Just my two-penneth on….Role Models

Having just read this brilliant post from Kayjai it has got me thinking, and that’s no mean feet on a Friday afternoon when my mind is thinking about an ice-cold pint of beer (well lukewarm, my bar hasn’t really got to grips with the skills of brewing properly)

We may have role models in our parents, and lucky for those who have been guided and encouraged and thought to think creatively, the rest of us have to look around the world for people to inspire us.

And it dawned on me that most of my role models in various fields are all dead; Raymond Carver, Bill Hicks, Alfred Hitchcock, John Peel, numerous musicians.

Who are today’s equivalents, who do our youth look up to today?

This may just be my glaring lack of knowledge on today’s popular culture but everything seems particularly shallow and vacuous.  Is this down to a complete lack of patience that we are happy to absorb whatever is thrown at us by mainstream society, or is there just too much to sift through to find anything noteworthy that we give up and take the easy route.

Music is an easy one to analyse, growing up without the internet I relied on John Peel to aurally guide me through my teenage years, additionally I would pop to the local independent record store and sift through the racks picking anything out that had an interesting sleeve design, I was rarely disappointed.

You would think that now with the internet and the advancements of getting your music out there on any number of platforms that this should have only improved things, you could hear snippets of music on My Space to  check someone new out.   But I fear it has had the opposite effect, too much is out there and accessible now, it’s almost too much to filter and as such nothing is rising to the top, instead all swimming together in the murky waters.

It took a bit more effort to tune into late night radio stations to spend my afternoons trawling the record shops but this was unadulterated pleasure, the thrill of the opening chords of a great track.   So I have never been inclined to take what music is forced upon us by the mainstream and I always failed to understand why people never looked beyond that also, I regarded the mainstream as disposable which is exactly how it is held by the powers that be now.

Take shows like the X Factor, The Voice, American Idol who fool the public into paying for their promotional budget by voting for them every week, a year later they are back on the scrap-heap and the cycle resumes.  They pad it out with heart wrenching tales about their parent who has cancer and dupe us into the myth that they were a receptionist and only just stumbled upon an audition but just so happen to have the voice of an angel.

Like they only just realised they could sing and would never have pursued it without Simon Cowell creating a showcase for them, nonsense, they would have had role models, they would have tried to make something of themselves and once upon a time they may have succeeded regardless with some hard work and determination.  These people are not plucked from obscurity, they are on the books of record companies already, why would the record companies take a chance on them and spend all that money when the public do it all for them.   It’s genius really.

There is rarely longevity for a new artist, the public crave the next thing, we are tricked into thinking our lives are too busy to invest in anything wholeheartedly, we don’t even have time to write something longer than 140 digits (Yes, I cancelled my Twitter after a month, I couldn’t get over the feeling I was just talking to myself, and I do a pretty good job of that already)

Fiction is now throwaway, books penned for the ultimate end product of a movie franchise.   Movies created without any thought to writing a half decent script, appease the public with special effects, that’ll blow the socks off them.  What blows the socks off me is an amazing script and the performance of the actor who can blow you away whether speaking the words or  by the slightest infliction in their face.  Yes – some actors faces move to form expressions and convey something that can’t be done with a car chase.

Reality shows – we are more preoccupied with the role of voyeur, watching lives acted out by ‘real’ people.  You don’t even need a talent to have recognition now, this is who we are led to look up to.   Marry a footballer, you only need money to be happy and famous, they are already married, then have an affair with one and sell your story to the press.

Why are we encouraging this in people rather than encouraging their creativity, have we nothing more to do but gaze at each others lives enviouslyon reality shows and on Facebook forgetting to actually get on with our own?

Rant over.

On a lighter note, now we’ve ascertained society is doomed and can never claw its way back, who were/are your role models?

Leave a comment


  1. Nice post,erm, rant Joe and thanks for the nod! Much appreciated and sentiments mirrored…

  2. Lizzie Borden. She took a straightforward, hands-on approach to resolving domestic conflicts.

    Great post, Joe.

  3. Ooh, I love a good rant! I would have to say my kids. I know, I know. But they are still pretty untainted by the reality show crap out there and people who are famous for doing nothing. They know what’s funny and what’s entertaining and don’t know about the internet at all (yet)

    • Your kids will turn out alright with you as their role model, most people on here you can tell would be as they are creative and that would just filter down.

      Many parents forget that part of the job and let bad celebs be the major influence on their kids.

  4. THIS. YES. This is how I’ve been feeling for ages now, Joe. You just articulated it a lot better than I would have.

    I like your role models. John Peel is a great one. He’s responsible for so much good music that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard. Bless him. The Peel Sessions were fantastic stuff.

    I’m not even sure who my role models are, really. I don’t think I have one. Not that there aren’t people I admire, but I don’t know that there’s anyone out there right now that I’d say “Yes, I’d aspire to be like him/her.”

    Those are some good tuppence worth, Joe.

  5. I had always wanted to be a stand up comic as a kid, I really adored Red Skelton. I don’t know if he was a role model, as he got cancelled for lewd comments. When I started writing, a new role model popped up: Richard Brautigan. Again, a fairly poor choice of role model as he was an alcoholic and comitted suicide. Role models are illusional and/or temporary. I’ve stopped thinking about role models and just try to be one for my grandson, cause that’s something I can do.

    • Very good points. We should look to people we know as role models, unfortunately I have no one in my family I could have looked up to. It’s kinda what I was getting at here too as I see the brilliant writers on their blogs and I knowtheir kids will turn out great as they have parents who are funny, intelligent and creative.

      That’s a great role model, I just saw my parents feel disappointed or worn down from what life threw at them, in a way it made me more independant to do something but in many cases it wouldn’t normally inspire a child.

      • I realize not everyone had a nearby role model. My parents were lost in their own miseries to give me much of what I needed. I guess that’s why famous people fill in.

  6. Hmm.. Good question Joe. Not sure I have an idea nowadays.

  7. The fact that I agree with you just means that we’re BOTH turning into grumpy old sour-pusses, like our grandparents. Kids today – harrumph!

    • And woe betide the next ball that some young whippersnapper kicks into my garden, they won’t be getting it back intact! 🙂

  8. I would actually disagree to some of this.
    I think it’s still possible to find role models (yeah, I may be out of touch too – I’m over 40), just not in the same places.
    Tehre are independent and college radio stations playing great music from artists who aren’t all about the one hit or the lifestyle.
    There are great authors who just go on telling great stories. And there are actors and actresses who lead good lives.
    People just have to look for them. And I think finding them makes it a bit more worthwhile.

    I do fully agree with your lament that they aren’t near as easy to find as they once were….

    • You’re right (I did write this in about 10 minutes at work so never really went back over what I wrote) Looking for new things was so much part of the joy and discovering something great, and people that way inclined will always do likewise.

      Our radio here is very limited though but I suppsoe with internet now you can tune into the American ones.

      Just relaised I’m tunring into my parents when everything was ‘better in my day’ how depressing 🙂

  9. Maybe life makes it harder for people to live up to the level of a role model now. Too much expossure. Or we expect too much. Or maybe people just aren’t as good as they used to be.

    • I’ll go with the latter. Things were better in my day, just what every generation says. But then things in previous generations to me where great too, I just think there’s too much to filter now.

  10. See? The beer IS warm. 🙂


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