Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Têtes à claques VIII

You can’t open a newspaper or magazine these days without reading about the son or daughter of an actor or a celebrity. The same names appear with monotonous regularity.

Above are two Jaggers, two Lennons, one Harris and one Bowie; had I the time or the patience I could have posted three Redgraves, two Thaws, two Kinskis, one Marley, etc. etc.

I don’t care what their first names are; their surnames are famous and, in most cases, one instance of those surnames should have been enough.

Of course there have always been ‘dynasties’, in all walks of life: people have been butchers de père en fils, seamstresses de mère en fille, but the parents were passing on a craft, a trade, a skill of some kind. Lawyers and doctors also encourage their children to pursue the same profession, but that’s because they’ve usually invested in a practice and it pays for it to stay in the family, and the children usually benefit from their parents’ reputation. .

What do actors and celebrities pass on to their offspring, apart from a desire to be famous and having a fun life like Mummy or Daddy? It must be incredibly difficult to resist if, from age zero, you’ve been aware that your parents are being celebrated, flown to exotic locations, photographed and admired.

Some of those actors and artistes are quite talented, but who knows how far they would have got to with their smidgen of talent if they hadn’t been called Jagger, Lennon, Harris, Bowie, etc. It really amazes me when sons and daughters of famous people try to persuade me that they didn’t want to take advantage of their names. No, of course not, so why didn’t you change your name, then? Who are they kidding? Of course sometimes the resemblance between parent and child is so obvious that a different name wouldn’t have fooled anyone (in the case of Natasha Richardson, for instance, it’s the voice) and they would always have had a head start.

Talent is not hereditary. Proof? Keira Knightley. She’s the daughter of a moderately talented actor and quite a good playwright, yet she doesn’t have a modicum of acting talent herself…

They all deserve to be slapped for proliferating so much and getting jobs that could have been done much better by unknowns had the latter had the chance to even be considered for them. How do you say ‘no’ to the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave (herself the daughter of a famous actor) or the son of Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith?



  1. at the risk of sounding crude, I couldn't imagine saying no to the son of Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith.

    I seem to remember reading that the Bowie offspring doesn't use that name and he's something fairly normal like a graphic designer.

  2. Other than the 4th picture, which I presume from the glasses is a young Lennon, I don't know who any of those people are. I don't open enough magazines, maybe.

  3. There you are - back in fine fettle!

    I don't have any particular grievance again any of these young people (haven't even heard of most of 'em), but I'll wale away at them anyway, just to celebrate your 'return'.

  4. GSE, I suppose Toby is quite dishy, in a reddish, blondish sort of way. LOL! (No, he's very nice, but, you know, he was catapulted to the forefront of our consciousness - at the same time as Rosemary Harris's daughter, Jennifer Ehle, who is adorable, but still - in that silly TV drama, whose title escapes me just now.) Then, suddenly, he was playing Coriolanus at the RSC! Minutes after his dad had died doing King Lear (wasn't he wonderful in that?!). No spear carrying for him.

    Yes, Zowie calls himself Duncan something, but would you say that the person who devised the current stupid French Connection ad is 'normal'?

    R, you're absolutely correct, that's Sean Lennon (I think he's the spitting image of his dad, with a soupçon of Yoko thrown in). I deliberately didn't give their first names: I didn't want to give them more publicity than they already have. Oh, ok: Jade and Elizabeth Jagger, Julian and Sean Lennon, Jared Harris and Zowie Bowie.

    I just read one evening paper and the free magazine that comes with it once a week and I still can't escape from those kiddies' omnipresence.

  5. Oh, D, you slipped in while I was writing my comment. LOL!

    Thanks very much. I feel a bit better.

    I'm sure you can substitute American names for the ones I chose. It's happening everywhere.

  6. Good to read you back in slapping form. The world is a safer place with you at the critical helm.

    As for the slap. There's far too much mediocrity celebrated in general. Yes, being sired by famous loins shouldn't be a pass key into a life of fame automatically, but if they already have mommy/daddy's money, and fame is how worth is valued in the family, then you can't be surprised they'd try for it.

    Plus they have to cope with eternal comparisons with famous parent, and under such intense scrutiiny they're pretty much doomed to failure. Nothing is ever good enough to escape the shadow.

    There's a song about deceased fathers that Sean Lennon colaborated on. I like it. He can't be all bad. Well, it's called 'Son song' which seems to be more about the progeny than the progenitor. Oh, the ego of these second generation stars. Maybe you're right.

    Does poet and painter Frieda Hughes trade on her father's name and mother's infamy? (I don't read the papers enough to be in the know!) One of her most beautiful poems concerns the public desecration of the tragic-icon and feminist-cause Sylvia Plath, who was just a little girl's departed mummy. I guess that's hard for the offspring of famouses, matching up personal experience with a world wide view of people who do not really know your parent, but are certain they do. Both invasive and offensive.

    There's a difference in her case, I'd say. She has talent.

  7. Perhaps in some instances I'm actually glad for it... one of my favorite songwriters and musicians, Neil Finn, has a son who is also a musician in his own right. I would have never discovered his band and his music had I NOT heard of his famous father.

