the old days you had to do something for that (like going to the moon, as Neil Armstrong did) that required dedication. Todays acces to all sort of media creates the impression that nowadays you can do the same via a faster track. Which is an illusion of course. As you wrote: Britain has not got talent, as in general talent only fruits when you also have dedication (and of course, you first have to really have talent, instead of imagining it). So all these aspiring people trying a fast-track fall back into oblivion after their 5 minutes of being ridiculed.


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