Following yet another episode of allegations of sexual misconduct, an eight-year American congressman, Trent Franks, bowed to pressure to resign from office. It’s the new wave. A series of disgraceful revelations that have seen the high and mighty in the entertainment and political world accused of sexual impropriety. Highly respected men whom the average person looks up to as a mentor or role model are being exposed for the “fraud” they really are. High profile individuals are “falling” in their tens, and before the middle of next year, there may be hundreds of them biting the dust.
Members of House of Parliament, high profile producers and actors, you name it. All of them have been caught in the web of allegations of sexual misconduct.
I always make a mental note not to get carried away by the illusion of perfection created by celebrities or public figures. I constantly try to remind myself that they are human too – prone to frailties like every other person, and their closet persona may be different from that which they portray to the world. But even I wasn’t ready when Bill Cosby’s came up as a woman molester. Like millions around the world, I was gutted. My childhood hero had been demystified, and in the most ignoble way too.
As a child who grew up in the eighties, I watched Bill Cosby as the patriarch of the Huxtable family in the Cosby Show. Anyone who was an ardent follower of the American Television Sitcom would attest to the hit it was. The Cosby Show was a refreshing departure from the racial stereotype of the Black American family made up of irresponsible fathers, drug addicts, prostitutes and general no-do-gooders.
Cosby and his on-screen family were the epitome of the family everyone fantasized about. And Bill who was cast as Cliff Huxtable was the quintessential husband and father. The model man every woman wanted by their side, and the personification of a father many could only wish for. Little wonder the show was rated number one for five consecutive seasons, and Cliff Huxtable named “Greatest Television Dad” for his stellar representation of the character.
Huxtable wasn’t a real person, but it would have been difficult for anyone not to adduce his stellar family man character to the man who played him. Decades down the line, many never got over their adoration of Bill. I am one of them. And so you can imagine my shock when all those women began to recount their unsavoury experiences with him. Before my very eyes, a man who appeared to be unable to do any wrong turned out to be a lecherous monster.
The revelations about Bill Cosby may have come as a huge surprise to many, but the truth is, the average celebrity is no role model. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ed Sheeran, Eminem, Demi Lovato…you name, have all struggled with drugs and alcohol at one time or the other. Sometimes, it’s worse. They may be Satanists or child molesters too.
While it cannot be said for certain that Lady Gaga is a Satanist, she is known to perform Satanic rituals on tour and has made casual references to Lucifer in her songs. Even the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson who was as idolized as any human could ever be stood trial for child molestation, and till this day, school of thought insists he was cleared of the charges because of his star status.
Earlier in the year, comedian and TV host, Okey Bakassi alleged that seventy percent of Nigerian celebrities are on drugs. While it sounds incredulous, he may not be too far from the truth. These days, some famous personalities flaunt themselves in the act on their Instagram pages. Some of them steal, some have been caught committing fraud or appropriating another person’s property.
This piece is not to deride celebrities or prominent personalities, rather it is to point the average person to the reality of the fact that there are really no role models or at best there’s a handful of them. If we knew half the things the people we considered role models got up to, we would not only be ashamed of them, we would kick ourselves for being so naive.
You have to be your own role model. You have to take full responsibility for how you turn out, your actions and inactions and not pattern your life after anybody else’s. Except, of course, you know all about them and are satisfied with their conduct.
Oftentimes, this is not the case. What happens more often than not is that we see the external and judge a person through shallow lenses. We only see the successful individual who seems to have a good head on their shoulders. They look good, they are well spoken, they have a good career going, and are probably happily married. What we are unaware of is that this same person is a paedophile or some sick, twisted psychopath who’s laying in wait for the next innocent person to prey on.
I admire a few people and what they have made of their lives, but I am also careful to remind myself not to idolise them or be under the illusion that they are perfect and are devoid of a dark side. And so, I really do not call anyone my role model. I simply admire and emulate the areas of their life that speak to me.
A long time ago, I came to the realisation that I am my own motivator, my own role model, and while I draw inspiration from people from various walks of life, I think the title of “Role Model” is one I would rather refrain from crowning anyone.
P.S: On Wednesday, 20th December 2017, “Give Hope To The Slum Child”, a youth-based African NGO will be embarking on a program tagged – The Give Project 8.0, to reach out to the needy in Makoko area of Lagos. The program is supported by ITEL Mobile and has been organised to put a smile on the faces of the less privileged this season by providing them groceries, essential items and medical treatment.