Eight year-old Romeo Beckham has been included on GQ magazine's list of the “most stylish men in Britain”. He apparently ranks at number 26, ten places behind his father.
How did he get there? Even allowing for the style-conscious and carefully co-ordinated outfits in which this little boy and his brothers are paraded before the media, it must be assumed that Master Beckham did not personally apply to the editor of GQ for his inclusion.
It is obvious that his parents must have been happy to allow this, even if they did not actively suggest it. And given their own celebrity lifestyles and obsession with image and appearance which has delivered them riches way beyond even the mega-salary of a football star, it seems that they felt no scruples about turning their middle son into a sacrificial victim of the fashion, advertising and celebrity machines.
So pervasive and corrupting are those consumerist juggernauts that it may just be possible that the Beckhams imagine they are doing the right thing by this very young child. Addicted to the fame and wealth which attends global celebrity, they may be unable to imagine that their children could live happily without it. Romeo Beckham's premature launching into this poisonous, shallow and exploitative world validates their own choices and boosts their brand.
And what are the non-celebrity children who see Romeo's elevation to a lifestyle icon to make of their own lives? The news is up on the CBBC website for the instruction of the consumers of the future. The message is plain – unless you are a tiny celebrity with your own range of sunglasses (I am not making this up), if you are not designated a “stylish man” when you are still in primary school, then you are a failure.
The poisoned cup of celebrity and style which David and Victoria Beckham have handed to their children is only there because turbo-charged consumer capitalism has permitted it to be poured. Little Romeo's parents may be extreme examples of undiscerning consumption, but we might all do well to sense that there could be a millstone at our necks.