After writing my last post and slamming many of the 'celebrities' young people look up to these days, it got me thinking:
Who in the public eye deserves admiration and respect for their achievements and general conduct, rather than for sleeping with someone famous, or winning a show where they were voted "better at sitting around on their hole than anyone else"?
Rather than look at the obvious answers of aid-workers, Nobel-prize winners, poets, etc., I'm talking about people who are really quite famous, who everyone is well aware of.
I'm going to examine this under a number of fields and list the people who I respect and who I think provide a good role model for the younger generation who really seek them. I'd love to know how other people feel so please do comment after you've read this.
Hollywood is packed with egomaniacs, drug addicts, money-grabbing bastards, deathly skinny young actresses and Tom Cruise. Not good.
One actress who stands out for me is Natalie Portman. She is more beautiful and talented than Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba or Hilary Duff. She postponed her movie career to go to university. She speaks several languages. She (just about) keeps her clothes on. She talks sensibly about the situation inisrael, of which she is a citizen. She didn't remake Herbie.
I don't for a minute think Natalie Portman is perfect, but she presents a finer role model for young girls than anyone else I can think of.
This is one of the major areas where young men look for heroes. And what a sorry lot most of them are. Rape scandals, dogging, 'roasting', drink-driving, pissing on bars, screaming at referees who dare to make a decision they don't like, diving, skiving, getting paid 65 grand a week to sit on a bench. Not an impressive bunch.
Although he deserted my beloved Arsenal, Thierry Henry stands head and shoulders above most footballers for me. Skillful and honest, he always gives his best for whoever he's playing for. The man is known to train ferociously hard and doesn't drink because he sees it as damaging to his body. Although not a complete saint, he does not have a reputation for cheating or haranguing refs.
George Bush, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Bertie, Vladimir Putin, Brian Cowen, Sarkozy, Billary Clinton? No thank you.
One of the few politicians I have ever held any respect for is Nelson Mandela. Now there is a man who stood up for what he believed in, paid the consequences, then ultimately brought about a sea-change in attitudes and conditions. We should treasure him and regard him as a living legend while we still can.
I grew up as a huge Oasis fan, believing their hype in trying to convince people that Liam Gallagher was a soulful, sensitive, anti-establishment hero. Time, of course, brought me to the realisation that he is a thuggish, moronic boor.
Current mucical 'icons' include Britney Spears, Pete Doherty, Leona Lewis and 50 Cent. The less said about any of these, the better.
Radiohead have long been heroes to me, and remain so. Their determination to make the music they want to make rather than what will sell well has possibly cost them millions. They took the evolution of music sales on a step with the 'pay what you like' system for In Rainbows. They still make great tunes, and they are at their best when performing live - something many musical stars are blatantly incapable of doing without huge technical assistance. They show both a poltical and environmental conscience in both their words and actions, without rubbing it in everyone's face. But will they continue to inspire future generations? Probably not.
This is really just a way of finding out what others think. Who inspires you? Who provides a better role model than many of the wasters kids aspire to be like someday? Am I way off the mark with any of my choices?