New York Magazine recently dubbed 2022 the year of the nepo baby. For those who don’t know, a nepotistic baby is the child of a professional, such as an actor, who follows in the footsteps of their parents, and gets success due to their parents fame or reputation. Some famous nepotism babies include Brooklyn Beckham, Bella Hadid, Gracie Abrams and Lily Rose Depp.
Nepotism is one of the most direct means through which success under capitalism is handed down, in an unfair way. It completely undermines our society’s impossible mantra of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” that if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything. Being the child of a powerful agent or person in Hollywood means that you have the resources and opportunities that most people don’t have access to. Not only that, but when your parents are rich, they can devote time and money to your career. And it means always having a safety net to fall back on, when things don’t work out.
This is why unsuccessful nepotism babies are embarrassing. From birth, they had every opportunity possible, yet they still couldn’t succeed. One pertinent example of this is Brooklyn Beckham. He is best known for being the oldest child of David and Victoria Beckham, with a combined net worth of over $450 million dollars. Beckham himself has explored many career paths, but has succeeded in none. At the age of 16, he was recruited by Arsenal Football Club, but then let go. Next, he tried his hand at photography, releasing a book called “What I See,” that was ridiculed all over the internet for being terrible. Now, he is following his true “passion” of cooking, and even has his own cooking show, but has faced backlash for that, because people believe that he doesn’t know how to cook. The reason he’s been able to explore this many career paths, and not face any financial consequences for not succeeding, is because of nepotism.
There have been nepotism babies who haven’t liked the backlash of the label. Lottie Moss, the sister of Katie Moss, tweeted this: “I’m so sick of people blaming nepotism for why they aren’t rich and famous or successful – obviously it’s not fair that people who come from famous families are getting a leg up because of that but guess what? Life isn’t fair – if you put your mind to something you can accomplish Anything ! So instead of being negative about other peoples success go and try and create your own !” This response is entirely tone-deaf, pushing the harmful narrative that disadvantaged people aren’t trying hard enough to succeed and aren’t putting “their minds to it.” Additionally, Lottie Moss’ only relevant claim to fame is being Katie Moss’ sister.
There isn’t one single stand-out solution to this imbalance of power. One suggestion I have is to diversify the people that are making the decisions about who should be cast or picked for a role. This would help level the playing field. Additionally, nepotism babies can also use their privilege for the better. For example, Mia Farrow and Woody Allen’s son, Ryan Farrow, used his platform and connections to aid his journalistic investigation of the abuses committed by Harvey Weinstein.
Additionally, there isn’t anything wrong with being a nepotism baby, as long as the privilege behind it and the success that comes with it is recognized. And there’s no use pretending that some of the most privileged nepotism babies have created their success themselves. They’ve had an upper hand, since they started riding the Silver Spoon Express, at birth.