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Celebrity babies hold media, public attention

Analise Lipari | Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I have absolutely shocking news. It turns out that nearly four months ago, the world was introduced to Baby Cruise. Yes, celebrity personalities and occasional couch-jumpers Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes combined their genes into an offspring named Suri, and on that fateful May day, the Scientology heiress was born.

Actually, this most likely will shock no one other than maybe Mimi Rogers. Unless you currently reside underneath a rock, you will have heard about the birth of little Suri. Considering that nearly every major publication and news channel featured a countdown to her birth (complete with unnecessary details such as Tom’s unsettling focus on the placenta), avoiding hearing about the spawn of TomKat would be pretty much incredible.

But Suri is not the first among the latest tidal wave of pop culture progeny. Apple and Moses Martin, Coco Cox-Arquette, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt and Sean Preston Federline are among the recent crop of celebrity babies whose omnipresence is puzzling and more than a little obnoxious.

“What? Obnoxious?! No one hates babies, you soulless fiend,” defenders say.

Yes, I’ve heard it before. And I of all people certainly do not hate babies. They’re extremely cute, even if they occasionally smell funny.

However, I can’t say I’m a fan of the fact that each time a celebrity mom pops out a new kid, the world (or at least, the ever-realistic world of entertainment news) feels the need to stop dead.

Even so, that won’t prevent me from peering through the pages of the latest issue of “Vanity Fair,” in which Suri Cruise has a multi-page spread. She looks just like her dad! Seriously, look at that face. Adorable.

Celebrity babies are an addiction. We want to know the London boutique where Mama Gwyneth bought their onesies, the formula brand of choice in the Cruise or Federline household, even the maker of their designer bassinettes. If we had access to the doctor’s ultrasound images, we’d want those too. Framed, and with captions.

If this sounds more than a little extreme, consider the case of baby Shiloh Nouvel. The product of the union of A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Shiloh became an international sensation while still in utero. The world watched with rapt attention at the diplomatic power of the Jolie-Pitt fetus undoubtedly impressed that she could revolutionize the Namibian tourist economy without actually being born yet. Would Angelina give birth in Paris or Namibia?

The debate raged for weeks, with angry defenders on both sides of the “Us Weekly” Letters to the Editor page.

Extreme? Nah.

What’s also both impressive and more than a little terrifying is the clout that these babies have obtained in the media. For the public, the emergence of the formerly enigmatic Suri in the pages of a major publication trumps any story about Iraq that MSN.com may feature on its front page. Even I shamefully admit glossing over Iraq and Katrina headlines to check the status of Britney Spears’ latest Cesarian.

We just can’t help ourselves.

Maybe it’s the allure of their glamorous lifestyles that draws us in like moths to the $1,000-Manolo-Blahnic-bootie-wearing flame. Or it might be the proverbial image of new life entering the world. If someone is a little happier in this crazy world because Gwyneth Paltrow named her son after a Coldplay love song written by her husband, well, worse things could happen.

They could be Mimi Rogers.

Contact Analise Lipari at alipari@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.