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Can I Be a Good Parent While Simultaneously Posting Photos of Celebrity Children?

By Monica Bielanko |

As the mother of two sweet toddlers I can't support this insanity.

I am having some trouble over here on Famecrawler. God, it feels so nice to say that here. It’s a relief to write in my own voice instead of some kind of contrived Perez Hilton wannnabe snark tone that seems to be all the rage when writing about celebrities but absolutely does not feel natural to me.

I’m relatively new here to Famecrawler, starting the gig about halfway through February. I figured it would be a snap hammering out a few lines about celebrities and children. It’s a lot harder than I thought. Not only am I struggling to find the right tone but I am conflicted about posting pictures of someone else’s children without their permission.

I tried to tell myself that this is part of the fame game and what celebrities sign up for when deciding to pursue careers in the public eye. And don’t half these stars have people alert the paparazzi as to where they’re going so they can appear in this week’s Us Weekly or In Touch magazines? This is the kind of stuff I’ve been telling myself when posting slideshows like this one or this one. But as the mother of two young children I’m having a hard time justifying my decision. After expressing my frustration on my personal blog a commenter had this to say:

Saying you should know what you’re gonna get if you get famous is a bit of a cop-out, a way of not taking personal responsibility for your own moral code. The bottom line, in my opinion, is you can justify it any which way to sunday but using any of those photographs is tantamount to actively contributing to not only the problem of a creepy stalky way of life but also to the mass mind numbing of our whole culture.

The comment is spot on. I’ve been trying to justify posting pictures of someone’s kid but deep in my heart I know it’s morally wrong. I’m exploiting someone’s child for personal gain. I’m not okay with that. And all the bizarre commentary about these innocent little children? It’s insane! I mean, we’re adults, people! Adults commenting about the “fashion choices” of Kingston and Suri  and the tomboy behavior of Shiloh? Yet an alarmingly high number of entertainment writers all seem to adopt that Perez-y Hilton, Us Weekly, Star snark tone because it seems to be what dominates the entertainment world. But it’s really creepy. What the hell is wrong with society, man? It’s weird, is what it is. And I can justify using the photos of celeb children all I want but the reality — the stone cold reality of it all — is that it makes me feel like a crappy person. How can I be a good parent while simultaneously posting pictures of other people’s kids? Can I be considered a responsible parent or a good mother while posting photos that those parents, in all likelihood, would rather not be taken of their children?

The answer is no.

Another compelling argument as to why posting photos of celeb kids is wrong, as fellow mom blogger Katie Granju points out in the comments below, is that not only would I be considered an irresponsible parent but I would be a hypocrite. If some internet “troll,” as they’re generally called, took photos of me with my kid in public and then started a site wherein they discussed my kid’s appearance, behavior etc. I would go absolutely stark raving nuts and be completely justified in doing so. That there is all the answer I need to stop with the photos of celeb kids. It isn’t right.

If a celebrity tweets or Facebooks a photo, that’s one thing, maybe, but using shots from agencies that sell paparazzi photos … that just doesn’t sit well with me. What about you? Is it morally acceptable to post photos of a celebrity child when you’re 90% sure their parent probably didn’t want the photo taken, doesn’t want the photo out there? And what is our bizarre fascination with celebrity children? Thirty years ago the children of celebrities were pretty much off limits. It’s only in the past twenty-ish years that things have gotten really wacky.

So yeah, this is me telling you I’m changing it up. No more slideshows of celeb children unless the celebrity posted the photos themselves. I’m going to tread very, very lightly when writing about the children of celebrities. I hope to focus more on celebrity parents and their choices and maybe train the lens on us a few times as well in an attempt to understand our fascination with the lifestyles of the rich and famous and whether their parenting choices affect how we raise our kids. And maybe some behind the scenes stuff like this post but without the kid pics.

What are your thoughts? What kind of celebrity articles do you most enjoy reading? What stuff turns you off? Are you as sick of the snark (TMZ, Perez Hilton) as I am? I’m not saying I want to pander to celebrities either (E!, PEOPLE), but I think there is an intelligent, humorous way to write about entertainment without wandering too far down either path. Do I think taking this stand on my tiny internet platform here on Babble will make a difference? In the grand scheme of things, no. But it will make a huge difference in my own life and how I feel about myself and that’s all the difference I need. Plus, one less voice yammering with the crowd is still one less voice, right?

You can also find Monica Bielanko on her personal blog, The Girl Who.

