In our celeb-obsessed culture, it seems everything is fair game. We gather around blogs that pick apart stars' outfits and possible romantic entanglements and other scandals. So are celebrity children fair game?
Blogger Allie Hagan attempts to make light of that idea. However, being a 25-year-old policy worker in D.C. doesn't give her much of a connection to stars, their children or child stars. So she opted to take on the voice of someone who might know a thing or two about this: Suri Cruise.
Since July 2011, Hagan has attacked celebrity children's attitudes and sartorial choices on Suri's Burn Book — tagline: “Just because you don't have a Ferragamo handbag doesn't mean you can behave like a child. (I'm looking at you, Shiloh.)” A book of her commentary arrived in stores on September 4. The following day, BuzzMedia announced a partnership with her.
We talked to Hagan about her blog, her alter ego and, of course, the demise of TomKat.
How did this blog idea come about?
Every once in awhile I post things on my own Twitter about celebrity kids and a friend was just like “you should start your own celebrity baby website to talk about them in a kind of funny way,” which hadn't been done.
I thought that that was a clever idea, but if I was going to do it I'd want to be funny about it. A little bit snarky; not take myself super seriously about it. Once I began thinking about how I was going to write that, it became hard to imagine how I would do that as myself, as my own voice because I felt like it would across as mean, unnecessary and kind of creepy. Then I thought to write it as Suri Cruise's perspective.
Why did you choose Suri Cruise?
I don't know who else I would have chosen. She's the clear choice. It's easy to imagine that she has that kind of personality, if you look at pictures of her in kitten heels and carrying a cup of coffee down the Manhattan sidewalk.
Did you ever think it would go this far?
No. I thought it would be a meme for two weeks. Those Tumblr websites, some of them take on a life of their own and it's so funny. But then people shut it down or the joke kind of burns out after awhile. But then celebrities kept getting pregnant and having babies. And then Jessica Simpson had a baby and it was like, well, clearly I'm going to have material for years.
What's some of the feedback you've gotten?
I've kind of expected people to not get it and think it's too mean. But overwhelmingly, people totally understand the sarcasm and satire. They don't take it as a realistic critique.
You're in D.C. Do you think that makes it easier than someone like Perez Hilton, who lives and breathes this stuff?
Perez has kind of become friends with some of these people. He's in that world. I would never see myself as meeting any of these kids. I'm sure in real life they're just little children who go to school and their lives a lot more normal than we imagine they are. I feel very separate from them because they're kids.
How is the book different from the blog?
It's similar in tone to the blog. A lot of it is longer form content. It's … Suri's definitive guide, so how does she really feel about the Afflecks?
How do you determine how Suri would feel about certain families and kids?
It's the clothes, it's the way the parents are presenting the kids, it's the behavior and, more and more as they get older, it's how the kids are presenting themselves. Like, if Willow Smith tweets, and Kingston Rossdale's hair, whatever choices they're making.
The blog and the book concentrate so much on fashion. Are you a fashion-minded person?
No! Not at all. I think it adds to this impression of celebrity children. Let's look at what Shiloh's wearing and compare that to what's Suri's wearing. And let's talk about where they buy their clothes and who buys their clothes.
Also, it's such a big part of who Suri's public persona has become that it would have been hard to write from a faux-Suri perspective and not cover that.
Have you heard from the Cruise-Holmes camp at all?
Nope. [But] I think everyone kind of knows it's in good fun. Their daughter sure is a national treasure, though.
What do you think about our growing awareness and our fascination with celebrity kids? Do you think it's fair?
I've been thinking about this a lot, actually. If you think back to the '80s or the '90s and you think about who was really famous at the time. Think about Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. Sure, she did the cover of [Vanity Fair] when she was [seven] months pregnant, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a paparazzi picture of, like, Rumer Willis when she was three. Those girls really became popular later, like once the celebrity child fascination grew.
In that respect, I don't think it's fair because we put this pressure on them and we create this firestorm around them. At the same time, though, you can't look at Willow Smith and her parents aren't the ones contributing the most to her extremely public life.
And I think other celebrities, to a lesser extent, do that too. Like Vanessa Minnillo and Nick Lachey … Vanessa Minnillo is everywhere. They are going to put that child in magazines like all over the place … That's a choice that the parents are making. While like, Alicia Silverstone, sure she did that crazy bit with the chewed up food, but you don't see her out with her baby all the time. I would never hesitate to do a post a post on Vanessa Minnillo's baby because blogs aren't exploiting her; she's the one doing the exploiting.
So it's fair game?
There's always going to be some things that are off limits. I'm careful about what I post. For instance, all the stuff that's going on with the Jacksons. I'm not posting anything on that because it's just sad and somebody needs to step up and try to be a good parent to those kids.
Speaking of that: Have you switched your tone or did you have any thoughts about how to handle the TomKat divorce?
I'm trying to be very careful about how I cover that. I think it's very easy to imagine Suri Cruise as this sassy, sophisticated young woman when you see pictures of her walking down the street drinking a cup of coffee wearing heels and carrying a handbag, but I think everybody knows that at the end of the day she's a little girl whose parents are getting divorced. That's not fun for anyone.
Even though Tom Cruise jokes will always be funny, I'm very cautious on how I treat Suri because I recognize that this is a really difficult time in her life.