Last month, the heritage British luxury fashion house Burberry hired sixteen year old Brooklyn Beckham to shoot their latest fragrance campaign. The internet responded indignantly. How could an untrained and inexperienced teenager been given such a coveted opportunity, simply because he is the offspring of the rich and famous? They protested that this was both disrespectful of hard-working professional photographers and disparaging for an iconic brand like Burberry.
In the 1970s, Margaret Thatcher campaigned for entrepreneurialism and individualism- to “put the great back in Great Britain”. Indeed, today we are privileged to live in a society where it doesn’t necessarily matter where you come from as long as you work hard or have talent, far matured from Victorian notions where family fortunes determined your place in the world. By honouring Brooklyn with this important role, Burberry had succumbed to celebrity nepotism and reinforced an arbitrary sense of ‘celebrity birth-right’. Most importantly, this controversy reminds us of an even wider-reaching preoccupation with celebrities, where in our modern-day world, people like the Kardashians, with little or no talent, are achieving ‘celebrity status’.
Eighteen year old Kylie Jenner is another ‘celebrity offspring’. Sprung from the Kardashian clan, she has began building her own empire and is worth $5 million dollars. The Kylie brand is ever-growing with Kylie Hair Kouture, Kylie Cosmetics, a collaboration with her sister Kendall, and Topshop, and another fashion line with Kendall and Pacsun. Yet we sit and wonder if Kylie would ever have had any of these opportunities and endorsements if she wasn’t part of one of America’s most famous families and one of its most-watched reality shows, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’. Her latest million dollar endorsement deal with Puma is a direct result of her staggering growing social media presence and rapidly rising fame.
Can we really blame them? When Burberry took on Brooklyn Beckham, were they simply responding to our obsession with celebrities or are we being too cynical and undermining his photographing skills. No doubt, endorsing the likes of Kylie and Brooklyn is a clever marketing strategy. We’ve all at some point been allured by an article on Kylie Jenner’s lips, right? With our fascination of celebrity life and our eagerness to place them on pedestals, we are returning to outmoded ways of birth-right and aristocracy- this time in the framework of Hollywood and fame.
Images: Harpers Bazaar, Popsugar