Sunday, February 22, 2009

Exposed

You might think I have a hell of a lot of nerve to call someone out for overexposing their child.

There have been times, many times, in this space where I have conspired to use Graham's antics to elicit from my readers gentle and knowing laughs.

At least I hope they are gentle and knowing laughs, because it is those kinds of laughs, and only those kind of laughs, that I am shooting for.

My boy is my heart, my whole heart. And the thought of ever mining his life for different kinds of laughs - cheap, jocular laughs, laughs born of fear or confusion or at the expense of his dignity or self respect - makes me feel ill.

And that's exactly what I told the reporter from the Globe and Mail newspaper when she interviewed me for a story published last week about the ethics of this Youtube video...



It bothered me to watch it.

A few years ago a couple of teenagers were arrested for smoking up (with marijuana) the two-year-old toddler they were charged with babysitting. A shocking and heartbreaking cell phone video shown on news programs depicted the poor, wee lamb stumbling around dazed and confused while his supposed protectors laughed uproariously.

My logical mind knows the boy in the video posted above is in a very different situation from the toddler in that video, but my initial, visceral reaction to both videos was the same: I want to protect those boys.

There is a difference, I believe, between a parent who holds up their child's antics in search of gentle, knowing chuckles and a parent who seeks to make them the butt of the joke. There is a line. And even if I can't quite articulate exactly where that line is, I think the video above crosses it.

And I don't care that some of the on-line comments to the Globe story assert that my worrying about having a laugh on a kid is just another example of the kind of over-protective, over-wrought parenting that is destined to create a generation of weaklings. (I don't care much what on-line commentors to that paper think in any case).

Because I know that at different times throughout his life, Graham will face scrutiny and teasing and perhaps even ridicule and as much as it pains me, I wouldn't have it any other way: people need to look at life from all sides in order to be fully rounded.

But he is my son. I am his mother, his safety and his home.

And you will never, ever, see the likes of that video in this space.

*Edited to add: I reposted the video - his dad has taken the original down and replaced it with the new one above that also runs ads promoting a web site he's created in order to cash in on his son's notoriety*

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22 comments:

Kellan said...

This video bothered me too! I know the kid had just been to the dentist, but it just seemed so wrong to video it and then put it on the internet - I didn't like seeing it at all!!

Haven't been by since you got back from your trip so now I'm off to read your older posts to see how your trip was. I'm sure it was fabulous! WElcome home and I'll see you later - Kellan

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I will admit to having laughed, but when you stop to think about the Dad not sitting next to him and comforting him it becomes very disturbing.

Young Momma said...

I don't even want to watch it, after having heard it compared to the kid who got high with his "babysitters". I agree with you. Some things can be funny, but for different reasons. And maybe the video could be funny to the parents but there is no reason to share it with the world via the internet.

Chantal said...

The video has been pulled so I can't watch it and to be honest I am glad that it is gone.

Kami said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I watched about two seconds of it and it made me nauseous.

The line you speak of, it's there, I don't know where, but this video crosses it.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

I can't even watch it. I don't want to know.

I agree with you 100%.

Pregnantly Plump said...

Poor little guy. I agree with you. I can only imagine what school will be like when his classmates see that (and you know they will.)

A Crafty Mom said...

I worry about every little thing I post, and I can't fathom putting something like that up of my children. The child's clarity and composure was totally compromised by the drugs he had been given. Poor little thing. Having been through a dental experience with my oldest, it's something very personal that I would not want circulating around the web.

Jaina said...

Not cool. Not cool at all.

Karen MEG said...

Ugh. Kids are vulnerable enough as it is... it's not like he's videotaping a drunk college frat boy or buddy, it's his drugged son. The fact that it's been reposted with ads is quite sickening.

This is an important point of discussion that you raise here, though, Kelly. A very fine line, especially as a blogger.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

This video is something I would have done. And then it becomes a fine line between exposing and capturing. I would have showed it to him later and we would have laughed as well as our family. My blog was mostly created for family and friends, but has evolved, so I am not sure if I would have posted it on the internet or You-tube. I can imagine this will cause him some issues at some point in his life.

KEEP BELIEVING

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

This video is something I would have done. And then it becomes a fine line between exposing and capturing. I would have showed it to him later and we would have laughed as well as our family. My blog was mostly created for family and friends, but has evolved, so I am not sure if I would have posted it on the internet or You-tube. I can imagine this will cause him some issues at some point in his life.

KEEP BELIEVING

Leanne said...

I stopped it. It seems cruel. I try and teach my kids that this kinda stuff is not funny. This is the reason that, now that my kids are older, you don't see me posting as much about them. Now my blog is more about me and their impact on their stupid Mama. It's a tough call though....

Mental P Mama said...

I thought I was the only one who thought it sad. Thanks. Now if the media will pick up on this post....

wheelsonthebus said...

part of it has to do with the medium. the video if just exploitation. writing about it in a clever way, perhaps quoting some of his lines, would remove him from the ridicule because his face and voice would not be connected to it.

Vered - MomGrind said...

I agree. Watching it made me sad.

emma said...

Some people-- scratch that-- many people should just not be parents.

Amber said...

I've taken videos like that (well not exactly, my kid's never been stoned), which are sort of funny. But I keep them private. I think my daughter might actually think they're funny down the line. But there's a difference between our family seeing a photo of her toddler antics and laughing, and posting it for the world to see. And I don't feel hypocritical saying that, knowing that I do post other photos and video of her. Like you, I think there's a difference, a line somewhere that you shouldn't cross.

kgirl said...

About 10 people have forwarded me that video, thinking it was hilarious. As a mother, I think it is certainly exploitative, and it breaks my heart to see a child, so vulnerable, being laughed at.

kgirl said...
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Deatren said...

The whole video doesn't bother me until you get to the end and he asks almost crying if he is going to be like that forever. That is when you realize as a parent that you have crossed a line and he isn't having fun he is scared.

If the little boy is having fun then I am fine with it but if not then no.

tinsenpup said...

Poor baby. Bad enough he has to go through that, let alone have his dad laughing at him, videotaping it and sticking it on the Internet.