Celebrities and the media are spreading a bad message

I’m not one to follow the lives of celebrities, but I was appalled to hear the details of Britney Spears’ divorce from her husband of two years, Kevin Federline.

It’s not the fact that they are divorcing [I think most people would say that a relationship like theirs was doomed from the beginning], but the way it unfolded is what really surprised me. According to CBS News, MuchMusic VJ Matte Babel was eating dinner with Federline when Federline left to receive a text message from Spears saying she was filing for divorce. A text message? Come on, people! Is that what our world is coming to?

Do we now tell the person we’ve vowed to love forever that we’re calling it quits via text messaging? I sure hope not. Now, I understand we’re talking about Britney Spears and Kevin Federline here, but think about it. What kind of message does that send to people?

People in the spotlight do have a lot of power, whether they want to or not. With the amount of television Americans watch, the amount of magazines we read and the amount of occasions we’re bombarded with the media, how could we possibly be unaffected?

A celebrity has the power to influence the common person, even in small ways like fashion trends or popular phrases. Many times, the media dictates what’s “cool”. And it’s often celebrities who act as a means to bring about these “cool” trends.

Charles Barkley famously said, “I am not a role model.” And although Barkley’s statement might have been just a publicity stunt at the time, his words hold value in bringing up the debate of whether those in the spotlight should be considered role models.

You see, one must first know what a role model is.

The Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary says a role model is “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” This broad definition implies that anyone can be a role model.

Each one of us has a certain degree of power to influence others just by our example. Therefore, it’s important for people to use the gift of being a “role model” for the greater good.

But, for people in the public eye, the responsibility of being a role model is even bigger. The fact that they may be known throughout the world means they have the power to influence even more people.

But it’s not just the celebrities; it’s the media, too.

When you go through the check-out line at the grocery store and nearly every magazine [whether they’re credible or not] is covering a celebrity scandal, it makes you realize the media allows celebrities’ behavior to infiltrate our everyday life.

And, sadly, most of the scandals are over infidelity, divorce or feuding. These are the kinds of messages being sent to the public. Of course, not all famous people are involved in scandal; but that’s what the media is covering.

In order to reverse the indoctrination of celebrity scandal, two things are necessary.

First, celebrities need to accept responsibility for their actions and use their fame for good.

Second, the media needs to cover the Hollywood stories in a way that provides people with information that actually matters. Entertainment news sources need to be in touch with the American people instead of offering them junk, because the average person deserves better.

A Pew Research Center study from 2004 found that 48 percent of surveyed Americans believe those who decide on news content are “out of touch.” I would say that this occurs in the entertainment news industry quite often.

Unfortunately, as many times as we may say the media is out of touch, a lot of times we do fall prey to its tactics. It’s so easy to pick up an entertainment magazine and become totally engrossed in it.

The entertainment industry does have a place in the news; however, it needs to be particularly vigilant in what it covers so as not to turn into some incredible tabloid.

If it isn’t, then all we’re going to be hearing about is how Britney and Kevin called it quits with a text message. If we’re not baffled by this, then there’s our problem. Celebrities and the media need to offer the American public a good message, not the useless garbage we’ve become accustomed to.

Send comments to Lauren Walter at [email protected].