The discussion about “nepo babies” started on Twitter in February 2023, when a user pointed out that Maude Apatow, who plays Lexie on the TV show Euphoria, is the daughter of director Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann. This sparked reactions and debates online about the prevalence and impact of nepotism in Hollywood and other industries.
The discussion gained more attention in December 2023, when New York magazine published a cover story titled “The Year of the Nepo Baby”, which featured a flowchart of the family ties and relationships of various celebrities. The article explored how “nepo babies” are shaping the culture and influencing the trends of the 2020s. The cover sparked mixed reactions from the public, some praising it for its creativity and humor, others criticizing it for its tone-deafness and elitism.
People tend to forget many children of the famous hold no guarantee of celebrity status. While Hollywood is rife with nepotism so is every other career area, from policemen all the way to top politicians.
Many children of celebrities and the affluent never achieve the success of their parents, even if they live more privileged lives. The true nepo babies, riding the coattails of parents and other family members, damage the arts by limiting talent, just like every other industry.
The Tiny Actress
The tiny actress getting mail today
Star to be, A-list making debut pray
Mystery actress frowning fails to sway
The friendly glances parting us away
Suddenly, artist plying wails dismay
Silently, actress trying airs true play,
Did muse hear me past the wealth illusion?
Did you peer me past the wealth delusion?
Tread few near the palace bluff by ocean
Edge too risky, lavishness erosion
Ledge to dreamy cliff in plush corrosion
Would you fear the actress’ flush emotion?
The tiny actress donning fine sundress
Perfectly acted, sunning opulence
From rosy patches gilding vine’s trellis
The starry visage clearing palace fence
The wealthy heiress running lines intense
Whispery voice’s ghosting did I sense,
You do see filming’s frock effacing me?
The movie billing’s lock restraining me
Leitmotif’s dancing box rotating me
B- movie’s writing toxifying me
Unless directing’s balking cuts me free
True is producing’s hawking cursing me
The tiny actress stands behind her fence
Her shiny black dress grand, refined pretense
No nosy flack’s press band to find defense
Agencies’ slackness: brands do blind the sense,
To see the actress lands new fine license,
To relieve sadness and true lines offense,
I peer at you beside pool scripting vain
I fear grandeur decides cruel fating same
Austere reviews decried fools’ playing lame
The folly due the silver staging fame
Dear, truly movies are a grifting game
Slavery to the moguls’ selling game.
At the risk of sounding like a creepy stalker, my neighbor, a beautiful, talented actress, inspired this poem. Coming home one day, I saw her getting mail, appearing with a sad countenance. The next day, I crossed the yard near her fence and happened to see her reading while relaxing in the yard in her sundress. The brief sighting struck me like the day prior but in a lonely way, and both days images of her stirred thoughts difficult to articulate. A few days later, I happen to be talking to people by the pool, and she walked near the fence that stands at a higher elevation. Wearing a black dress and caught in the sunlight, she appeared from the height with such beauty and grandeur I wondered why she did not star in more movies...
Eternal Fame, Glory, and Stuff Like That
Li-Po and me, we have so much in common
I read recently that the great Chinese poet Li-Po (Li-Bao) wrote a thousand poems.
That sounds like a lot but he lived a long life so it made sense.
I decided it would be nice to leave a thousand poems behind by the time my turn to die rolls around.
Whatever; I gotta go.
I gotta a-lotta poems to write.
But if somehow I come up a tiny bit short, I’m sure that God will say, "Not to worry big guy, close enough, after all you type with two fingers.”
Fame, glory, and that kind of stuff: God cares, no really he does.
The Boss’s Son
I worked as a manager for an old family-owned company, where at the beginning of each summer, the owners sent their kids into the warehouse to work. As the warehouse manager, I interacted with these kids often, and most of the time, they were a pleasure to work with, but on one occasion, they were lazy and stood around jaw-jacking while on the clock. I said something to them, and my direct boss’s son said, “Hey, whose name is on the door?”
I recalled this story recently when my friend, a prop master who worked in film for a long time told me about an assistant who found his way on the set to work with her because his dad was a producer. The nepo baby walked around and did little and seemed to have no issue with collecting money for doing nothing.
