The rise of the 'nepo baby'
Even countries without hereditary rulers have hereditary everything else
Nepotism is a big problem in journalism, the subject of a brilliant piece this week by my mum.
I joke, obviously — she’s writing about something else, but the subject has been bubbling away the past year with the rise of the neologism ‘nepo baby’, driven by users of TikTok (apparently, I’m obviously not on the site). Last month Vulture magazine announced that 2022 was ‘the year of the nepo baby’, after which the singer Lily Allen, daughter of actor Keith, sort of came to their defence, tweeting:
‘The nepo babies y’all should be worrying about are the ones working for legal firms, the ones working for banks, and the ones working in politics. If we’re talking about real world consequences and robbing people of opportunity. BUT that’s none of my business.’
She wasn’t the only nepo baby to speak out. Back in July Gwyneth Paltrow, the daughter of a film producer and actress, said that ‘As the child of someone, you get access other people don’t have, so the playing field is not level in that way. However, I really do feel that once your foot is in the door, which you unfairly got in, then you almost have to work twice as hard and be twice as good.’
Since then the neologism has enjoyed a further rise to centre stage, almost like a relative in the business had helped it along the way. People love this sort of discourse, partly because we all enjoy resenting successful people but also because family histories are interesting; some of the most popular dramas involve dynasties, from Sopranos to Succession and Game of Thrones (which also featured Lily’s brother Alfie).