It’s not that easy growing up in the shadow of a famous parent. Ask Gabrielle Virk.
Many a kid suffer from expectation seemingly inflicted by society to live up to the high standards of their parents. Anderson Cooper did well, although his mum Gloria Vanderbilt still tries to sneak into the press every now and then. The same cannot be said about Jaden and Willow Smith, both trying to come out of the shadows of super-couple Will and Jada-Pinkett.
So, when Gurmit Singh shared a letter his daughter Gabrielle Virk wrote calling rap songs a Forever21 store played “horribly misogynistic”, some asked “why”, “what” or “how”.
But, in a country where it takes a lot of shameless selfies to be a popular blogger and where the City Harvest Church trial was more about playing fashion police on Serina Wee, more Singaporeans asked the utterly simplistic question: “who”.
It did not matter if Gabrielle had something positive to say about the fight to end gender inequality. It did not matter that she was reminding a chain of its target audience and how all areas should reflect the tastes of that particular group. It did not matter that thinking, intellectual Gabrielle quoted a scientific article linking explicit lyrics to increased aggression and a warped world view.
And no, it certainly did not matter that this was a classic case of subliminal date-rape normalisation at work on impressionable young teenage girls.
All that mattered was the unrelated: this is the daughter of a famous celebrity being an attention-seeking brat.
How did we get to this, Singapore? How did we become so obsessed with people and figureheads that each time another one pops up, we crack our knuckles in glee and proceed to shoot them down from the pedestal of which we are forced to look up to?
Are we unable to see that celebrities and their families choose to open up to us when they want to? They exist for our entertainment, but only when the need arises. Gabrielle in no way has revealed herself as Gurmit’s daughter, but just because her father chooses to support her decision and right to agency, she is now being targeted just because she shares a link to showbiz.
This intense passion and fervour to knock down celebrity figures and their relations has stood since the beginning of time. Most of it is to see someone at the top (or perceived to be at the top) come crashing down — ask John F. Kennedy.
But so what if society manages to cower a celeb kid? You’re still living your life, while Gabrielle still lives hers — far different and removed from yours. Does it make us happy when we, grown-ass adults, kick around a teenager online and claim her larger-than-life parents as our defense? That is no different from bullying.
When I saw Gabrielle’s post on Tumblr, I could not help but punch my fist in the air — this was a young woman who fully understood what being a self-respecting individual meant. I had no idea that she was Gurmit Singh’s daughter, neither did I care so much after I knew.
Was her status advantageous in the media coverage that ensued? Maybe. Was it newsworthy had she just have been another ordinary girl? Maybe not.
But what matters is that hers was a valid post, celebrity links or not. Have you ever tried so hard to carve out your own name among the crowd? Maybe not, since you don’t have to carry the baggage of any famous people before you in the family lineage.
Gabrielle truly is striking it out on her own. Give her some respect, like how you would give any other normal human being.
It will take a more mature society to stop blaming people and start scrutinising at issues. I hope we get there. Fast.
Featured photo: [email protected]
This post has been edited to reflect Gabrielle’s surname.