I could relate a hundred more similar stories I heard or experienced, but suffice to say, nepotism is a deliberate intent to undermine everyone trying to earn their way by doing their jobs. You would have to be an imbecile to believe that sending your kid into the workplace is not impacting the morale and esteem of your workers.
Nepotism is a deliberate act of ethical corruption because it justifies itself based on bloodlines rather than merit and takes no account of the individuals who have served loyally.
Changes in Fame's Altitude ~ Changes in Attitude
Here online, we artists seek an audience for our art and strive to better our work and achieve more.
We’d like more viewers, more readers, more fuckin’ earnings. And this, even though online sites keep moving the micro-fame goalposts all over the place, not just on the field of play but anywhere/everywhere. You get 100 followers, yer in.
But hold on, wait a sec. You show 110, but 72 of them are suddenly bots so you’re gonna have to keep pluggin’ along before you eventually get added to the Big Payday Club. And then you’ll begin receiving $.82 a month based on your total number of readings by paying members (only) who may or may not clap for you or follow you or...what-the-fuck-ever. And BTW, this entire formula may change overnight — good luck keeping up.
Royalty? Well, I’ve posted close to 2K pieces online, and responded to nearly 4K. Before I ever came here, I earned close to a million bucks with my writing between the year 2000 and today. I am, obviously, a “professional writer.” I am your wannabe typers’ idea of Royalty, and yet I’ve never made more than about $100 for any 30-day period on Medium since I’ve been here.
On the plus side, I’ve made some great virtual friends who may or may not look like the woman in my pic above. I’ve also gathered close to 3K followers and had more than 500 of you see the best thing I’ve ever written, my epic poem Sheehan.
I love writing.
I spend day after day, hour after hour here online posting new things, old things, re-written old-into-new things, and writing messages back and forth with strangers who’ve become friends.
The bottom line here is this: you need to decide just what level of accomplishment you want to reach online and specifically and with your writing generally.
The higher altitudes of achievement have very rare air, and no one gets to stay up there very long, much less forever. So, in the end, it’s your attitude towards who you are and what you’re doing that matters the most. As for other big dreams and grand schemes here via online sites?
Well, good luck with that!
You & Mark Twain & I
All fame, glory, & fortune ends on a dusty, library bookshelf in Alaska.
Every morning I sit down to write and words flow from my brain to fingertips through my keyboard and onto my computer screen, and I get what I get.
But sometimes, nothing very happy or encouraging, nothing fun or funny seems to show up.
So today I thought to myself, think of something happy and write about that!
I looked around and spotted my big coffee table Mark Twain book and remembered once, a few years back, I went into a tiny library in Alaska.
I went to the fiction section and found Trueman (me!) and Twain right there in alphabetical order next to one another on the shelf.
Made me laugh out loud then but now, after reading Mark Twain’s autobiography laughter gave way to shock.
All his life he wrote with humor and love and self-deprecating wit and wisdom, but by the time he reached the telling of his own life story – that shit was gone.
No doubt, age played a big role: he’d buried 3 of his 4 kids, his wife, and his childhood memories were probably fading.
Though the world had given him much, it had taken away even more.
His hopes for human beings were finished.
As for his writing about his memories of his life, the lines were still clear as ever, sharp and biting, yet anything but joyful. They had turned rancorous, angry, humorless, and pitiless.
Twain had clearly given-up, had tossed in the towel, and said, "What’s the point? Funny and fun? Forget about it!"
And for me, seeing my Stuck In Neutral next to his, yeah, sure, I smiled back then, and now?
Sitting here this morning I wanted to say that there are funny things, fun things out there and in here — things that can still guide our hearts instruct our spirits,
make us smile and laugh and help us get up again to seek and live and love.
This poem started with the intention of convincing you of this, but I can’t think of anything right now other than old Mark Twain — and Twain sure isn’t going to help me make that whole happy-ha-ha thing feel true or work.
So, hey, Mark move over brother. I get it. I really do. We all do at some time or another.
I’ll be with you soon enough, but not quite yet, nope...
Perhaps nepotism's worst impact is the stealing of opportunity from people with more talent who are already disadvantaged by tremendous competition. The newcomers compete in an industry that limits access based on expiring age and looks that they cannot wind back the clock to achieve. Still, what nepotism provides might get you in the door, but it doesn't mean you will achieve that fleeting, volatile stardom.
Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman