By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Celebrities shouldn't be allowed to have children. For safety's sake, they shouldn't even be allowed to have sex!
Too many stars end up torturing their kids with a combination of press ops, absenteeism, resentment, and impossible expectations. It's no wonder most celebrity offspring have suicide hotlines on speed dial.
The kids' gnawing feeling that they're being used is accompanied by the sense that even if they succeed, it's because their family name opened the doors for them, and besides, they aren't succeeding anywhere near as much as their folks did. What's more, catching up with the parents' surgery so they can actually look like them proves to be a wearying game at which they'll always lose by a nose.
And they don't get enough real love. Celebrities always say in interviews, "I desperately want to have kids and take a long time off, so I can devote myself to them," but they never seem to end up doing that. When push comes to SAG, they'd rather just keep on working, usually far, far away from the horror of diapers and squeals. They're terrified to lose their public luster even for a moment, so they stay married to their careers while having kids anyway and dredging them up like makeup wands whenever they suit their needs.
The kids are everything to them—until a call comes in for a cameo on a Japanese game show, and then they're on the next plane. But during a dry spell, the prized progeny get readied for their close-ups again, and suddenly family comes first, and it's all about Junior. The spectacle of these wannabe Joan Crawfords parading their spawn around becomes just another performance, a look-at-me-I'm-normal routine that doesn't convince any more than their Botoxed turn as Queen Elizabeth in that VOD-only biopic.
More than once, I've seen newspaper spreads featuring closety hunks striking pseudo-candid fatherly poses with their kids for a photo op, as I prayed the young ones were at least getting scale. The only bright side is that such behavior paves the way for the inevitable tell-all—a cathartic means for the kids to eventually feast off the parents' awfulness while raking in the coins and some sympathy. It beats killing yourself.
Suri With The Cringe On Top
Some famous Scientology children have certainly seen their share of blinding flashes. Would you want to be them? Would you want to be gussied up like Rosemary's baby and devoured by the tabloids as the public tries to read your face for signs of glamorous awkwardness? Even if you became a big star in your own right—as some have—might you not start feeling like a pawn in some larger scheme, a machination designed to keep the family and religion going into the next ka-chinging decade?
Trust me, "fame" is the worst possible twist on the word "family." Our parents might have fucked up big time, but at least they did it out of basic ignorance, not because they're driven by publicity and applause. They didn't know how to communicate, but at least they were usually available to sit there and show you their ineptitude. And though they might not have passed Judy Garland's brilliance on to us, at least they didn't pass on her problems either.
Celebs are torn between affection and condescension as they wish their kids well but only to a point. In a business based on ego gratification and intense competition for hoopla, an absurd number of famous folk create a domestic pit of rivalry that becomes a living hell for everyone involved. As Meryl Streep tells Mama in the priceless movie of Carrie Fisher's Postcards From The Edge, "You want me to do well, just not better than you!"
Madonna clearly wants Lourdes to do well, though so far it's mainly been in connection with herself. This mother-daughter pairing could easily be perceived as the latest example of Madonna's penchant for duetting with younger stars in order to both pass the torch and stay contemporary. Lourdes has been trotted out to do a design line with ma, play young ma in ma's video, and make high-profile public appearances with ma. Who exactly is Lourdes's rising fame helping? (Although I must say that as a Ciccone, she's clearly way comfier in the spotlight than practically anyone else her age—and she does go to school!)
But it's when a young star surpasses her parents' fame that the real problems begin. As the rough-and-ready teen sensation Miley Cyrus continues to soar, dad gives interviews saying he wishes she'd never landed her star-making role in the first place, so they could have a normal family like in the old days. Sounds like Miley's gotten too big for daddy—and by the way, he's working all that out in magazines.
Thank God for the exceptions to all my rules, the ones that prove some actors can actually play human roles. Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts are as fiercely protective of their kids as other celebrities are willing to exploit and oppress theirs. I once caught Sarah Jessica Parker talking to her son in a measured way that showed real respect and caring—and she hadn't even sent out a media alert. And Maddox, Shiloh, and the gang had a lot of fun bowling and giggling earlier this year. (And boy, are they chic!)