David Letterman – Role Model Or Scapegoat?

lettermannOn Thursday, October 1st David Letterman gave his studio audience details of an alleged extortion plot against him.  I’m sure most of us know the details of the incident by now.  If you don’t then you’re one of the minority that either live in a cave, one of the tent cities popping up in Connecticut or you live in the Unabomber’s old shack.  If any of those locations apply to you, go out and get yourself some electricity and join us in the 21st century.  It’s a cool place to be, trust me.

I first heard about the Letterman thing on the radio and then I got all of my important details from ABC News.  Being the consummate news professionals they are, I was provided with several random quotes from everyday people offering their opinions about this so-called scandal.  One of those quotes, and you just KNEW it was coming, referenced Mr. Letterman’s status as a role model, stating that he fell far short in that area.

I knew someone had to eventually bring up that topic.  Role models – who they are and who they should be – have always confounded me.  Should a baseball player be a role model for kids?  Should a politician?  A teacher or a rock star?  If you set your sights on a role model that is in the public eye and under constant scrutiny, chances are you’re setting yourself up for a gigantic fall.  One thing people seem to forget is people in those professions are, in most cases, regular people who report to their jobs every day just like most of us regular carbon-based inhabitants.  But for those people, one false move or one bad day can be exploited in the media and brought to our full attention.

I believe people should select their role models more carefully.  I think first you should look to your family, like in the direction of your mother and father.  But the potential downfall there is having parents that aren’t worthy as role models.  In that case, it’s time to look elsewhere or look into adoption options.  Try your brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles.  I think you should start there because this is real life, people.  If you can’t look up to your mother or your father or even another family member, someone needs to get help.  If you have to reach further to someone in the sports, entertainment or political world, you’re rolling the dice.  Let’s remember that even Spider Man has a dark side.

The question of whether or not David Letterman is a role model is insane unless you’re an aspiring comic or talk show host.  David Letterman as a role model for a kid?  Seriously?  He has a job, he goes to work every day and he has people working for him.  What’s so incredibly great about that?  It’s what he does for a living and I’m sure he approaches his job just like I approach mine.  I don’t get up in the morning and think about being anyone’s role model.  I just go into the office, do the best I can and go home.  Sure, I don’t have sex with anyone at work but if it’s consensual, who the hell cares?  The guy is a human being, which means he can make mistakes.

Now unfortunately, I will bet that at least one of the women who had consensual sex with David Letterman will be lured with huge sums of money to come forward and change her story, accusing Letterman of pressuring her to engage with sex to further her career or even keep her job.  You know it’s coming – I can see the media foaming at the mouth even now.  That’s the sad part of this whole thing.

But to me, David Letterman is just another guy working another job.  Maybe that’s because I’ve been in the entertainment business as a radio show host and I know that it’s really not as glamorous as a lot of people think it is.  It’s not because I wasn’t any good and didn’t have a fan following – my morning show ratings were number one and two in every market I worked in.  Sure, Letterman was in a relationship with a woman while having his admitted sexcapades but that makes him human.  Regular people do that kind of thing every day and it doesn’t make news headlines.  Mr. Letterman has to answer to his wife and that should be punishment enough for him.

Now that I have determined he is human, that means, I suppose, that he can be held up there as a potential role model.  But we also can’t forget that he is a celebrity, which brings me back to my original point; he spends his days in the spotlight and our society just waits for someone in that spotlight to make a mistake.  It’s an unfortunate part of our culture but that’s the way it is.  It’s almost like we put people up on that pedestal and just wait and hope for them to fall off of it.

So if someone says David Letterman is a bad role model, that person is actually saying we are all idiots for putting him up on that rolemodelpedestal in the first place, which I agree with.  It’s not David Letterman’s fault, it’s OUR fault because we put him in that position.  I am an ok guy – I try to do nice things for people as I go through my days because I believe in karma, but I am nobody’s role model.  I have a hard enough time just living up to my own standards and expectations.  And if I were to be someone’s role model, hopefully that someone is smart enough to know I am human and I have faults.  If they’re not, then they get what they get when I make an inevitable mistake.

I applaud David Letterman for being honest and putting the facts out there and I wish others like sports stars and politicians would take a chapter from Letterman’s book when things like this happen to them.  We all have a past, we all have closets filled with skeletons, and we all stumble at times.

We’re all humans and that is the role model standard we should all be held to.

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