Celebrity: Equal to Role Model? The Line Drawn between Expression(through the Arts) and Advocacy

Showbiz icons cannot escape criticisms and while they are still in the business, it is inevitable. Issues sometimes make or break their careers. Some even say that if you are talked about, you are assured of your continued existence in the arena.

Just recently, when Nora Aunor made her steps for her comeback to the show business, got some thumbs down from anti-smoking advocates. This was due to her vogue-like pose in the cover photo of YES Magazine with the superstar holding a cigar. She has captured the limelight yet in the wrong way as a Catholic priest commented. Philippine Medical Association (PMA) has also spoken their piece regarding artists to act as role models and not project bad values and vices, like the hazardous smoking.

The group has been disappointed for the act but I think this draws the line between art and advocacy. Though art could be an effective means for advocacy, still the freedom to express prevails, from which art is a perfect avenue to express. With this the magazine’s editor-in-chief defended the cover photo and pointed that it only depicts who Nora is as of the present: a free-spirited and more liberated artist as she breaks her silence on issues regarding her sexuality, her children and a lot more. But in the end, the editor attested full support to the no-smoking campaign. As of the latest, Nora also promised to quit her smoking in due time, as it has caused her health to breakdown and she confirmed to be one of the advocates for the smoke free Philippines campaign as soon as she quits.

I can understand the arguments by both parties but in the end, I give my vote for the sake of art and expression. Celebrities are more like instruments used to convey to the public a thought or an idea from a producer, a director or maybe from a writer. They are still humans in the first place and they deserve to be given freedom to act as such. But in the case of a photograph, a magazine cover for an instance, it doesn’t mean they project an image of a smoker, are now automatically bad examples, not good role models to the general public. There could be many ways to express freedom but with a cigar, it poses a rainbow of symbolisms and it connotes such meaning as soon as a reader looks at the cover.

A magazine cover can neither defeat the advocacy on no-smoking as they dread that children may look at it as a good practice than a bad habit. Still, the influence of parents could be more effective than any form of media these children were exposed.

As I have said earlier, criticisms are inevitable to showbiz personalities, young or the old. Young actress and Showtime host, Anne Curtis also got some negative comments still from the anti-smoking advocates for her photo in another magazine cover. Same as with Nora’s, but this time, Anne humbly apologizes to those for her were offended and said it was unintentional. She did not expect that the photo would be picked for the cover. However, the young actress repeatedly stressed that she does not smoke in real life and with that, Anne said she does not promote smoking.

It’s really hard to be a public figure but as with Anne, she has been a good role model for the youth and as with Nora, she has been a good mother to her children. It could be a good time to give them a break, from the hassles of intrigues and controversies caused only by a photograph, a magazine cover to be specific.

One question still rings in my mind and it goes like this: Does the word celebrity correspond to being a role model? I think it’s a big no. Anyways, they are humans, who are not perfect and will never be one. As long our society gives in to these vices such as smoking, alcoholic drinking, illegal drugs and gambling, any advocacy campaign would never succeed. The home is still the best place to educate children on the right and wrong acts. Yes, media in any form could be more powerful, but parents could be more convincing to their children, as long as they do project themselves as good role models, and not depend on drama personalities to act it out for them.

Photo taken from the Vinter Sections Website

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