New York Magazine declared 2022 the Year of the Nepo Baby. But what exactly is a Nepo Baby? Is this really a new phenomenon? And why are we suddenly so obsessed with them?
Welcome to episode 1 of Straight to the Comments, where we have reviewed many many comments relating to Nepo Babies to try to discover where the fascination comes from and what it means for us all. From the celebrity children taking over HBO, to giving jobs to family and friends at work - join us as we take our first wild ride into the comments.
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This series is produced by Emily Crosby Media.
Click here for the full transcript
New York magazine declared 2022 the year of the Nepo Baby. Suddenly it seemed everyone was weighing in on the conversation from YouTubers to readers of the Financial Times.
But what exactly is a Nepo baby? Is this really a new phenomenon? Why do we accept some nepo babies and not others?
Let's dive straight to the comments and see what people are saying.
First things first, I'm Sarah.
And I'm Lisa.
And we have a bit of a confession to make. We are fascinated by celebrity gossip culture. But it's always been a bit of a guilty pleasure. I remember as a student, and we're talking early 2000s. Now, I would buy the National Enquirer every week. While it felt like everyone else was reading the economist or the New Scientist and I would secretly be reading that feeling, feeling less valid, even though I was studying experimental psychology. But these days, everything's online, it's so easy to get access to all these things. And it's so easy now to comment on it. And that's become a whole new area on top of the story, so much so that the comments themselves sometimes overshadow the stories. It's really fascinating because it gives us a bit of an insight into what people are secretly thinking. And of course, some of them are just hilarious.
I completely agree. Me too. And I, you know, growing up, I loved film, music and pop culture. I was always rummaging around in the newsagent buying the magazines, you know, starting off with Smash Hits. Then on to Empire, this film magazine, the face, sky. I mean, i was just a complete magazine addict, and eventually moving on, you know, as I got older, in my 20s, in London to Grazia and I think around, I was thinking about it the other day, like about 2009, I stopped buying them all together, and reading more online, joining Twitter, just sort of following the comments and what people are saying. And then I myself, you know, as you know, but for the benefit of the listener is that I've been working in social media for the best part of the decade. So I've been reading comments for lots of different brands and just trying to keep up with the millions of conversations going on out there. It's, it's really hard for a brand to track it, let alone when a viral story like nepo babies blows up. Yeah. And that's kind of why I wanted to start the podcast with you. I was thinking, who's listening to all this conversation and is someone making meaning of it all? And do these comments matter? Or are they just meaningless chatter? And I think they matter?
Well, yes, that's why I'm here. I do think they matter, I think, I think they tell us a lot about our society. And also, it's really interesting to look at what our motivations behind reading certain comments are as well.
Okay, so Lisa, what is a nepo, baby?
so Nepo babies, they are celebrity children who are making waves in the creative world, but are facing criticism for their perceived lack of merit. The Nepo Baby trend kicked off in February last year with a tweet about the cast of the TV series Euphoria. So basically, it was just basically saying this whole show is full, of cast members who have famous parents, and then the kind of conversation was heating up about Nepo babies culminating with his epic Nepo baby article in the New York Magazine in December, titled How Nepo babies are born, and on the cover they had Dakota Johnson, Lily Rose Depp and other lots of Nepo babies. I mean, you've seen this cover, how would you describe it?
I have and it's quite an iconic image. It does really grab your attention. It's a series of I think nine cots, like you'd have in the creche of a hospital after the babies are born. And there are all these babies in these cots. But with the heads of what they're now terming, Nepo babies superimposed. So like you said, Dakota Johnson, Lily Rose Depp, Zoe Kravitz, and it really did grab your attention. And I think it was everywhere at that point.
and it's a great piece of marketing, right?
