At Christmas, we think of the children, and no youngster is more deserving of our prayers this festive season than Cruz Beckham. It appears he has been dragged kicking and screaming from his Lego and PlayStation and forced into a pop career by his ever fame-hungry parents, David and Victoria. Or, at least, so the reaction to the third Beckham child's first foray into the music biz would have you believe.
The crushing inevitability of the Beckham progeny cluttering up the front pages of celebrity magazines for all eternity has been obvious for some years now. It was long before heir-apparent Brooklyn flexed his adolescent biceps on his first cover shoot, for Man About Town, at 15. It came way in advance of then-10-year-old Romeo, the Prince Harry of the Royal Beckham household, made his modelling debut for Burberry. And it long predates any fascination over Harper Beckham's latest choice of Alice band.
No, the Beckham kids' destiny has been assured since the very first time they waved their Gucci rattle in the vague direction of a slobbering paparazzo. When your mum and dad are two of the most famous people on the planet, no "normal childhood" is coming your way – whatever the protestations of your A-list parents.
While eyes rolled at Brooklyn's seemingly effortless ascent to celebrity photographer and there were hushed whispers at Romeo's high-fashion pretensions – not to mention his mother's – it has, for some reason, taken Cruz Beckham to release a Christmas single for the amateur social workers to grip their cardigans in horror at the thought that perhaps the Beckham youngsters are growing up too fast.
Signed up by Scooter Braun, who oversaw Justin Bieber's metamorphosis from cutesy YouTuber into global phenomenon, Cruz has, at 11, decided music is the path he wants to follow, with a Rodney Jerkins-produced festive track If Every Day Was Christmas, out now. This decision has drawn criticism from those who believe his mum and dad should just let him be a child a while longer. Not to mention social commentators appalled at the sheer nepotism that has afforded Cruz this opportunity – as if this is a brand new concept, revealed to them shockingly and suddenly, like the unmasking of the crooked fairground owner at the end of Scooby Doo.
Regardless of whether you think 11 is too young to be launching a music career, children have been pursuing careers in show business since the very first theatre opened its doors. Some of your favourite TV shows, movies, musicals and plays have been populated by youngsters who, yes, may be missing out on the joys of double physics on a Friday afternoon, but are instead following their dreams.
The concept of a "lost childhood" – one of the most common concerns about early stardom – is a pretty flimsy one at best. There are many ways a normal childhood can be taken from you, be it through illness, the death or disability of a parent, the disadvantages of poverty, racism, homophobia, sexual abuse. The pursuit of stardom may seem like a vacuous, dangerous ambition to most of us, but as long as the child is happy and healthy and has been made as aware as possible that it might all go wrong, their lives could turn out a whole lot worse.
Usually when someone gets famous, it's the people around them who become the problem. They struggle to handle it, or, in most cases, handle it a little too well, becoming quickly accustomed to its trappings. Cruz is lucky, then, that his parents are already obscenely famous – there is literally nothing in this for them other than allowing their son to realise his ambitions. They too will have an inside line on how difficult it can be. Plus, Cruz himself has not spent the last 11 years with his eyes closed and his fingers in his ears. He's been famous before the day his name was announced – an event which, as many may remember, was roundly ridiculed, because in Spain, where the Beckhams lived at the time, Cruz is traditionally a girl's name.
Piers Morgan, speaking on Good Morning Britain, decried the Beckhams' relentless pimping out of their children, but this ignores the fact they each have their own mind and, I assume, hopes and dreams. He was also critical that Cruz Beckham was not "earning" his fame, that his celebrity was not based on talent or ability. But as Piers knows only too well from his years as a showbiz columnist in the Sun and beyond, fame has never been awarded on anything other than circumstance, be it someone liking what you do, wanting to know who you know, or at least being grimly fascinated by how terrible you are.
Children of celebrities taking advantage of their parents' fame is a tale as old as time. Pick up any mag and you'll see for yourself. Fame is not a university; there are no entry criteria to worry about. It's open to all, regardless of background, and is based on your individual value. For some that currency is a beautiful singing voice or a knack for football or writing a pop tune. For others, it's the sheer ability to make people want to know more about by you, sometimes simply be being beautiful. The showbiz world is not a large corporation with stringent HR policies, where fame is awarded to the most deserving, or most talented, or those who've worked hardest for it. Fame has always been a hotbed of nepotism, backslapping, favours and a triumph of status over talent – if the opportunity has come Cruz's way, why should he say no?
Cruz releasing this single isn't robbing anyone else of a chance to make it big in the music world, and it's for charity. Profits from sales will go to Global's Make Some Noise charity, which supports disadvantaged young people in the UK.
I'm sure Cruz has seen more than enough to know what he's letting himself in for – in showbiz years, he's practically a veteran. Don't cry for Cruz's "lost childhood", he's never been a normal kid – why should he start now?
The Guyliner is a writer from London who talks about dating, relationships, LGBT issues and popular culture. He writes regular columns for Gay Times and GQ. Follow him: @theguyliner