Jamie Oliver's son, Adam Sandler's daughters: ‘nepo babies’ are taking over showbiz. What about the rest of us? | Arwa Mahdawi
The year is 2223. You’re back home after a long day at work (work still exists in the future, I’m afraid) and flick on your virtual reality entertainment centre to unwind. A hologram of Jamie Oliver’s great-great-great-grandson appears before you; he’s chirpily demonstrating a recipe for a pukka insect-based dish. You change the channel and come across Phil Collins’s great-great-great-grandaughter in a sitcom called Emily in Mars. You change the channel again and are confronted with a film directed by a Coppola.
I obviously don’t know what the future is going to look like (I would be very rich if I did), but the way that things are going it seems that generational fame has become the new generational wealth. “Nepo babies” have been a hot topic for a while now but the issue received renewed interest this week after it was revealed that Oliver’s 12-year-old son has landed a cooking show on the BBC. This news broke shortly after comedian Adam Sandler’s decision to cast his two teenage daughters in his latest film, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, raised some eyebrows.
I’m not criticising any of the kids. They are making use of the opportunities they were given, just like any of us normies would. Still, it does increasingly feel as if every other person in the creative industries these days is the offspring of someone famous. And while these kids may be hardworking and talented in their own right, that doesn’t detract from the fact that there are plenty of hardworking and talented people without famous parents or the right connections who will never get a foot in the door. Even if they do get a foot in the door, they might not be able to afford to prise it open. Creative work is precarious and poorly paid; without a financial safety net it can be hard to find the time to hone your craft.
This is what people are angry about when they rail against “nepo babies”. They are not resentful of the individuals, they are resentful of the system. Creative work shouldn’t be a privileged path that only the rich and connected can afford to tread. Yet that is increasingly what it is. And the arts are all the poorer because of it.