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Kids and Heroes

the media is making a mistake

Quite a few years ago, I noticed a difference between the '60s and the recent decades.  While I am sure some people will disagree, I believe the way the media portrayed celebrities in the distant past was preferable to the way they are portrayed today. 

Kids need heroes.  Having favorite celebrities to look up to is an essential part of growing up.  While it can be important to adults, too, the impact heroes have on youth can be very positive.  If you ask older people today who their heroes were when they were young, you may hear examples such as Mickey Mantle, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, or President John F. Kennedy.  The main reason kids were able to idolize these famous people was the media's focus on these individuals was on their accomplishments.  Whether a child or teen loved baseball, music, the movies, or politics, there was someone famous in the news whom they could look up to.  As the media focused on how well a celebrity did his or her job, kids could think of who they wanted to grow up to be like, to dream big dreams, and to thoroughly enjoy the experience.


This has not been the case in recent decades.  Rather than focusing on celebrities' great accomplishments, the media is filled with their mistakes, failings, and shortcomings.  It seems they think celebrities' personal lives are more relevant.  When much of what kids read and hear is about celebrities' drug problems, DUI arrests, extramarital affairs, etc. etc., we should wonder what kind of message this is giving them.  First, they see these problems as commonplace;  and second, they do not really have anyone to look up to. 


Mickey Mantle's personal life was chaotic, due to his alcoholism;  Elvis Presley used drugs;  Marilyn Monroe had mental disorders;  and President Kennedy had affairs.  Would the youth of the late '50s and early '60s have benefitted from this knowledge?  I believe not.  I believe it would have done both the celebrities and youth a disservice.  If a famous person is engaging in serious criminal activity, that is one thing;  but displaying their personal lives in general leads today's youth to no longer have heroes.  It is taking away a very important part of growing up.