Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Child Abuse for Fun

Bruloff, 1831
I'm not going to link to this video. It's enough that I just had to watch it to get my facts straight. It made me literally feel sick to my stomach. In short, I am more interested in protecting a little kid's privacy and dignity than his own mother is.

This morning, a local radio show played the audio from a winning video clip on America's Funniest Home Videos. The scenario was this:

A little boy had walked out of a restaurant with his mother and he had accidentally carried out his drink cup. It was not the kind you are supposed to take with you. When they got to the car, his mother pulled out her phone or a video camera and began recording. The boy thought the police were going to come and arrest him. He began to cry -- to wail. He begged his mother not to drive away -- to let him go back in to return the cup. She wouldn't do it. Here's a transcription of what was said. It opens with the boy wailing, "Noooo!"

"[name], but you stole it," says the mom. 
The little boy -- maybe nine or ten, wailing with intense child-like fear, "I wanna take it back...pleeeeease."  (A note: the extended "please," here and elsewhere, is not a typically annoying child plea -- it is a wail of pain and fear.)
"Too late," says the mother, chuckling (yes, chuckling), "You already left." 
(Forget the fact, I guess, that this ass could have taught her kid to do the right thing and return the cup -- it was more important to torture him and get it on video. You know, for the laughs.) 
"Please, don't go in the car. Pleeeease!" 
"[name] I don't know what you want me to do, you stole the cup." 
Boy wails. "I'm scared...pleeeease...I'm just your little son. I'm your son!"

All the while, the crowd (on the show's audio track) was cracking up.

The boy was in a panic. People might say it is funny because of the kid's "overreaction" -- the melodramatic "I'm your son" seems hilarious to some. But reality is that that young man felt betrayed by his own mother. And he was right. His reaction, however over-the-top, cannot make that funny. I don't think it's too much to ask that a parent try never be a source of humiliation and betrayal for his or her child. Parents are pretty much the only people in the world who can exemplify the idea, to kids, that it is okay to trust. Being cruel to kids is not the way to teach them that the world is cruel.

After the clip ran, the radio show hosts carried on about how funny this was.

Maybe not surprisingly, I disagree. In fact, I disagreed loudly and profanely in my car.

I know -- and have pointed out, often -- that we, as a world society, are completely losing our value for privacy. No one seems to care if they are being video-recorded. We're standing on the threshold of Google Glass, so welcome to a whole new level of invasion; but that is the stuff of another post.

But can someone please tell me when it became entertaining to mentally torture one's child, while video taping it, and then share that video with the country by way of a popular television show? And here is a mother who is sacrificing a moment during which she could have taught her son a lesson about that she can humiliate him. Then,  she attempts (and I think, succeeds) to make money off of it. Excellent modelling.

Some day, in the future, this woman will wonder why her teenaged son doesn't treat her with respect. And -- you know what? She will have gotten what she fucking deserves.


  1. Narcissism. It's everywhere. You are so right about parents and betrayal.

    1. Thanks, Zoe. I get so angry about this sort of thing. If fact, I believe this is the first time I have stooped to profanity on this blog, as a result. But the right time is the right time...

  2. I think I'm more angry that this was the winning video. There was a much better clip of a cat falling into an aquarium.

  3. I would also like to add that if you are listening to a morning radio show that would play a clip from America's Funniest Home Videos, you are listening to the wrong morning show.

    1. ...though, in a way, I could argue that I am listening to the right morning show, in terms of sort of showing what the average Joe is entertained by. It's wrong (for me) in that it terrifies me that the masses find this stuff entertainging. It's right in that it helps me get a writerly perspective on things... I need to find a cave.

  4. Seems to me that there was no need for any lessons of any kind. From what you described, the boy already wanted to do the right thing and take the cup back into the restaurant. So in choosing to harass and humiliate her son, she was also depriving him of his integrity.

    1. Yep -- seems like the kid has more integrity than his mom already. Maybe there is hope for him.

  5. I was wondering why I couldn't find the link to your site anymore. Anyway, every so often I find myself noticing how the minds of others are so strange. Some actions that people commit I would have never even thought of if I were in their situation. I'm not sure if that's because I'm a simple person and stupidity does not intrigue me or I'm just lacking a certain creativity.