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About Monica Bielanko

monica-bielanko

Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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24 thoughts on “Can I Be a Good Parent While Simultaneously Posting Photos of Celebrity Children?

  1. Katie Allison Granju says:

    Spot on.

    How would bloggers feel if a group of celeb moms joined forces and started a website where they post photos of us and our kids, and pick our lives apart with commentary, judgment and snark? Or even if regular people did that to bloggers? In fact, we bloggers often call those kinds of people “trolls” and refer to their sites as “hate sites.” But how is it different than what we are doing on Famecrawler? If it is any different, it’s only by a few shades or degrees.

    Bloggers are always arguing that putting themselves and their families “out there” doesn’t mean we are inviting or should have to put up with commentary or negative judgment from the audiences we seek to cultivate. And that makes us big ol’

  2. Katie Allison Granju says:

    Whoops! Got cut off mid-comment. Anyway, that makes us hypocrites.

    So good for you, Monica.

    Katie

  3. Marty Coleman, The Napkin Dad says:

    I am 100% behind you Monica!

    Snarky judgment is the single worst cultural development of the last 20 years and I hate it. I know both have been around forever but we as a culture have embraced it and made it hip and cool in the past few decades. It’s not hip, it’s not cool. It’s sophomoric, it’s mean-spirited, and it’s demeaning to both the speaker and the object of the attention.

    I knew there was a reason I liked you Monica, now I know why!

  4. MonicaBielanko says:

    Thanks Marty! And Katie, that’s another reason I felt like a douche. How could I feel outraged about internet jerk-offs when I’m doing the same thing to celebrities. There is no difference.

  5. jeneria says:

    E! and People release enough authorized pictures to fill the necessary picture slot for thousands of articles. You don’t have to rely on the paps (whenever I type that word I’m reminded of male spiders’ sex organs or the gynecologist, I’m sure there’s a moral there).

  6. Candice says:

    Yes, totally tired and bored of celebrity snark. We can use celebrities’ comings and goings as a springboard to discuss larger issues, for sure – it’s just that in our shallow(ish) society, we simply don’t very often. But we can – and we can right here. :)

  7. kacy says:

    Monica I didn’t think any of your articles really exploited any children or parents for that matter….but I do agree that unless you have permission to post pictures of other peoples children (celebrity or not) it is probably best not to. I think you taking the high road and choosing to go with your gut and heart in this says a lot about you!!

  8. h says:

    i say give up this gig and start writing for babble pets. i’d much rather see cute pictures of animals then kids.

  9. Lauren says:

    To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why Babble feels “Famecrawler” is a necessary part of their site. I’m a huge fan of Babble as a whole, but I tend to avoid this section completely. Maybe if it contained celebrities writing articles about their own kids/parenting styles it would be more appealing, but I’m with you on the whole anti-snark thing. It seems weirdly judgmental to criticize and pick apart celebrity parents and their kids. And Babble very often seeks to stop the ‘competitive mom attitude’ we often see on playgrounds and at schools.

  10. Kristen says:

    I think this is a good conviction to follow!

  11. LK says:

    Way to go, Monica. I thought that comment on your blog post was very insightful, and I applaud you for being able to examine yourself and decide that you want to change your behavior in a way that is in line with your values.

  12. GreenInOC says:

    LOVE this!

    I’m with @Lauren, why this section at all? I’m only here to read your posts. However, if you can come up with a way to use celebrity parenting as a jumping off point for a larger discussion – fantastic!

  13. Esme and me says:

    I think you’ve showed lots of self-awareness about writing for famecrawler, and created an interesting conversation. We all make compromises everyday in our work, in what we buy, in how we live our lives. We have to work to pay the bills and we live in a world where sometimes that means compromising our values. It also means standing up for those values whenever we can. I wish more people in the media showed the same degree of inteligence about the way women, mothers and chiildren are written anout discussed in public forums.
    Raising these issues makes you a great blogger, and I know I’m one of many women out there who really enjoy your voice. So, thanks!

  14. Ana A. says:

    I like the way this site (http://www.imnotobsessed.com/) does the celebrity blog thing. Yeah she puts children on it but her tone throughout the site is always nice and not snarky at all.

  15. Jill says:

    to Quote: “but I think there is an intelligent, humorous way to write about entertainment without wandering too far down either path”

    The operative word here is entertainment. These are actors, they have jobs, and although they are in the public eye, their LIVES are NOT entertainment. If you want to write about entertainment, write about the movies, books, tv shows and other items they produce… that is the “entertainment”. Their personal lives are not entertainment and not for consumption.

