I've been reading a lot of celebrity bios lately. Madonna, Cher, Melissa Gilbert, Kathleen Turner, Michael Jackson, Melissa Sue Anderson ... to name some of the most recent.
As I read about their lives, a non-revelation struck me. Unsupportive and uncommunicative spouses, problems with boundaries, even addiction. None of these are restricted to the celebrity life. (I can hear you now: well, duh!) But it drove home the point that celebrities are people, too. Ordinary people making choices: some good, some bad, some disasterous.
This is why I have a problem with celebrities acting as authorities. Unless they've really done their homework, it's not really any different from me telling you my opinion. Perhaps useful to know but there's no reason to substitute my judgment for your own. They can be free to share their opinion but it would be great if we could all remember that's what it is.
I'm specifically thinking of Tom Cruise's rather biased comments against anti-depressants. He's entitled to his opinion, but he's an actor. Which means his medical advice is about as useful as your local grocer's. When he's been to medical school rather than playing a doctor on TV, I'll be more inclined to listen.
It's also a reason to shun the idea of a celebrity as a role model. Especially in their youth. Being a singer, athlete or actor does not give you any real insight into how to act in your own life. Many of them act as I would expect any young person to act if encouraged to indulge themselves beyond all common sense. Use it as an opportunity to discuss potential pitfalls but don't expect them to be saints.
Here I'm specifically thinking of Rihanna and the flak she took after the domestic violence incident with Chris Brown. When she went back to him, everyone reared up on their moral high horse to condemn her as a bad role model. Except that lots of abused women go back to their abusers. They believe they can change him, they believe in commitment, they don't think they have anywhere else to go. There are lots of reasons why women stay or go back to a potentially life-threatening situation. To expect a young girl to be the exception because she has a record deal is ludicrous.