WE ARE LIV­ING IN AN AGE OF SEC­OND-, SOME­TIMES THIRD-GEN­ER­A­TION CELEBRI­TIES,

Esquire (Philippines) - - NOTES & ESSAYS -

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.

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