Brand Beckham gives us pop star Cruz (11)
Cruz Beckham may go far as a singer, yet you can feel free to blame the parents for the overexposure of one so young
When Victoria Beckham was a little girl called Victoria Adams, her father had a successful business and a Mercedes-Benz. Victoria felt her father's big car made her stand out at school, and not in a good way, so she often asked him to drop her off around the corner, so that her schoolmates wouldn't see it.
We only know this because Victoria Beckham has said so in interviews. There is no footage of her being mortified, no video clips or silly selfies. We'll have to take her word for it and conjure up the images in our own imaginations.
If you want to know anything about her youngest son, however, you need not use your imagination at all. Cruz Beckham, now 11, not only has his own Twitter account, but he's also on Instagram, where you can find out just what he's up to and how he feels about just about everything.
Specifically, about his new debut single, If Every Day Was Christmas. Video clips on Twitter, where he has almost 200,000 followers, include footage of the making of his video, along with his older brothers Romeo (14) and Brooklyn (17); footage of him recording his single and footage of him doing a video-link interview with a London radio station. He looks very Justin Bieber most of the time.
Then there's the clip of him listening to his single on the radio for the first time and he looks just mortified and very, very young.
He smirks and he squirms and it's all quite a normal little-boy reaction, and yet it's utterly weird. He's 11 and he's in his school uniform and yet he's the wannabe pop star on the radio and, weirdest of all, his reactions are being filmed.
It's weird upon weird, wannabe celebrity on top of wannabe celebrity. It's overexposure in an already overexposed culture of an already overexposed boy and it's really discomfiting.
When Cruz's mother was his age, she was already dreaming of celebrity - relatively tame as fame was back then in the 1990s - but in her real life she was slogging away at dance classes, dealing with bullies at school and being mortified about her dad's big car.
There was such thing as a real life back then.
Not just a curated life, a recorded life, a constantly scrutinised life. Cruz Beckham, however, has not only grown up in the reflected glare of his parents' fame, but he is a child of the age of everyday overexposure.
He is a child who not only believes it's normal to be followed by paparazzi all day and to regard your surname as a brand, but whose contemporaries conduct themselves as celebs in waiting. Snapping, posing, posting and sharing as if their lives depended on it, as if every day was just another day that they might be discovered.
The problem for Cruz, though, as the child of David and Victoria Beckham, is that he was a discovery in waiting from the second he was born. As their son, if he showed the first sign of wanting to shine in his own right, he was going to be picked up. No slogging away at singing classes in private for him. No rolling his eyes and being embarrassed by his parents' flash life before finding a flash life of his own.
While his friends play at being famous on their Twitter and Instagram accounts - if many of his peers even have them yet - Cruz, by virtue of his parentage, gets to play at it for real.
Just as Romeo before him has been a model for Burberry for two years now, and Brooklyn has just published a book of photographs.
While Romeo is a very handsome boy and Brooklyn no doubt takes a good picture, there's no two ways about it: being the offspring they are got the boys these breaks exceptionally early in life.
And yet, of course, Victoria and David Beckham say that the boys are doing what they want, with no push from them. Cruz is just the latest; this is his dream, and they're very proud of him, but he's driving it, apparently.
X-Factor judge and ex-Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger said last week that she recently spoke to Victoria Beckham about Cruz's new career. "Victoria was just telling me about her son the other day. He's just doing it all himself and she's supporting him," Scherzinger said. "I mean, I would do a duet, she seems keen."
It's all a bit much and out of keeping with his age, but Cruz Beckham is, after all, being mentored and managed by Scooter Braun, who has managed Justin Bieber since he was a mere 13 years old.
It was Braun rather than the Beckhams who retaliated to Piers Morgan's criticism of Cruz's burgeoning career last week. On the Good Morning Britain TV show, Morgan was critical of the parents encouraging this career when it was more appropriate for the child to be in school.
"I've had time to reflect on my criticism of the Beckhams pimping out Cruz, 11, to pop," he tweeted the following day. "And I now think it's even more repulsive. Remember though, it's ALL for charity…"
The "all for charity" bit was a response to Scooter Braun, who had lashed out at Morgan's TV criticism as a cruel attack on "an 11 year old who wanted to make a song to help other kids".
Sales of If Every Day Was Christmas will raise money for the children's Make Some Noise charity. But it boosts Cruz Beckham's celebrity, too.
That's cynical, and that's regrettable, given that the family image of the Beckhams has always been positive.
They've never been shy of their faces being seen or having them in the front row of her fashion shows, but the obvious love and warmth between them all normalised things.
Mum and Dad are a brand, and their faces are the family's fancy bread-and-butter, but the kids were allowed to be kids. Briefly, it now seems. Very briefly.