At the end of December, spurred on by a term that had been in vogue for several months on the internet, the very serious New York Magazine published a long article to explain and, above all, list the “daughters and sons of” Hollywood, called by the cool and catchy name now a flagship of pop culture language: “nepo babies”. Understand the children privileged by nepotism who, thanks to their famous parents, can easily make a career in showbiz. We can even say that they went a bit too far. Because in this jumble of famous names, we still find the singer Phoebe Bridgers, listed in an obscure subcategory of nepo baby because her father was… a carpenter on sets in California. We will try to be softer, less cynical and above all to understand why so much hatred. See also on Konbini Piston or talent? Or both? As long as Hollywood exists, the piston exists. As in any industry. After all, who wouldn’t want their children to benefit from their privileges? The problem is not so much that these actors, singers, models with the famous family name potentially take the place of artists who are less popular but more talented than them. The problem is that none of these nepo babies ever have a truly convincing and informed answer when the question of their privileges is raised. Nepo babies tend to believe that they are being asked to justify themselves. It’s not necessary in the sense that, even if they constantly repeat that they work as much as everyone else, we know the justification for their presence in the films, at least at the beginning of their career. Even talented, they have a head start and someone has put their resume at the top of the pile. Wherever there is power, there is nepotism (and journalism is obviously not spared). Strangely, it is those whose talent and legitimacy are least questioned who feel compelled to defend all nepo babies . Example: the immense actress Jamie Lee Curtis split a long Instagram post to criticize the magazine’s article when, however, she is one of the most renowned and appreciated actresses and above all, a large majority of the population ignores that she is the daughter of actor couple Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot) and Janet Leigh (Psychosis). At 50, clearly, Jamie Lee Curtis no longer has to prove to us that she is there only thanks at the piston, but she seems to feel so targeted by these attacks that she obviously still feels guilty. They may be rich, get roles and even win prizes for their art, nepo babies will always say that nepotism is a burden. Whereas what is asked of them is rather to be honest and to recognize that ‘they did not start at all on the same threshold of equality as artists who do not have their parents’ names in blue on Wikipedia. But it would be too hard to admit that “yes, my father played a role in my casting” — right, Maude Apatow? Worse, they tend to add fuel to the fire. Because no one has revived the debate on nepo babies more (before New York Magazine), than one of the biggest nepo babies in the industry, who unfortunately for her, embodies the debate both in the United States and in France. : Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. .” It goes pretty badly to say that everything is meritocracy in the cinema and then to add that the term “nepo baby” is sexist and that she is tired of being defined by the men in her life. Bringing out the sexism card here to divert the necessary debate around privileges is difficult. At 16, Lily-Rose landed her first contract with Chanel. Who was Lagerfeld’s muse for years? His mother, Vanessa Paradis. The bottom of the debate was quite well evoked by the Italian model Vittoria Ceretti. On Instagram, the supermodel addressed, before deleting her post, Lily-Rose Depp: “I can’t stand hearing you compare yourself to me. I know it’s not your fault, but please be grateful and admit where you came from.” Unlike many detractors of nepo babies, Vittoria does not question their talent and it is very honorable. Above all, it allows you to put your finger on what is disturbing: even if the purpose is the same, the paths between privileged people and others to win contracts are incomparable. “You can tell me your sad little story about it (although in the end you can always go crying on your dad’s couch at his mansion in Malibu), but what if you couldn’t pay your return flight to reunite with your family? Waiting hours to get a fitting/casting just to see a nepo baby walk past you from the warm seat of his Mercedes with his driver and friend/assistant/agent taking care of his sanity. You have no idea what it takes to get people to respect you. It takes years. You got it for free when you were born.” The Great Family of French Cinema But why talk so much about Hollywood when a plethora of examples exist in France? “The great family of French cinema” we often hear said at the César ceremony or at the Cannes festival. They do not think so well. In France, there are first dynasties where the whole family is in the middle. We obviously think of the Seydoux, the Garrel, the Chedid, the Gainsbourg/Birkin/Doillon, the Cassel, the Gélin, (phew, that’s long), the Brasseur, the Berry and we surely forget some and let the internet find them .In the genre of putting oil made in France on the fire, we will never forget Léa Seydoux’s famous “school of life” in 2016. A statement that condemned her to her status as an heiress more than a Emeritus actress, even though she has filmed with all the greatest directors and she is the only actress in history, with her costar Adèle Exarchopoulos, to have received a Palme d’Or at Cannes for La Vie d’ Adèle. Above was mentioned Maude Apatow, daughter of Judd Apatow, producer of Euphoria where his daughter plays one of the main roles: that of Lexie. And we love Lexie. But hey, funny coincidence that Maude is present. Surely this same chance which made that at 16, Suzanne Lindon, daughter of Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain made her first film, Sixteen Spring. When we know how difficult it is to finance first films, there is enough to cringe a little among non-nepo babies. It’s far from being the last time, because many of our leading actors now have children old enough to get roles and fashion contracts (which they do), among them Carmen Kassovitz, Deva Cassel, Victor Belmondo, Alain-Fabien and Anouchka Delon, Ben Attal…Unlike New York Magazine, we don’t condemn all nepo babies (Dakota Johnson, I love you) to having to eternally justify their presence in the spotlight (except Brooklyn Beckham). We even offer a special mention to the interpreter of Catwoman, Zoë Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, who told Complexe magazine in 2015: “For obvious reasons, it was very easy for me to find an agent when I wanted to get into film at 15. And it wasn’t for my talent, because at that age, I didn’t have any. It was because my parents were famous and people in the industry had to be like ‘cool, this will make us money’. I know a lot of talented people who have to work as waiters. It’s not my case. I can create art and get paid to do it…sounds amazing. I am extremely grateful for that.” That’s the kind of honest answer we appreciate. To close, we invite all parents, who are truly responsible for these unbearable but inevitable nepo babies, to do like Idris Elba. When the actor read the script for Beast, he immediately thought of his eldest, who dreams of being an actress, to play his daughter in the film. After a long casting process, Isan Elba was unsuccessful and her father did nothing to change that. She didn’t speak to him for three weeks. Well, she still probably cried in silk sheets in his huge villa, but still, we love your sense of merit, Idris!
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