Before we go into the details of the party that Kylie Jenner threw for her two-year-old daughter Stormi at the weekend, let’s remember the function of the late-capitalist celebrity, which is to consume to an outrageous degree. So yes, boggle at the toddler’s celebrations: a venue so huge that visitors had to be given maps; Stormi’s head rendered as a massive inflatable; a claw machine where you could win a little Stormi head pillow. Wonder, perhaps, at what that might do to a two-year-old’s psyche, like a screening of Being John Malkovich, covered in glitter. But Jenner is merely fulfilling her destiny; mega-spender.
The world at large has no such excuse, and children’s parties have gone bananas. One New York City party planner, Anne Ligeard Murat, revealed recently that her basic children’s party package started at $6,000 (£4,600). It is not unusual for the high-net worth parent to drop 50 grand on a sleepover, complete with bespoke soft-play ball pit. A couple recently spent six figures recreating a Parisian scene in Washington – for a one-year-old. Before you even get to the obscenity of excess, the first thought has to be for the lifetime of resentment and dissemblance these families are storing up, as that one-year-old immediately forgets it ever happened, then spends a decade pretending not to have forgotten, before exploding in teenage rage: “It’s actually not my fault that I can’t remember it, it’s a function of human memory.”
Low-to-medium net worth individuals aren’t immune: of course you can’t tell from a distance who can and can’t afford £500 for a party, or £3,000 for a party with a horse whose hooves have been painted blue. But you can say with relative certainty that they spent more than the occasion required.
It’s not Jenner’s fault, or even the United States’; it is parents who are to blame. We have all gone mad. We are locked in an arms race, but not even against each other, against myths of perfection that are never met, and so we have to hose everything with money at the last minute.