Just before putting together this week’s post, Liam and I went to the Toys, Tots, Pets and More ( TTPM) showcase in NYC that brought together a number of toy companies, bloggers and YouTube personalities to network and check out the latest in kids entertainment. Surprisingly, there were quite a few parents of color -all looking to transform their beautiful kids into internet superstars.
I’m not just saying these kids were cute because they’re little either. As the multi-cultural army of babies ran around throwing everything that shouldn’t be thrown and crashing into each other, their parents scrambled behind them with video cameras and smartphones.
The objective was clear; out-cute every other child in the room. Everyone got their Morgan Freeman narration game popping while the kids flashed missing-tooth grins and waxed adorably about the toys in front of them. It reminded me of that TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras. You know, the one that made Honey Boo Boo famous.
The world of YouTubing tots isn’t a new one. Although it hasn’t quite hit critical mass yet, it is quickly approaching breakthrough status. According to recent stats ,one kid’s show, Ryan’s Toys Reviews is the third most popular YouTube sensation, only after World Wrestling Entertainment. That’s right, a kid unpacking and talking about the latest toy car is more popular than your favorite social justice hashtag of the moment. There’s no wonder why the father I stood next to at the Mattel toys booth was describing a Hot Wheels race track with the passion of Birdman demanding his “respeck.”
Which leads me to the question of whether the kids are actually enjoying all of this. Yes, there are free toys, travel perks and internet fame but where does it stop and how far are we willing to go to get our kids to the land of multi-million subscribers?
According to a breakdown in this video, all of those views don’t necessarily translate into riches. Given the history of children getting pimped out for petty fame (Kate Plus Eight, Keeping up With the Kardashians, Toddlers and Tiaras, Friday Night Tykes, Dance Moms, etc,etc.) the emergence of a kid who represents the desperate extremes of attention whoring is inevitable.