Middlebrow: Sarah Jessica Parker And The Ugly Truth About Celebrity Kids

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SARAH JESSICA PARKER
Sarah Jessica Parker arrives for the opening night of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a new stage musical based on Roald Dahl's popular story about Willy Wonka and his amazing Chocolate Factory, at the Drury Lane Theatre in central London, Tuesday, June 25, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP) | Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

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Sarah Jessica Parker found herself in a Twitter war at the end of last week. Responding to tweets from one Sarah J. Symonds, who made a "disgusting" remark about her kids, SJP slammed the "outrageous and vulgar" comment. Though her slew of responses took aim at a specific attacker, it held implications for the absurdly harsh way we talk about famous children. We treat celebrity offspring as though they are simply extensions of their parents, despite the fact that they have no choice whatsoever in having public life.

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Let's look specifically at SJP, who has a history of biting her tongue when it comes to personal attacks. That tweet about her kids has long since been deleted, but there is a perpetual stream of folks likening her to a horse, and she never picks apart any of those tweets as "outrageous and vulgar." When the tiny corner of the Internet known as Sarah Jessica Parker Horse Twitter calls her things like "the mane event," it's crappy and mean, but she's also a famous adult. There's a sense that it comes with the territory. We believe that celebrities "sign up" for this kind of life -- and they cannot be oblivious to that landscape of modern-day celebrity scrutiny.

Celebrities have agency in being famous, where their kids do not. That's not to say simply being interested in celebrity kids is diabolical. At a surface level, it's mostly curiosity-fulfillment, a desire to know what the tiny product of two famous (and probably aesthetically-pleasing) people looks like. Although, there is a problem when that interest allows us to conflate celebrity children with the cult of celebrity. When we regard them with the same kind of voyeurism and obsessive interest that we do their famous parents, it makes them instantly vulnerable. Enter whatever cruel remark Parker was ranting about on Friday.

There really is no anti-argument when it comes to the inappropriate way we talk about celebrity children. We were just appalled when a paparazzo called Suri Cruise various "B" words, or The Onion, in a (failed) attempted at satire, referenced Quevenzhane Wallis with the "C" word. (No one should be calling that mini adorable girl anything but the "Q" word.) Yet, while those examples are easier to condemn, they are not a far stretch from pervasive and entitled attitudes toward famous kids.

Searching for basically any famous minor on Twitter yields negative comments directed at the child in question. It's tough to pinpoint this merely as a recent trend. In the early 1900s, people may have very well been making snide remarks about Grand Duchess Anastasia via telegraph. But with Twitter, it's all very public and can be directed at the celebrities themselves. Hopefully most of it is never intended for the actual kid to see, but the core issue should still feel at least a little icky. Imagine an adult calling a non-famous nine-year-old child a "C" word or a "B" word or anything that can be represented with "the [letter] word" formulation.

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We pretend we know the folks that walk the red carpet. We analyze them and distribute seemingly arbitrary love and hate to their public personas. Simply their presence in the public sphere catapults them into this realm of unforgiving criticism, but there is agency in pursuing any career associated with that kind of visibility, where kids never got to make any kind of choice. There's probably something deeply flawed about actively funneling negativity to famous adults, but at least they got to pick that life on their own volition. They're also old enough to take it. When it comes to talking about celebrity children, it's probably best to follow the Thumper rule (or at least pretend that Sarah Jessica Parker's profile picture of an eye is always watching).

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Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca

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