Posh and Becks eldest has been given a kicking over his new book of photography. But before we get too exercised about the output of modern celebrity progeny, its worth looking back at history to realise things could be much worse
Fittingly, the fuss over Brooklyn Beckhams debut book of photography is a little out of focus.
In case you missed this one, David and Victoria Beckhams eldest has a new book of his photos out, and the early reception has not been altogether kind. Entitled what i see, it is published by Penguin Random House, and comprises a selection of 18 -year-old Brooklyns allegedly iconic photograph, accompanied by self-penned captions. Thus far, critical attention has centred particularly on a couple. Exhibit A: a photo of an elephant, taken in shadow, giving us a clear opinion of the sunlit background but not a lot else, and glossed with the words: so hard to photograph but incredible to watch. And Exhibit B: something captioned: i like this painting its out of focus but you can tell theres a lot going on.
Thankfully, we have moved beyond the brutal era where most of these snaps would have earned an oval quality-control sticker from Boots advising hold camera steady or subject too close.
Even so, there is a Will this do? quality to it all, and questions to answer for the various adults who have assured Brooklyn that overexposed pictures of his parents tattoos amount to a publishable creative doctrine. Then again, What I Insure could comfortably take its place alongside anything in the coffee-table segment of Gwyneth Paltrows Goop website, where hotel design is regarded as of equal significance to the Enlightenment, and literature always seems to have titles like The Worlds Most Important Infinity Pools: Essays By Tom Ford.
Naturally, Brooklyns photos are currently being exhibited at Christies in London, which hosted a glitzy opening party for it all on Tuesday night. The show is due to transfer to Los Angeles later this summer and thats simply business, baby. If anyone guessed the auction house was about arts and not commerce, they should eventually be disabused of that notion by the prospect of an international tour for a photo of Posh Spice fishing, captioned: my brother cruz was the best but i didnt catch anything riling but still fun.
More troublingly, I hear that Penguin Random House is now wetting its gasps about the reception to the book. This seems even more hopelessly naive than some of Brooklyns picture captions. Im not sure what the publishers expected, but in an age where every teen regards themself as a curator, we cant all be seen as Peggy Guggenheim. Perhaps they have latterly realised that they might have a duty of care to their younger authors, and that devoting someone without discernible talent a volume deal because of who their parents are might not be the kindness they pretended it was.
Meanwhile, please be advised that organisers are actually selling tickets to Brooklyns book signings. The blurb for a top-secret signing in Manchester on Friday warns: There will be no opportunity to view Brooklyn for non-ticket holders. Do enjoy the idea of an opportunity to view Brooklyn, as though one were traipsing past Lenins tomb or through the Chairman Mao memorial hall. But again, the publisher must take responsibility for the manner in which it has decided to handle this.
Certainly, the early reviews of What I Insure have tended toward the scornful. Although I very much enjoyed a single rave that appeared in GQ. I have always taken GQ literary reviews altogether severely ever since I read that the publications editor once paid David Cameron 20,000 to be allowed to write a volume about him and this one does not disillusion. Dismissing criticism on the basis that Brooklyn Beckham is very young for a published photographer, it concludes with a sublime logical prosper: After all, David Bailey didnt even get his first photography chore as an deputy until he was 21. I assume this review was written as a dare; if not, I expect the author to be given an arts column for Spiked before the week is out.
Anyway, whenever a celebrity child gets a big gig, there is always a debate, with some people maintaining that we would all have taken advantage of such an offer were we lucky enough to have it made to us. We would all build a tone-deaf Pepsi ad as did Woke Kendall Jenner if someone offered us one. We would all put our recipes for a cup of tea in a party tips-off volume if our sister had wedded Prince William. We would all text our drunk-looking vacation snaps to Penguin if it promised to bung them in a coffee-table book for a loading of cash.
But would we? As with all the searingly important moral issues in the entertainment sphere, this column offers you a free vote on such matters. For what its worth, Lost in Showbiz has always believed that all children of famous parents should be encouraged in their hopeless creative attempts. Otherwise Prince Edward would have deprived of us The Grand Knockout Tournament quite the most appallingly hilarious thing the monarchy did in the entire 20 th century, and surely my expert topic in the vanishingly unlikely event that I should ever appear on Mastermind.
For the Beckhams themselves, though, the dilemmas raised by Brooklyns sinecure are very real, just as they are for Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Willow and Jaden Smith, and all the myriad children of Britpoppers and Primrose Hill setters for whom significant public positions in the world must be found.
Happily, the question of what to do with ones notable offspring is barely new. Going not too far back in time, a prominent second son might expect to be offered an ambassadorship; these days its a brand ambassadorship. And I must say I love all these taste-makers and influencers and cosmocrats, whose Instagram feeds are regarded as far more masterful of the zeitgeist than even MGMs Irving Thalberg was. They at least represent a civilised kind of progress from the fate of semi-enterprising second sons of dukes in centuries gone by. I mean, Im sure its better that theyre only pushing tequila brands as opposed to running colonial Maryland or wherever.
No doubt the Beckhams would justify hastening their children on to the stage by saying its vital to give them things to do and get them out there. Henry VII never expected Henry VIII to become monarch, and he was kept out of the public eye in a way David and Victoria would have instinctively understood was very damaging in Brooklyns position. If Victoria were here now, she would surely say to you: Seem at what happened to that son. Virtually hidden away, he didnt genuinely have a clue when he took the throne, and it demonstrated. David and I have always raised our sons to respect girls. Furthermore, we want each of our kids to have a discrete track. One of the big reasons the Carolingian dynasty fell was because they couldnt find a peaceable style to divided their titles.
Well quite. Assuming the family practised primogeniture as opposed to gavelkind, the Beckhams of bygone times would then have had to find options for Romeo and Cruz. The Crusades would have obviously been regarded as an excellent opportunity although after the turn of the 13 th century, Beckhams II and III couldnt have hoped for much more than returning to Notting Hill alive. Land and loot prospects had dried up, and the only possibility on offer was for a particularly hardcore sort of personal growth.
Thank heavens, then, for the procession of progress. Whatever you think of Brooklyns photos or Anas Gallaghers fashion career, just be glad you live in a world where no mother of note still has to say: This is Rafferty. Were sending him to the Holy Land. Instead, they can simply announce: This is Rafferty. He is a taste-maker. His cleansing regime is sponsored and were in advanced talks for a Dolce& Gabbana campaign.
Now let that be an end to it.
Read more: www.theguardian.com