YouTube reality stars DaddyOFive have had two of their children taken away by Child Protective Services and given into the custody of their biological mom for publicly abusing their children. The thousands of YouTube voyeurs, aka viewers and commenters, will continue on their merry way. These fans watched video after video of the father and step-mother scaring, humiliating, swearing at, hitting, pushing, and punching their children. The viewers laughed, enjoying the obscene show.
In Rome, convicts battled hungry lions for public sport. In America, parents exploit their children for public sport and money and fame.
It is difficult to adequately describe the disregard shown by the DaddyOFive parents. The premise of the YouTube channel is “pranking.” This is a popular genre on YouTube. There are viral videos where a friend soaps the bathroom floor of a roommate who comes from the shower wet, goes flying, and falls in a tiled room. There are videos of spouses and lovers being mean to each other for sport.
Then there’s DaddyOFive. One scene depicts the step-mother screaming obscenities, aka “pranking” their young boys for spilling ink on the carpet. The children break down in tears, frantically denying responsibility for the mistake. The parents poured invisible ink on the floor and then blamed their boys for doing something they didn’t do. The youngest child, traumatized, sobs. Ha ha! Isn’t that funny?
In another scene, the boy, maybe 8, is seen weeping on his bed, begging for his dad to take the camera out of his room. His father refuses, while laughing at him. The father pushes this child face first into bookshelves. This father sets up a slap fight between his children that leaves his daughter in pain and crying. The father punches his son on his very bruised arm. The father and step-mother torment the youngest child and punish him by leaving him at home instead of bringing him to Disney World. This child is the butt of every joke. These are the scenes recorded on camera. Who knows what’s happening, when the camera is turned off. (Lest you think this is an exaggeration, here’s an analysis of the show. More here.)
And the video voyeurs watch and laugh. Worse, they defend these parents.
Like johns buying services through pimps, the more than 750,000 subscribers to this YouTube channel are the real problem. That’s just subscribers. Millions of people watch DaddyOFive to entertain themselves. Millions of people have to dehumanize the exploited children in this family and see them as objects to entertain them in order to enjoy these videos. Without these co-conspirators, the YouTube channel would cease to exist. There’d be no audience. No advertising revenue. No incentive to up the ante.
More than 20 years ago now, David Pelzer released his autobiography: A Child Called It. This story chronicled the abuse David endured as a child at the hands of his mother. His brothers were spared — except to have to see him suffer. His dad stood by impotently, doing nothing, while the horrors unfolded.
I recall Pelzer’s story to point out that this sort of inhumanity has always existed. People watch and do nothing. Every day, teachers, police, judges have to find a way to turn away and sift through the traumas and discern actionable evil. In Pelzer’s case, a teacher finally called authorities. There was at least one person who cared.
In the DaddyOFive case, hundreds of thousands of people saw the abuse and did nothing. Worse, they cheered it. Even worse, now dedicated fans are defending the couple and blaming the other YouTuber who brought attention to the abuse.
In America’s decadent culture, it takes more to grab attention. A special needs young man is kidnapped and tortured live on Facebook. A girl posts her suicide. A man films his terrorized victim, before he murders him. A protester is run over in Venezuela. A Christian is beheaded in Iraq.
The colosseum blinks with a million channels and countless stories of grief and woe. The crowd swoons. It jeers. It passes judgment. It condemns. Careening from one tragedy to the next and being judge and jury is exhausting.
To take a break from the sorrow, turn to YouTube. Time for some comedy! It’s the place to see puppies playing and zits getting popped. It’s a place for wipe outs and clowns and jesters.
It’s where, for free, and in the privacy in one’s home, a living, breathing red-headed step-child can be abused for money, fame, and clicks, and most importantly, entertainment.
Somewhere, a bruised boy balls up under his blankets and cries into a pillow begging to be left alone. His laments that he’s unloved go unheard. His dad laughs. The viewers laugh. In modern Rome, this is what keeps the crowd glued to the action.
Are you not entertained?