Yet as much as I may lack maternal instinct, I feel deeply sorry for children who are born to celebrity train-wreck parents such as Britney Spears and Nicole Richie — and I worry about how our society is negatively impacted by their arbitrary decisions to enter parenthood.
The stance that certain celebrities should never have had children shouldn’t even necessitate an argument. Any familiarity with the viral 2006 photograph or video of Spears stumbling in high heels while holding her infant son — and nearly dropping him — should convince most that that woman (and her gold-digging back-up dancer, B-list rapper baby daddy Kevin Federline for that matter) should have both been sterilized long ago.
Take Nicole Richie as another example — I find it utterly laughable to imagine her trying to have a sit-down conversation with her daughter about the dangers of drugs in the future. People say that discussing personal experiences can make for good parenting, but I’m not sure they were talking about heroin possession, DUI arrests and sharing a reality show with Paris Hilton.
What’s even sadder is that these situations don’t even represent the worst-case scenarios. Consider the abuse that infamous porn star Jenna Jameson’s kids will probably endure for years throughout grade school — abuse that would permanently put all MILF and “your mom” jokes to shame.
Of course, there are celebrities who have managed to successfully balance fame and parenthood — celebrity gawker magazines are filled with photos of super-couple Brangelina spending time with their children, taking them out for an average day in the park or out shopping. Even notoriously angry rapper Eminem’s neighbors have commented that he is a curiously proactive father, and he once stated to People magazine that his daughter made him “get my ass in gear to make something of my life and try 10 quadrillion times harder than I had before.”
What makes a celebrity a good parent or a questionable one is not necessarily an issue of previous behavior or “classiness.” After all, Angelina has received her own fair share of negative attention for a slew of colorful controversies ranging from the strange (kissing her brother) to the seriously creepy (wearing a vial of ex-husband Billy Bob Thorton’s blood around her neck). And let’s not forget that many of Eminem’s most famous rap songs allude to unsettling fantasies of murdering ex-wife Kim. These will probably all make for awkward conversations in the future, to say the least.
Instead, it’s an issue of who realizes how serious having a child is and who doesn’t. While Eminem refers to his daughter as a “wake-up call,” others like Nicole Richie seem to regard having kids as just another fad, today’s version of yesterday’s chihuahua-in-a-purse.
The fact that there seems to be some sort of competition among celebrities to see who can come up with the stupidest name for their new baby all reinforces this idea — Gwyneth Paltrow tried to explain how she selected the name “Apple” for the daughter she had with Coldplay singer Chris Martin on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, saying, “It just sounded so sweet, and it conjures such a lovely picture for me, you know, apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome, and it’s biblical and it’s just, they’re so and I thought it sounded so lovely, and …”
No. You named your baby after a fruit. Stop trying to explain it. There is no justification. Bananas are sweet. Why not Banana Martin? Oh right, because that would be stupid.
The casualness that some celebrities have shown toward taking such a huge life step carries a frightening impact into the real, non-famous world. In 2008, nearly 20 girls from Gloucester High in Massachusetts made a pact to become pregnant, and according to an article in TIME magazine, this was in line with national reports that the incidence of teen pregnancy was rising for the first time in 15 years.
Many people have speculated that the celebrity baby fad, coupled with the recent popularity of movies that lightheartedly gloss over how serious having a child is — “Juno,” an indie comedy flick about teen pregnancy is frequently cited as an example — are at least partially to blame. And I find it difficult to argue that stories about Nickelodeon star Jamie Lynn Spears (clearly led by great role modeling from big sis Britney) giving birth at age 16 and still living the Disney life aren’t somehow related.
Unfortunately, we will probably never have any input about which celebrities can reproduce and which are exterminated from the human gene pool altogether. All we can do is hope that these famous figures will realize that their children will grow up with an automatic burden that others do not have, and hope that they will have the social responsibility to recognize that their actions carry into the real world.
We’re facing a social evil that depends solely on Nicole Richie to set herself straight and correct her life. Now doesn’t health-care reform seem easy in retrospect?
Editorials Editor Catherine Cai is a College sophomore from Atlanta.