Oh, absolutely.I mean, it was. I just think it was a genius bit of design. There's part of me that felt guilty for kind of like, you know, it felt a bit snarky. I felt a bit guilty sort of liking it, there was something a bit dirty about it, but something just it just nailed it like this situation, lighting the issue. And one of the things that I was thinking about when you looked at that cover, and you opened up when you read through the stories, they did another picture of the kind of, you know, Uma Thurman sort of her face sliced with Maya Hawke on the other side. And one of the things I noticed when you read Nepo baby stories is a sort of fascination in the comments about the physical resemblance of the children to their parents, often, you know, dissecting them side by side. I don't know it's just sort of, and when I started sort of going around and looking at different articles about Kaia Gerber, the daughter of Cindy Crawford has a lot of stuff about you know, one of the comments is Kaia is pretty Yes. However, she doesn't hold a candle to her mother in her modelling days, or Lily Rose Depp, you know, the daughter of Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp. And someone wrote a comment and said, the balance of the genes of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis is the perfect balance with her. And I was just thinking, just starting with that cover and that whole visual, why do you think there is such a fixation with how much they look alike to their parents or don't look like their parents?
Well, I think first off humans love comparison. So any opportunity to compare, we automatically go into we want to categorise, but I think there's also constantly that conflict within us, where we're wondering how much of a role nature and nurture takes. So have they inherited the genes? If they have, and they've just been handed this talent and this beauty, then there's a feeling of unfairness, they've started off ahead of the game by by already looking like a supermodel. If they haven't, then there's almost a Schadenfreude, you know, that feeling of like, oh, well, you had famous parents, but you you still look average, so hahaha, you know, there's that element, I think. Yeah.
And there was a lot of that sort of, you know, and I was going through the comments, and I was really trying to pick comments that, because I don't want to sort of go too much into mean tweets territory, but there was a lot of nasty comments about Kaia Gerber and Lily Rose Depp. And it's, I think, what who's the guy in the end? It's Will Smith and his son,
Yeah. And it's interesting how they just go into micro detail, almost like saying, you know, like you said that they didn't turn out as attractive as their parent. And that is a sort of sport in a way, like, so they don't deserve to have any kind of platform.
Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, you brought up Will Smith and his kids. And it did feel like they were, I mean, I can't say what it was actually behind the scenes, but it did seem that they were foisted onto the public quite early. And when you're that young, it has to be the parents who are choosing really rather than the children. And he had these big budget films that there's absolutely no way he would have got if it wasn't for his father, and as father actually starred in it with him. And I think people just, they feel uncomfortable with the unfairness. They there's there's that element of, can't you be happy just to be a celebrity by yourself? Why? Why do we now have their kids as well?
Absolutely. When I was reading the article, one of my favourite quotes in the article was that I'm thinking of the Smith children - they glide through this world taking for granted the opportunities of which most of us can only dream and they don't even seem that grateful.
So are all Nepo babies equal?
That's actually a good question. Because a lot of articles out there sort of analysing this and a lot of comments. And in fact, there's a Buzzfeed quiz that just came out a few days ago, which you could sort of go through and sort of rank the nepo babies and how worthy they were of their careers and whether they would have made it on their own. So like I said, it's a bit of a sport. Now, it's interesting, because there are some that are really made fun of and I think one of them and you mentioned him earlier is Brooklyn Beckham. And he sees a real target on his back, I think at the moment, you know, and just yesterday, he made a lasagna. And then the you know, and on the Mail Online, they had some comments that said - “next week, little Brooklyn will be making dinosaur chicken nuggets”.
I mean, I mean, it's difficult really, isn't it? Difficult, really,
like I said, you're going back to like, I feel like we're picking on kids, but: “stop calling my chef, he's an insult to people training hard to be a chef, he doesn't have a job and drives cars for 1.5 million”. So I think it's quite easy to understand why he gets people going.
Yeah, I mean, the thing is, with acting, there's no requirement, right? You can, there are a lot of self taught actors, or a lot of self taught musicians. Chefs on the whole have to do a hell of a lot of training, and they have to do a lot of hours. It's a really tough job. And there's a technical ability to it. So it's the same as he, I think he did photography before. And, you know, it's great, live your life. And obviously, someone's interested in watching him because he's got millions of followers. But there's an element where you think it's a little tone death? I mean, why are you doing? Why are you doing instructional videos on, I think, how to make a breakfast sandwich. For me, that's a bit like, if you love cooking, then that's great. Do it. But this is it's just a bit. I mean, I can't answer this question. But is he, is he aware of the backlash? And he's playing up to it? Or, or is he just unaware? I don't know. It's it does seem odd to me.
