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Exploring the Boundaries of Heroes, Celebrities and Role Models after 9/11: Lessons from Shanksville
Unformatted Document Text:  Lessons from Shanksville p. 3 Barkley’s colleagues, Karl Malone, another basketball star playing for the Utah Jazz, responded: “Charles, you can deny being a role model all you want, but I don’t think it’s your decision to make. We don’t choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one” (Gelman, Springen, and Raghaven, 1998, p. 56). Like Barkley, many athletes become role models for large numbers of people who form relationships with them over time through repeated media exposure (Brown, Basil and Bocarnea, in press). The same is true for popular musicians and singers, film stars and television personalities. The role modeling of celebrities has become a public concern. Achieving celebrity status requires no acts of courage, sacrificial deeds, or moral integrity. Boorstin (1961) described a hero as a person “distinguished by his achievement,” and a celebrity as a person distinguished by “his image or trademark” who is “created by the media” (p. 61). By recognizing that celebrities are “morally neutral,” Boorstin identified a serious social problem that would result by replacing the heroes of the past with the celebrities of today. Whereas heroes are known for great acts of courage or outstanding accomplishments requiring tremendous skill and fortitude, celebrities are known for their popularity. Heroes are pushed into the public spotlight, but celebrities push themselves into the public spotlight. Heroes are provided status through interpersonal relationships, but celebrities are given status by the amount of media coverage they attract.

Authors: Brown, William. and Fraser, Benson.
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Lessons from Shanksville
p. 3
Barkley’s colleagues, Karl Malone, another basketball star playing for the Utah Jazz,
responded:
“Charles, you can deny being a role model all you want, but I don’t think it’s your
decision to make. We don’t choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only
choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one” (Gelman, Springen, and
Raghaven, 1998, p. 56).
Like Barkley, many athletes become role models for large numbers of people who
form relationships with them over time through repeated media exposure (Brown, Basil
and Bocarnea, in press). The same is true for popular musicians and singers, film stars
and television personalities.
The role modeling of celebrities has become a public concern. Achieving
celebrity status requires no acts of courage, sacrificial deeds, or moral integrity. Boorstin
(1961) described a hero as a person “distinguished by his achievement,” and a celebrity as
a person distinguished by “his image or trademark” who is “created by the media” (p.
61). By recognizing that celebrities are “morally neutral,” Boorstin identified a serious
social problem that would result by replacing the heroes of the past with the celebrities of
today.
Whereas heroes are known for great acts of courage or outstanding
accomplishments requiring tremendous skill and fortitude, celebrities are known for their
popularity. Heroes are pushed into the public spotlight, but celebrities push themselves
into the public spotlight. Heroes are provided status through interpersonal relationships,
but celebrities are given status by the amount of media coverage they attract.


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