America’s meritocracy problem manifests in nepo babies


DaHee Kim

Wealthy celebrities including Kim Kardashian and David Beckham benefit from their famous family name. As nepotism babies plague Hollywood, netizens question the importance of meritocracy in America.

Born the first child of two A-list celebrities, David and Victoria Beckham, you’re afforded outlandish privilege and exceptional opportunities.  

After exploring a plethora of temporary career paths, including a job to shoot a Burberry campaign and a failed attempt at publishing a photography book, 23-year-old Brooklyn Beckham returns to the camera as a reinvented celebrity chef. 

Hosting a cooking series, “Cookin’ With Brooklyn”, with a reported budget of $100,000 per episode, Brooklyn Beckham — who lacks any formal culinary education — does no more than plate the pre-made scraps of food prepared by his crew of 62 culinary professionals. 

Although the photographer-to-chef pipeline was one we never expected to see, his family’s elite status and the value of the “Beckham” name alone finance the young socialite’s expensive “hobbies.” 

Needless to say, Beckham is embarrassingly good at being a nepo baby — the latest internet phenomenon. 

Short for nepotism, the term “nepo baby” is used to describe the child of a high-profile celebrity who benefits from generational fame, wealth and connections. 

While the concept of a nepo baby has long existed, it wasn’t until recently that social media users began exploring it. From TikTok memes to snarky Twitter posts, the exhaustive list of Hollywood celebrities who rode on the backs of their parents’ fame filled the pages of practically every social media platform.

In honor of this nepo baby craze, the New York Magazine dedicated the front page of their December 2022 issue to these brilliant stars. Headlined “She has her Mother’s Eyes. And Agent,” the cover contained faces of famous Hollywood nepo babies photoshopped onto the bodies of literal infants. It was witty, to say the least.

Although at face value, it appears to be nothing more than a satirical commentary on Hollywood’s overwhelming wave of nepo babies, the truth is that New York Magazine’s cover is an earnest invitation for us to reconsider meritocracy, as a whole, in America.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth — such inequity is not only unavoidable, but it also exists in practically every industry. Hollywood is just one prominent example that proves that nepotism is a large and powerful pillar of America.

“Get your f**king ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days,” said TV personality and CEO Kim Kardashian in a March 9, 2022 interview with Variety

Kardashian, a household name, flaunts an estimated 1.8 billion net worth and overwhelming popularity in the business and entertainment industry. But what was intended to be advice for women in business and her “secret” to success, only triggered the public’s irritation toward the nepo billionaire passing off as a “self-made” star. 

It’s tone-deaf, especially amid a poverty crisis that plagues our country. 

Though there is no doubt that Kardashian worked rigorously to build her brand and uphold the family name, she perpetuates the narrative that hard work alone was responsible for her path to stardom. She’s an advocate of the dead American Dream. 

And so this trend naturally begs the question as to why the Internet is overly obsessed with nepo celebrities.

Frankly, Hollywood stars are symbols of American pride. In a highly selective industry that not only lacks diversity but neglects true talent, celebrities with incredible backgrounds will always outperform their peers who have more than humble origins. 

Of course, the nepo baby discourse shouldn’t discredit the obvious struggles of growing up in the public eye or the effort that’s required to maintain this status. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with being the child of a successful celebrity. 

For as long as these industry insiders continue to have children, the wealthy and privileged will only continue to grow in status. But American society must change its perception of class and wealth. It starts with nepo celebrities acknowledging their privilege. 

For online critics, Beckham is no more than a rich kid messing around with daddy’s money. And as the internet continues to question his cooking abilities, Beckham’s series of short-lived careers reveal one profound truth — success isn’t based on merit alone.