You want to find the roots of violence in a culture? Look to the way some parents treat their children. In almost every case of a violent adult, you will find history of that person abused as a child: physically, sexually, emotionally, financially, spiritually. We look at the violent actions of adults and throw billions of dollars of tech and bombs at the problem, meanwhile we ignore the children, millions of them (including here in the USA), brought up in abusive environments, who have no way to express their pain and deep suffering — until they become adults. Then you’d better watch out, because they will surely make you suffer for the life they never had. If you want to stop the endless cycle of violence in the world, look no further than the children. Free them from the cycle of abuse, and I promise you the world will change with them.
So Jimmy Kimmel has this thing where parents film their kids as they tell them they’ve eaten all their Halloween candy. The kids wail and cry and generally freak out, and these classy exemplars of good parenting then send their video clips to Jimmy Kimmel, who selects among the “best” to air on national TV, for the enjoyment of millions.
Seriously, how fucking narcissistic do you have to be to intentionally hurt your child while filming them? And not only this, but you then send the clips to a national TV show to be aired? Not only do you get to laugh at your child, but now millions can laugh at your child with you. Parents think it’s funny. So do millions of people. But what about the kid? He didn’t factor into the emotional equation, did he? Not really. Most people said to themselves, “It’s just candy. The parents told their kids they were just kidding as soon as the video ended, a joke for TV.”
But did you see the parents say this? Did you hear their apology? Did you see how the kids reacted to being lied to for someone else’s amusement? No, you didn’t. All you saw were parents lying to their children in order to hurt them, while filming and laughing at them, and then sharing it with millions, who laughed too.
Here’s the thing about narcissists, they assume their own thoughts are universal. In this case, they think it’s okay to intentionally hurt their child, because the candy isn’t really gone, and the reaction from the child isn’t really justified. But this is the parent projecting their own emotions onto the child. The parents would not react this way, so why should the child be so upset? But of course the child would be upset. And here’s the most disgusting thing: the parents knew how much it would hurt their children. This is why they filmed it in the first place. And to these poor kids, who haven’t developed the emotional capacity to know the difference between missing candy and a great tragedy, the missing candy is a great tragedy.
I’m severely disturbed that so many millions of people see nothing at all wrong with hurting children for public amusement. But I am not at all surprised.
My story “The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies” is out in this month’s Clarkesworld Magazine. It’s a story about generational abuse, repression, and farmers of universes. The first commenter on the story said it would make an excellent graphic novel, and I couldn’t agree more!
There’s also a podcast of the story by the fabulous Kate Baker.