David Devore took his seven year-old son (also named David) to the dentist to have a tooth removed last summer. Afterwards, the boy was still whacked out on anesthesia when his dad videotaped an interview in the backseat of the car. The boy’s reactions start out as wonderment (“Is this real life?”) to hallucinations (“You have four eyes.”) to sheer terror (“Why is this happening to me?”). His dad then uploaded the video to Youtube. Based on the comments section of the video’s Youtube page, viewers either think the video is hysterically funny or think it’s exploitative and cruel.
I come down somewhere in between the two. Of course it’s fine to let your seven year-old take powerful medicine if he’s going to undergo dental surgery. Of course hilarity is bound to ensue when you combine “Kids say the Darndest Things” with Nitrous Oxide. And unlike all the outraged child psychiatrists and parenting experts, I’m not terribly concerned about the boy’s privacy being invaded. I assume David Sr. knows his son well enough to decide that the boy will get a kick out of it.
But the morality gets a little fuzzy when I try to understand why David’s dad thought it was a good idea to bring a video camera in the first place. Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable when he asks his son, “It kinda felt good, didn’t it?” That’s your cue, son! Say something stupid so I can put it on Youtube!
Part of what viewers find so charming about the video is the innocent boy’s questions. But he’s not just innocent – he’s vulnerable. And based on the primal scream he lets out around the one minute mark, he doesn’t seem to be having much fun. David Sr. seems to be trying to capitalize on his son’s 15 minutes of fame by launching a viral video career. He quickly posted a few more videos – with banner ads – featuring his son telling jokes and encouraging viewers to send in ideas for what their next comedy video should be. Maybe he’ll get lucky and the boy will need a tonsillectomy soon.