How Celebrities Profit off Their Babies

Are celebrities exploiting non-consenting chidren for financial gain? How can we get in on it? Humorist Brian Unger addresses these pressing questions.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

And our humorist Brian Unger is here now. Hi Brian.

BRIAN UNGER: Hello, Madeleine. Now, you went to the Oscars last night, right?

BRAND: I did go to the Oscars last night.

UNGER: And how was it?

BRAND: (singing) All by myself.

UNGER: Were you stood up? What happened exactly?

BRAND: Yeah, Alex stood me up. You know we've gotten through this whole show and maybe people have noticed that I'm all by myself today. He's sick; he's very, very sick. So he canceled last night and I went by myself. So…

UNGER: So there you were solo. And…

BRAND: Yeah, solo. But I will tell you all about it. I was on the red carpet and I had some sightings. But first, what do you have for today's Unger Reports?

UNGER: Madeleine, celebrities selling their baby photos, their pictures.

BRAND: Like what, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?

UNGER: Yes. First Madeleine, the controversy. People are outraged that singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are selling pictures of their newborn twins to the magazine People. Who are these outraged people? The same people who read People. What has people particularly outraged is the reported four to six million dollars J.Lo will fetch for photos of her babies. Ethicists wonder, are celebrities exploiting non-consenting children for financial gain?

The rest of us are wondering, how can we get in on this action? First to new parents J.Lo and Marc Anthony, congratulations. Four to six million dollars for baby pictures is a record. This means your kids have more than paid for themselves already, long before they've had a chance to sell the story of what awful parents you will eventually become.

Let's be honest. By the time famous kids write tell-alls about how exploited they feel, their parents and their fans will be dead. So now's the time to sell those photos to the highest bidder. It's argued this helps to quell the maelstrom caused by predatory paparazzi who stop at nothing to snap pictures, endangering the lives of our most famous citizens and their children.

This idea, reducing demand by limiting supply, is why J.Lo is pretty and not a Nobel Prize-winning economist. But perhaps we should ask, what if celebrities can't sell photos of their babies? What will happen to these unobserved babies? Sadly, most would live out their infancies in obscurity as they react to temperature, hunger, and doodie in their diapers. These babies sound like unfamous babies, and well, unfamous babies are boring.

Some have insinuated that selling pictures of your own baby is in effect, pimping out your child. Well, it is. But instead of judging that pimping, or the pimpin', as some call it, let's tax it. Let's tax the extremely wealthy celebrities and the profits they earn from pimpin' out their children. But would that go far enough?

The Unger plan would impose a special celebrity tax on all famous people who breed. The proceeds from this tax would be matched with federal funds, then disseminated among non-famous parents of non-famous children when they get their picture taken in school. This would be called the Olan Mills tax credit. $2500 paid for every child's photo, K-12, and then applied to a child's college tuition upon high school graduation.

In essence, J.Lo and Marc Anthony would help pay your kid's college tuition so he or she can grow up to be something other than J.Lo or Marc Anthony. Selling baby pictures, exploitation or a smart investment in America's future?

And that is today's Unger Report, I'm Brian Unger.

Now Madeleine, I'm very eager to know everything about your magical night at the Oscars.

BRAND: Magical.

UNGER: Yes.

BRAND: You used that word, magical. Well I'm not sure it was magical. I mean it was sort of magical in my anticipation of it, but it's kind of like you don't really want to know how the sausage is made.

UNGER: Where do they seat radio, though, Madeleine? I was wondering where. I looked for you in the sort of Hollywood royalty there right out front.

BRAND: You didn't see me?

UNGER: I saw someone waving an NPR flag up in the nosebleed section, was that you?

BRAND: Me and the crickets, yes. I was in the second mezzanine at the very back. The back of the theater was my seatback. But let me tell you about my little red carpet adventure.

UNGER: Oh, yes.

BRAND: So everyone's in their town cars, taxis, limos, whatever. They were funneled up and you - everyone's just disgorged at the same spot right in front of the red carpet. There are all sorts of people who have been hanging out, I think for weeks in these bleachers waiting to get a glimpse of the stars. So you get out and they kind of, you know, everyone sort of, as I think, everyone is equalized on the red carpet.

So I hear what I think from these bleachers is, Madeleine, Madeleine, Madeleine. So I turn and I wave and see people waving frantically. Madeleine, Madeleine, and then I hear, we loved you in "Juno." I turned around and behind me is Ellen; Ellen Page. And that was kind of how it went.

UNGER: Do you know that Ellen Page this morning is telling that same story to her friends. That everyone was yelling, Madeleine, Madeleine, Madeleine from - and then she turns around and there's Madeleine Brand from NPR standing there. So seeing the sausage made and seeing up close, is it everything you expected or what it just…

BRAND: Well, I don't, you know, I don't think you want to see the sausage made, you really don't. I mean kind of when you're at home it is larger than life, even though it's on the small screen. It just seems so much more glamorous. Sort of up close you kind of see the red carpet, well, it's a little threadbare. Everything's a little smaller in real life, including Josh Brolin.

UNGER: Oh, diminutive?

BRAND: Short, big head.

UNGER: Really? Are you disappointed?

BRAND: Well, you know, I was expecting larger than life.

UNGER: Sure. That's good to know. There's something we've learned right there. Well you look terrific and you sound terrific.

BRAND: Thank you.

UNGER: So you survived the night and you didn't stay out too late, unlike someone else perhaps.

BRAND: Who are you referring to?

UNGER: I thought I saw Alex Chadwick walking home this morning, very late, from the Elton John party.

BRAND: No you didn't.

UNGER: Yeah. He doesn't go to the ceremony, he just goes to the parties afterwards.

BRAND: All right, Alex, you have some explaining to do when you return tomorrow.

UNGER: He does.

BRAND: Brian Unger from the Unger Report. Thank you.

UNGER: Thank you for sharing.

BRAND: My pleasure. And you can get more Oscar stuff online, npr.org.

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