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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.
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.
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).
Everything Else You Need To Know:
- In a recent interview with "Today," Johnny Depp told Savannah Guthrie he hates being famous, comparing his life to that of a "fugitive," which he probably knows about, because acting. He just wants to make his little leather bracelets in peace, okay? Also, please go see "Transcendence," which is the feature film he was on the talk show actively promoting.
- Apparently, ScarJo HATES being called ScarJo. She told Glamour that she thinks the nickname is really "violent ... tacky, lazy and flippant." At the very least, the name mashup is kind of '90s. Anyway, don't call her that.
- After more than 30 years in the industry, David Letterman announced his retirement and -- after giving him about a week to be honored and mourned -- CBS confirmed speculation that Stephen Colbert would replace him. The response is exuberance mixed with wonder as to whether we should be sad about losing "The Colbert Report." Read Jason Zinoman's take on it over at The New York Times.
- "Game of Thrones" is back! The premiere was the most pirated episode of all time, which means everyone just steals TV from the Internet and that your entire newsfeed is going to be about dragons now. Pretend you know what's going on with Nena Shen Rastogi's recaps for Vulture.
- Jay Z wore an impractically-sized Five-Percent Nation chain to a Brooklyn Nets game, managing to incite ambiguous anger and more confusion about reverse racism. Head over to PolicyMic for the best explanation of the (mostly illogical) controversy.
- Through her mother and lawyer, Amanda Bynes has returned to the media to address rumors that she has schizophrenia. This is a friendly reminder to be empathetic to her plight and mental health issues in general.
- Finally, on Monday, Kim Kardashian shared an Instagram of Thailand, which was actually a Google image of Thailand, and everyone freaked out, because Kim Kardashian is the source of all truth and beauty and they just could not handle this kind of deception! But then she defended herself, writing, "… but ummm when did I ever say i took that pic? LOL," so everything is, once again, at peace in the universe.
Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca