"The Girl Who Was Plugged in" and Positive Role Models

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In the short science-fiction novel The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree, Jr. (the pen name of Alice Bradley Sheldon), formal advertising as it is known has been banned. However, the businessmen of the fictitious GTX cooperation have no problems getting around this new law. They know, just as the advertising executives of today know, that it is human instinct to admire and emulate the actions of those they view as successful, and that people will covet the products and services they see being used by the beautiful and glamorous. People will always strive for the fame and fortune of the celebrities they see parading across their television screens and plastered on magazine covers. There are times when these role models can be positive; skilled actors, artists, and athletes succeeding at their craft. However, in today’s scandal-loving society, most of our media outlets are filled with stories of talentless people’s antics, such as a socialite’s multiple plastic surgeries, or a reality television star’s D.U.I. Celebrity role models give youth a distorted view of reality; that success can be achieved through conducting scandals, extreme drug use, and physically deforming ways.

Coming up with the names of a few popular celebrities – Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Snooki – isn’t much of a challenge. What’s harder is defining exactly why those people are so well-known. The celebrity today is more commonly famous solely for the sake of being famous, rather than for possessing any true talent. In an editorial cartoon from Investor’s Business Daily, this point is illustrated quite bluntly. In the image, a young, pig-tailed girl sits at the base of an ancient Mayan temple, on a slab that reads “CELEBRITY WORSHIP.” She looks up at her mother and father, standing beside her, and expresses her desire to be “just like” a number of celebrities: the previously mentioned Paris, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Anna Nicole Smith. He parents, wearing traditional...
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