I just finished reading Alec Baldwin's piece in New York Magazine in regards to his dismay over public life. After reading all about the massive cross he has to bear by being a celebrity that makes millions of dollars, I still don't feel bad for him. His new baby, on the other hand, is another story.
Celebrities and their children. This country has a lot of odd obsessions: reality television that is not based in any reality, shopping for Christmas gifts at absurd hours on national holidays, extreme skiing, doing 20 minutes of abdomen workouts in less than 10 minutes and expecting the same results and, even more than all of those things, we love celebrity children.
Our intense love of Hollywood's spawn starts early; we watch for slightly significant baby bumps, we fixate on growing bellies, we laugh over how "like us" celebs' high-calorie cravings are, we both criticize and laud post-baby bodies, we mock the weird names they call their children, and we love love love to look at pictures of their kids. We love it!
Why do we love ogling over pictures of celebrity whippersnappers? Who the hell knows, but we do and because of that fact, magazines that focus on the intimate lives of famous folk feed our addiction with highly publicized exclusive photos, daily updates on how these children's lives are better than our own and comparison pics of which baby wore it best.
But lately, our worship of the recognized rug rats has gotten a lot of heat from none other than their attention-loving parents.
"Stop taking pictures of our kids!" the famous have decried. Well, no, they actually decried to stop taking pictures of their kids when they don't want us to; when they are OK with it, that's cool and please pay them for those opportunities. So, in other words pay them or put the camera away.
A group of concerned parents including Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner recently testified in court to push forward Senate Bill 606, which may heavily fine paparazzi from taking photos of and harassing celebrity children, reports E online in an article embedded with a photo of Halle Berry's daughter.
Much of the effort to get this issue on society's radar was put in play by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd due to the continual persecution the couple received in regards to their own daughter (who I have never seen a photo of... just sayin'.)
Being the pillar of the media rag community that it is, People magazine has taken the moral high ground on this issue and decided that they will no longer publish any unauthorized photos of babies, leaving very little content for their "celebrity baby blog." In an editorial statement from the magazine's Editorial Director Jess Cagle, the magazine says:
Of course, we still run a lot of sanctioned photos - like exclusive baby pictures taken with the cooperation of celebrity parents, and photos of stars posing with their kids at events (like a red carpet) where they're expecting and willing to be photographed. But we have no interest in running kids' photos taken under duress. Of course, there may be rare exceptions based on the newsworthiness of photos. And there's always the tough balancing act we face when dealing with stars who exploit their children one day, and complain about loss of privacy the next.
Gotta love that little dig at the end of this paragraph.
I have been half-heartedly following this gravest of issues and my feelings on it are mixed. I am not a celebrity, so I have no idea what that life entails, but I am a parent and a sort of private person when I want to be. I really can't imagine how horrible it must be to have your children chased around by camera wielding stalkers. I have read accounts of these children being scared out of their minds as paparazzi jump out of their bushes to snap a shot; apparently Suri Cruise screamed at one to leave her and her family alone. It must be a terrible burden on your children, who did nothing to deserve the attention save being born into your overly-public, and overly-paid, I might add, life.
But the overly-paid part is where I stop and argue with myself. No, your status is not the fault of your children but they will benefit from it. They will have the best toys, go to the best schools, eat the most organic of foods, have the awesomest birthday parties with bouncy castles and Twinkies made of gold flakes, and ultimately they will grow up and probably try and do the same thing you do so that they can remain in the public eye because that's the life they know and the riches they've grown accustom to.
It's a very strange, gray area for these celebrities who just want their children to have a "normal" life, which they may not remember consists of things like poverty and shopping at Walmart.
But is it too late to change this societal behavior and where the hell did it come from? The first time I recall the populace going gaga over goo-goos was when Angelina and Brad sold pictures of their new baby to People magazine. I know there were instances before that, but this event in particular stands out to me as milestone. Having a baby in Hollywood is an excellent investment if you are famous; even B-listers know that. All of a sudden you are back in the public eye and just think of all the baby endorsements you can get paid to make! Tori Spelling has basically reinvented herself as a mom and has been paid handsomely for it.
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Because this and the myriad other celebs selling exclusive shots of their tykes to magazines became so commonplace, we started to demand it. And like any other drug, we became dissatisfied with just newborn images; we wanted more. And then that old economics adage kicked in: supply and demand. We want baby pics, the magazines want to print them, the paparazzi want to take them and so on and so on.
So ultimately whose fault is this? Is it the photographers who do this bottom-feeding work to make a living? Is it the fault of the magazines, whose job is to sell more magazines? Is it our fault for wanting to see pictures of famous people's brats to live vicariously through them? Or is it the celebrities' faults for initiating and, let's be fair, perpetuating and cashing in on society's interest in their kids?
As I stated at the top, I do feel for these stars that genuinely don't want this for their children; I get it. But then I kind of want to know what the theme of their six-year old's birthday party was this year and which famous children they invited and which got snubbed. And I understand how magazines make their money and that paparazzi have families to feed as well.
It's a tough situation and probably the fault of everyone involved. I see no real resolution to the issue. But in the end, there's the potential for WWIII going on right now, so there's that too.