The story on “The Conversation”: is headlined, “When exploiting kid for cash goes wrong on YouTube….” and there we have the problem in black and white.
Exploiting kids is wrong to begin with and in all respects; it can’t “go wrong.” The culture doesn’t just get it. This ethics alarm has been sounding at ear-breaking pitch for a long time. Too many adults and media opinion-makers have not just tolerated cruel and abusive uses of children by the very people who are obligated to protect them—their own parents– but encouraged it. In such a child-focused culture,where “Think of the children!” is an all-purpose emotion-bomb employed with regularity to obliterate rational policy arguments, this ugly realm of ethics blindness still thrives.
Ethics Alarms has done its best to cast a light on the cultural scourge from the blog’s beginnings. There were “the Biking Vogels.” There was Jon and Kate Plus Eight. But what chance do I have trying to explain that all child exploitation is unethical whether it is done for cash or not, when a late night TV star, Jimmy Kimmel, has been gleaning fans, applause ratings and YouTube hits by encouraging parents to “prank” their own children to almost no criticism at all? I even started a Facebook page to stop Kimmel from doing this, as he does every Christmas, Halloween, and whenever his child-hating writers have a sadistic brainstorm.
Maybe the exposure, shaming and punishment of Heather and Mike Martin, of Ijamsville, Maryland will finally have some impact, but at this point I am dubious. Yesterday these horrible people appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to weep, lie, grovel and try to make the public feel sorry for them, as their torture videos threaten to cost them custody of some or all of their children. Anyone who does feel sorry for the Martins is a fool, and perhaps one of the complicit millions of internet viewers who rewarded the couple for using their children as props, dupes and victims. When you make money by torturing your children to attract YouTube hits, that is signature significance. You are a vile human being, with your values and ethics rotting somewhere in your brain like a dead rat in the attic. The Martins are indefensibly ethics-free human beings, though just two of many. How much can the culture condemn them, when an even worse human being is paid millions by ABC—the hypocrisy of the network is staggering—to encourage the same conduct they are now being, finally, attacked for?
The YouTube video that finally served as a tipping point was the one where the Martins poured ink on the bedroom floor of one of their five young children. The Washington Post describes it:
Heather Martin, a.k.a. “MommyOFive,” is screaming. “Get your f—— a — up here!” she yells at Cody, her young son. Mike Martin — DaddyOFive to his family YouTube channel’s 750,000 subscribers — follows along behind with the camera as Cody runs upstairs. Soon, he is yelling, too: “What the hell is that?” There is ink all over the floor of Cody’s room. The boy begins to cry. “I didn’t do that,” he says, his face turning red. “I swear to God I didn’t do that.” For three minutes, the parents scream and swear at Cody and his brother Alex, accusing them of spilling the ink. Suddenly, MommyOFive reveals a small bottle in her hand. She smiles and laughs. The ink was trick ink, she says, it will disappear from the floor. “You just got owned!” DaddyOFive says, pointing the camera in the faces of his children, who appear to be elementary school-aged. “It’s just a prank, bruh!” As the Martin parents laugh, their children remain sitting on the bed, faces still red from crying.
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! This is hilarious!
With over 760,000 subscribers, DaddyOFive earned between$200,000-350,000 each year from YouTube advertising revenue. The ink prank wasn’t the worst of the videos either, not at all. In addition to the emotional abuse being inflicted on the Martin kids, there was often physical abuse. Some videos showed them being pushed into furniture or walls by their father, or being struck by siblings. Here is a sampling of the videos, as they were promoted on DaddyOFive:
Nice. Although these have all been removed by the Martins or by YouTube for violations of their policies—which YouTube apparently only enforces vigorously when sufficient bad publicity is stirred up—they have been archived here. Continue reading