Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kate Moss, Michael Jackson,

Okay, the whole Kate Moss cocaine hullabaloo incites me to comment on how we make our heroes. Something of the shock over the incident seems very contrived. It smells the same to me as the outrage over the indiscretions for which Michael Jackson was accused. It's unfortunate that so many are as gullible as to accept simply and unquestioningly the personalities that are marketed to us.

Even though I'm still just a leaf on my family tree, I'll indulge in some hubris: here are some ideas for raising children.
  • Teach your kids how to question the world that well-funded marketing efforts push at them .
  • Teach them the concept of "hegemony" and how the ideas of the powerful few are manufactured into the ideas of the masses.
  • Teach them how to ask critical questions, like, "Who benefits from this?" and "Is this person/place/thing really as important as I am being told it is?"
  • Delineate a difference between "fame" and "greatness," and teach them to select heroes who selflessly instill inspiration rather than are just good at self-promotion.
  • Spread the meme of skepticism. But also be sure to show how being skeptical does not equal being cynical
At first, I was really disturbed about how much media attention was put on the Michael Jackson case. I saw it as pandering to ratings and media sensationalism about something that should be just another court case. But somewhere in the process, I think while it was being covered on NPR, I an epiphany that turned me around on it. The media coverage exposed how irrational people became in the presence of fame. ("Sure you can sleep over at a middle-aged man's house, son!") And maybe seeing that made some people see the larger picture: that our adulation of the famous is often misplaced, and sometimes can do genuine harm to regular people.

The LiveScience article to which I linked this entry questions whether people really look up to Kate Moss as a role model. On the basic level, I agree with their assertion that no one really does. But on a grander scale, a great many people do in fact weirdly translate "fame" to mean "superior." So this whole Kate Moss thing is just one small example of how engrossed we become in undue cults of personality.


Blogger evilzenscientist said...

Uncle Ted - are you volunteering to babysit?

7:46 PM  

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