Best Left To The Family Album?
Having watched Rude Tube’s Top 50 countdown of the most popular YouTube video clips on Channel 4 last Friday (2 Jan 2009) I was quite shocked when they revealed the winner to be ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ – a clip of a toddler called Charlie biting the finger of his 3 year old brother Harry. Apparently, the clip has received over 73 million hits in the year since it was first posted by the boys’ father in January 2008. He claimed in his TV interview with Richard and Judy (August 2008) that the reason for posting it on YouTube in the first place was to share it with relatives in America.
I’m sure at the time he had absolutely no idea of the phenomenon it would cause amongst internet fans around the world – there are now numerous remakes, remixes and spoof versions of the clip, not to mention ‘Charlie bit me’ t-shirts.
But both parents, who seem like intelligent, respectable people, must be left wondering why their seemingly innocent home video clip has caused such an internet storm. The aim of Rude Tube’s poll was to show the funniest and rudest clips, which I personally don’t think Charlie’s finger-biting antics - unless I am totally missing the point - qualified for either.
On the other hand, the now infamous clip of the guy’s girlfriend doing her Wii Fit workout in her knickers was a bit saucy and understandably attracted millions of voyeuristic viewers, but still failed to reach the number one spot. Similarly, Valentina Hasan, giving her unforgettable Ken Lee version of Mariah Carey’s Without You on Bulgaria’s Music Idol was undeniably hilarious but again only managed a top 5 ranking.
So, why oh why did ‘Charlie bit me’ outstrip these two contenders which were arguably much funnier and more memorable? It left me pondering the question as to just who these 70 million or more Charlie fans actually are. Ok, the kids are reasonably cute and a baby brother inflicting pain on his older brother is fleetingly amusing but not to that extent surely. Maybe I am getting hopelessly cynical in my old age but I can’t help feeling that the boys’ parents have exposed their children to something rather more disturbing. Cute kid gaining pleasure from inflicting oral pain on another cute kid could be just the thing to attract a more sinister type of internet surfer, who may be awarded a certain gratification from this kind of image.
I sincerely hope I’m wrong. However, judging by the somewhat sheepish conduct of the boys’ mother on the ‘This Morning’ interview, it seemed she may also be beginning to question whether the massive exposure that her children are now subject to is really a good thing, although having said that, any fears that she may have had did not prevent her from appearing on national television.
With two small children of my own, I am now becoming very aware of internet safety and the possible dangers of putting personal information, especially family photos or home video clips anywhere where they might be subject to public viewing. This may seem overly cautious but in my opinion you never know who might be looking and for what reason. What may seem a harmless bit of a childsplay to one pair of eyes may present something entirely different to another. As Andy Warhol predicted, it seems everybody these days wants their 15 minutes of fame, if not for themselves then for their children, but one has to consider whether such phenomenal popularity is really worth inviting into your own home.