Summer break is over, so I guess it’s time for me to get back to work along with all the other children.
I didn’t really plan on a summer writing break; if so, I would’ve announced one instead of leaving all four of my loyal readers in limbo (I’m back, Mom! I’m back, Brieanna! I’m back, Ezra and Mia!). But MAN, is it ever hard to pull off creative work with three young buzzards swarming around me all day, every day.
I’d foolishly assumed that, with all their newfound daytime freedom, the kids would be eager to while away the summertime hours far away from the kitchen table. But save for the occasional bouts of trampoline jumping and scooter-riding, apparently the great big world outside doesn’t comfortably accommodate the inter-sibling bicker-fests my kids clearly prize nearly as much as a big air-conditioned house does.
But anyway, like all the other cockroaches, I may run away into the darkness but I always come back, so here we are.
Now, let’s talk about YouTube, which I admit is generally pretty awesome. I mean, who can argue with billions of hours of free entertainment, comedy, education — more than you could ever watch in 100 lifetimes? Hell, the Brad Neely videos about George Washington and JFK comprised half of my history curriculum when I homeschooled Mia & Ez a couple years back.
But YouTube is different for kids. It’s far bigger than some novel time-waster; it’s like TV itself was for my generation, times 100. Times at least 100, because they don’t even have to sit in the living room to watch it, and there are millions of channels instead of the 36 I had at their age.
Just like TV, though, kids always choose the most annoying stuff available on YouTube to play round-the-clock at your house. I thought I’d emerged through the toughest years when I no longer had to watch Dora’s big creepy eyes leering at me and asking me questions through the TV (“WILL YOU HELP US? YES, YOU, JOSH, THE FAT GUY ON THE COUCH WITH A BOWL OF ICE CREAM…WILL YOU HELP US?”).
But no, YouTube has faithfully provided children of all ages hundreds of irritating YouTubers to antagonize parents well into the adolescent years and beyond.
Here are my current YouTube nemeses, courtesy of my wonderful children.
Ezra’s favorite is Tanner Braungardt, who is a teenage boy from Wichita who likes to do trampoline tricks with his shirt off. He has amassed 3.2 million subscribers by doing this, which means his monthly income is likely mid-six figures just from the advertising on his videos, before even accounting for the margins on the overpriced clothing emblazoned with his personal logo that he sells on his website. All of which, taken together, might make up for having to live one’s life in Wichita, Kansas (I grew up there, so trust me).
Did I mention he’s 16 and has a personal logo? Oops, yeah, I already did.
Lorenzo’s favorite YouTuber is Jake Paul. I’m 43 years old and thus am far, far outside the Jake Paul target audience, but here’s what I can tell you: If Depeche Mode guitarist Martin Gore and Johnny the bad guy from the first Karate Kid had a secret love child, it’d be Jake Paul. He has a brother named Logan Paul who’s also a YouTube star. He claims no identifiable talent that I’m aware of and is a polarizing figure, simultaneously hated and beloved by millions.
He has 10.4 million subscribers.
So what do you do when you have millions of subscribers, even more millions of dollars and no appreciable talent? Duh — you start a rap career. In Jake Paul’s case, you release “It’s Everyday, Bro,” in which Mr. Paul boasts of his YouTube-subscriber superiority and — well, it’s actually just that, over and over again.
I thought it was a joke at first, but it’s not. Your YouTube subscriber count is something you can seriously rap about these days with a straight face. (That rumble you just heard is Biggie, Tupac and Jam Master Jay rolling over in their graves).
Even worse, I know most of the lyrics to “It’s Everyday, Bro” by heart thanks to Lorenzo incessantly playing it around the house. Many times a day, between my ears, I’m reminded of Jake’s “Disney-channel flow” and his absurd boasts of one day toppling the 57-million subscriber count of PewDiePie, the undisputed king of YouTube whose videos likely generate more cash flow than half the countries in Africa.
Mia became a teenager this summer, which by definition means that everything her younger brothers like on YouTube is even more hopelessly uncool than the hopelessly uncool rock videos from the 80s that her father watches on YouTube. Mia’s favorite YouTubers are Dan and Phil, the British comedy duo boasting a comparatively modest 2.9 million subscribers. I asked Mia once what their shtick was, why people watch and like them. She helpfully responded that “they’re just like, funny and stuff. And British.”
So basically, being a huge Dan and Phil fan is my generation’s equivalent of worshiping The Cure.
Eh, ok. I can live with that.
So then, Barsch Family Fanboy YouTubers, ranked:
1. Tanner Braungardt. Hey, at least the kid has a skill, and a lot of his trampoline videos are instructional. This alone makes him the clear winner. (Suggested area of improvement: Put on a shirt.)
2. Dan and Phil. They’re cheeky, and they wrote a book, apparently all by themselves, without a ghost writer. That’s enough for second place.
3. Jake Paul: He’s pretty much the worst.
Welcome back to So-So-Dad, and thanks for hangin’ in there with me.