Do we value celebrities and playboys more than poets, scientists, and inventors?
Dresden Schumaker wrote a piece on The Huffington Post called, “Raising a Son Within the Princess Culture” about how girl power in the media tells girls that they can do anything, but boys are mean, stupid, and rough. So while young girls are receiving messages about how they can be a tomboy or play sports or wear a tiara, boys are constantly degraded.
Someone on Reddit posted Schumaker’s link with the comment: “this kind of kind of confuses and concerns me.”
I think it has a lot to do with what we consider achievement. Can you name more than two astronauts from the modern era? Can you name any great inventors, scientists, or engineers from recent years? Can you name painters and poets whose work has touched the lives of millions in recent years?
I’m sure you can name a few, but you are also an (assumingly) educated adult. Can you name powerful CEOs? Overpaid movie stars? Can you name athletes and singers? Politicians? I’m willing to bet you can name more of these people than of the previous list. American society values money. It doesn’t value hard work, or talent, or genius, no, it values money. Modern day heroes are those who have the money, those who live the lives we wish we could have. Many of our heroes and role models from when we were younger weren’t wealthy. Neil Armstrong probably doesn’t suffer from financial problems, but he isn’t wealthy either. Einstein wasn’t know for his wealth, and although Picasso’s paintings sell for millions now, he never had the wealth of today’s super-stars.
We used to cherish people for what they did, for what they contributed to society. Those people were role models, they showed the youth how to live an interesting and productive life while also generally being a good person. Today we no longer value achievement, but instead we value worth, we no longer value contribution, we value selfishness. The problem with contemporary role models is that they are all filthy rich. Being rich isn’t a bad thing, and someone like Bill Gates is a good point for that. Bill Gates, in my opinion, is one of those classic role models–a decent guy who worked hard pursuing his interest and arguably made the world a better place. I’m not saying we should stop being fans of athletes, singers, and stars, but we should consider if they are fit role-models.
Then you get this “princess” mentality. Which is the epitome of valuing worth over achievement. Princesses don’t do anything unless they are feeling particularly charitable. The popular conception of a princess is a girl who can do as she pleases not because she earned that right, but because she is a princess. Its a horrible role-model. We’ve seen bright young minds flee from subjects that aren’t profitable and go into things like finance. We value the millionaire playboy more than we value the struggling scientist. That millionaire playboy is the male equivalent of “princess”–somebody who enjoys rights and privileges not because of their contributions, but because of their perceived worth. Contemporary role models are rich, but most of us will agree that many of those role models shouldn’t be as rich as they are because we all roll our eyes when we hear somebody is getting payed millions to throw a ball around or to act like they are crying on film.
The people who are looked up to today are over-paid and contribute very little of value to society (obviously, this is my opinion). Children gain role-models through society, and our society has changed values. Adults and parents no longer tell their kids about the deeds of men like Neil Armstrong and encourage their kids to work/study hard to do the same, no, well them they have to be “special” so that they can be rich and/or famous, because only “special” people can be rich and famous. Contemporary role models do not extol virtues of hard work and decency, no, contemporary role models emphasize net worth.
TL;DR We now value celebrities, playboys, and princesses more than scientists, artists, and innovators. Materialism sucks.
What do you think? Are we putting too much emphasis on children doing whatever they want because we tell them they can, instead of putting the emphasis on what they contribute to society? Are we ignoring the people that will move the world forward and instead obsessing over dollars?
If so, how do we go about fixing it? What messages should we be sending our kids to value each other and to value innovation? If not, why do you disagree?
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