Thursday, 23 July 2009

No thanks to Simon Cowell

I don't know if we're doing this next generation any favours with shows like American Idol and America's got talent or even Hannah Montanna for that matter. These programs that foster the idea that success is found by winning a contest or that the only kind of success that counts is that found in showbusiness really challenges our roles as parents who want to raise kids with sound goals and values.

I was watching one of these shows the other night and a twenty-year-old kid said that if he won the million dollars he would want his mom to quit working. The camera then found his mother (who looked to be about 40 if that) at stage left beaming trying to look teary-eyed as a stray tear fell down her cheek.

I felt none of the things I'm sure I was supposed to feel. No sympathy for this kid who hadn't yet made it, no feelings of I hope you get to stop working lady after all these long years - what's it been 10 years in the workforce - of doing what - working at some midlevel office job?

It's a shame that so many young people think hard work the old fashioned way is for chumps. It's frightening hearing so many teenaged girls wishing they could be super models, or the next Britney or Paris. TV makes this looks so possible, like if they were just given the opportunity, they could rise to instant fame.

I read a news article where they were interviewing junior high students, and when asked what these kids wanted to do when they were grew up a majority of them said things like: I want to be an actress or I want to be a movie producer or I want to design clothes or I want to live in New York and write screenplays. One girl even said that she wanted to be a socialite like Paris! I'm not kidding. And very few said things like: I want to be a teacher or a policeman or a doctor or help people.

Celebrity culture's destructive presence is seeping into our homes on all levels it seems. It's hard to know what to do about it since isolating your children can't be healthy either. I mean let's face it, we do let Deaglan watch some TV but even the children's shows that we grew up with use pop culture's influence to increase their viewership. On Sesame Street a while ago, the puppets (muppets?) were spoofing a popular music video to teach the word of the day and the letter of the day.

Parenting is hard enough on it's own but having to compete with instant fame and rich socialites is another ball game alltogether. We really have our work cut out for us!


  1. I totally hear you!

    We have a hometown athlete who has worked hard her whole life and won and Olympic gold metal for cycling. She is a wonderful role model and often speaks in our rather small city. She's our local celebrity. I was telling my husband that I was so glad that she's our town celebrity. Not someone who won American Idol or is famous because he/stars in a TV show. No, she spent years of her life training to be the best. Now that is something to idolize.

    I, on the other hand, had a hard working mother my whole life. She did not retire until she was 65. That's is hard work and I learned so much about that. Once I graduate from nurse practitioner school I don't think I'll ever stop practicing because I'll want to keep my license current. Plus, with the way my country's system is moving, I'll have to work to pay for the trillions of dollars in debt we are! Someone's got to pay the bill!

    I hope you're well! And thanks for this great post!

  2. That really is depressingly accurate. I think parents with girls will have it a little harder than we will with our boys. It does seem like there are fewer bad role models for boys. I think the presence of a bad role model is worse than the lack of a good one.

  3. You're so right, Kim. Kids today want the easy path to success. I'm often checking my oldest sons when they complain about "working" on a project. This generation does seem to think that they want to avoid hard work at all costs. We do have a culture obsessed with celebrity and instant gratification. Even the Internet can make us have lazy workers as kids. When they need to look up something for school, all they have to do is a few clicks. If I tell them to research in a book or a library, the kids think that is way too much work and "old school". Kids also don't idolize hard workers. Celebrities and athletes don't deserve the amount of admiration that they receive from the younger generation. I'm going to try very hard to combat this quick reward "me" centered influence that is surrounding my kids every day.

  4. Excellent post! It's sad, but true. Although I'm still relatively new to the work force, I can see a decline in work ethic with each new hire group in our firm. They want all the perks of seniority without any of the long hours or hard work. I have friends just out of college who want to be where their parents are in life. They want the big houses and the boats but they don't want to work the 40+ years to get there. Again, great post!

  5. Kim, isn't it amazing how artificial our culture has become?
    All media driven and we run to the sop! Nothing in reality comes close to what they present to us in their pay per view fantasy land.
    Go get em! ~rick

  6. I understand your frustration.

    My youngest daughter used to sit on the floor in her bedroom making clothes for her dolls with bits of cloth. To make a long story short, through out her growing up years she worked hard learning how to draw properly, analyzing and designing clothing, and she did become quite the seamstress, (with her little $99 sewing machine I purchased at a garage sale, and was accepted into a fashion design institute at 17. She has always been so passionate and driven.

    After graduation she started working on commercials right off the bat. She started out 5 mos ago as the assistant to the assistant's assistant, and she's already moved up two clicks to being the assistant to the boss, a well-known sylist. Her boss is so impressed with my daughter's work ethic. No matter what he asks her to do, she does it without belly aching or questioning his instruction. They guy can't get over her professionalism.

    I guess talent contests are okay. But parents need to teach their children, the groundwork must be done, regardless of your end goal

    My husband is friends with the father of Katherine McPhee, she was a runner up on American Idol a few clicks back. And, her father's a producer, and her mother's a singer. That kid has been singing forever. She worked her butt off with singing lessons and groundwork. So, it's no wonder that she got so close to winning. Great singers don't just grow on trees.

    You're right I think too many kids think that they'll just BE famous, they'll just BE rich, or whatever, and their parents are responsible. They don't spend time with their kids. They don't expect excellence. It's a problem, and you make a valid point. I blame the parents, not the silly talent shows.

  7. That's funny - I had the same reaction a couple fo months ago when I heard someone on a contest say the wanted their parents not to have to work. I thought, "What? We all have t work, that's no great hardship." Maybe the money could give you the luxury of working fewer hours or going back to school to get a degree or training in something you like better, but why should retiring at an early age be the goal? And don't even get me started on the cult of celebrity-worship we have created.

  8. So true, my biggest struggle is trying to keep Noah grounded in the basics. That is hard when everyone had the latest gadget. Stay strong sister and aim for balance. :)peace

  9. This was an excellent post. I really understand your frustration with what's on TV today and agree with you. I hate American Idol, mainly because it's mean.

    On the other hand, I think your children WILL absorb the values you teach them. Sure, there may be periods of lapses, such as the teen years, but the foundation you set, as a parent, will be the strongest.

  10. I know - we don't watch tv with our daughter for that reason. Granted, she's only 11 months, but we plan to stick to our rule even when she's older. I didn't even have a tv when I met my husband - and we just have one now. It's rarely on. And when it is, I have to admit, it's all about HGTV. And your canadian HGTV shows are the bomb!


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