Grrr! You're a Role Model

OK, here's the deal.

If you're famous for any reason other than being a criminal, you're a role model. Even Paris Hilton is a role model.

It's like Peter Parker's Uncle Ben says in "Spider-Man 2": "With great power comes great responsibility."

Now, I'm not saying that famous people are superheroes or supposed to be perfect, but I am saying that any access to mass media is powerful, and whether it's "Access Hollywood," "E!" FOX News Channel, CNN, ESPN, the local multiplex, the newsstand or, celebrities need to act appropriately.

NFL quarterback Michael Vick should not be flipping the bird at fans, like he did on Sunday during a game against the New Orlean Saints.

By doing so, whether Vick cares or not, he has inspired thousands of pee-wee and high school football players across the country to mimic his pro moves.

And they're not being paid millions to play, unlike our hero Vick.

Vick apologized through a statement after the incident.

I won't go any further than just bringing up Michael Richards and Mel Gibson, but they too are not setting any fine examples for the fans of their work — and there are millions of them.

Why do I get so Grrr'd over these things?

Because like it or not, Hilton and her famous friends are trendsetters, and frankly, I don't want to see young girls strip down to their stockings while dancing at teen night at the local club.

Last week it was widely reported that Spears hit a Vegas club and did just that, while dancing the night away with Hilton. That's just Grrreat. Just when Spears dumps her freeloading, good-for-nothing-but-reproducing (apparently) husband and gains some sympathy, she goes out with Hilton and puts on a shoddy display.

And now the about-to-be-single Spears is reportedly mulling over an invitation to spend Christmas with Madonna in London.

Let's hope there won't be any French kissing this time, like they engaged in in front of millions of viewers at the MTV Video Music Awards a few years ago.

Titillating, you think?

Hardly, and not just because Madonna is old enough to be Spears' mother. No, it's not titillating because it inspires millions of teenage girls to experiment with same-sex canoodling.

Just flip the channels late at night and land on any "Girls Gone Wild" infomercial to see what I mean.

And it's not about being gay and lesbian. It's about exploiting young girls for profit, and Madonna and Britney are as guilty as "GGW" producer Joe Francis is.

We all remember back in 1993 when basketball star Charles Barkley went on national television to pronounce that he was not a role model in a controversial commercial for Nike. It made no sense at the time, especially considering Nike presumably chooses athletes who are role models to endorse its products.

Without reopening that debate, however, the point really is that celebrities of all industries need to be aware that everything they do is looked at with intense scrutiny by huge numbers of impressionable people.

While saving Africa from poverty, AIDS, starvation and genocide is paramount to the legacy of our generation, I'd like to see stars focus on the homeland more than just at Thanksgiving and Christmas — or more pointedly, more than when good deeds are covered by a fawning press.

Charlize Theron was once quoted saying something to the effect that she dresses up for red carpets out of respect to the fans. Would that more people in her position thought the same.

'Happy Feet'

So I took my 3-year-old daughter to see "Happy Feet" over the weekend. And while she enjoyed most of the actual movie, I was Grrr'd immensely by what goes on the screen as previews and commercials in a rated PG movie.

Commercials included a Cingular Wireless ad featuring a man talking on his cell phone being berated by director Sydney Pollack, who ends the diatribe with, "Oh, is my directing interrupting your phone call?" In other words, don't use your phone during the movie.

That's all well and good, but Dear Sydney, what have you directed lately?

"Pictures of Frank Gehry," "The Interpreter" and "Random Hearts" hardly kept the otherwise legendary director ("Tootsie") in the recent national consciousness so much that people who go to "Happy Feet" would know Pollack by sight.

It kind of takes away from the joke when people are wondering "Who the heck is this guy?"

And then there was the spot for the new BMW. Now, this appears to be a beautiful driving machine, and the commercial was filmed from the point of view of the vehicle's headlights, racing across roads and ultimately over a racetrack at high speed.

The spot is done so well, it looks like a scene out of any "007" or "Transporter" movie.

When the car stops, I was fully expecting to see a tiny sports car. Instead, a family exits the BMW X5, which is advertised to seat seven people. I was baffled as to why anyone would drive at such speeds and perform such risky maneuvers if they were driving with their family!

Of course, trailers for films like "Eragon," which featured fire-breathing dragons that scared more than one child into tears, coupled with one for "Unaccompanied Minors," which features kids running rampant in an airport misbehaving, as well as a spooky "Harry Potter" preview that made one child exclaim "I'm scared, Mommy," didn't warm me up to "Happy Feet."

Fortunately, the movie was pretty good.

Your Grrrs

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