Why It's Time to End Our Obsession With Celebrity Kids
In a win for celebrity parents attempting to protect their children's privacy, People magazine announced on Tuesday that it would no longer publish unauthorized photos of famous kids taken by paparazzi.
The move is just the latest response to an effort led by actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard who, for the past few months, have been campaigning the media to ban celebrity kid shots and encouraging consumers to stop buying magazines who publish said photos. (The couple have an 11-month old daughter together.) On Tuesday gossip site Just Jared followed suit, while "Entertainment Tonight" pledged its commitment to not air footage of famous tots, last week.
But People may not be 100 percent committed to its promise: In an open letter by the magazine’s editorial director, Jess Cagle, he writes, “Lately, several celebrities, including Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, have been vocal about the paparazzi who can sometimes make life hell for stars and their children…They’ve also made the media more sensitive to the brutal tactics some freelance photographers use to get even the most innocent-looking shots of celebs’ kids at play…When I took over as Editorial Director of PEOPLE in January, I told our staff that PEOPLE would not publish photos of celebs’ kids taken against their parents’ wishes, in print or online.”
But then it gets WTF-ish. Cagle continues, “Of course, there may be rare exceptions based on the news-worthiness of photos. And there’s always the tough balancing act we face when dealing with stars who exploit their children one day, and complain about loss of privacy the next.”
As website Jezebel points out, as of Tuesday, People's website was still displaying a story called “February Birthday Babies” in its “Moms & Babies" section, which included paparazzi shots of Jennifer Garner, Marcia Cross, and Robert Downey Jr., all with their children.
Our obsession with celebrity kids is a natural extension of our relentless appetite for pop culture news. The Internet is littered with celebrity baby blogs, galleries of famous kid style, and even fashion sites focused solely on Suri Cruise. And the demand is only growing. Example: In 2008,People and British-based Hello magazine paid Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt $14 million for photos of newborns Vivienne and Knox — up from the $2 million it paid for the first shots of two-year-old Shiloh Jolie-Pitt in 2005. (Jolie and Pitt donated the proceeds to their charitable foundation.) Chalk it up to classic parenting wars. If we see J-Lo’s son having a temper tantrum at the airport, we may feel better about our own kid’s bad behavior. Or, gawking at celeb children could be another channel to access our icons.
It's tough to assign blame — we sympathize with Jennifer Garner when she and her kids are swarmed outside of Starbucks, but when Jessica Alba brings her two children to Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch in Hollywood, a renowned paparazzi hotspot with a cover charge, are we to sympathize?
Either way, banning celebrity kid photos can only do good. Sure, celebrity parents may benefit by tightly controlling the release (and price) of their children's photos and the publications that don't abide by the ban will absorb an audience hungry for unauthorized shots of Prince George. But it's a small price to pay for not making toddlers cry, right?