Nepotism baby this, Nepotism baby that.
Can we quit the whining and complaining? Can we finally talk about a real problem?
I’m talking of course about Nepotism Parents. Not the parents of Nepotism babies, but the parents who use their child’s stardom to rise to the top.
This comes in many forms, and you may be shocked to find out how deep some of these ties go. I’m talking about the ‘Addison Rae’s parents’ of it all.
Nepotism parents, if you can even believe it, are worse than nepotism babies. Much. Worse.
On some level, one must be sympathetic to the wee nepotism babe. After all, they didn’t ask to be born into this capitalist hellscape. Forgive a child for taking the easy way up. If you could do it, wouldn’t you?
A nepo-parent (neporent?) on the other hand, claimed to be in a stable enough position to birth you. Maybe they had already established a job. Presumably, they owned a home (because somehow all parents before 2010 did). They had a life going.
But they craved more.
“Surely,” they thought to themselves, “I cannot allow my child to be better known than I, who sired them. If the fruit is to be lauded by the masses, then surely the masses should also laud the loins from which it came.”
The phenomenon is not altogether new. In my capacity as a serious researcher, I have come to believe that Nepo-parents are a Lovecraftian evolution of the Stage Parent, the Dance Mom. It’s genius, really. After all, what’s the point of having a child if not to, like a sea witch, capitalize on their youth and talents? You, the parent, gave them that hot little face, ya know! Hell, if mommy can have an Adderall prescription too, Junior can Basquiat all over the walls.
Nepo-parents are not to be confused with the stage parent, however. Naturally, being a stage parent sets you on a slippery slope toward becoming a nepo-parent. If your child becomes famous, suddenly doors for you start to open. (We see you Pat!)
Perhaps no group showcases this more than the Dance Moms (an elite sub-species of stage parents). These mothers may even have been the blueprint for the nepo-parent. It is truly shocking to witness the drama they will engage with to showcase their own personalities, even though the show would not exist if their children weren’t above-average child dancers.
Let’s talk about Melissa Gisoni, mother to Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler. Her Instagram status reads, ‘public figure,’ and her bio, “1 out of the 3 M’s,” the other two “M’s” being, of course, her two dance daughters. A natural bio for a mother, perhaps, but with the caveat that she has 3.8 million followers, a podcast, and her own clothing collection with LTK – an online store based around promotion from influencers.
Sheri Nicole Easterling and Monty Lopez were literally just people. Case in point, you likely do not know them if I don’t tell you their child’s name, Addison Rae. Ever heard of her? We all know Addison’s internet story. The rise to fame of sorts through her infectious smile and perfectly marketable dance moves. But where do you think she got that smile?
A nepo-baby does a lot to stay unassuming. Lily Rose-Depp doesn’t want to be known as Johnny Depp’s Daughter. Chet Hanks tries not to be likened to his dad, Tom Hanks.
The Nepo Parent, however, tries to be seen with their child as often as possible. If you happened to watch Dancing with the Stars this season, you may have witnessed Charli D’amelio’s mother, Heidi, paired up with a dancer just like Charli. Dancing with the Parents of Stars doesn’t exactly have the same ring. But, is she really a star? We can certainly wax melodramatic and say that all parents are stars. She toiled and suffered to birth young Charli and so sure, maybe she deserves to dance on TV. I guess.
Sheri Nicole, on the other hand, flew too close to the sun. One can only imagine the conversation that went on between her and Yung Gravy’s agents as they plotted her MILF of the year appearance. It is one thing to be embarrassed by your mother when she drops you off for your first date, honking her horn as you walk to meet your crush. It is even tolerable to hear from people in your grade that your dad is hot. It’s not ideal but it’s like…contained. But to have your parents sprawled across People Magazine, talked about on E!, and hooking up with boys two years older than you on live TV? There’s no PR team to help you deal with that kind of publicity.
And on that note, let’s talk about the sympathetic side of things.
Why might a parent feel unsatisfied by witnessing their protege shine?
Maybe the Mother D’amelio could just say “We love our dancing girl and we are content with our real estate gigs!” If you can believe it, it seems the pressures of social media may also be affecting the older generations. Imagine being an aging woman and seeing a new way path into the spotlight. You’re only too old if you don’t sell it right; become a Milf; have a Dad Bod; smoke weed as a grandparent, dye your hair green, paint your apartment green, and wear only green clothes. Attention is currency, people! Nothing makes you feel older than seeing the younger generations being cheered on by millions more than you ever were.
This article is no knock against parents of successful children.
By any means possible, get your bag, I guess. But, honestly, I find the discourse against nepo-children to be atrocious. If we’re going to be brutal to teenagers for taking on a career that was handed to them, we should at least muddy the water. The problem, if there must be one, is that the overall system of fame, and, dare I say it, capitalism, has made it so that if you aren’t seen by many, you’re often not seen at all. When it rains it pours, if you never reign, you’re always poor.
I’m confident it will get worse before it gets better. But in the meantime, let’s at least shame adults as much as we shame their teens. Right? Right.