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Childrearing

The ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ Family Is Turning Their Sons Into Brands

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The “Charlie Bit Me” video was a viral YouTube sensation in 2007 that — frankly — everyone saw. The short clip of two English kids watching TV captivated nearly everyone when the younger of the brothers, Charlie, bit his elder brother’s finger. With his adorable little accent and genuine shock, his older brother Harry exclaimed “Charlie bit me.” This mere 56-second video has since become the most viewed noncommercial video in YouTube’s history, and Harry and Charlie’s parents are looking to capitalize on that.

The New York Times reports that now five years later, Harry and Charlie, are still being confronted with their Internet fame by teenagers but also adults when they’re in London. The boys parents, Howard and Shelly Davies-Carr, have earned “in excess of £100,000,” in response to the video, but will not name an exact figure. They maintain that they have accrued enough for both their son’s college educations — which is more than any parent filming their kids’ funny moments over breakfast can hope for. Good on them and what a fabulous fortune for a young family.

But the parents are pressing forward in ways to “monetize” their “property,” which include more YouTube videos, smartphone apps, children’s books, and even their own YouTube channel eventually. The family has even been named an official “partner” of YouTube which allows them to partake in the advertising revenue. And even though there is definitely talk of “protecting” these boys from exploitation, the family appears to be doing that already.

The Times writes:

Howard Davies-Carr, a 43-year-old information technology consultant who is the father of Charlie, now 5, and Harry, 7, said that though he did not regard his sons as celebrities, they had become a brand, like it or not…Mr. Davies-Carr said he had thought long and hard about how to “monetize” in a responsible way what has become a very valuable property.

The father tells the paper, “It’s not like I’m sending them out or trying to push them to be models or actors,” as he merely keeps fans updated with family pictures and moments of intimate family life on the boys’ website. He reportedly makes a point to regularly monitor the site for abusive comments and turned down an opportunity to develop “Charlie Bit My Finger” T-shirts. But even so, these family moments fail to truly embody the definition of “intimate” once they’re shared with countless viewers across the globe.

The Davies-Carr family may not be forcing their children to perform, but profiting off of their sons, as well as lining up further promotional deals, smells just as exploitative. And in our era of viral YouTube sensations and Internet celebrities, the definition of a “child star” may become all the more fuzzy as we pull another Justin Bieber from the interwebs. The rule stands regardless of media’s form that where there are parents making a dime off their children, there are usually poor parenting decisions not too far behind.

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(photo: nytimes.com)

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