What happened to that pleasant Koosh ball-slinging, “cutie patootie”-calling woman the American public knew as Rosie O’Donnell? In her recent mudslinging feud with Donald Trump, she has done nothing but cement herself as the judgmental warmonger of the celebrity world. Of course, Trump has no excuse for his childish
behavior either. But perhaps O’Donnell’s fall from grace is bigger than a mere in-the-media brawl. It is an example of a mind-boggling trend: the fall of the celebrity role model.
Sure, scoff at the idea of O’Donnell being a role model now. But back in the mid 90s, Rosie was pretty darn cool. She was part of a Temple student’s favorite day – staying home from school, waking up at 10 a.m. and lying on the couch with a glass of OJ.
Flipping on NBC just in time to see her show was part of the sick day regimen.Back then the young and impressionable made sure to tune in if they had the chance, now they tune her out. Most middle school kids could not be paid to watch O’Donnell on “The View.”
O’Donnell is not alone in her plummet. Many beloved role models of our generation have crashed and burned in the past year. Even Rosie’s old favorite, Tom Cruise, has let the public down, acting like a lunatic on- and off-camera. Britney Spears, through a failed marriage and poor decisions like driving with her son in her lap, has earned her a bad rap.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, arguably the hottest couple to ever exist, started their smoldering love affair in deceit, screwing over one of America’s most adored friends, Jennifer Aniston. Jessica Simpson, who preached to the public about saving herself for marriage, could not work things out with her hubby Nick Lachey. Then the fabloids reported an affair on her part.
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, the only couple the public had hopes for, ended their marriage in 2006. It sure was an ugly year for celebrity role models.
But it probably was not a good year for plenty of other people, too.We are not perfect. Painting celebrities as such simply because they seem to have it all does not mean that they are able to measure up to that image of greatness.
From the outside looking in, it is hard to remember that the rich and famous are not wizards of perfection.
They have production companies, mansions, self-titled magazines and more. But even Martha Stewart had to do jail time.
Celebrities are in the same boat as all of us. They make mistakes just like Joe down the street who left his wife for some younger, hotter chick. Making mistakes is not a unique trait to celebrities. The “common folk” have surely had their share of letdowns.
Maybe the dangerous thing is to have a role model. It sounds a bit pessimistic, but in a world of inevitable disappointment, those who are worshipped will eventually slip.
Do not be surprised when that knight in shining armor screws up. As strangers, we are all powerless to change the fallen celebrity. No, we cannot help Tom Cruise.
Then again, no matter how hopeless it seems, respect should not go to the wayside. It is not OK to act like a clown and not everyone will leave kids disillusioned.
While it is not possible to rest on one’s laurels, there is a good side to everyone, even if it is hard to see.
Understanding and forgiveness can pave the road to healing the bad hype about fallen role models. And if everyone remembers better times, maybe the bad will seem a little less potent.
Maybe it all boils down to this: Rosie O’Donnell does not have to be liked anymore, but a scowl is not needed when her name is mentioned. Just zone out the craziness, remember the Koosh balls and let the good times roll.
Erin Bernard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.