When Nepotism Failed

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August 14, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas

Nepotism is the way of the world; it always has been and it always will be.  Regardless of your own personal beliefs, knowing people and having connections is still the best way to get anywhere in life.  Nepotism and cronyism are all around us; they are ever present in the job market and unfortunately all too visible in politics.  But, there is one realm where having connections doesn’t translate to success, or a desired goal.  Mainstream entertainment remains an area where nepotism can still fail.  Obviously it exists, but whether or not someone lasts is completely up to us, the mainstream society.  So even if they know someone who got them there, it’s us who can keep them there or dismiss and reject them all together, regardless of who they know….or who they’re sleeping with.[1]

Nepotism doesn’t lend itself to areas like entertainment or media because these two fields exist on our whim.  We are the audience, or the customer in a way, and we demand satisfaction.  Whether it’s music or movies or TV, they owe it to us to give us what we want, or else we won’t pay them any attention, which is tantamount to death for them.  In the business sector, it’s possible to create some job that requires no skill just for someone’s idiot nephew.  You can’t put that same idiot nephew on TV and expect positive results if no one likes him.  We are the judge jury and if need be executioner when it comes to our own entertainment.  And if some high and mighty exec puts gives his airhead daughter her own album, her career is dictated by fans, us regular people, not daddy with all his money and connections.  If we deem that she sucks at singing, her career won’t go anywhere regardless of who she knows or how much clout she has.[2]

Obviously people have tried to use their connections and sway to either get themselves or people they know into showbiz, but more often than not, it’s to no avail.  Most of the time it’s because they suck at whatever it is they want to do, and no amount of nepotism will ever change that.  They put themselves out there to be judged by us, and if they fail, their career, which really is dictated by us, comes to an end.  Examples of failed nepotism include 80s singer Rockwell, son of Motown records founder Berry Gordy, Joe Buck, son of legendary sports broadcaster Jack Buck, and Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith.

Rockwell, most famously known for his 1984 hit single “Somebody’s Watching Me” chose to adapt a stage name, so as to distance himself from his father and make his way without having to rely on his name.  Instead he decided to have the biggest singer in the world (Michael Jackson) sing with him on his debut single.  Even though the song broke into the top 10 on the charts, nothing he did after that ever came close to that feat.  He released three albums and each progressively sold less and less copies.  Regardless of who he was or who he knew he still did not have what it took to sustain his position.  His relation to Berry Gordy might have allowed him to do what he did, but ultimately it was his failure to appease us that overrode the nepotism and ended his musical career.

Now even though Joe Buck still has a career as a sports broadcaster, nepotism has still failed him in a way.  It’s failed him because even though he’s the son of legendary sports broadcaster Jack Buck, EVERYBODY hates Joe Buck.  People in Zambia who have no idea what the hell baseball is, hate Joe Buck.  They don’t hate him because of the nepotism, they hate him because he sucks at what he does, but he still does it anyway.  Our demands have not been satisfied and our unfulfilled desires have turned to seething hatred for this guy because the nepotism that got him to where he is, actually supersedes what we as the consumer desires.  It’s not that nepotism has provided an opportunity for him, it’s that nepotism has kept him at where he is.[3]

Finally we get to Jaden Smith, who in all honesty only has a career because he is the scion on Will Smith.  One review described his entire career as “an example of nepotism gone wrong”.  Even after watching the for After Earth, it’s plain to see that the kid can’t act.  If you can’t put on an English accent, don’t bother trying in the first place.  Two of his three biggest movies placed him opposite his father, and the third one was a remake of a 1980s classic.[4]  It’ll be interesting to see where he winds up five years from now, if he even has a career by then.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes nepotism can be great, look at the presidency of Andrew Jackson, or Nicolas Cage’s career.  In the case where the person is actually deserving and capable of doing whatever it is their connection helped them get, I have no problem with.  In fact I support it as it facilitates a more efficient and skilled circumstances.  However if someone’s being given something based solely on the fact of who they know, that’s when problems start to arise.  But in the realm of entertainment and pop culture, while someone may be the beneficiary of nepotism, whether they truly succeed or fail is dictated by us.  Then again there is the occasional scenario where someone just fails upwards in life, case and point Jon Peters.

[1] I don’t know why but for some reason sleeping with someone really butters them up.

[2] For those who remember Paris Hilton put out an album once.  So did Lindsay Lohan.

[3] That or FOX can’t find anyone better to replace him….which is kinda hard to believe.

[4] 1980s classic does sound a bit like an oxymoron doesn’t it.


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