Today's teens say the media's negative spin on celebrity has made heroes hard to find.
They don't make teen idols and heroes like they used to -- if they make them at all.
``They'' in this case are the news media, whom the eighth- and ninth-graders in Southwest Junior High's newspaper class credit with -- or blame for -- shaping their perceptions of who's hot and who's not.
``The media molds images anymore,'' said Rajesh Gogineni. ``They can take people's images and mold them the way they want to.''
Emily Chaney agreed. ``I think a long time ago it was easier for kids to have heroes,'' she said. ``We've now come to know that we're not going to have a perfect world.''
Tell-all reporting about celebrities, politicians and sports figures has highlighted human frailty and left teen-agers' illusions in tatters.
``The good stuff isn't even news anymore,'' Jamie Devore said.
That gives the public little opportunity to forget and means that a tarnished image isn't easily redeemed.
``They make bad stuff repetitious,'' Joy Grisafe said.
For all those reasons, the kind of adulation heaped on Jackie Kennedy Onassis wouldn't be possible for a newly arisen public figure, the students said. And they don't think that's necessarily bad.
``I don't think any one person deserves that much credit, to be put up on a pedestal,'' Chad Fulks said.
As hero material, politicians get particularly low marks from students at Southwest.
``Most politicians try to tell you what you want to hear,'' said Lucas Spangler.
Television and movie stars don't fare much better, mostly because the students see through the manufactured personas that those celebrities project and the fantasy world in which they live.
``It's like a false sense of values,'' said Jodie Scharenberg.
Asked what ``Friends'' actress Jennifer Anniston had done to warrant a scantily clad appearance on a recent cover of Rolling Stone, Austin Paley said her qualifications were superficial.
``It's more her appearance than her acting that's made her popular,'' he said.