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The Gospel According to Ice-T and “Coco”; Are Celebrities Role Models?

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By Rev. Jesse Herriott
It’s difficult to hide our fascination with the drama and excitement of celebrities, and to be honest, every generation has their lineup of stars. But, what is it about our culture that forces us to pull from the advice, guidance, and even spiritual counseling of celebrities, rather than turn to those “typically” more qualified to advise us in these areas? In a generation where celebrity opinion and entertainment news rules the day, you can’t help but wonder if well, everything should have a “pop” spin on it? Maybe we need to work on creating “pop-religions” or at least ones that are more entertaining? Our generation has seen its share of war, a recession, and we can only pray that the worst is over; so I believe that it’s okay to escape from the serious conversations as much as one can.

If you can remember back during the 60’s when the television series, Star Trek was created, Gene Roddenberry’s idea of giving America something to escape from was a bold move, in light of some of the struggles and racism our country faced. Perhaps our reliance on the latest gossip, reality shows, and celebrity scandals is our way of keeping up that same tradition of “escapism” where we can get away from our otherwise mundane lives. Yet, I will say, at the end of the day, it’s never wise to “go too far, for too long” because your life will definitely be waiting for you when you return.

In latest news, Ice-T and Mrs. “Coco” Nicole Marrow had a public disagreement because of racy-photos that hit the internet. Coco and a lesser known hip-hop artist took some very flirtatious photos that hinted that Ice-T was about to be left out in the cold. According to reports, Ice-T suggests that he doesn’t really know the guy in the photo, and Coco insists that the guy is a regular associate of their “crew.” And of course, Coco insisted that the photos weren’t anything to be concerned about.

Now, in light of their popularity, no news is bad news because their public disagreement will give the two figures more visibility, which is a wonderful branding strategy. Yet, if the couple were actual counselors, religious figures, or life-coaches, the incident might have been a little more “scandalous.” And that doesn’t mean that those positions are more “right” than Ice and Coco’s role as entertainers. At the end of the day, despite our roles, we all are people that are trying to make sense of the world we live in, and how to relate to one another.

Entertainers aren’t always the best to turn to whenever the world needs advice on love, relationships, spirituality, or any other ethical crisis. But, their status, marketing campaigns, and branding makes them our 21st century Religious idols. Hollywood is definitely the new Mount Olympus; they have an impact on the awareness of millions of people around the world. But, while watching them live their lives, and make mistakes in public display, let’s all remember that they are people too. Some of us have made and are still making the same choices they are; the only difference is that we don’t have a camera following us around, or a gossip column to write about us.

Rev. Jesse Herriott is a priest; writer and adjunct professor in Atlanta, GA. Jesse is completing a PhD in Psychology from NorthCentral University, and he writes about Religion, Relationships & Spirituality. In addition, he hosts a weekly radio broadcast airing every Tuesday at 9am Central on Unity Online Radio entitled, “Living on Purpose.” Learn more at www.jesseherriott.com

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