Nepo babies are all the internet can talk about. Here's why.

TECHNOLOGY
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This week New York Magazine declared 2022 “the year of baby nepo” and published a deep dive into the taxonomy of famous children.

For those who haven’t gotten into the subject yet, a “nepo baby” (short for “nepotism baby”) is the child of a celebrity – or anyone with power and influence in their field – who uses their parents’ influence to give a step forward in their careers. Some archetypal examples are Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, and Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

To clarify the term, New York Magazine categorized nepo babies into several levels. The tallest are the “classic nepo babies” who inherit famous family names like Depp and Hawke. Then there are the “industry babies” or children of people working behind the scenes in the entertainment industry who can also benefit from their parents’ connections. One example is Phoebe Bridgers, whose father is a set builder. The children of billionaires like Paris Hilton shouldn’t be forgotten either.

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Sorry, but Jenna Ortega is not revealing anything

New York Magazine traces the origin of “nepo baby” to a tweet posted by a Canadian tech support worker named Meriem Derradji in February. She tweeted: “Wait just found out the actress who plays Lexi is a nepotistic babe omg 😭 her mum is Leslie Mann and her dad is a movie director lol.” With that tweet, the lexicon of the internet changed forever.

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Every time a new nepotist baby is revealed to the public, be it Maude Apatow in Euphoria or Hawke in Weird stuff, the internet erupts in outrage and self-righteousness over who gets opportunities in the entertainment industry. But, as Buzzfeed’s Izzy Ampil points out, the talk of nepotistic entertainment babies is often a superficial “pop class analysis” of a problem that pervades all industries that often begins and ends with celebrities. Some readers asked New York Magazine analyze the reproduction of privilege in other industries, such as journalism🇧🇷 banking and politics🇧🇷

New York MagazineThe examination of nepo babies brought the concept back to Twitter’s collective mind, resulting in almost everyone’s opinion. But at least the memes were fun.

As is common when something reaches the masses on the internet, nepo baby quickly became democratized by the people, with users sharing their definitions of nepo babys and discussing inequality in their respective industries. For example, a Twitter user wrote“My only contribution to baby nepo in academic discourse is this: I am the first and only person in my family to hold a PhD. I was legitimately surprised when I started this job and learned how rare it was.”

shortly after the New York Magazine article was published, Twitter and TikTok users began to satirize the extremely specific and frankly thorough nepo-baby categorizations, sharing the advantages and qualities they inherited from their own families. The meme is a clever way of forcing us to examine our own privileges or disadvantages. TikTokker @literalwhore posted: “I’m a nepo baby in a medium sized lake in Warsaw, Missouri (my dad sets the fishing limit and we don’t have to pay for parking).”

twitter user @literELLY wrote: “I hope no one finds out I’m a nepo baby (mental illness inherited from not just one but both of my parents).”

May we use nepo baby as a starting point to look more closely at the ramifications of generational wealth and privilege across the board! Until then, the internet will do what it does best.