Reality TV

Ben Stiller Nepotism Backlash


You know Ben Stiller. He’s a super famous actor, who’s starred in blockbusters like Meet the Fockers, There’s Something About Mary, Night at the Museum, and more.


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Earlier this week, Deadline reported that Hopper Penn and Brian D’arcy James are set to star in a short film, which is directed and written by Destry Spielberg and Owen King, respectively.

Let’s just break that alllll down. Hopper Penn is the son of famous actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright; Destry Spielberg is obviously the daughter of acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg; Owen King is the son of horror author Stephen King.


Toni Anne Barson / FilmMagic

So, basically, this film stars and is created by the kids of super rich and famous Hollywood people.


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Shortly after, film producer Franklin Leonard pointed how this sums up the nepotistic nature of Hollywood, saying, “Hollywood’s a meritocracy, right?”


@franklinleonard / Via Twitter: @franklinleonard

Meritocracy basically means you succeed based on how “good” you are at something.

Ben Stiller — who is the child of famous actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara — tweeted back at Franklin, saying, “Too easy. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.”

@franklinleonard Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.

Franklin replied, saying it’s still “important to acknowledge those paths.”

@RedHourBen I do, without fail, but I also think it’s important that we acknowledge those paths.

Ben then replied, asserting that Hollywood is “ultimately a meritocracy.”

@franklinleonard Yes. Just speaking from experience, and I don’t know any of them, I would bet they all have faced challenges. Different than those with no access to the industry. Show biz as we all know is pretty rough, and ultimately is a meritocracy.

They then went back and forth a few more times:

@franklinleonard @BillMurphyJr I guess you don’t want me to agree with you? I think I was acknowledging your point, after you responded. Not sure what you are inferring in terms of what people think of their own success. But thanks for illuminating a perspective that I truly had not viewed the issue through.

@franklinleonard @BillMurphyJr Your perspective illuminated a POV For me. We might not totally agree on the generalization that most Hollywood folks believe one thing or another. But that’s less important than what you are saying about the overall very tilted and uneven landscape of the business.


Twitter: @RedHourBen

People were not happy with Ben’s comments:

Ben Stiller deciding that Hollywood is “ultimately a meritocracy” is so funny to me

Not Ben Stiller trying to convince us that Stephen King’s son, Sean Penn’s son, and Stephen Spielberg’s daughter have not had an easier path into the industry 😂😂 https://t.co/eN3JuqMTJ0


Twitter: @ElTacoLuis

Another topic from today that has CLEARLY been handled…in which Franklin Leonard gently refers to Hollywood nepotism and then is challenged by Ben Stiller, the child of entertainment industry comedy royalty 🙃 https://t.co/6uX4aGR8hN


Twitter: @PiaGlenn

@RedHourBen @franklinleonard Incredibly talented people get limited opportunities while white men with box office bombs keep getting projects with big budgets.

Your insistence that it’s a “meritocracy” when reality too often shows otherwise is extremely frustrating, unless those merits = $$ relationships.

After that debate, Destry Spielberg tweeted that she acknowledges her privilege, but wants to “bring new talent into the industry and give opportunities to artists of all backgrounds.”

I acknowledge that i was born with privilege! I own that through and through! I make it my mission to bring new talent into the industry & give opportunities to artists of all backgrounds. No one should be left out because of the connections they dont have.

Ben has not responded to the backlash, but he did reply to a fan, who observed the debate, with this tweet:

So, there’s that. We’ll keep you updated if anything else develops.

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