Should “role model” be part of an artists job description?

“I’m no role model,” Rihanna recently said in an interview with British Vogue. “The things I say in my songs, they expect it of me, and [being a role model] became more of my job than I wanted it to be.”

But should acting like a role model be part of an artist’s job description? Many argue no. “That’s the role of the parent,” is the overwhelming response. True. But, after all, these artists are often what people look to in terms of trends. Who advertisers approach in terms of spreading word about a product. Who teenagers look to in terms of what to wear, how to do their hair and, often, how to act and how to think.

It was a discussion that filled the interwebs and the airwaves in the days following Rihanna and Chris Browns recent collaborations. “How could she do that?!” many argued, following the infamous scandal which took place en route to the Grammys a few years ago.

“Young girls (and big women even) will look at that and be like “SEE, sometimes u gotta ‘llow ur abusive boyfriend.” – ie forgive him – tweeted an up and coming rapper.

Agreed. But at the end of the day is it not the responsibility of society and of parents to instill those beliefs in their child? No one in the spotlight signed up to mold the minds of an entire demographic. Isn’t it kind of unfair that as a celebrity you have to take into account all the thousands and millions of people that look upon your actions as a guide to choosing their own? After all, artists get to where they are by being themselves, not by doing what everyone else expects them to.

That said, there is a lot that celebrities can do to better the world. Lady Gaga for example has her own charity, as well as actively supporting others the likes of the MAC Aids fund and Oxfam. Footballer Drogba is another person in the limelight who has his own charity. The foundation, which goes by his name, aims to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people. They are by no means the only celebrities who actively donate and participate in charity work.

Plan B is another artist who uses his position in society to raise awareness on important issues such as the London riots which took place last summer and the state of the youth – evidenced in his directorial debut film iLL Manors and its accompanying soundtrack.

Arguably, it is harder to lead by example. After all, regardless of how many people are watching their every move, at the end of the day these celebrities are only ever people, too. – “Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.”

But in seeing the importance that these celebrities have on the thought process and behaviours of the general population maybe it isn’t too much to ask them to give and teach and spread knowledge as best they can, even if their behaviour sometimes falls short of exactly how and what we would like it to be.

As written for


One thought on “Should “role model” be part of an artists job description?

  1. Check out my friend Baba aka Cronos’ new music it would be a major plus, to say the least, if you could join the music writers looking to review the EP when it’s ready. Tons of them around but none with an opinion like yours (provided you actually like the music of course). He has a Rihanna Where Have you Been remix out too. All the best, Sean.

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