Celebrity Baby News is Despicable

I’m not going to judge you for caring about celebrities. They’re about as meaningless and stupidly aspirational as sports, and I’m a big ice hockey fan.

However, I find the intense interest in celebrity’s children appalling. I was reminded of this the other day when I saw the oddly-named baby of someone famous on the cover of People magazine. And today, I read on TechCrunch that, coincidentally, People.com has bought Celebrity Baby Blog for an undisclosed sum:

Celebrity Baby is FM Publishing’s top parenting blog, and has recently started to pull in more pageviews (and thus advertising impressions) than FM stalwart BoingBoing. Since February its traffic has shot up—to 6.9 million pageviews and 720,000 unique visitors in April, according to comScore. That month, BoingBoing had more unique visitors (2 million), but fewer pageviews (3.7 million).

Why do I find this so heinous? Because I think children have rights to their own privacy, even before they’re mature enough to exercise them. I find it morally corrupt to exploit toddlers in order to serve advertising to the multitudes. It’s reflective of the shallowest, most fickle tastes of our society. If only we could take a fraction of the cognitive surplus we waste on our worst devices and turn it to more admirable pursuits.

I’m not sure how to distribute the blame, but I’m certain that everyone–celebrities, paparazzi, publishers and consumers–is culpable. It’s obviously not climate change or poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, but it still rankles me. If you’re a consumer of celebrity gossip, I urge you to skip the baby pages.


  1. Aloha!I found you on Dooce. I think most people love celebrities(or are just curious), and they love babies, so I think when you combine the two you get double the attention. If they were to combine puppies babies and celebrities, then the intro web would explode:-)
    Poverty,world peace, who cares about that? Just give us Perezz Hilton:-p

  2. I’ve followed Celebrity Baby Blog for quite some time, and it’s not all about trying to snap pics of celebrities’ babies. A lot of their content is focused on pregnant celebrities and the kind of products they’re using on their kids.

  3. Let me preface this by saying that I don’t necessarily think that it is right:
    When celebrity parents opt into photo contracts with gossip magazines and volunteer to have their first baby photos published there, etc., I see that as very different from paparazzi stalking them in the grocery store. In those cases it is the parent putting their child in the spotlight, not society at large.
    How do you feel about non-famous parents posting pictures of their kids on the web? I’ve noticed that it’s been a hot button issue lately.

  4. Miss Grace: I see little difference between purchased, posed photos and paparazzi photos. Regardless of who’s making the money, the average child’s image isn’t a commodity to be bought and sold.

    For the most part, my argument applies to average, non-famous people as well. I think kids should control their own image.

    There is a grey area, I think, where parents are publishing but not promoting their children’s photos. That is, they have a specific target audience of only family and friends. If they don’t seek wider readership/viewership, then that’s probably okay. Ideally you should password protect text, images and video concerning your kids, but that’s not always practical.

    But if you seek the attention of strangers, and you use your child’s actual name and image to promote your blog/business/brand, then I don’t think that’s kosher. Julie Leung, for example, doesn’t use her kids’ names or faces on her site, which I think is a happy compromise between the parent’s interests and the child’s future interests.

    Inevitably, you’re likely to receive the attention of strangers, so I think the above approach (obfuscate the kid’s name and face + password-protection for freinds and family) is best.

  5. the child in this photograph, I presume, gave you its permission to post it on the internet?


    so you met up with heather and jon armstrong, eh? have you ever given much thought to how they make a living? did you explain your hifalutin theory over scones in yaletown?

    judgmental asshole.

  6. Anon: First, let me refer you to the Wikipedia entry on ad hominem. Hopefully that may help you in future debates.

    In fact, I did get that mother’s permission to post that photo. I try to do that whenever I post photos of children.

    You will find that it contains no identifying information about both the mother and the child (you must have gone through a lot of my photos to find that one–hope you enjoyed that). Plus, I didn’t actually use that photo to promote anything. I received exactly zero financial benefit from posting it.

    I’ve given lots of thought to this topic, as it pertains to Heather, Jon and thousands of other blogging parents. I clearly don’t approve of how they present their daughter. If they asked, I’d tell them so. Happily, I can socialize with people with whom I disagree. Apparently you cannot, or you’d have your left actual name.

  7. And, for the record, I find the criticism of ‘judgmental’ is wielded with abandon anytime anybody disagrees with anything. It’s a bit like ‘elitist’ that way, in that it generally sounds good, but bears no actual rhetorical weight.

  8. oh, you got the mother’s permission? I thought mothers had no say over the inherent and inalienable privacy rights of children! and there are tons of kids in your flickr stream—it took about three minutes to find them all. but of course, you got all their permission to use their images to promote your mediocre photography on your mediocre blog. not just their moms, right?

    what about all those adorable little street urchins you took photos of in all your yuppie travels around the world? did you at least toss their mothers a canadian nickel before returning to your comfortable hotel room?

    oh, and let me refer you to the wikipedia entry on balding yuppie pricks with 2001-era dotcom glasses. see that’s the beauty of ad hominen: I don’t care about debating you. as long as you read this and understand that at least one person out here in cyberspace thinks you’re a total loser, I am happy.

    why debate you anyway? consider the language you use: “despicable” “meaningless” “stupid” “heinous” “morally corrupt” “shallow” “fickle” Clearly, you already know everything.

    I suggest you read Ms. Armstrong’s response to the type of banal criticism she gets all the time and that you have spewed forth in the comment above.


  9. also, people who try to sound like they’re smarter than the people they’re arguing with on the internet by using phrases they learned in their sophomore critical reasoning classes like “bears no actual rhetorical weight” are assholes.

  10. Anon: Well, if you don’t want to debate the topic, I’m not sure why you’re hanging around here. Given your hateful language, I can’t imagine that you’re interested in what else I have to say. You may find something more interesting on my Links page.

  11. oh, I came here through dooce, otherwise I certainly never would have known about you. and I keep coming back to see if you actually have something interesting to say about your glaring hypocrisy or whether you’re capable of wittily brushing off my trollish attacks.

    dooce certainly doesn’t need me to defend her, but it seems a bit odd that days after meeting her and hours after receiving a coveted link from her website you’d launch into a diatribe about the despicable, morally corrupt act of generating ad revenue from a website that contains photographs of one’s child.

    I’m guessing by all those photos of you traipsing merrily about the third world that you don’t have kids yet. when you do, you might be surprised by how difficult it is to censor their existence when writing about your own life.

    yeah, thanks for your links page. too bad I find writing about technology agonizingly boring.

  12. I am one of those “horrible” sites. But celebrity baby sites are way softer than the other typical celebrity sites. The aim is not to exploit these children. It also provides a way for mothers to see how others do it. In a nice way.

  13. I’ve followed Celebrity Baby Blog for quite some time, and it’s not all about trying to snap pics of celebrities’ babies. A lot of their content is focused on pregnant celebrities and the kind of products they’re using on their kids

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