    And then there's the case of Rufus Wainwright - I don't know anyone one my age who'd ever heard of his dad at all! But they know that dad exists now, because Rufus is so brilliantly talented (well, talented and a little "cracked," and possibly drunk, too. But talented nevertheless! The guy can hammer out a tune all right.) So sometimes it works the other way around fame-wise, I think. And actually, dad IS pretty talented, too.

    For certain things I feel bad for Julian Lennon. Not to say he's not to blame for many of his own woes, and nowadays he's the first to 'fess up to that, but the way John Lennon publicly bad-mouthed his mom to the American press was unforgivably boorish. And I simply can't imaging growing up and having to hear that sort of rubbish about my mom being given a platform like that just because Dad is a famous asshat. Genius songwriter, obviously, but on an emotional level that guy was juevenille to the extreme. Did I ever tell you about Lennon's journals he kept? Yoko made "art" out of some of his doodles and such in them, even having them all archivally handled and put on display for art galleries... but I can vouch to the fact that at least half (at the very least!) of the doodles had the quality of the same obscene little drawing that the little (male) shits in middle school draw, oozing with that confused sexuality of the recently pubescent, in order to impress each other. The dude was messed up. Needless to say, his stupid dirty drawings did NOT make the gallery showing, surprise, surprise.

  8. Thanks for the answer key!!

  9. I do think that part of it is having money as a safety net. There is an awful lot that you can try to do if you have some spare money that you can risk. Or at the very least, a large family home where you could be living in case of failure. Not so much if every month's pay packet is needed to pay for the roof over your head, which is the case for most of us.

    And the other thing is just getting through the door - of the manager, publisher, recording company. A first novel is almost impossible to get published, so how did Cecilia Aherne (daughter of Bertie) manage it with something that read as if was a school essay? Victoria Coren is a competent journalist now, but for the first year o two she was an amateurish twentysomething with a teenager's boring views - but she got the chance to learn her craft while still appearing in newspapers.

    I agree, though, you can't blame them for trying. It's their life; they aren't going to decide that the world is already too full of famous offspring and that they must spare us another one, LOL.

  10. The silly TV show was The Cammomile Lawn, based on Mary Welsey's novel. I loved it-would love to find it on DVD, but it is not readily available!
    It was interesting to see Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris act together, in The Cammomile Lawn and the movie Sunshine.

  11. Yes, this is bad enough, BUT here in the U.S. we have the same thing going on in politics. You don't think George W. Bush would have ever made it on his own, do you? And Jeb? No way. Couple of clowns. Dumb clowns.

  12. I think Jennifer Ehle is lovely. I know I saw The Camomile Lawn but all I can remember is a house with a back garden with two levels (this really really struck me; I wanted one).

  13. Thanks, JvS, I so wish it were true.

    It was probably unfair of me to slap those people; I’m sure we’d be doing the same, but there seems to be an awful lot of them all of a sudden, and later there will their children (I’m depressed already). Actually, I would hate to be the daughter of a very talented and famous person. It can’t be very easy. Oh, heck, I’m beginning to feel sorry for them.

    I’m afraid I’m not aware of Frieda Hughes (must be because she doesn’t trade on her parents’ fame). She’s had a difficult start in life (please don’t tell anyone: I can’t stand Sylvia Plath). Those ‘kids’ have got talent, but they’ve been given a chance to make it grow. That chance is what a lot of other talented people don’t get.

    K, I’ve of course never heard of Neil Finn or Rufus Wainwright but I will take your word for it that they are good and deserve to be famous too. You sound very knowledgeable about the matter. :-)

    I thought I was the only person on earth who didn’t worship John Lennon. Bah!

    R, you’re welcome. :-)

    L, having money and being able to get a foot in the door: two essential things that would give anyone such a head start! Lots of us would love to be able to learn on the job, wouldn’t we? It’s like those wives of wealthy men who decide to open little boutiques selling old French linen and tin water jugs, or whatever: they don’t care whether they succeed or not; if they don’t they can always go back to their beautiful homes (full of old French linen and tin water jugs) and become trophy wives and yummy mummies again.

    C, I’m sorry I called The Camomile Lawn ‘silly’, but Mary Wesley’s not my cup of tea at all. I do remember enjoying the TV adaptation, though, because of the performances. Can’t remember anything else about it. Wasn’t there a big thing about a sex scene? Can’t remember it either. LOL! I do remember Peter Hall saying that he hadn’t realized that Jennifer Ehle was Rosemary Harris’s daughter, when she came to audition for her part, but had recognized her mother’s voice. And that didn’t influence his decision to cast her at all. No, no! Actually, like L, I adore Jennifer Ehle: she’s a joy to watch. She was such a lovely LB in Price and Prejudice.

    TLP, there aren’t so many politicians’ kiddies or siblings about, though. Just as well, I think. Politics isn’t as attractive as the stage or film, is it? Too much responsibility, probably.

    L, see above. I wouldn’t mind a garden full stop. One or two levels, I don’t care.

  14. The steamy love scene was...Jennifer Ehle and Toby Stephens! Another offspring of talented parents! Too Funny.

  15. Yes, C, the one GSE couldn't say 'no' to. LOL!


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