    Now, there is a whole subset of celebrities that are not actors and are in fact looking for fame in the form of our consumption of their lives (Kardashians, Paris Hilton etc) and quite frankly if their “jobs” are to be in the public eye, they are fair game.

    As a society, I think we need to turn the cameras off and stop worrying so much about what any person in the public eye does outside of their job to entertain us, on film of which they get paid to do.

    good job Monica

  16. alana says:

    Good for you!! One thing that has often upset me is the snarky and judgemental comments, especially about the celeb kids. You rock! Wish your fellow bloggers would follow your lead.

  17. Erin says:

    I agree with @Lauren & @H. Why does Babble have this section? It feels like it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the site. I’d also much rather see you over at Babble Pets, writing about Max & Milo.

  18. cassandra says:

    There are celebrity websites a-plenty. There really doesn’t need to be one here. Just my opinion.

    And your writing is amazing when it is about things you are passionate about. In fact it’s brilliant. I’d stick to what you do best. (marriage, kids, pets, decorating on a budget, etc.) Something fun and different might be “Flea Market Finds” or “Remaining Hip with kids on your hips.” Ha. So many possibilities.

  19. E. says:

    Hey Monica, I have to say–I was very torn about posting my comment on TGW as I feared you would take it (as I have felt you may have in the past with other well-intended but perhaps ill-constructed comments) the wrong way. I’m so glad you were able to receive it in the spirit it was intended and I think it’s straight up awesome you raised the level of conversation here in sharing your honest internal conflict. The thing I have always admired most about your writing is its brave raw honesty….I feel like one is never more brave than when risking rejection (however its manifested–loss of approval, income, etc.) in order to speak one’s truth. (ok, well maybe first responders and marines are more brave but you know what I mean). In summary (and forgive me if this sounds more familiar than it really should be given we’ve never met): I’m proud of you.

  20. E. says:

    ps: here’s one more vote for Babble rising above the fray and nixing famecrawler altogether. Be the change etc…

  21. Be Careful... says:

    I hear ya…but it’s going to be pretty hard to compete with the other FC bloggers for page views if you cut down on slideshows/put certain content off limits. It’s just part of the job and you aren’t doing anything wrong. Here’s hoping the other bloggers don’t take advantage of you for being a decent, honest person. It would be very Famecrawler-like for certain people to use this against you to drum up their own page views.

  22. (London) Amanda says:

    Ive had an interesting experience from a different point of view.
    Years ago when I worked for a syndicating agency as a photographer, I was often asked to attend celebrity events, and often their children would be there. I was not a paparazzi, we were invited by the organisers, but I didn’t even consider photographing the children, unless the parents posed for a shot with their child. But then came the hounding of Princess Diana and her boys and everything changed.
    Then one day when my daughter was off school recovering from chicken pox (but not contagious), I took her to the Adventure Playground in Holland Park. And who were the only other children there – Princes William and Harry – playing with my daughter! I always carry my camera with me and couldn’t resist snapping a few photos. OMG – big mistake – this was the day that it was announced that Charles and Diana had separated and there were a million pap snappers at the boys’ school, waitng to get ‘the picture’, so the bodyguards and nanny had sneaked them into Holland Park. They pounced upon me, asked for my film and told me I could not use any photos I had taken of William and Harry. Hang on a moment, I was taking pics with my own daughter in the shots and this is a public place, where it is perfectly legal to photograph anyone. I held on to my film and went home, phoned my agency to get their view. Well, they told me, the good news is that I could sell those photos and expect to net in excess of £100k (a lot of money about twenty years ago) because they were the only photos taken of the princes on that day, but the bad news was that the Palace security had already identified me and told my agency it would not be a good idea for me to sell them. They left it at that. S ary that they’d found out who I was so quickly.

    Funny thing was, I had already decided not to sell them, because I was a parent and couldn’t justify to myself making things worse for those two boys on the day they found out that their mum and dad were separating. My daughter was exactly the same age as Prince William (born on the same day) and was so thrilled to have met and played with him, could I exploit that? It was a dilemma and I can’t say I wasn’t tempted by £100k, but it just didn’t sit right so I know exactly how you feel Monica.
    But as long as newspapers pay ridiculous sums of money to the paparazzi (and let’s face it, with digital cameras as good as they are nowadays, anyone can become a ‘photographer’), there will always be people snapping celebrities and their kids and always people wanted to see the photos.
    I don’t envy you on this one…. can one be a good parent and post photos of celebrity children? – it’s a damn tough call.

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