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Are the children of celebrities over-represented in French cinema?

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By PAC2

In December 2022, New York magazine did its cover story about the "nepo babies" of Hollywood.[1] The French cinema industry is also known to be biased in favor of children of celebrities. French journalist Maxime Vaudano published a paper in Le Monde on the topic 10 years ago.[2] More recently, Belgian humorist Alex Vizorek has suggested that there is now lots of children of celebrities in sport but "not as much as in French cinema".[3] It's not difficult to find examples. Louis Garrel and Esther Garrel are the children of Philippe Garrel and Brigitte Sy. Chiara Mastroianni is the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. Julie Depardieu is the daughter of Gérard Depardieu. Charlotte Gainsbourg is the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Mathieu Amalric is the son of Jacques Amalric, etc.[4]

Wikidata provides a fantastic database to test the assumption that the number of children of celebrities is higher in the cinema than in other fields. Using it, I found that a) French actors and French filmmakers have a higher probability to have parents with a Wikipedia article than people with another occupation, b) this pattern holds true for males and females but is more important for women than for men, and c) this pattern is specific to French actors and actresses.[5]

Methodology

I first constructed a SPARQL query which takes all people born after 1970 with an article in Wikipedia in French by occupation and citizenship. I then checked if those people have a father with an article in Wikipedia in French or a mother with an article in Wikipedia in French. I haven't controlled for the occupation of the parents, and assumed that having an article in Wikipedia is a sign of celebrity regardless of occupation and country of citizenship.

My first query was the following:

PREFIX rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#>
PREFIX schema: <http://schema.org/>
PREFIX wd: <http://www.wikidata.org/entity/>
PREFIX wdt: <http://www.wikidata.org/prop/direct/>
SELECT DISTINCT ?item ?itemLabel ?year ?father ?mother WHERE {
?item wdt:P31 wd:Q5;
      wdt:P106/wdt:P279* wd:Q33999;
      wdt:P27 wd:Q142;
      wdt:P569 ?birthdate;
      rdfs:label ?itemLabel FILTER(lang(?itemLabel) = "fr") .
  ?sitelink schema:about ?item;
    schema:isPartOf <https://fr.wikipedia.org/>.
  FILTER(YEAR( ?birthdate ) >= 1970 )
  BIND(YEAR(?birthdate) AS ?year)
  OPTIONAL {
      ?item wdt:P22 ?father.
      ?fatherlink schema:about ?father;
    schema:isPartOf <https://fr.wikipedia.org/>.
 }
  OPTIONAL {
      ?item wdt:P25 ?mother.
      ?motherlink schema:about ?mother;
    schema:isPartOf <https://fr.wikipedia.org/>.
   }
}
Click here to launch the Wikidata query

All other queries are derived from this original query.[6] All computations were done using the Observable platform, which makes it easy to visualize data using JavaScript.[7]

Many more children of celebrities in French cinema than in other occupations

8.3% of French film directors born after 1970 have a father or a mother with a wikipedia article.[8]

I collected data about people of French citizenship (country of citizenship (P27) is France (Q142)) born after 1970 with an article in the French Wikipedia for several occupations. I assumed that having an article in Wikipedia is a sign of celebrity.

So I chose to look at actor (Q33999), musician (Q639669), writer (Q36180), athlete (Q2066131), politician (Q82955) and film director (Q2526255). For each occupation, I computed the proportion of people whose father or mother, or both, had an article in the French Wikipedia.

I found that 8.0% of French film directors born after 1970 have a father with an article. This probability is slightly higher than for actors and actresses (7.7%) and much higher than in other occupations such as musicians (4.7%), writers (4.1%), politicians (3.8%) and athletes (1.8%).

Looking at the probability to have either a mother or a father with an article, I found similar results. The probability to have a father or a mother with an article is 8.6% for film directors, 8.3% for actors and actresses, 5% for musicians, 4.6% for writers, 4.4% for politicians and 1.9% for athletes.

Those numbers provide some evidence that children of celebrities in France are much more successful in French cinema than in other occupations.

Women in French cinema are more often children of celebrities

9.8% of actresses with a biography in Wikipedia in French have a parent with a biography in Wikipedia in French. At the same time, 6.8% of actors with a biography in Wikipedia in French have a parent with a biography in Wikipedia in French.[9]

The probability of being the child of a celebrity is much higher for women than for men. 9.8% of actresses with a biography in the French Wikipedia have a parent with a biography. At the same time, 6.8% of actors with a biography have a parent with a biography. I found the same pattern for film directors: 11.2% for women versus 7.3% for men.

A distinctive feature of French cinema

In France, 8.0% of actors and actresses with a biography in Wikipedia have a parent (mother or father) with a biography in Wikipedia. In Italy, 2.4% of actors with a biography in Wikipedia have a parent with a biography in Wikipedia.[10]

Once I had evidence that there is a huge phenomenon of children of celebrities in French cinema compared to other occupations, I compared the number to other countries. The methodology is slightly different since I look at people with at least one Wikipedia article (whatever the language) and not only an article in the French Wikipedia.

Among French actors and actresses born after 1970 who have a Wikipedia page, 8% have a father or mother with a Wikipedia article. This proportion is much higher than for Italian (2.4%), Spanish (1.8%), Belgian (2.3%), Swiss (1.8%) or Canadian (2.0%) actors and actresses. This confirms that there are disproportionately more children of famous people in French cinema.

Conclusions

This data exploration shows strong evidence supporting the nepo-babies hypothesis in French cinema. It would be useful to go further, and look at the occupation of parents, as well as look at more occupations and more countries.

All feedback, improvements and complements to my analysis are welcome.

References

  1. ^ Mantha, Priyanka (December 19, 2022). "On the Cover of New York Magazine: Extremely Overanalyzing Hollywood's Nepo-Baby Boom". New York.
  2. ^ Vaudano, Maxime (February 22, 2013). "Césars : les "fils et filles de" bien représentés dans la "grande famille" du cinéma". Le Monde.
  3. ^ Vizorek, Alex (January 2023). Les "fils de" dans le sport - Vizo sport. France Inter – via YouTube.
  4. ^ See the full list here: https://observablehq.com/@pac02/explore-people-having-notable-parents
  5. ^ Early results have already been shared in the French Wikipedia newsletter RAW. See the March 1st, 2023 and May 1st, 2023 editions.
  6. ^ For instance, we have the following query for actors and actresses in the United States https://w.wiki/6sAW
  7. ^ See
  8. ^ Source: https://observablehq.com/@pac02/social-reproduction-cinema?collection=@pac02/notable-parents
  9. ^ "Probability of having notable parents by occupation and gender". Observable.
  10. ^ Retrieved from: https://observablehq.com/@pac02/probability-of-having-notable-parents-by-country-of-citize?collection=@pac02/notable-parents on June 21, 2023
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Fascinating research. --Qwerfjkltalk 10:10, 17 July 2023 (UTC)[reply]




       

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