Having a fifteen year old daughter can present a lot of challenges: fights with friends, the pressures of looking ahead to college, and of course boys. But one thing that shouldn’t be a challenge is your child’s Internet usage. That’s why when I began monitoring my daughter’s browsing habits for her own safety I was shocked at what I found.
My wonderful, perfect, darling little girl’s favorite YouTube star is anime dubbed over with the fiery and impassioned, but morally suspect, speeches of Adolf Hitler.
Granted, after some careful research I was able to determine that this is not the worst of the YouTube stars, and the careful dubbing of Hitler’s historically significant lectures to the German people over supercuts of scenes from various popular anime series seems to put his words, and the images paired with them, into a new, intentionally ironic light with serious artistic merit as a meta-collaborative piece of postmodern audiovisual collage, but it’s just not what I thought my little angel would be up to with her time online.
Listening to the recordings of my daughter’s phone calls — I do it for her own safety — I hear nothing but an intelligent, strong, fiercely independent young woman. But knowing that her taste in streaming video entertainment includes the racist rhetoric of one of history’s cruelest monsters juxtaposed with the exaggerated body proportions and high-octane action of Japanese and Japanese-style animation makes me question just how good of a job I’ve been doing as a parent.
Hunched down in the back seat of her car for her safety as she uses her driver’s permit to commute to and from school, work, and church, I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate what our children’s online choices say about us all, both as parents and as a society. And while the ever-accelerating pace of change in today’s media landscape raises the question of whether our barely evolved animal brains have sufficiently developed to process the images, sounds, and meanings of the entertainment that so enthralls us, I take solace in the fact that no matter what YouTube channels she subscribes to, no matter what ridiculously named online commentators, comedians, and long-dead dictators she watches and perhaps even idolizes, at least my kind, thoughtful, beautiful young daughter isn’t on Vine.
Follow him on Twitter at @davedittell.