I woke up this morning to news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death due to an apparent drug overdose. I was sad and upset- unreasonably so as I did not know him at all, except for his acting. What an ignominious and inglorious way to go, I thought. This thinking led to the broader question- why do celebrities behave in this manner, time and again? Instead of being role models to the younger generation, they are often caught behaving in the most irresponsible manner.
I am of the view that celebrities should be role models. Many people don’t feel so. They think that celebrities are in the business of entertaining, singing, acting, playing their sport, or whatever the case may be. Many feel that they have no real responsibility other than doing their job well. I don’t think so- when a person gets into public domain and earns fame and money because of his/her presence there, he owes it to the people in the domain to behave responsibly. In many cases, they are spokespersons for brands and people buy those brands because of the endorsement by the celebrity. This means that we as the people who buy those products/brands are indirectly paying them. Should they not feel a moral responsibility to behave well? Famous people are not just like you and me. They cannot do what they want. People like Justin Bieber, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus cannot behave the way they do- there are millions of kids watching them and emulating them and their behaviour accordingly has to be worthy of being emulated.
It is felt that parents should be their childrens’ role models, not celebrities- parents might be their children’s first role models, but as kids age, they are influenced by mass media and are bombarded with an array of images of celebrities, including actors, musicians, pop stars, dancers, athletes and sports stars. A child in primary-school is obsessed with Hannah Montana, a middle school-aged child loves Miley Cyrus and an older teen may love Philip Seymour Hoffman and the roles he plays. When the girl who was in Hannah Montana morphs into a badly behaved Miley Cyrus, her fans are not just appalled but fascinated at some level by this behaviour as well because at a certain age, they would much rather have a celebrity as a role model instead of unglamorous Mom or Dad. Children are subtly and indirectly influenced by the behaviour of these celebrities that they watch, follow, read about and admire. Is it then too much to expect a celebrity to behave in a responsible fashion?