And I think that's the thing with Brooklyn back and he's sort of the person I think that people are going to because it seems like you said he's just taking these massive shortcuts,
and also switching around. So you know, like, first of all, he wanted to be a photographer, and then he wanted to be a chef. So I think there's an element where people go, how committed are you to each of these things. If you do them for a bit and then move and move on, do them for a bit and you immediately get the reward of maybe being able to release a photography book or being able to film a cooking series straight off. But then then you're like, Oh, well, I wasn't that into it, because now I'm gonna, I don't know, what's he going to do next week, but someone's watching. In fact, a lot of people are watching.
But someone actually jumped into his defence in one of the comments. He said, I totally get why their parents big them up and give them the help on the ladder, up the ladder story, and I totally get why their parents let them who would honestly want to go to a boring nine to five job each day, if you didn't have to and could do something highly paid and fun instead. What I don't get though, and this is to your point, Sarah, is why well known fashion houses, TV producers, etc. give them opportunities, knowing they're not good at their profession or got the right qualities for that industry. But then on the other hand, it can be a gilded cage, like a pressure cooker. This is especially the case when the parent is iconic, rather than merely famous, a figurehead rather than a celebrity. And I think I was thinking of Lisa Marie Presley, who sadly just passed away. Yeah, I followed her life growing up as my dad's huge, huge Elvis fan, and I'm called Lisa, and he was gonna call me Lisa Marie.
there was part of me that felt very attached to Lisa Marie growing up, I was very curious about how much she looked like her father. And it's extremely sad to see when she passed away at such a young age and just 24 hours beforehand, she'd been at the Golden Globes to see the success of the Elvis film, you know, winning all those awards.
So but for her, you could say it's been a gilded cage, right? I don't know, she could…
Absolutely. It also makes me think of people like Liza Minnelli and maybe Frances Bean Cobain, people who have lost their parents quite young, possibly to drug addiction, other things. I mean, if you're Elvis's daughter, you have absolutely no chance of a private life. And if you are fascinated by music, or that's your natural bent because you grew up around it, and maybe that's something you love anyway. I mean, you have no chance of ever even reaching the same level as as your parent, let alone eclipsing it, because you've got someone who's genre defining a massive cultural icon, the same with Judy Garland, you're always going to be playing for second and you're always going to be compared to them. And it's, it's a difficult thing for them. If you want to be a celebrity, there's a weird almost contract you make that one of the downsides, potentially, of that industry is that if you become mega famous, you know, paparazzi, constant attention, constant fans, never having a private life, that's the trade you make, maybe. But if you're a baby, and you're born into this, you had an absolutely no choice. Yeah, what stood out for me was the quote, “it makes sense that zoom as a generation steeped in pop analyses of structural oppression would hit on the name Nepo baby as their particular celebrity obsession. Though as anyone who followed the journeys of mansplaining and gaslight could tell you a word that goes viral can shed its nuances.” And I think that's what's really interesting about the Nepo baby phenomenon. And I think that happens more and more these days is the the use of language. We're not just having a discussion about nepotism, but we've labelled them Nepo babies, which, which is very infantilizing it's very dismissive, very reductive, and, and whatever your feelings are about the topic, it lumps them all together. And it's already a term of sort of, is a term of criticism. Innately. It reached fever pitch, and the accused nepo baby started hitting back and I think their reaction fuelled the story itself. Yes. And like you said, I think when the nepo baby term came up, for me, it specifically does refer to a specific genre generation of these new actors models, those kinds of things that that feel like they've just wandered in it, but now, now, the whole topic has been extended far and wide to include people like Jamie Lee Curtis. And it's almost become a witch hunt of you’ve got these articles going: Here all the nepo babies you didn’t know were nepo babies, like Benedict Cumberbatch. I was like, is he what?
When you say there was a backlash? You know, one of the comments was some Lily Rose Depp. Do you want to read it out?
Sure. So Lily, Rose Depp in reaction to this said people are going to have preconceived ideas about you, or how you got there. And I can definitely say that nothing is gonna get you the part except for being right for the part. And she told that to Elle Magazine. And she also said the internet cares a lot more about who your family is, than the people who are casting you and things. Maybe you get your foot in the door, but you still just have your foot in the door. There's a lot of work that comes after that.
