I’m sure by now most people know about the famous talk show host who sends out a challenge every year for parents to record telling their children that they ate the children’s Halloween candy. This is done as a prank for fun. It seems kind of mean to me, but I will say it also shows that there are some truly gracious children out there, too. Some of the kids actually express forgiveness and love toward their parents, despite losing all the candy they worked so hard to acquire. 1106-14
This is an annual challenge by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel to film your kids after telling them, “I TOLD MY KIDS I ATE ALL THEIR HALLOWEEN CANDY”. I decided to not embed sample videos into this post in keeping with this site’s firm position against exploitation of children.
It’s a challenge just to watch these videos. What we witness are parents deliberately lying to their children telling them a falsehood that all their candy that the child has accumulated through trick or treating has been consumed by one or both parents while the child slept and there is none left. The reactions of the children are predictable and in the case of the younger children they respond as if the world has crashed on them. At that age, a pile of candy is a rare treasure and a beloved parent has unjustly taken it all. Jimmy Kimmel himself understands this, “You know, for kids, Halloween candy is a sacred thing. For a lot of them it’s the first time they ever earn anything.” The collection of videos records reactions of shock, disbelief, anger, tears, screaming, tantrums, despair, rage at parents, declarations of hatred, threats of physical violence, loss, grief all displayed on unpretentious little faces. There are rare examples of sad but gracious understanding by a few children but what harm is done when that precious quality is tested and exploited for a joke? The audience finds these displays to be quite laughable. In a 2013 montage, one little boy understands the moral depravity of the joke played on him when he cries, “Well, that wasn’t very kind.” What parent does this?
Most of these children are pre-schoolers who lack the cognitive maturity to recognize the potential of a prank being played on them or to reason why a hungry parent didn’t eat a peanut butter sandwich or to handle this kind of news well. This annual tradition is nothing more than an exploitation of vulnerable and gullible little children for the entertainment of adults.
For the chance of a youtube video to be featured on The Jimmy Kimmel Show after Halloween, pranking parents are willing to teach their children a host of undesirable truths that have the potential for negative consequences over time. Truths such as…1) Mom and Dad will lie to you to get an emotional rise that they will film and disseminate to a worldwide audience. 2) Mom and Dad will not respect your ownership of private property. 3) Mom and Dad will manipulate your emotions to amuse themselves. 4) Parents cannot be trusted. 5) Blameshifting. A surprising number of parents excuse their choice to prank the child by blameshifting to Jimmy Kimmel for “making” them pull this prank. 6) Undermines the value of a sincere apology if Mom or Dad are willing to “apologize” for something that never really happened. 6) Jerking people’s chains resulting in an emotional reaction is great fun!
If we were to reverse the roles, many parents would find this type of behavior by a child to be disrespectful and troubling. It is therefore an abuse of the power inherent to being a parent to put one’s children through emotional hoops for the sake of a laugh or to become entertainment fodder for strangers. Would we find it amusing if those same children, upon becoming adults caring for their aged parents, played a prank on mentally challenged senior citizens that manipulated emotions for the entertainment of others? As a society we consider that abusive but for some odd reason, children are fair game.
EtiquetteHell has been consistent over the years that minor aged children should never be exploited on television and social media to provide entertainment for a audience that now can easily span around the globe. Minor aged children lack the maturity to understand the consequences of losing their right to privacy and are therefore dependent on adults to protect them until they reach an age where they can make informed choices as to how they will be depicted. It’s obvious that there are parents who have no qualms about exploiting their children if it means a moment of fame.
Just stop, Jimmy.