The Difference Between Being a Role Model and An Example of Success

Jay is apparently doing the skirt thing now. Clearly, he is not a role model.

Jay is apparently doing the skirt thing now. Clearly, he is not a role model.

Last week I ended up in a back-and-forth debate about Beyonce and whether or not she was a role model. Somehow, Beysus manages to be everything to everybody and nothing to everybody at the same damn time. It’s amazing how polarizing she is and it’s mostly her own fault. She wants to be all things to all people. She wants to be able to make albums that are personal and talk about gettin’ nutted on in a car via her husband and still be able to be apart of campaigns to not be bossy. Which TO BE CLEAR, I’m not saying that one negates the other people. RE-READ THAT LAST SENTENCE. Just pointing out the extremes here.

I had to have a convo with a womanfriend about this “Ban Bossy” campaign. I honestly didn’t realize that women were outchea being called “bossy” in such negative fashion. But rock rock on. Take back the words. I guess. What it really sounds like is “Ban B*tch” but as was pointed out, it’s hard to make that work on a commercial and universal level. Somewhere, Kelis is kickin’ tires and lightin’ fires, big daddy #bawse

Anyway, the convo stemmed from an article written by LZ Granderson for CNN that specifically talks about the “Partition” video and lyrics and makes mention of the fact that Beyonce – the role model – was on shaky ground.

Beyonce the artist is above reproach. With 17 wins, she has only one less Grammy than Aretha Franklin. She has more than 13 million Twitter followers despite only tweeting eight times. And she famously crashed iTunes by releasing a full CD without any promotion.

However, Beyonce the role model is questionable as hell.

I’m all for handcuffs, hot wax, stripper poles, whips — whatever it is two consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their bedroom to keep the relationship fresh. But increasingly, Beyonce has chosen not to keep such things private.

Those lines spawned a convo that wove its way into Dr. Dre (not a role model) and Jay-Z (also not a role model) to Michelle Obama (role model), etc. But it ultimately comes down to what makes somebody a role model. To be clear, I do think that looking for people to be role models is a bit of a tired art, but nevertheless, this is our society (and every society). People become reluctant role models, outrightly deny being one, or seek the title (as I think Beyonce does).  Truly, your parents (or parent-like people) should be your role models seeing as they are the people with the most interaction and guidance in your life. But we all look up to people we don’t know and will never meet. It’s human nature.

So here’s my take: Jay, while a very clear example of success despite the odds is not really a role model. I tend to view role models as people who strive to show you the way to achieve and succeed in as positive a light as possible. Sure, Jay success is positive. And I’m a huge Jay fan. But you can’t divorce the person from the art that got him there. You just can’t. Same with somebody like Dr. Dre who is remarkably successful and rich who  has made the majority of his fortune weaving tales of rape and murder. I’m an NWA fan but I can’t defend nearly any of the music they ever released on wax. I appreciate from an artistic rebellion rapper standpoint.

But again, they’re great examples of starting from the bottom and now there there. Beyonce is on that line. While she’s clearly the greatest entertainer on the planet right now (FIGHT ME!) she really does want to be a role model as well. She wants to stand for something and show somebody some light. Which I’m all for. Especially after so many years of folks thinking she was a vapid soul just put here to look into the camera with a blank smile and say “I like good things because good things are great!” Personality was great. And she took it to a whole new level with this last album. It felt like her most personal outing yet. Which is also where I think she starts to tow that line too closely.

Granted, all of the sexual agency she’s exhibiting and sharing blah blah blah is coming from a space of a married woman who did everything “right”. She got married, had her kid, and her and her husband are sharing their lives with us…explicitly. And I’m not sure if that’ s role modelesque. Granted, she can make any music she wants (and does). And I get the argument of owning your sexuality as a woman. It’s just that the folks usually looking for role models are younger and I’m not sure I need 12-year-olds listening. Which they shouldn’t be.

I’m also not going to run the lines about the fact that lawyers and doctors, etc are all our role models. They are but they’re not perfect. But role models don’t have to be perfect. They just need to know what to keep to themselves and what to share, pretty much only bringing something to the table worth noticing. Which is why you get so many entertainers not wanting to be role models because they want to speak freely and shoot up strip clubs and be ignorant without worrying about destroying the minds of some impressionable youth. Though, saying you’re not a role model doesn’t stop people from placing you in that role. That’s the gotcha gotcha. I feel like most folks who are actual role models leave little in the way of having to actually debate it. There’s usually no question about it.

For that reason I think most of these folks (entertainers and athletes) are fine examples of making it. But role models? I don’t know. But what do I know, I’m lightskinneded.

What do you y’all think? What makes somebody a role model? Who gets to be one?

Talk to me.

Oh and who would be a role model? Yo mama. No…seriously.


Eternal Sunshine of Carl Thomas to the Future

It’s Friday.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Everybody’s had a person in their life that they wish could have be erased from memory. This movie depicted this concept and theory flawlessly to me.

Not to mention, you get Kirsten Dunst in her undies for a good segment of the movie. Not that I find her particularly attractive, but whatever. Skin is skin. Unless said skin belongs to Grace Jones or Angela Lansbury, in which case, you can have it.

Carl Thomas also felt this way and did his best impression of a person who could sing in his first single, “I Wish I Never Met Her”. And despite the fact that Carl Thomas sounds like ass vocally, the sentiments are quite apropos. Been there done that. Wish I never did what I done done. Like Shawty Lo, except spelled “dun dun”.

Thing is, I have maybe one person that I wished I’d never met. Hell, I’m pretty sure I told her at some point. But there was no crying for her Argentina. Truth is, though I wished I’d never met her, in some way, she helped to contribute to the sexxy beast that I am today. So perhaps wishing I never met somebody is a bit extreme.

However…there are definitely SITUATIONS that in retrospect I wish I would have changed. Hell, if I had my current wisdom I wouldn’t have made many of the mistakes I made early on. Like the time I knew my ex had cheated on me but I chose to “not believe it”. If I had the chance to go back, I’d have just dropped her ass that day I figured it out instead of hanging around for more months of insane boredom and inexperienced domegame. Sh*t, I could have had a V8. Because of that chick I ended up passing up a chance to have my way with Beyonce before she met Jay. And that’s not true at all, however it made for a better story than it started out as.

For the hell of it: Butteryfly Effect.

So, good people of in the Kingdom of Smartness, what would you do differently? Any blemishes from the past that you’d like to Proactiv away or decisions that probably just weren’t so hot that your current wisdom wouldn’t let happen even if Mel Gibson was directing your life’s story?