Julie Burchill: On Celebrity Nepotism And Lily Allen

10/06/2011 12:09 | Updated 22 May 2015

If a starstruck Martian was to come down to Earth and head for the nearest red carpet event, he'd be immediately struck by two thoughts. 1) "Ha - they're all bright orange, and they think being green is weird!" And 2) "Gosh, being a celebrity is like being royalty. You can't be one unless you marry into it. OR UNLESS YOUR PARENTS WERE IT!"

Yes, here they come, slithering across the crimson catwalk, the ever-burgeoning swathes of SADS - (Sons And Daughters) - just as parasitic and bogus as the Greater Spotted WAG. Be they the Good (Daisy Lowe), the Bad (Otis Ferry) or the downright ugly (Kelly Osborne) they use their sharp elbows and blunt instrument brains to wiggle, worm and wail their way into the national consciousness.

So prevalent is their pollution of the current entertainment industry that when the occasional outsider such as Alexa Chung or Cat Deeley actually makes it to the inner circle, a sort of hysteria surrounds the pretty upstart, mild though her gifts may be.

This is because SHE MADE IT PAST THE NAFFIA! - the Name Mafia.

SADs are part of the reason why British showbiz, so lively and creative from the 1960s to the 90s inclusive, is currently so limp and dreary - that and the fact that so many actors and musicians are now public school ponces and princesses. Of course coming from the working class does not automatically imbue an artist with talent, but the point is that if your background is underprivileged then there are so many handicaps and hurdles on the way to making a living from your creativity that if you DO make it, you must have something going on.

For a SAD, though, just one call from Mummy to a casting agent chum gets your cretinous arse through that door, and from then on it's plain sailing – that Burberry campaign, this recording contract, the seat next to a world-class wit like Joan Rivers on Fashion Police.

So simple – and so SAD, both for the genuinely talented kids from nowhere who didn't get those jobs because you cheated, and for us the paying public, who will now be plagued by your entirely worthless presence every time we open a magazine or turn on the TV. It's a complete turnaround on the 60s when this country seemed to break free overnight from the stifling straitjacket of family fortune, and could at last boast that it didn't matter where you came from so long as you had talent.

This was true during the showboating 70s and the self-made 80s too. But in the 90s, the kids of the swingers came to adulthood; their parents had refused to grow old gracefully, and they refused to grow up gracefully – i.e. get a job on their own merits rather than through Daddy's name or Mummy's contacts.

Hence the foul parade of smirking entitlement that leers at us from the pages of Heat magazine today. But much though it may irritate us to see them, we really wouldn't wanna be them. Supremely vulnerable to being replaced – if your name is your USP then you are forever prey to younger, cuter SADS coming up on the inside track. They also suffer quite rightly from the self-loathing which invariably comes with being a scrounging, skiving free-loader. Still, there's one easy way the poor little oofums can get around this – and that's to go out and get a proper job.


Suggest a correction