Videos featuring children, especially those under the age of six, indulging in grown-up activities has been buzz-worthy on the Internet for quite some time. For instance, a clip of a 2-year-old Indonesian boy smoking has become a recent sensation. He allegedly started using cigarettes when he was just 14-months-old and has developed a habit that includes as many as 40 cigarettes a day.
Here in the U.S., footage of 3-year-old black boy cussing someone out via telephone is particularly horrific, especially since he uses words grown people should avoid and little kids shouldn’t even know. It’s hard to watch and not be horrified although some people are clearly amused by it. Most of us with good sense shake our heads in disbelief and condemn his parents. The only way a child that age learns how to cuss like that is through grown-people. There are no kids in daycare or nursery school using language like that. Or, at least, we hope he stands alone.
There’s another video highlighting a little boy in a diaper and obligatory rap chain dubbed “J Money” and actively coached by a grown man, presumably his father, whose voice we only hear, as he rhymes Atlanta-based rapper Waka Flocka Flame’s hit “O Let’s Do It” which is no less unsettling. Here, the problem is quite clear. There’s no confusion over how the little boy learned the song, which kicks off with “I f**ked my money up, damn/Now I can’t re-up”. There are no second and third parties to blame and J Money’s rendition hasn’t been adapted for kids either. It’s as raw as grown men pretending to be gangsters can be and we are only horrified because it is literally coming out of the mouth of a baby.
Such negative reactions are largely missing when it comes to the popular YouTube video of 3-year-old Cameron, who announces herself as “Beyoncé’s biggest fan” before dancing to “Single Ladies”. To date, it has received almost 160,000 views and the comments are overwhelmingly positive. “She talks really well for 3!” one viewer wrote. “Very Cute…i loved the dance! She really is beyonces biggest fan!!![sic]”
WATCH THE CAMERON ‘SINGLE LADIES’ VIDEO HERE
For those of us who object to a preschool-age girl replicating many of Beyoncé’s sexy moves, Danielle Mundy, who posted the video, believes we should check ourselves. “Im concerned about the people that found this video sexual you might be one of the weird ones you are talking about [sic],” she responds. Mundy is completely perplexed as to what’s wrong with the video and so are most of the responders who proclaim how “cute” it is.
Why do so many people find such pleasure in seeing kids act grown-up? I will admit that, back in the day, I loved the Biggie video “Sky’s the Limit” featuring all the mini-versions of him,, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Lil Kim and Faith. At the time, I didn’t find anything wrong with a typical rap video, full of clichés like the big house, nice cars and swimming pool, featuring children only. I thought it was cute. Today, I realize that it should have been criminal. Clearly underage kids shouldn’t be celebrated for partaking in overly indulgent grown-up activities. Little girls wearing revealing swimsuits and little boys rocking minks is not cute.
If we are so inundated with this imagery to the point that it becomes normal to us, how do we pump the breaks? Should Janet Jackson have been applauded as a child for mimicking the extremely sexual Mae West? Are we actually the problem? It’s easy for me to sit back and condemn the outrageous act of a three-year-old cussing worse than a sailor, a two-year-old chain-smoking or a little three-year-old girl shaking it like Beyoncé. It’s harder, however, for me and many others to acknowledge the role we all play. At the end of the day, I am an enabler as well.
Although I, myself, have no children, I shouldn’t accept the continuous erasure of the line that should exist between kid and adult activities. Where was my email protesting Rihanna performing the sexually charged “Rude Boy” at this year’s Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards? Yes, I love the song for adults and it is fine for her to perform it on Ellen and a number of other shows but not at a show primarily aimed at children.
So the YouTube and WorldStarHipHop phenomenon featuring kids doing way too adult things is not something that we should take lightly. We shouldn’t just shake our heads in disbelief. Nor should we further encourage it by making such displays viral hits. If we are truly concerned about the increasing loss of innocence among our children, it really is up to us. A 3-year-old cussing profusely can only end with an early death or a prison stint. A little girl shaking it like Beyoncé doesn’t necessarily signal the next great entertainer. It might very well lead to her “entertaining” in videos of another nature. If we don’t become a part of the solution, we shouldn’t have any problems pointing the finger back to ourselves.