Back Off Bieber

Ashley Campbell, Arts & Life Editor


Bieber. Miley. Rihanna. Kim, Kourtney and Kloé.

You all know who they are. Most importantly, you all know what they’ve done. The lives of the rich and famous are rarely squeaky clean, and yet, society still expects entertainers to be perfect.

A recent online poll by the New York Post asked parents to rate the celebrities whom they believed were the most negative influence on their children, and Miley Cyrus “earned the top spot, incurring the wrath of 68 percent of the 2,400 moms and dads.” If I could insert a looping montage of myself rolling my eyes here, I most definitely would.

Society has a terrible habit of making celebrity entertainers out to be the world’s role models and it needs to stop.

According to Azadeh Aalai, Ph.D., author of article, “Being a Role Model Isn’t Always a Choice,” the reality of the 21st century is that in today’s ubiquitous celebrity culture, public figures with a spotlight on them, are role models whether they like it or not.

I’m all for holding celebrities accountable for their actions, but I have a huge problem when society begins allowing them to shape today’s youth in place of our own families and local community figures.

If we were to accept Aalai’s notion, we are continually allowing our media outlets to turn celebrity gossip into breaking news; we are changing the job description of entertainers worldwide and lowering our own standards for what being a role model should mean to us and to our children.

Last month, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell interrupted former Rep. Jane Harman, Democrat of California, to reveal “breaking news from Miami.” While I will give the executive producer credit for cutting to a primary source, the live coverage of Justin Bieber’s DUI hearing should in no way be more important than Harman’s expertise on the National Security Agency (NSA).

“It seems a cause célèbreakdown trumps analysis of our right to privacy,” said Kate Knibbs of on an online report of the incident.

Let’s save the celebrity news and gossip for TMZ, E! Entertainment and social media profiles – where rightly it belongs.

Celebrities are entertainers and their job is to do just that – sing, act, dance, catfight on reality television shows, etc.

“Bieber signed up to sing and not be a cultural example. Justin Beiber is 19, and he should not be responsible for shaping all of his fans,” said Lauren Wheeler, author of
“Celebrities are entertainers, not role models,” on

Miley Cyrus told OK Magazine, “My job isn’t to tell your kids how to act or how not to act, because I am still figuring that out for myself.”

Rihanna posted on her Instagram that, “‘Role Model’ is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for, so chill wit dat!”

Are there celebrities who consider themselves to be role models? Absolutely. Are there celebrities who strive to make a positive mark on the world? Of course, but to commit to either is choice that can be made by only celebrities themselves.

Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher would ask you to write an essay on who your role model was? Aside from the few Michael Jordan and Spice Girl fans, most of us were writing about our moms, dads or other family members who invested their time into taking care of us.

Children today are learning to idealize others for their popularity, fame and fortune. It’s time we begin reevaluating our criteria for being a good role model so that our children can learn what the title actually means.

“When a person looks to a role model, he does so in hopes of obtaining parts of or all of the role held by that person,” said Breana Ware, author of “What Makes a Good Role Model” on

As a society, we need to encourage critical thinking when considering who to model our lives after and that must begin in the home. By teaching our children how to think critically, we are giving them the ability to raise questions about who they choose to look up to.

The traits we choose to admire by our role models should mirror what we value in our own friends, family members, coaches, teachers, and community leaders. Not the Hollywood mirage.

And while we’re busy reevaluating our own abilities and expectations, let’s back off the celebrity bashing because, in the words of the great Whoopi Goldberg, “the truth of the matter is, I should not be your kids’ role model, you should be your kids’ role model.”