And boy, did people not like this kind of approach. I mean, and I think like you said earlier, this really riled people up because one of the great quotes I found on YouTube, saying that nepotism babies love to say their parents got them in the room, but their talent kept them there. Getting in the room is the point. Everyone struggling wants to be in the room. And I really understood that I really understood what they were saying. And I think there is something that's a little bit maybe tone deaf, with Lily Rose Depp in what she said. And you know, and someone else also said, my big issue and Nepo babies really is just when they tried to deny that it helped their careers at all, because that denial continues to peddle the idea that anyone can make it in Hollywood if they work hard enough. And a lot of people throw away their whole lives trying to get their big break. I wish nepo babies would just be open and honest, like Jamie Lee Curtis. Actually, what did Jamie Lee Curtis to say?
She ended up being dragged into this whole thing. Yeah, herself in reaction. And she said, I've been a professional actress since I was 19 years old. So that makes me an OG, Nepo baby. But some 44 years later, there's not a day in my professional life that goes by without my being reminded that I am the daughter of movie stars. And we're talking here about Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Yeah. It's curious how we immediately make assumptions and snide remarks that someone related to someone else who was famous in their field for their art would somehow have no talent whatsoever. And I think she actually has a point for sure. Especially someone like Jamie Lee Curtis, who has been in the industry for 44 years, she has worked hard. And I personally would say I like her. I think she does have talent. Yeah, I think what was so tone deaf about Lily Rose Depp's reaction was to say that, for me, what jumps out is “I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part”. Well, I mean, there's there's a whole library of films that would prove otherwise, going back to the days of golden Hollywood where they would throw the parties for the producers, so starlets would try and become a mistress or producer so they could get a job. I mean, this has happened so many times, it's weird to say that you would never get a job for any other reason than being right for the role. That I mean, that seems weird to me. But but it seems to really happen a lot in the modelling industry, and even acting as long as it's not too serious an acting part, you know, you'll have a lot of influencing model reality show. I think that's what people really object to.
It is and that's why we really like this quote from someone called Mrs. Danvers. I mean, first of all, can I just say that should be my username? I'm obsessed with Rebecca
I absolutely love the the original with Joan Fontaine. Yeah. Big fan.
She's saying, “It's not news that parents often help out their kids if they go into the same business. But nepotism in the fields of plumbing, dentistry or accounting doesn't inspire resentment, acting as a high prestige, easy, lucrative gig where lots of time off so everybody wants in voila resentment towards Hollywood Nepo babies.” So I think this is very specifically targeting, like you said, what seems those easy careers, like modelling like, like you said, being in music videos or, or in films where maybe you get propped up by a team behind you, you know, you don't have to be that talented.
I think there's a really good point because one of the themes that came up in a lot of the comments about Nepo babies is - oh I don't know why people are complaining because no one complains about farmers or there's nepotism in every industry, you know, you don't, you know, it's a classic English thing, where you call a business, so and so on sons. You know, if I'd have gone into the family business, I would have made my dad call it something and daughters just to be a bit different. But I mean, I come from a farming family, on my dad's side for generations. So in fact, it would be weird to call out farmers for passing on farming. I mean, that's a quite an essential part of the role.
but a bloody hard life farming isn't it?
Oh, Jesus Christ. I mean, my mum was, and she married into it, she was dipping sheep for 18 hours a day when she was eight months pregnant with me. And I'm not saying all farmers do that. So I think my mom is an absolute legend. But my dad, I remember him saying as well, there was a period where he didn't have a single day off for a 10 year period. Can you imagine that? Like not a Sunday, you don't get a Sunday off, you don't get a single day off no holiday continuous
so then you're not gonna get resentment are you? You know, and that's what people a lot of the comments, were saying, okay, you know, why do some of these kids never want to go into careers like surgery, you know, like be surgeons, lawyers, etc. They just want to take the easy path. And then part of me is like, Well, I understand why they want to take the easy path. It's it's gruelling, a lot of work is really gruelling, you know, why wouldn't they if they're being pampered all day, you get to act in films and get paid a lot. I understand why they would take that route, especially if that's what their parents are valuing. Right. So yeah, and one of the things I did when I was researching this is actually what I found out that Jennifer Jennifer Connelly's son is an aerospace engineer. And that also John Malkovich son, I think works as a software engineer. So there's plenty of kids that probably go in, just don't want the limelight. They don't want that whole world and just have normal lives.
