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Publicity stunt or real life?

OPINION

  • Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus (Getty Images )
October 31, 2013|By Nikki Lynette, @nikkilynette | For RedEye

These days it seems as if world news and entertainment news are the same thing. Kanye's interactions with the paparazzi, Miley's brief but impactful infatuation with twerking, and pretty much every aspect of Rihanna's life have dominated headlines for the past year.

As information has become more accessible, many entertainers have found their lives becoming an open book, whether they like it or not. Some use it to their advantage, others rage against it. Neither approach guarantees a positive response.

The expectation for entertainers to act like role models while simultaneously being entertaining has been going on for longer than any of us has been alive. So many people make a point of publicly calling the bad behavior of entertainers and athletes ridiculous and crass and shameful, but let's keep it real. Celebs didn't just start acting up in recent years. Madonna, George Michael and even Elvis got into their fair share of trouble back in the day. The only reason it's a huge topic of discussion now is because there was no Internet in the olden days, so it was easier for bad behavior to be hidden and more difficult to get the facts straight.

Truth is, nobody would talk about celebs if they weren't behaving badly. Consumers don't want to be advertised to in 2013. Being discussed on gossip blogs and in tabloids might have been the best marketing move of Miley Cyrus' career. People can talk trash about her, but the fact remains that if she weren't giving people something to talk about she would be completely ignored.

Think about it. Prior to her breakdown, how many people were discussing Amanda Bynes? We live in a sensationalist era. People pretend to hate it ... but secretly society loves it.

The assumption that everything entertainers do is just for attention is dumb. I'm not saying that publicity stunts aren't a regular occurrence for celebs—because they are, and it's nauseating.

As an entertainer, I can tell you firsthand that being yourself and speaking your mind is enough to get you bad press. When it happened to me, it was because I mentioned my pro-abortion rights stance in a song. I got called "vulgar" by the same music blogs that praise misogynistic, gang-culture-glorifying rap videos. I'm sorry, but the only suitable response to that is a raised middle finger.

If you're gonna get bad-mouthed either way, then why walk on eggshells? What's the incentive for not being careless? Not a damned thing.

People love to bash Rihanna for her sexy outfits and haughty attitude, but how many praised her for her $5,000 contribution to Barrington High School earlier this year? Lupe Fiasco gets backlash for his criticism of President Obama, but how much acknowledgment does he get for his efforts to make sure fresh produce becomes more accessible to low-income people in Chicago's well-documented food deserts?

If entertainers don't go out of their way to boast about it, this type of stuff rarely makes headlines. Because it's not offensive, and it doesn't involve twerking.

Celebs aren't toys created for the world's enjoyment. They're human. Are they perfect? Hell no. But if the average person had a camera pointed at their life everyday they might seem a little imperfect, too.

Maybe if we all held politicians to the same standards that we hold entertainers we wouldn't have to depend on singers and rappers to take on the job of being role models.

RedEye special contributor Nikki Lynette, a Chicago native, is an indie recording artist whose music appears on MTV, VH1, Showtime and more.

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