Most of us, when we hear the word "nepotism," find ourselves pretty annoyed. After all, people who make their way in the world purely by the virtue of being born to the right set of parents, don't often engender a great deal of respect or admiration. Nor do the deeds of such people often match up to those of their blood-related benefactors. Yet, like most things in this world, the case of nepotism with celebrities is often topsy-turvy to how it goes in the real world. Being born to famous parents is responsible for more careers in Hollywood and elsewhere in the celebrity world than most people are aware of. Some of the biggest names in the world of entertainment got their big name from a famous parent or a insider uncle or a connected cousin who made it big before them.
That's all well and good for them. Is it really fair though? How many young actors or singers or whatever have gotten themselves booted out the door or never even considered for something that might have made their career, simply because somebody with a famous uncle got the part instead? Isn't part of paying your dues in Hollywood working your way up from a nobody to super star? The concept of the struggling actor who makes it is oft explored territory in any number of movies and shows. There's a certain romanticism about that climb up from the basement to the big time. Not as much written about the famous actor's spoiled kid who decides to act and gets all the right doors opened for them automatically.
Still, is having a famous family name reason enough to put another generation of that name in lights? If the young nephew of a famous guy is talented and capable of contributing something substantial to their art, does it matter how they start our in their chosen field? Show business is one where who you know is critical to how you manage that first big break. So wouldn't it be rather silly for someone not to name drop their famous director uncle's name to the casting director? Is anybody really holding people in entertainment to that high a standard of integrity anyway? No one cares how they got in the door. If you're in, you're in. Right?
There's an established precedent for talent rubbing off on the children of talented people. Whether or not that's a matter of nature or nurture, we'll probably never know. Being able to carry a tune or play Julius Caesar might be encoded in the DNA, or it might just be a result of being around a bunch of famous people all your life and picking up their rhythms. The various entertainment industries don't concern themselves with how you get your abilities, as long as you deliver. Then again, devotees to celebrity nepotism sometimes don't deliver much of anything and still get more than their share of the popular vote. Writing daily columns about celebs, you quite often see the exploits of celeb kids pasted all over the gossip sites, usually not for anything important. The kids just happen to exist and have famous names, so somehow they achieve instant celebrity status. They start them out early in this capacity - millions of dollars for the newest superstar baby's first pictures. That trend continues right up into puberty and beyond.
So, being the constant subject of media observation from birth, and with every opportunity in life handed to them, it shouldn't come as a surprise when children of the famous fall back on the family business. They know the wheels are greased for them from the start. They need not worry nearly as much of the struggle, setback and humiliation you and I had to contend with starting out at the bottom rung in our chosen careers. For people given everything, who know the in's and out's of the celebrity world as a matter of lifestyle, following in the family business is a no-brainer.
Of course, like anyone who gets what they got the easier way, appreciation for your good fortune in life can be sorely lacking. Thus the whole, sad cliche of the burned out celebrity kid, falling victim to drugs or run-ins with the law. It's a pathetic story of where spoiled rotten entitlement gets people in life. When you start out at the top, the only place you have left to go is to the bottom. And being as highly vaulted as they are by the good fortune of their prime number in the genetic lottery, that trip downward for any celebrity offspring is quite a lengthy and dramatic fall - all of it carefully documented for the perverse amusement of the celebrity circus show.
Thankfully, it doesn't always go that way. There are a ton of celebs who manage their famous names without becoming train wrecks. Some even ditch the name and work for their success on their own. Nicolas Cage and Talia Shire, two relatives of the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, both bear his name on their birth certificates, but chose not to make it the cornerstone of their careers. Same thing with stars like Angelina Jolie (daughter of Jon Voight) or Kate Hudson (daughter of Goldie Hawn). I suppose that's admirable, to a point anyway. Depends on their reasons. Maybe they wanted to make it on their own. Maybe they just didn't want their dealings in nepotism made public. It's not like no one knew who they were related to. They might have had to hustle like the rest, but it's doubtful that big name didn't come in handy somewhere down the line.
So maybe the issue is not whether or not people should take advantage of the fame they get from their famous relatives. Maybe the real issue is what they do with it. We know it doesn't always have to be a gross dependency on daddy's clout in the biz. If you're aspiring to be a performer and have a famous relative, you're probably going to rely on that famous name at some point, at least until someone opens a door for you. Then you can work hard and earn your ticket with your name and probably live up to or even succeed your illustrious forebearer in fame and praise. Or you can make blatant nepotism all you have going for you, relying on the entitlement that comes with being someone's kid to clear your path of all obstacles. This first option is a legitimate legacy. With the second, you're essentially asking for all infamy you get.
No matter the field you're in, no matter if you're famous or not - the universal truth is that respect in your field is always earned. If you've done the work and paid the price, people will give you the respect you deserve. If you try to dip into someone else's respect simply by virtue of your birth certificate, don't expect to get anything but affectation.