Lily Allen: “Nepo Babies Have Feelings”

Written by on December 21, 2022

This year certain corners of the internet, TikTok included, were consistently fascinated with and enraged by “nepo babies” — that is, children of celebrities, whose path to success in the entertainment industry (and life in general) is significantly easier thanks to nepotism. I was only ambiently aware of this fixation — I guess Gen Z collectively gasped upon learning Drew Barrymore was a child of privilege, or something? — but it was a hot enough topic to merit an extensive multi-tiered New York Magazine cover story this week, in which writer Nate Jones explained the phenomenon:

Aghast, content creators got to work. An unwieldy phrase — “the child of a celebrity” — was reduced to a catchy buzzword: nepo baby. TikTokers produced multipart series about nepo babies who resembled their famous parents, exposés on people you didn’t know were nepo babies (everyone knew), and PSAs urging celebrity parents to roast their nepo babies “to keep them humble.”

In short, young people are naive, ignorant, and often misguided, and they’ve been trained by modern culture and technology to be easily outraged. On that note, just as the nepo baby discourse captivated Gen Z this year, the NY Mag package has been a social media sensation. This in turn has incited some commentary from Lily Allen, who, as Wikipedia handily reminds us, is the daughter of actor Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen.

“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,” Allen wrote on Twitter today. “BUT that’s none of my business.” She soon added, “And before you come at me for being a nepo baby myself, I will be the first to tell you that I literally deserve nothing.”

In a subsequent thread, she continued:

Look, I seem to have riled people up with my comments about nepo babies. I am nearly 40 years of age and am more than happy, in fact I think it’s important to disclose what a privileged upbringing I’ve had and how that has created so many opportunities for me,

I mention my age because I haven’t always been able to have that conversation, in my twenties I felt very defensive about it, I felt like I worked extremely hard and that I deserved the success that I had,

that people connected to my songs and that the songs came from me, I also had quite a fraught relationship with some of my family members so it felt difficult for me to attribute my successes to them, at the time.

But we all know it’s more complicated than that.
It is quite clear that there is a severe lack of representation in the industry where class and race are concerned. Everyone loses as a result.

I do feel that nepo babies are being somewhat scapegoated here though, there is a wider, societal conversation to be had about wealth inequality, about lack of programs and funding, and I guess that was the point I was trying to make, maybe badly.

I promise you I’m not rooting for an industry full of people that had childhoods that looked like mine.I just really think that we can’t get to a real solution without identifying the real problem, as fun as it is to laugh at the kids of famous people. Nepo babies have feelings.

I implore more nepo-baby musical artists to comment on this because news has really slowed down over the holidays!

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