Jimmy Kimmel, the late night talk show host and comedian whom I usually love and adore, does this thing every year that makes me sad and confused. It’s just a big ol’ weird bummer all around.
Once or twice a year Kimmel challenges his fans to film a video of themselves pranking their children, and then post that video to YouTube. One prank, which has become an annual thing, is called, “I ate all of your Halloween candy.” The idea is for parents to sit their kids down and tell them that all of the Halloween candy is gone because Mommy and/or Daddy ate it. The children are usually devastated and are filmed weeping and screaming. Then the parents tell them they were just kidding.
Most people — including many friends of mine — find this hilarious.
I’m on the “not so much” side.
Now, if you find these funny (and especially if we are friends), please know I am not judging you. Humor is different for everyone, and I have been accused of being tightly wound about some things once or twice in my life. And usually when people find something on the internet and tell me it’s hilarious, I am 100% on board with the funny. But every year Kimmel does these pranks, and every year I cannot watch them because they break my heart.
How do you “pull a prank” on a child? Many of the kids in these videos are young enough to still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. They are certainly young enough to trust their parents unconditionally and believe what they are told. I don’t understand why it’s funny to break that trust, make them feel like their parents have intentionally hurt them, and take some of the joy out of a holiday that kids love only slightly less than any day when they receive presents. Why not tell them that Santa was killed in a drive-by shooting for being a snitch? Or that the Easter Bunny won’t be coming this year because he got shanked in prison after being arrested during another home invasion?
It just doesn’t feel okay to me.
And then there’s the fact that these parents film it and post it on YouTube for the world to see. Come on now, folks. Aren’t we better than this? There is so much to worry about when it comes to kids and the internet. We spend so much time trying to teach them that what goes on the internet is there forever, so please don’t post pictures of your ass crack or fantasize about murdering your teacher on Twitter. But Mom and Dad will go ahead and post a video of you as a child having a total breakdown because we think that shit’s funny.
Maybe I am too tightly wound. Maybe I do take this too seriously. All I know is that looking at those kids’ faces hurts my heart, and it is not something I would ever do to my own children. In order to prank someone, shouldn’t that person be capable of understanding what a prank is in the first place? Shouldn’t they have some level of social maturity so that they understand the difference between a harmless joke and a mean trick?
I just hope for those parents’ sakes that their kids don’t know how to use YouTube. If they do, I’d be prepared for a few videos to hit the net called, “Look what happened when I told my Dad I lost his wallet!” and “Told my mom that she didn’t get into graduate school and she believed me. It’s hilarious. LOL.”
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