The New York Times has a short profile on the “Charlie Bit My Finger” family today. Did you know that video has more than 417 million views? That is so many views! It is the “most successful noncommercial video in YouTube history”! The article does the normal things that articles like this do: it gives completely unsatisfyingly vague information on how much money the family has made from the video, it talks about child exploitation, and features plenty of quotes from the boys’ father about how hard he is trying to stay on the morally right side of that fuzzy line. It sounds like he’s doing OK. Sort of. Like, he explains that he only started making “Charlie Bit My Finger” t-shirts after he saw lots of other people selling them, which makes a lot of sense. Seriously. Why should other people with dubious intentions and/or affiliations be profiting from your children? At the very least you can either use that money to “pay for their education” (an old warhorse explanation for this stuff) or you can donate it to charity, but certainly it’s better. I was listening to an interview with Brad Pitt recently and he was talking about selling the baby photos of Shiloh to People magazine for millions of dollars (all of which he and Angelina Jolie donated to charity) and he was explaining that someone was going to get paid millions of dollars for them, so he’d rather they could control what happened with the money and use it towards a good cause rather than it just ending up in the pocket of some stupid paparazzo and I agree! (See also: this week’s news about Jay-Z and Beyonce trademarking “Blue Ivy.”) Although, the article also talks about how the dad is still posting videos of the boys on-line, and he never really explains why. It’s fine, lots of people post videos of their children. Except you can’t really complain about all the untoward attention and how hard it is to keep your children safe from the negativity of that experience in one breath, and then keep posting videos of them every five minutes when you know that there are millions of people ready to watch them? It’s a little odd. But whatever. Good luck raising your family. Not my problem.
This, though, is definitely my favorite part of the article:
The family gets recognized in random places — on the subway in London; in the house, by the washing-machine repairman. Last month, “Charlie Bit My Finger” was mentioned on “30 Rock.” Web-savvy children around the world apparently quote from the video when they get hurt, or want to express mock indignation. There are fan sites, Facebook pages and endless parody videos. A lady in New York volunteered to be the boys’ honorary aunt. Their dentist recently revealed that an acquaintance had named his son Charlie, as an homage.
“Their dentist recently revealed that an acquaintance had named his son Charlie, as an homage”????? Uh, time to get a new dentist. Something’s wrong with your dentist. For one thing, your dentist has shitty acquaintances. For another thing, your dentist apparently doesn’t know when a story crosses deeply into weird-out creepazoid territory. He might be sociopathic? Have you ever experienced empathy from your dentist? But actually that’s not even my favorite part. Nor is the washing-machine repairman, although he’s up there. No, my favorite part is WHAT THE FUCK IS AN HONORARY AUNT? You guys ever heard of an HONORARY AUNT before? Maybe that’s a totally normal thing and I’M the crazy one. Lock me up. Throw away the key. I might hurt myself or others. Because the fuck is that? Haha. CHARLIE BIT MY HONORARY AUNT! Ding dong the Internet. (Thanks for the tip, Lizz.)