I mean, I suppose what I'd say as well, as someone who used to do psychology research and statistics, as part of that is, is this confirmation bias, for example, you would have to to accurately see if most celebrity babies become Nepo babies, you'd have to poll all of them. And you'd have to look at the actual percentage that become celebrities as well. So we're not going to hear about the ones that don't become celebrities. We're only hearing about the ones that do because they already confirm our belief that oh, God, they will just pass it on anyway. We're not going to we're not going to hear about the other ones. I mean, the genetic element, right. So I think we would be less surprised for an athlete's child to become an athlete, like I know, in the boxing world, quite a lot of, wasn't it Chris Eubanks son also became a boxer, all these things, you know. Oh, the classics - my favourite thing was that the main guys at the time, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Fraser, their daughters all became boxing when female boxing was not really a thing. And they actually fought each other. And it became like a repeat of the earlier massive fights that they had. They were very good. They were very good. But would they have got so high a listing on the billing would people have been interested? Would people have bought tickets if they hadn't have had that? Like you hear Muhammad Ali's daughter is going to fight and you think and she's going to fight George Foreman's daughter, and you think, yeah, I'm gonna watch that much more than if they’re just two random women who are great boxers.
But the thing is, I wanted to say is that this is not a new thing. Right? privilege, you know, you could almost say civilization is built on nepotism, right? Family business, going back to your point, it's family passing on business to family, and why would you not help your kids have a leg up and give them opportunities?
I mean, historically, it was wealth and power rather than fame. Because fame wasn't so ubiquitous, we didn't have access. So globally. You know, you've got these, even in the I was gonna call it the New World. But I mean, even in America, you've got the the Gettys, the Rothschilds, people who have this cachet just for now having had generations of wealth. There's also just the evolutionary genetic perspective of, if anyone follows Richard Dawkins, it's that idea of kin selection, I’m going really academic here. You know, we pass on to our kids, because we're, we're primed to want our genes to multiply, which means that we give them the best possible advantages we have. I mean, that's, that's just parental instinct. I'm more concerned about parents who have kids and then just go fuck it. You know? Yeah, they'll do, they can they can look after themselves. I mean, I think that's worse than looking after them. But there's a saying, I remember my dad saying, rags to riches to rags again, in three generations.
Yes. One generation built that right just builds the wealth.
The second one lives off it. But the third one never saw the struggle. And they didn't learn because they were just given it and they often lose it all. I think one of the things I always liked was, so my dad was a, like I said he was a farmer. But he had to learn from the ground up. So they didn't just go, Oh, here you go start running the farm. He was working on the farm from the age of four. His first job was making sure the calves were fed, he had to do that before he was allowed to eat. He always used to say, a boss should be able to do every job that he's asking his employees to do if not better.
Yeah, love that. I love that.
It's true. My dad was brilliant.
But that's the thing. You know, when I was looking at some of the comments with this, you know, and why. Because nepotism like we said, it's not a new thing or passing on power, or privilege, especially as Brits coming from the UK with the class system.
Yeah, we I mean, we we've got a monarchy as well.
Yeah. Hello, the royal family.
I thought what would the people in the business folk say about this Nepo baby issue and they kind of put it in a kind of very simple way that just made sense to me. “the issue with acting is that name recognition does carry weight. Like it or not a Nepo baby has name recognition with a famous parent and that might be enough to cut through with audiences. You know, with the current deluge of content along with a move away from linear scheduling means that any marketing cut through is worth it to broadcasters and video on demand platforms or streaming services. It helps if the Nepo baby can act a bit but let's be honest, poor acting skills has never been a barrier to success in substantial parts of the entertainment industry.”
