Who Said Being A Celebrity Was All Glam?
by Woe Number One on June 18, 2015 - 10:19pm
In today’s society, celebrities are under the watchful eye of the millions of fans that support them. However, just because they have millions of supporters does not justify everything they do. This being said, should celebrities be morally obliged to be good role models? This article will use two different ethical views, virtue ethics and teleology, to analyze the question at hand.
Everyone is influenced by the media today, and a large part of the media that is shown on the front of magazines and online is about celebrities. Average people in society are supposed to all have someone to look up to, and for the most part, it’s the people we see the most of. However, being in the spot light has many downsides to it. On a daily basis, you get judged for what you wear, how you eat, how you act, if you’re in a relationship, what is going on in your life - in other words, everything you do, so imagine being in the spotlight.
Looking at this issue with a virtue ethics approach, we can come to a very simple conclusion that applies to all people of society. If a person is truly good, they should want to be good people that can be beneficial to society. If the celebrity is truly a good person, they would want to be the best person they can be. By doing so, they can be the best person for others to look up to. In this case, whether a celebrity is morally obligated to be a good role model only depends if they want to be a good person or not. A textbook answer would be yes, of course they want to be a good person so therefore yes, they are morally obligated to be good role models. On the other hand, expecting someone to be good at all times seems highly unrealistic. Furthermore, since it is impossible to keep everyone in society happy at once therefore, celebrities are more often portrayed as bad role models because of how much they are judged. For example, in 2010, before Miley Cyrus’s expressionist stage at the age of 15, she posed for Vanity Fair magazine covering herself with only a sheet. The article, Hannah Montana's Bare, Unprotected Back: Miley Cyrus's "Vanity Fair Outing…” in Velvet Light Trap is a critique of the original article in Vanity Fair. The critique is chalk full of statements such as “here we go again” and “tarts herself up for public consumption” (Kincaid, 5). By posing for this magazine, Cyrus gave herself a bad name in the eyes of the viewers and they expressed it in the comments of the article by saying things like “This girl makes me sick. If she were a dog, I'd kick her in the face.” or “I think it's a cry for help that's what I think” (Kincaid, 5). Moreover, judging celebrities from a virtue ethics point of view, they are bad people, and therefore as a result, bad role models.
From a different perspective point of view, there are other ways celebrities can be perceived. Teleologically speaking, if being a good person means it prohibits a celebrity from being the person they want to be and not allowing them to be mentally at ease, then there is not a positive outcome meaning that it is not beneficial to them to concentrate on being a good role model. From a utilitarian’s point of view, the best kind of person is one who can permeate the greatest amount of happiness to a large amount of people. This would result in the community in it’s entirety being happy, celebrities included. Over the years, there have been a number of celebrities that have done humanitarian work and have proven themselves good people in an attempt to spread happiness. For example, Mia Farrow does work with UNICEF, Ben Affleck helps people affected by the war in the Republic of Congo, Demi Moore is an advocate for victims of human trafficking, Bono has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work. Last but not least, and in my opinion the most well known, Angelina Jolie. She has done countless of humanitarian work in third world countries, especially Africa and her and her husband, Brad Pitt, have even adopted children they’ve fallen in love with from the impoverished countered they’ve visited. The article can be quoted saying “celebrity involvement is seen favourably” (Repo & Riina, 45) which is quite positive in my opinion.
In conclusion, there are many frameworks and perspectives that argue that celebrities should be inherently good role models. On the other hand, they are only human and they, as well as anyone else, make mistakes. However, celebrities are the ones under the spotlight and they are judged for every move they make which is why some maybe believe that being a role model is crucial for them. In the end, I guess everyone chooses their role models so it is up to them to choose someone that they believe embodies positive morals.
Deigh, John, “What is Ethics,” 4-16 in An Introduction to Ethics (New York: Cambridge, 2010).
Hill, Alison. "10 Celebrities Famous For Their Humanitarian Work - Listosaur | Hungry for Knowledge." Listosaur Hungry for Knowledge. N.p., 23 July 2012. Web. 16 June 2015. <http://listosaur.com/politics/10-celebrities-famous-for-their- humanitarian-work/>.
Kincaid, James. "Hannah Montana's Bare, Unprotected Back: Miley Cyrus's "Vanity Fair Outing.." Velvet Light Trap: A Critical Journal Of Film & Television 65 (2010): 5-6. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 June 2015.
Repo, Jemima, and Riina, Yrjölä. "The Gender Politics Of Celebrity Humanitarianism In Africa." International Feminist Journal Of Politics 13.1 (2011): 44-62. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 June 2015.