Happy “nepo” week to everyone celebrating. At a time when we could be indulging in eggnog and honing in on “Ode to the Bells,” we’re asking who raised our most famous people. The walls of our supposed meritocracy are crumbling as we sniff out the conspiratorial nepotism that prevails among us. Is it time to ask that model’s mom if she’s also been a model? What if the TikTok foodie’s father was the inventor of the Toaster Strudel? Wasn’t that actor William Shakespeare’s uncle? He did remain silent.
The list of “nepo babies” is extensive and female-biased (don’t think I haven’t noticed), including but not limited to Zoë Kravitz, Lourdes Leon , Maya Hawke, Kaia Gerber. Maude Apatow was there, as were Gwyneth Paltrow and Lily Allen. Dakota Fanning is mentioned. There’s a (Witherspoon-)Philip, a Spielberg, a little Bjork. When you’re wearily browsing nepos, the list seems longer than the COVID lockdown feels.
I do understand the temptation. A consumer society is built on acquiring new things, but we also revel in the legacy we buy. We love new things and we love backstory. Nepos offers both – a fresh face and
the inner myth, albeit the parent’s. It’s fun to imagine being raised by Lenny Kravitz or Victoria Beckham or Melanie Griffith. Journalists, designers and brands love a mother reference or a father allusion – it’s just a way to get into a story, in the moments before it unfolds.
Everyone I mentioned is talented in their field in their own right, but based on the slight internet commotion, the main question is how the talent got noticed . It seems unfair that these kids are all just sitting in relative affluence when the opportunity arises. The rest of us toiled and aspired to get into our chosen industries with ins coming out of their ears, their last names opening countless doors, their The social succession has seen them navigate (easier) through life. I don’t feel like nepo babies – as they transition into young adulthood or beyond – give a double fuck on the way they come in. They play with the hand they are dealt with. The gates of Hollywood are ajar; who in their right mind wouldn’t walk through it?
Doesn’t sound like an old man looking back on his life at the end of a movie, but fame really changes our whole life and to be famous fame is now a viable career path. People used to have a trade—acting, athletics—and fame was just an offshoot. But the Internet has democratized our entertainment and changed the notion of a “superstar” or “sensation.” Fame is more widely available. We still have actors, athletes, musicians, and models, but we also have strangers who are beautiful enough to have countless followers and completely dominate the social channels. Hollywood used to be dominated by its abusive glamour, and we now have underground super-fame too. The unknown descendants have a new space to develop