Well I think that's a really good point especially, you work in marketing, so you know this, they only do it because it works. If they use the name recognition and people weren't buying the tickets, they'd stop using people with name recognition, because it would be pointless, that it's self fulfilling, right? So if we keep consuming it, then they're going to keep supplying it. I think that's a really good point in terms of, we somehow sometimes I think, forget that the entertainment industry is an industry just like any other. So just like boxing and sport, which is also an industry, it's about making money. That's why people run a business, whether you agree with it or not, but you know, in boxing, it's not just who's the best boxer, it's also can you sell enough tickets, are people going to be engaged, there are some amazingly skilled athletes out there. In the same way that there are some amazingly skilled singers and artists, I mean, look at Van Gogh who didn't become famous until after he died, very skilled, but if you can't get people talking about you, remembering you, choosing to go and see you, then people aren't going to give you space to do that.
And you're bringing me on to a point where I kind of like with this topic, I said to you, that I find this topic a little bit difficult, because personally, you know, there was, I wanted to start out on you know, I loved drama from a young age and acting and dancing, but I wasn't like a typical stage kid, you know, and I didn't have that background. This is, like I said, in the mid 90s, pre internet and social media, so that, you know, I was thinking I wanted to go into acting, directing, making films. And when I started looking at my options at 17, and you know, you've got that moment in your life where you decide that big next thing you're gonna do and where you're gonna go, and I was torn between going to drama school, which I couldn't really afford, which was really the best way I think, to get into acting. And, you know, all my role models, uh Madonna, thank you, were like, you know, it's all about grit, you've just got to go for it. And like the story you just told earlier, it's like, there's part of me, it's like, I still really, truly believe if you really want to do something, you will get there in the end if you just pursue it and pursue it. And it's about persistence. But you know, money was definitely a factor in my decision to give up on on acting, and pursue a full time job. And I guess that, for me, the Nepo baby thing. There is part of me, it's like, yeah, we're calling out nepotism, we're calling out privilege. I think it's a good thing. But how serious it is, I'm not sure like how much it's radically gonna change the system. But I do feel good. And I thought, applaud in some ways that we are calling this out.
I think it depends on what your motivation, your intention is behind commenting. And I think that's the problem is sometimes people aren't even aware of what their motivation is there. So there is sometimes a sort of genuine, you know, what I'm calling something out that isn't fair. And underneath, there's another layer of layer of, I've had a really shitty day and my boyfriend shouted at me, so I'm now going to take that out on someone else.
Yeah. And sort of someone you think he's got it good. No, and and that's one of the things when I started looking at this topic, and looking at all the comments, it was interesting to actually have a dive onto Twitter and see what people were saying about Nepo babies, that was not just sort of going on about the kind of, you know, the fact that they don't appreciate what they've got. And of course, they got there because the doors were open for them. So, you know, I quite liked these comments, because I think they sort of speak a lot about the spectrum of privilege and where does getting a leg up start? You know, is it starting from having loving parents, we both had a free, well I had a free education, a teacher that believes in you, you know, I remember some teachers at school that I still remember to this day that I, I feel like I owe a lot to because they did a lot for me, you know, and believed in me. You know, it could even be like you said a good thing, and I've stolen this from you, good bone structure, like Kate Moss, you know, that sets you up for life, you know, or just being really
A good metabolism. I’m very jealous of those people.
Cameron Diaz used to say in her 20s, I eat McDonald's and all this stuff, and I'm still really slim, I always remember reading these articles growing up, you're like I said, in a dimension, how do they do it? So I just think these Twitter comments sort of put privilege into perspective. So one of them is if your parents are still married, you're an nepo baby. If you've been skiing or snowboarding, you're a nepo baby to me. If your parents ever cut fruits for you, you're Nepo baby, oh, my gosh. And then this one may be a bit sad, but it's true for me. If your family have a group chat, then you're a nepo baby to me, I mean that there's something incredibly sad about that one. But the thing is with these comments, yeah, they're funny and sort of snarky and cheeky. But there is something about like, let's be honest, if you're born mostly, you know, for us born in the UK, you know, we’ve got a lot of privilege already, you know, so just want to say check my privilege I’m checking my privilege. One of the things I was thinking about where does this really play out this whole nepotism debate is, you know, we'd like to think we're in a liberal democracy, and we have strong notions of equality even more so now. Yeah, one of the places I would like to see this Nepo baby discussion, really making some impact is in the workplace. And I think there was this comment, again, in another business newspaper, about Nepo baby proofing the workplace. And, you know, I've worked for some companies where you know, some big companies where they actually put in their guidelines, their HR guidelines, you can't be family members, you know, you can't even have relationships, they really want to keep it straight and professional and free of corruption, maybe that's a bit extreme, but I think there is something around, if you just hire all your friends and family, it's quite hard to have accountability. And I don't know if the leadership just want people around them that like them and like their ideas, and
But particularly in very powerful industries, where they're affecting the general public, there's an element of, we need people who actually know what they're doing, and are there because they have certain skills?
