Call me a cynic but I don’t believe in modern role models. Even the point of heros beyond the age of five seems to elude me. Why provide an unrealistic expectation that will serve only to undermine and disappoint people when they slowly come to the understanding that they can’t measure up? Why promote the idea that you can achieve your dreams if only you want it enough, regardless of whether you have talent or ability? Or perhaps they are there to teach you about the wonders of a capitalist world and that the key to any door is money. The greedy clink clink of coins in people’s pockets and the rustle of notes as grasping hands caress the Queen’s noble paper imprint, are the sounds which keep the world turning. They are also the sounds which are so often associated with success and achievement. So suddenly it’s not a cape or the ability to fly, but how many rings or houses or children you can accumulate, which are the hallmarks of modern day society’s role models.
Not only does that sound hollow to me but the old adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ also rings convincingly in my head whenever I hear about the latest people’s hero. Whether they are politicians, athletes or celebrities, I just find it absurd to place anyone on a pedestal when they are bound to fall or jump off eventually. Often people create role models or choose people to worship who are so clearly unworthy of such idolatry that even they can see it. They know that they are far from perfect, just like everyone else, and that whatever ideas people might have about them are in the main, pure fantasy. The point is that people aren’t even devoting themselves to a person, but merely a brand, an image, a figurehead or puppet that is manipulated and directed by some sinister presence in the back pulling and snapping strings in accordance with their hopped up plan for world domination.
If you look hard enough you can always see the fairly large cracks in people’s veneer, and so if you are desperate to find someone to copy, imitate, live up to or live as, then you run the risk of being perpetually let down. The reasons so many people are fans or followers of these brands or images is because they never actually meet the people who are behind them. Therefore, in their head they can remain in all their perfect, well-preserved and untouched glory. Personally I don’t see the attraction to such a precarious and delusional hobby – give me a liar, a cheat, a murderer or a thief over them any day. At least then you can engage in the slightly less far-fetched notion that you might live up to and possibly even exceed their life achievements.
Image Credit – Paul McKibben