Monday, January 26, 2015

Ceding the Responsibility of Being Role Models

The cry for role models is an abdication of responsibility. We hear it enough about the need for positive role models for our children, especially good role models for our girls doing non-girl things. This is not about black boys so the lack of a father in the home for an overwhelming majority of boys is not the issue. This is about all kids. Did the cry for role models in media start before the breakdown of the family? No. Was it before the breakdown of independent, social groups as discussed in Bowling Alone? No. This needed the help of television. Mass media was needed to sell the idea of role models. Many Americans were all too eager to give up that responsibility and power to another authority. Once we do that, we give up deciding what is a good outcome for our kids.

This is not just the horror show that is modern mass media pushing Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham as representatives for their generation and younger women to follow. That is horrible enough. Who decides how to frame women on television? The horrible girls on Bad Girls Club are role models for our underclass, but the odd thing is allowing producers and approved thinkers to push the positive role models. The lady doctors on Grey's Anatomy, the CSIs and cops on whatever procedural drama, and the careerists on other dramas. These women are seen as positive examples of adult women. All work. You couldn't name the children of those characters if they have children. Hell, even the wives of males on those shows all work. They constantly choose their work stuff over relationships of all sorts, including their kids. The positive role model works, and usually is giving her all to her work by logging overtime or working so hard they sleep in a utility closet.

Who said those were good role models or great representations of women (even men)? I cannot think of anyone besides producers who share an ideological goal of destroying family life and pushing people to work, work, work. Drama needs a conflict of sorts. Art being a human expression needs human emotion, but here is another example of our anti-family culture. Much adow as made about Adele's great album that won Grammys and had emotional, pain filled songs. She is now a mom and plans a new album. People were like "someone better break her heart so we hear some good tunes again". No one making those jokes paused to consider the earth shattering moment of child birth and becoming a parent. Heart break can create great art and emotion filled songs, but so can the experience of pregnancy, child birth and having your first kid. There are reasons new moms cry, and not all are related to hormone imbalances. Our culture on the radio is geared towards heartbroken young women as the true expression of the human condition; they are another role model.

Those are awful role models to lead with as a societal fast ball because every elderly American I've met who has an adult child that works like that laments the modern state of work-life balance. They are always proud of accomplishments but then the "but" enters the dialogue. No one likes a moping heartbroken sap after the window for moping is gone. It is just mass media that loves that. People can choose to be the role model. "But it's so tough being a role model" is the complaint of people who do not want to grow up themselves. Your kids will watch you. Would you rather them take cues off of you or off of a Hollywood conception of what is good? You will let them down. You will stumble and even fail. It happens. How you handle that is key. A well adjusted kid who grows up watching well adjusted adults in his or her home is far more likely to grow up a well adjusted adult compared to the kids who watch superstar, amazing fictional characters on TV with indifferent or even bad parents.


PA said...

Boomers' raising of GenXers was very hands-off, almost to the point of abdication of responsibility. It's understandable somewhat from the "ever rising wealth" mindset Americans had through the 80s. Their guidance to children rarely went beyond "get good grades, go to a good college."

Today, threads on Game blogs are filled with comments about teaching one's sons to be alpha, etc. I see a lot of involved fathers at playgrounds and at school.

On outsourcing role models to television... we used to consider popular culture our own institution. Just like our government and our churches. There is now a dawning understanding that our relationship with our public realm is adversarial. In mala fide: in bad faith, as articulated by Matt Forney (as Ferdinand Bardamu) on the old blog. If you live as though what they tell you is in good faith, you perish.

PA said...

Re. Kim Kardashian: Steve Sailer speculated about how the periodic public condemnation of some black athlete, arguably out of proportion with the offense, such as with Michael Vick, is how the white public vents its frustration with black TNB in general.

Similar with the Kardashians. It's acceptable in public and in liberal company to roll one's eyes at that family, and to openly call them trashy or something similar.

Why? How exactly are they bad? Sure, the sex tape. But Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton did that too. And besides, it was a youthful mistake, Kim is now older, a wife and a mother.

So is it about her silly or frivolous public appearances? I dunno, who on this side of Meryl Steep isn't silly or frivolous?

I think the reason "trashy" is automatically connected to the Kardashians is because the mother and the sisters serve as an outlet for the public to vent its horror with mudsharking and with the negrification of culture in general -- on down to that horrific huge ass.

nikcrit said...

This is not just the horror show that is modern mass media pushing Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham as representatives for their generation and younger women to follow. That is horrible enough. Who decides how to frame women on television?

Yeah, it's bad; and a tepid "Moral of the Story," among many, is: Modern society is complicated.

To wit: take peterike's comments here; here's a classic paleo-con, both economically and socially conservative.

But what are some of his current pop-culture artifacts? Durham's "Girls" is his favorite television show, cultural-rot-inducing episode plots and all.

And I cite his example not at all to indict him; but to indicate that he's surely one of a very large number of modern-day media consumers who surely cross similar social-conservative views-vs.-tastes; e.g., his contradictions are hardly unusual in this day and age.

In fact, I'd bet a lot of the even younger, more impressionable viewer demo for "Girls" is capable of holding such contrasting political views-vs.-entertainment tastes.

So maybe the 'horrible enough' cited in this post isn't so horrible after all upon closer inspection.

soapjackal said...

The topic of role models is one well worth discussing. To what measure do us youth hold ourselves to? Increasingly the commentary you have provided is accurate for millennials such as myself. Who do the young men of the world emulate anymore?

The generational disconnect and the abdication of society to espouse any virtous or heroic identiy seem to be primary problems here. I personnally have a very hard time emphathisizng with others in my generation when it comes to this problem.

My family has stayed relatively cohesive and connected throughout the years and my father&maternal grandfather have both been excellent role models in my life. There are the occasional traits I emulate from classical figures but for the most part my standard has been the great men in my life.

In todays society the very concept of respecting great men and emulating their behavior is seen as alien. The fact that this is the case is extremely disturbing to myself. When I rear my sons I have every intention of being the sort of man worth emulating. The sad thing is that most men do not see that as their duty.