Exactly. And, you know, there was this quote, like I said, in the business press, it said, “right, but in this era, can you find my son internship in your bank for the summer old chap is long gone, compliance, HR, and the press office don't allow it, plus the banks don't need the headache. If you want an internship in the city, or wherever, you fill in the application form.” I mean, I don't think this is anything new. But I think this is becoming more of an issue and more awareness around it. I think there is something about, you know, and when I first got to Norway, you know, I was working for the startup. So you know, there's a lot of friends and families in the startup, and it can make it very difficult I feel as an outsider to navigate because you sort of feel like this complex web of relationships that you don't know who's quite who, and why they're there. And I'm not saying you shouldn't hire people that you feel are supportive, and you feel they've got the right skills. Of course, it's your every right if it's your business, but it gets difficult when you mix in outside talent as well. I don't want to call myself talent, but outside people who, you know, who sometimes feel like you have to sort of tread lightly who's the son of somebody or the brother of somebody? You know what I mean?
Yeah, I think it's particularly hard if it feels you can't even get in the door in the first place. Because that classic thing where it would be, you'd be applying for jobs where they've actually already been filled but there, for HR reasons. They're doing the interviews, just so that they can say, exactly, you know, that's quite, it must be quite exhausting going to interviews that, you know, yeah, really didn't have a chance at in the first place.
This is something I've like I said, this is a quote, I really like about Nepo talent. And again, this is in a Business Press article. “Let's be honest, much of the media world besides acting has this Nepo talent, especially journalism, as the article says, It's the ability to survive on low or no income when getting started, that keeps working class kids out. When I trawled the internship schemes at my former media employer, for candidates, I rejected anyone who expressly stated in their application that they didn't need to be paid. My view was and remains that unpaid internships are just a way of supporting the well off. And these were the candidates, least likely to need much less deserve an internship, Daddy, or Mummy could get them some new shifts on the sly. Anytime they wanted it.
I completely understand how that person feels. Especially if it's not if you've got two people who are sort of have equal talent, but one has a connection. You know, I mean, they say the business well, networking is key. But if it's all networking, and no talent, and the person's messing up, and the person has an attitude, you were saying about having to be careful about who's a brother or a son, or if it supersedes the normal hierarchy. So for example, if you're supposed to be the manager, but when your inferior keeps messing up and won't and has an attitude towards you, but you can't put them in place you can't know have a word with them, you can't even fire them if they're messing up because they're the CEOs daughter. That's a really, I mean, that messes up the whole structure. And quite frankly, I think it's it's, if it's the CEO doing it, they're ruining their own company, because it's not going to work well, if that's the approach you take
100% And it's such a difficult thing to navigate because it instantly takes a toll in just doing your job.
I mean, imagine as well, that whole thing where if you're the particularly in the artistic industry, where you've got sort of husbands directing wives, Oh, yeah. You know, Tim Burton, Helena, and we both love Helena Bonham Carter.
Oh, we love Helena Bonham, Carter!
And Tim Burton put her in a lot of his films, and I understand why they obviously had a similar, you know, a similar approach and she was amazing and they worked well together. But imagine taking direction from your husband, especially if you disagree about something and you're in a bad mood or he's saying do it again, because you haven't done it right. I mean, that that's going to be an interesting getting home later that day, when she's just like, Yeah, well, I've got a headache now, so fuck you or not so to speak.
One of the last things we wanted to talk about was the psychology aspect of Nepo Babies, because there's this great quote here. I mean, I don't know do you want to read it out.
