Last night, while watching TV, I heard a newscaster say something to the effect of “Katie Holmes will talk about Suri’s breakdown” when we return. My mom and I gave each other “the look” almost instantly. Breakdown? The girl is 5.
Turns out what Suri really had was a temper tantrum in a toy store in New York City—the kind of thing every 5-year-old does in a toy store, whether it’s KB Toys or FAO Schwartz. In the midst of my search for what all the fuss surrounding Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s daughter was about, I came across a slideshow of the most influential celebrity kids. The Daily Beast ranked more than 70 celebrity children under the age of 6 according to their press and online media mentions in the last year and then asked E-Poll Market Research to measure the relative appeal of children who ranked among the Top 20 in terms of media power.
What kind of power could someone who can barely read, write, or talk have? According to the Daily Beast, “these kids have marketable and measurable influence. They spur clothing sales with what they wear, they sell magazines with their cute faces, and they prop up their parents’ popularity by giving them a human identity far from the glamorous silver and small screen personas.” And what does the site decide to do with that influence? Give the kids a huge dose of unearned fame and unnecessary critiquing.
Next to the names of the top 20 children which include Halle Berrys’ daughter, Nahla; Jennifer Lopez’s twins—with Emma coming in at no. 17 and Max at no. 4; and two members of the Jolie-Pitt clan, is an e-score rank, media rank, and Google rank showing how much influence the child has in each category. All I could think is why is this necessary?
Luckily, these children are too young to know they’re being examined in this way and picked apart for their marketability and influence, but it won’t be long before they become aware and the competitiveness amongst famous siblings grows along with these kids’ hunger for more attention or a recluse from the scrutiny.
I had similar feelings when I came across articles about Zahara Jolie Pitt’s hair extensions this week. Since the articles didn’t take the “why are you putting weave in a 6-year-old’s head” approach, the fact that a young black child was wearing her hair in braids is hardly new and hardly news. Isn’t there an adult celebrity just waiting to be picked on while these people tirelessly comb over how she’s wearing her hair this week?
While there are some celebrity parents who are guilty of drawing the paparazzi’s attention to themselves and their children, the media needs to be weary of the monsters they are creating. Do Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian ring a bell to anyone? The famous for being famous epidemic has gotten out of control and when you start following every insignificant moment of these kids’ lives, they’re being stripped of any sense of normalcy and hyped up to rest on their name as their sole claims to fame for the rest of their lives.
It’s one thing to mention what a kid is doing, it’s another to essentially rank them by how important they are at the age of 6. It sets them up to be critiqued for the rest of their lives—creating either a huge sense of entitlement or an unfair deflated sense of self. It’s almost understandable why Michael Jackson had his kids walk around in masks–almost.
Instead of creating media stories out of nothing, why not sit and wait until these kids do something worth talking about on their own? Celebrity kids never disappoint when it comes to their actions, but let them be of an appropriate age before all the ranking and critiquing starts. They’ve done nothing to warrant it but be born.
Do you think the media has gotten out of hand in their coverage of celebrity’s children? Do you think it will have a bad influence on these children down the line?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.