WE ARE LIVING IN AN AGE OF SECOND-, SOMETIMES THIRD-GENERATION CELEBRITIES,
and Filipinos’ obsession with celebrity scions is on par with the royal family watchers of Europe, or anyone who keeps up with the Kardashians. Remember when the former Jolie-Pitts sold the first photographs of their newborn twins to People magazine for an unheard-of $14 million back in 2008? That was only the beginning. Later on, other stars chose to preempt the paparazzi deluge by putting out the information on their children themselves. In 2014, celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard launched a campaign to boycott magazines and media outlets that published children’s photographs without parental consent, and it kind of worked, with
Entertainment Tonight banning intrusive pap photos of celebrities’ kids. But social media is an inescapable 360-degree panopticon, and anyone, from the casual fan to the creepy stalker, can get access to the most candid of street snaps. Parody accounts like Suri’s Burn Book and Nori’s Black Book provide a snarky counternarrative to the narcissistic excesses of celeb parents, but they also show just how much of a young child’s life is captured and circulated online, authorized or not.
When kids of celebrities turn into celebrity kids, whether through parental promotion, media overexposure, or their own agency, like in the case of progeny who have come of age and decide to take control of their image (LilyRose Depp, Paris Jackson), one thing’s certain: we feel like we already know them. Local celebaby Scarlet Snow Belo, still a toddler, has a stunning one million followers on Instagram. At least 50 individuals I know follow her, and these are most likely non-blood related grownups who can gush about her latest milestone like some doting godparent. Yes, she’s adorable, precociously smart, and the modern-day offspring of a very non-traditional family, but what is it really that makes Scarlet Snow the anak ng bayan? The Internet may just be obsessed with cute kids the same way it loves grumpy cats and oversized pigs, but perhaps we’re also projecting our hopes, dreams, fears, and regrets on this tabula rasa of a child, reliving the purity of childhood, albeit a more privileged one, through the distance of a screen yet with the seeming intimacy of hearts and likes.
There’s another aspect, however, to early social media stardom that we’re highlighting this month: the fathers. Never before have we seen so many images of daddies enjoying their babies. Not that daddies never did, preInternet, but they certainly weren’t as well-publicized as they are now. Take, for instance, nightlife mogul GP Reyes’ imagined conversations with his daughter Olivia, or single dad Jon-Jon Rufino’s sea-to-summit adventures with his twins Lilith and Lucian, or animator Dino Ignacio’s epic Star Wars stunts with his daughter Harley. These dads may not be “showbiz famous” like the men featured in the following pages, but we remember them just as well, and we keep clicking on their photos, because they show us the many different ways men are fathers to their children, beyond being a mere provider or the dude who lifts heavy things. Dads can be buddies, they can be leaders, but most of all they will be the single greatest male influence in their children’s lives—and to a lesser degree, their fans’ lives. So let’s hear it for the new generation of Dadfluencers.