Despite Jodie Foster 'coming out' at the Golden Globes, celebrities are not fit to be role models

Some people seem to think the 50 year-old actress was wrong to wait so long before making a public declaration of her sexuality. Who on earth are these people kidding?

Related Topics

We have a lively debate running today on the subject of whether or not celebrities should be considered role models. It followed Jodie Foster’s emotional speech at the Golden Globes, in which she spoke openly for the first time about being a lesbian. Frenzied debate erupted online, with countless campaigners saying that, as an exalted and world-famous actress, she shouldn’t have waited until she was 50 before letting the rest of us know that she’s comfortable with her sexuality.

It’s a recurring trope, this business of telling celebrities they should be setting an example to the rest of us. And I can see that if, say, you’re a singer called Chris Brown and you assault your girlfriend, who also happens to be famous (as Rihanna certainly is), then a further downside of your disgusting behaviour might be that one of your more stupid fans might think it marginally less wrong to do the same to his girlfriend. But generally speaking, I think this celebrities-should-be-role-models lark is utter tosh.

For one thing, who are we talking about here? The slightly famous, quite famous, or very famous? Do Premiership footballers have a responsibility not to dive or punch each other, because kids might be watching on telly – whereas Division Three footballers don’t because they’re less famous?

Then there’s the question of what specific matters we’d like these celebrities to be role models in. Presumably it’s such minimally contentious subjects as domestic violence. But even then I’m not so sure. Take drugs. I remember very distinctly when the Spice Girls put out a statement saying they’re against drugs. Get high on life instead, they said.

Fine, but what if the real issue with drugs is the murderous stupidity of our policy of criminalising them? What if the debate we really need is about decriminalising drugs immediately? Should we defer to Emma Bunton and Mel B on these matters of policy too?

Above all, I just cannot see the logical connection between achievement of fame, if that’s what you want to call it, and the moral obligation to behave in a particular way. Why does the former create the latter? If a hitherto unknown person acts in a film that sells out at the Box Office, why should he or she suddenly be ashamed of youthful indiscretions, lest that incur the wrath of tabloid hacks?

In fact, the impulse to see celebrities as role models is the mark of a society that has lost its moral anchor – that is, religion. Our secular age has been voided of a codified morality, but looking for it in the habits and manners of the rich and famous is the social equivalent of appointing a drunkard to run the brewery.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Geography Teacher

£100 - £160 per day + mileage and expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: This out...

KS2 supply teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Abortions based solely on gender are illegal in Britain  

Abortion is safe, and it should be as available as easily as contraception

Ann Furedi
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album