Merriam-Webster chose “gaslighting” and Oxford Dictionaries went with “goblin mode”, but “nepo baby” is making a last-minute bid for word of the year. But what is it and what are its implications?
It may sound like one of those digital pet toys from the 1990s, but “nepo baby” actually refers to children of famous people who have been given special privileges and career advancements due to, well, being the children of famous people—you know, nepotism! There is a long, long list of nepo babies out there, many of whom have indeed benefited from their bloodline.
Jamie Lee Curtis, a self-described “OG Nepo Baby” herself as the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh (star of the greatest movie ever made?), has made a call for kindness amid the term’s explosion, saying the entire conversation is meant to “diminish and denigrate and hurt.” Further, she said, “It’s curious how we immediately make assumptions and snide remarks that someone related to someone else who is famous in their field for their art, would somehow have no talent whatsoever.” She concluded her post with multiple calls to “BE KIND”.
Of course, many a nepo baby are/were remarkably talented, including Curtis…and George Clooney and Kate Hudson and Carrie Fisher and Dan Levy and Laura Dern and…we’d continue, but our word count is only so high! At the same time, it’s undoubtedly true that the nepo baby has major advantages over the average person trying to make their mark in Hollywood. The industry even openly encourages it. One only needs to take a look at the Golden Globe Ambassador, a position that parades the child of a member of the Hollywood elite on stage to hand out awards. Past ambassadors include the children of Spike Lee, Pierce Brosnan and Sylvester Stallone.
The term “nepo baby” gained popularity earlier this year, but the idea is far from a 21st-century one. The oldest examples stretch back to the early days of Hollywood, as in the case of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., the son of the legendary actor who was a key figure in the industry.
What is your take on the “nepo baby” debate? Should their success be judged because they have famous parents? How do you feel about the celebrity responses? Let us know in the comments section below.