When role models lose credibility, their faithful admirers must come to terms with the sin of humanity.
As children we put our faith into sports stars, music icons, and celebrities, believing in the goodness of people. The fact that all humans fail has been proven over and over in our celebrity obsessed culture. [pullquote]“We’re looking for an image to be like,” said Dr. Lauren Seifert[/pullquote]
Role models’ bad judgment calls or unlucky circumstances completely turn their image around, causing many to lose faith in them.
“We’re looking for an image to be like,” said Malone psychology professor Dr. Lauren Seifert. “The psychology of persons is necessarily relational. We need to have something to believe in.”
This need for something to believe in is universal, but it strongly influences children and is one reason why children look up to celebrities.
As we lose our childhood innocence or our first impressions are disproved, our tinted lenses are removed and we are able to see people as they truly are, sinful and fallen.
When asked about losing faith in role models, several Malone students affirmed that they had experienced this and explained how it affected them.
Freshman music ministry major Levi Hundley underwent this phenomenon with pop star Lady Gaga.
“I realized we’re at two opposite ends of the spectrum,” he said after learning about her numerous scandalous affairs. “I’m disappointed in her and in a lot of people that follow her blindly.”
Speaking of the drama surrounding Lindsay Lohan, freshman undecided major Rachel Landon said, “I was like, another one bites the dust. Sad, but it didn’t ruin my life, but it made me disappointed.”
This behavior of looking up to celebrities stems from a yearning for “something that is beautiful and all-consuming,” said Seifert. “We sort of tell ourselves stories; there’s something bigger, there’s something better.”
Seifert said the ultimate desire of humans is to be with God, even if this desire is not present at a conscious level.
In God’s place, humans worship idols. Idol worship or more specifically celebrity worship makes the person doing the worshiping necessarily doomed.
Technology has only encouraged this form of idolatry. With the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, it has become second nature to look up to figures in the entertainment industry as role models.
It is now easier than ever to “instantaneously see who’s popular,” said Seifert.
Seifert also said that it is a natural human instinct to have role models.
“We crave being adored. Why wouldn’t you want to be that?” she said, speaking of idols. “It’s a natural cognitive mechanism for categorizing and coveting.”
This idol worship starts at a young age. Children as young as four or five view media and get the wrong idea about who to look up to.
Parental guidance plays a large part in explaining that failure does not make a person necessarily bad, but someone consistently following a bad lifestyle shouldn’t be someone to idolize.
“How do we help our children to frame that? What do you do when you fail?” Seifert said.
When dealing with the issue of celebrity scandals, keep in mind that human beings are flawed. This can allow us to better cope with the disappointment that comes from seeing people fall.
Ultimately, Seifert maintains, idol worship is a displaced longing for the presence of God.
“We are born dependent. We displace that away from God,” Seifert said.
Ian Chandler is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.
Sabrina Kaiser is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.