When I was seven years old, just a few months older than Flea is now, I started my first ever diary.
I wanted to be either a forest ranger or a writer when I grew up. My heroes were David Attenborough, and Enid Blyton.
Fast forward a quarter of a decade and kids have moved on. Now they want to be Cheryl Cole or Kim Kardashian. Fame and money, that’s what life’s all about, it seems.
A PR recently sent me a whole series of Keeping up with the Kardashians to watch – and God, it’s depressing. Kim Kardashian says things like:
“White is actually one of my favorite colours. I have a white car. I love white.”
And that’s considered NEWS. It is NEWS that someone with no discernible talent or integrity thinks that white is one of her favourite colours. Doesn’t it make you want to poke your eyes out with a pencil, so you never have to see this crap, ever again? Or how about:
“Ever since the sex tape scandal, I have to be really careful about how I’m perceived.”
Wow. There’s a sentiment I want my daughter to live by.
And please Cheryl Cole, don’t tell young people that we’re wrong for thinking Chris Brown is a tosser, because he just made a mistake, and everyone makes mistakes. Leaving the gas on is a mistake. Beating your girlfriend to a pulp, tossing out homophobic insults on Twitter and chucking chairs round a TV studio? That’s just being a douche, Cheryl.
I was thinking about this last night, as I was watching 56 Up. If you’ve not heard of the programme, it’s a Granada TV documentary that started following a group of seven year old children almost 50 years ago. Every seven years, the programme makers revisit the group of (now) adults, and see what’s happened to them.
Do you watch it?
56 Up is a poignant reminder of how short life is, but I love that it shows the bravery and fun and sacrifice in even the most ordinary of lives. It shows that love is more important than money, and that “success” is really about finding something useful to do, raising a family, and being part of a community.
None of the people in the programme are ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ particularly. But seeing people work hard to escape difficult backgrounds, picking themselves up after loss or illness or divorce, creating new careers and giving back to their communities even when they don’t have much to give – it’s inspiring stuff. I think the show is a really, really important social document, in that respect.
And it makes Kim Kardashian and her cartoon-boobed, fake-tanned, glossy sisters look more than a little bit ridiculous.
But it does make me wonder – what do our children aspire to? And what should they aspire to?