It seems like every day there's a new story about some ridiculous celebri-teen, reality star or athlete who has once again used their fame and wealth to get themselves into trouble. Whether it's rude tweets, horrid behavior at a bar or restaurant, spitting on photographers, or treating their loyal fans like peasants in the Middle Ages, these "stars" act as if they're above-the-law royalty...kneel before Zod!
What's even stranger than this cavalier attitude toward the fairly reasonable laws of our society, is that these infractions are forgiven in a matter of days, as if nothing ever happened. Not only are celebrities pardoned for their obnoxious behavior, their stock seems to rise. That's right, the more they screw up, the more they win. Their loyal followers hold online rallies praising their innocence, as if some pop singer who just shouted a racial slur at a waitress is akin to a wrongfully imprisoned freedom fighter.
As a father of two of young kids who, before I know it, will be claiming their loyalty to some moronic "teen idol" with a hankering for crashing six-figure cars into the pools of their seven-figure homes, it gives me nightmares about what the future may hold.
So while I go gray worrying about my little angels admiring false idols, check out this countdown of the 7 Worst Role Models for Teens:
#7: Any cast member of Keeping Up With the Kardashians- 'Nuff said. The fact that this fiasco is called a "reality show" is just laughable. The only reality worth noting is that there is nothing morally acceptable or admirable about anyone on this show (or its offshoots). Ask any fan why these people are famous and no one can give you a quality answer (for the record, it doesn't take talent or vision to film a sex tape). In fact, the only one on the show who has even an ounce of credibility is Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner. But they kicked him out after they realized that being married for a long period of time is "sooooo last month."
#6: Anyone on MTV's Teen Mom - I miss the good ol' days when a teenage girl got pregnant and her first thought was, "How am I going to tell my parents?!?!" Nowadays, it seems that has been replaced with a Facebook post like, "Call MTV! I'm going to be famous!" Not only do these girls and guys treat each other horribly, they show very little concern for the little ones (aka the reason why they're on TV to begin with). Sample dialogue: "It's your fault we have the damn baby in the first place, you stupid a--hole!" Cue the cigarette hanging from their lips. MTV glorifies these kids as if their crude behavior is merely "real life," but in fact it just shows teens that if they do accidentally conceive a human life, there is always a camera there for them to lean on.
#5: Lindsay Lohan - If there was a Celebri-teen Hall of Fame, LiLo would have a bronze statue at its entrance. No matter what she does, the girl can't catch a break. And by can't catch a break, I mean can't realize she needs to divorce her parents, and move to a farm somewhere far away from Hollywood. In many cases of teens gone wrong, their parents play the role of Darth Vader, luring them over to the dark side one tabloid cover shot at a time. Sure, Lindsay is no innocent babe in the woods, but when your biggest fans/yes-men are also the ones who make a living off you, they don't care how bad you fall, because they will be there to catch you... with a camera crew.
#4: Miley Cyrus - Like LiLo, Miley has her family members to thank for her current situation. Miley's approach to creating "shock factor" is about as smooth and intelligent as Dennis Rodman trying to "foster world peace" by shooting hoops with Kim Jong-un. Dry humping a giant wrecking ball, lighting a joint on stage at an awards ceremony, making more "Look at me, look at me, look at me" pot references -- we get it, Miley, you're a rebel. Please.
#3: Lance Armstrong - The James Frey of sports only recently admitted to steroid use and doping during most of his career. Like most of us, I fell for his heroic story and passion for fighting cancer, but all that crumbled when he admitted to cheating (and when it was revealed that wasn't exactly a key player in the Livestrong company). Given how short our attention spans and memories seem to be, I wouldn't be surprised if his image is rehabilitated by 2015.
#2: Justin Beiber - Ugh, just when I was getting ready to renew my membership to Bieber Nation, America's Sweetheart goes and wrecks his yellow Lamborghini. "No bigs yo, I got more where that came from." Like most Beliebers I was willing to look past the prostitute, the monkey on a plane, the egg throwing... never mind, I can't even attempt to take his side. Honestly, I think jail may be the best thing for the Biebs. Or maybe a stint on Scared Straight! Justin wouldn't last five seconds in the joint (mainly because he wouldn't be allowed to wear women's jeans that sag off his butt).
#1: And the TOP spot goes to... drum roll, please... Chris Brown: Once again, Americans are confused as to what a "bad boy" actually is. Since when does being a "bad boy" mean kicking the crap out of a girl who is not only out of your league, but also a massively public celebrity? Not only is he a violent mess, he actually had the stones to play the victim card, claiming that he was "misunderstood." Misunderstood? Let me get this straight: I'm supposed to forgive a spoiled, rich kid who beats up his girlfriend (while driving!) because he has "unresolved anger issues"? There are some things that warrant a second chance, but what Brown did -- and continues to do -- is unforgiveable. Yet, his songs continue to sell like crazy and tons of fans, both male and female, swarm his live shows. Not only that, check out this list of disturbing tweets by young women begging to be beaten by Brown. If this is what we're rewarding, I think we're all in deep trouble.
Who else should we add to the list? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
As always, if you have another manners question, follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT and check out my book, Reply All...And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now in print, ebook and audio format!
Follow Richie Frieman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mannersqdt