Yeah. It says “this Nepo discourse sounds eerily like envy and the world is unfair, and against me, not exactly unexpected from individuals claiming entitlement to life's luxuries. Many things beyond food, clothing, shelter, and protection while we are growing as children are for us to pursue as adults, if we're fortunate to have gotten help beyond that, we should be thankful. If not, then we need to get busy as time and tide wait for no man”. And I think we definitely live in this sort of zero sum world where we think that if someone else gets, there are finite resources, and while there are finite resources, I suppose when you look at really exact resources, like, you know, there'll be a finite amount of copper, or there'll be a finite amount of oxygen. We also apply it to things like there's a finite amount of validation, there's a finite amount of love. And if someone else is hogging it all, there's going to be less for me. I think as humans we do where it's the natural thing with sibling rivalry as well, if, if my siblings are getting the resources, that's resources I'm not getting which would directly affect my ability to survive and thrive. And I think, particularly, we've gone through a hard time in the last couple of years, we've had the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis. And there's that element of they've stolen all the fame, they've stolen all the opportunities, and that's why I'm not successful. That's why I don't have things. And so every time we see someone else have something we want, it feels like there's less available for us.
Yeah, I did Jungian therapy for a few years and we talked a lot about the shadow, and your shadow self and projecting things onto people, because it's often, you know, my mom used to say, when you don't like something about someone else, check yourself first, it's not something about you. Because you can easily get that thing where they call it like having a chip on your shoulder. And you've got to kind of go well, actually, there may have been other factors at play as well. Because like I said, I think, you know, growing up, it's about a spectrum of privilege. And I feel I was given a lot. And there's plenty of people that have made it from tougher backgrounds into the entertainment world. And I do think that, for me, this whole Nepo baby debate has really become sort of a viral sensation, because I think people have more access, and can see more what other people are doing on the internet and on social media. It's more like you said earlier about Brooklyn Beckham, it's sort of there for you to see, it's hard to almost not see him doing stuff. It's almost like a way that it will come to you, you know, whereas before maybe I wouldn't even picked up that magazine, and I wouldn't even bought it
Yes I think it's also how you define success. Do we define success as merely attention or is fame in and of itself, a success. If I think of Alice Neil, the artist, for her her goal, I think was just to paint and paint things that she thought was beautiful. Later, when she became more renowned, I'm assuming that was like the cherry on the top of, her goal wasn't to be renowned, where it feels like today, we've got Only Fans who've got all these things. The aim of everyone, it seems more and more like we covet, just exposure, exposure itself.
So I think this has been a really interesting topic to discuss today. And to kick off our podcast.
I don't know where it's gonna go. This whole conversation, like I said, I'd like to see Nepo babies sort of become less about this kitschy name, and maybe a bit of sort of a shaming name or phrase, and actually make its way into the workplace, like actually being much more transparent about hiring processes, and who gets jobs and being fair, you know, about things. Yeah. Let's see. So, Sarah, we've gone through a lot today. So what are your final thoughts after reading what I think have been many, many, many comments? I hopefully we've given 360 on the topic, we've covered quite a lot of things. What do you think?
Well, essentially, in life, there will always be someone who has more advantages than you in aspects of their life, and there'll be someone else who has less. There's definitely no point denying that in certain areas such as money and career opportunities, some are definitely luckier than others. We all live with some kind of legacy that's been passed on to us from our family. And unfortunately, for some, that can just be trauma. But these statements, I think, are just as true for celebrity offspring as the average person on the street. Lumping them into a single dismissive label like Nepo baby, I mean, it really misses out on the intricacies of individual experiences. In a social media obsessed world, where public attention unfortunately of any kind seems to be coveted more than ever, it might seem that we're wading through an increasing deluge of famous children, some of whom seem to do a little more than just take photos of themselves wearing bikinis. But there are others and they take their initial advantages and opportunities and they work hard to make the most of them. Ultimately, fame for fame sake only exists because we choose to be the audience. We have the choice to stop watching, buying, commenting on and liking people and things that we feel are undeserving. So, just why do we keep perpetuating this and allowing people we claim or undeserving to monetize their name recognition? Do we, in fact, just enjoy having someone to vent our frustrations on?
Well said. Well said. I think I'm going to leave it with this quote, “as the Earl of Chesterfield confidently informed the House of Lords in the mid 18th century. We my lords, we may thank heaven that we have something better than our brains to depend on.” Thank you for listening and see you next week.
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