And the famous parents have joined the bandwagon to give exclusive access to their kids in return for seven-figure paycheques. While debut photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's twins Knox and Vivienne, are expected to fetch at least 11 million dollars, the run for the pics was so hot that two camouflage-clad paparazzi were arrested on July 24 for invading the grounds of the couple's French estate. According to reports, Jennifer Lopez pocketed 6 million dollars for snaps with Emme and Max. Matthew McConaughey bagged 3 million dollars for son Levi's photos, and Jessica Alba and Jamie Lynn Spears each got 1 million dollars for daughters Honor and Maddie, respectively. Patrick Dempsey was not far behind and made an exclusive deal with People magazine for shots of McDreamy twins Darby and Sullivan to "avoid the feeding frenzy."
"Celebrities are archetypes for cultural phenomenon. There was a period when big actresses didn't want to have a child and have their bodies go out of whack, but that's shifted. It's become cool to have a baby. You can do it and still be a rock star," The New York Daily news quoted Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a psychology professor at Columbia University's Teachers College, as saying.
Not just A-listers like Julia Roberts, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman, who have taken up motherhood, even party girls Nicole Richie and Christina Aguilera have settled down.
This wider cultural fascination with celebrity babies has been partly attributed to the weak economy, political uncertainty and a search for refuge and comfort
"It's reassuring when stars do things people can relate to, like having babies and changing diapers. It's an affirmation," said Kuriansky.
"It's like during the Great Depression when some people were jumping out of windows and others were spending a nickel to go to the movies and feel anesthetized. When people see photos of a gorgeous couple living on the Cote d'Azure with beautiful babies, they can forget about their own problems for five or 10 minutes," said Brad Elterman, co-founder of celebrity photo agency Buzz Foto.
Another facet of this story has been highlighted by the queen of celebrity photo site X17online.com, which said that the recent baby boom and subsequent photo wars are "changing the economics" of the paparazzi industry
"The prices magazines are willing to pay us for photos have dropped drastically in the wake of them paying so much money for celebrity baby photos. The celebrities themselves are getting into the business, and I understand their point of view: If you can't beat them, join them," said Brandy Navarre, one-half of the husband-wife team behind X17.
"Babies are the new fashion accessory in celebrity culture. Unfortunately, the inadvertent message is babies require as much forethought as what you'll wear on Saturday night," said Bill Albert of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.