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Celebrity blues

Posted: November 12, 2013 9:32 a.m.
Updated: November 13, 2013 5:00 a.m.

One of my friends was griping to me recently about “the problem with my generation.” He’s slightly older than me and enjoys lecturing me every now and again on the troubles of the youth of America today. He said the problem with my generation is that we believe everything we see on YouTube.

I first pointed out to him that it was odd that he could say an entire generation’s “problem” could somehow be connected to the YouTube phenomenon which has only been around for eight or so years. How can something younger than a decade be responsible for a whole generation’s problem, I asked. He agreed that I was somewhat right, but he asked me to see the point he was making.

He said he was beginning to have serious disgust and animosity towards the American media of today. I asked him to explain and he said such artists as Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and the Kardashian/Kanye West nightmare and their behaviors have lead him to lose faith in the overall goodness of humanity.

I told him he was completely overreacting. His point was that youth is impressionable and that they see these celebrities and think their vile behavior is cool and try to model themselves after the images.

He then touted various professional athletes, a few NBA or NFL names that meant absolutely nothing to me, and said those guys were also at fault for being in the news for drug charges or criminal charges or a combination thereof. Again, his fear was that kids would perceive this negative behavior as cool and try to emulate it.

I have to agree with my dear friend on some level. I, too, feel that Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are poor excuses for human beings. I feel that they are desperate for attention and would exploit themselves and those around them in any means necessary to stay in the media spotlight. I pointed out that in the case of Cyrus and West, there was real, undeniable talent present and that both of them deserved some of their fame because they legitimately earned it by making and selling good music. Kardashian is absolutely worthless. She has contributed in no way, to anything, ever.

However, the real reason we talk about these particular celebrities is not usually to say what great music they make, but to talk about their overly extravagant lifestyles and their positions as media skanks. I just made that term up.

The thing is, I like listening to Cyrus and West and I find a way to block their public personas out of my mind while listening and just focus on the music. My friend is completely unable to do this. He can’t not think of the image when listening to the product. I understand his frustration and I feel for him, but I don’t think he’s handling it properly.

I tried to explain to him that just because there are horrible people in the entertainment industry, and just because they are insanely popular, does not mean that we have to blindly accept them as our role models. We are an active participant in the process and we can choose to not accept and uplift these relics of garbage.

Or we can choose to accept and appreciate their talents without subscribing to the image. Or, in the case of the Kardashians, we can hope that some natural disaster will just swallow up their whole clan, in its entirety. Even though we are surrounded and bombarded with depictions of stupidity and shallowness and selling one’s self out for the almighty dollar, we are not forced to believe in and support these projections. We can decide for ourselves.


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