Those Terrible Videos Daddy and Mommy Hate
My three year old son Declan is very good at getting what he wants, both because he is, objectively, the single cutest child in human history and we're indulgent parents but also because he's very good at asking for what he wants, even when he knows that what he's asking for will drive us crazy.
For example, Declan has recently started asking us to play, on our iPhones, what he very adroitly and accurately refers to as "Those Terrible Videos Mommy and Daddy Hate." When he makes that request, we know exactly what he's referring to. He's referencing the bizarrely popular, ubiquitous sub-set of videos on Youtube devoted to awkward adults opening pastel-colored eggs containing children's toys, generally super-hero, Disney, Minions or Teenage Mutant Turtles-themed.
If you're a parent of a child Declan's age and are not committed to raising your child in some manner of Luddite or hardcore Marxist fashion, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about, and have undoubtedly been subjected to this nonsense.
If you are not a parent, however, this understandably sounds a little bit insane. What could possibly induce a seemingly sane child with a literally limitless number of entertainment options, including decades of Pixar and close to a century of Disney, willingly choose to watch an amateur, plot-less, poorly filmed videos of strangers with irritating voices narrating the tedious process of opening and then playing with toys?
What kind of vicarious enjoyment can a child really experience watching adults they'll never meet open dumb eggs and then vacantly play with whatever's inside? To me, it's like staring vacantly at someone else playing video games. Then again, "videos where adults wisecrack while playing video games" is also an inexplicably huge, popular and lucrative part of the Youtube universe.
Kids aren't necessarily looking for quality entertainment. A lot of times they're just looking to stare vacantly at something familiar, even if that familiarity takes the form of weird adults (who I very much at least hope have children) opening toys featuring their favorite caped crusaders, heroes in a half shell and/or Disney funny taking animals.
These weird videos offer an unusually pure form of consumerism and materialism, a form so powerful that children don't even need to hold these tacky little pieces of plastic in their hands to derive pleasure and enjoyment from them.
I collected baseball cards as a kid. One of the most exciting and satisfying aspect of that hobby involved opening packs of cards in hope of scoring something valuable and rare. I can still remember the exhilaration I felt when I pulled an autographed O.J Simpson card from a pack at the height of his murder trial.
The appeal of these videos of adults and children opening eggs to discover what kind of treasure might lurk inside isn't terribly dissimilar from the joy I got opening baseball cards. A key difference is that I only derived pleasure from opening packs myself. Watching strangers open packs would be a much less satisfying experience.
After being irritated by enough of these videos, I now understand why children are attracted to videos of other people's video games, the racism and mugging-centric "comedy" of Shane Dawson and the human irritant known as "Fred."
Kids will watch anything, even things that fail to reach even the basic requirements of "entertainment", like these egg-opening videos, and while daddy and mommy do indeed hate these videos, we love how happy they make our little man. And also hope he grows out of this phase soon.
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