Before there was Babies, the movie, there were babies, on YouTube. A video of a four-year-old girl crying because her family is moving is reigniting the debate over what's appropriate to post online. Why do people watch this stuff?
The video in question is two years old, but it was posted recently by BuzzFeed and BestWeekEver, leading Salon to wonder,
Where's the line between cute and sad? What's flat-out cruel? Recording a heartbroken preschooler who's moving halfway across the world seems like a pretty clear sensitivity failure, but what about one who's just having an old-fashioned temper tantrum? Or falling on his face? Come to think of it, even when a child is doing something so adorable it'll make your brain melt, is it really always a hot idea to share it with the planet?
Not every parent who posts a baby video is trying to make it go viral — some of them are intended for families and friends, probably more than there are from Balloon-boy-style famewhores. That said, privacy settings exist for a reason, and there are plenty of people who are intentionally trying to rack up the hits off their children's vulnerable moments. "David After Dentist" comes to mind. But why are there so many takers?
Here are the uploaders of "Demon Baby," first put up in 2007, with over 7 million views:
"We changed the name of the video a few times to see if names DO matter to videos In this case...I'd say it does. "Backwards Baby and Crazy Baby" Titles both failed to produce many views. After changing it to Demon Baby, the views flooded in.
Also, we placed the "Don't watch this!" in the beginning of the description to see if people would actually listen. It brought in MORE views! "
There is a highly popular subset of YouTube videos of babies being "scary" or acting like monsters. Sure, this is comic relief, and the shock of the contrast between a cute baby and horror-like imagery. But the fact that everyone wants to watch a baby video labeled "Don't Watch This!" is intriguing, suggesting that the lure of the taboo extends even to infants.
The subgenre of videos of babies crying is almost uniformly sadistic. (Although I do think that the "Single Lady" toddler crying video has some redeeming qualities — a sweet lesson in good parenting, for example.) But what about this horrifying one of a baby crying, which notes that he is being circumcised (mercifully not shown) at the time? It has 2.5 million views.
Babies cry all the time. Sometimes, in real life, it's annoying or even funny. But I still can't quite grasp the entertainment of watching someone else's baby cry. So to make up for all the excruciating baby crying videos I just watched, I am hereby posting the least offensive kind of baby YouTube video, this side of "baby dancing to pop song": a baby laughing video. This classic is of twins cracking each other up. It's got 31 million views, and I can pretty much see why.