On YouTube, you’ll find many adorable videos of kids singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but one of them, titled “Girl singing with her mouth closed funny hidden talent,” has suddenly scored more than 420,000 views—and a number of negative comments.
“Wait, was that real?” asked one—as in, is it possible to sing with one’s mouth closed?
“Fake,” said another. “Fake but funny.”
“It’s real!” said one more.
Thirty-one pages of debate followed.
Mary Napoli understands the uploader’s pain. She posted a video called “Family home destroyed by avalanche – children to blame,” which reportedly showed her two sons blanketing her home in a 5-pound bag of flour while she was in the bathroom dealing with the stomach flu.
Although the video was supposed to be for friends and family, it ended up getting almost 4 million views on YouTube – and plenty of negative responses from people who claimed it was a fake. Her family even appeared on the “Today Show” on NBC to debate the authenticity of the video. “I had people pinpointing, ‘Oh she has flour on her pants,’ and freeze framing the whole thing,” she said to Metro.
”Honestly, it was almost mostly negative feedback,” Naopli added. “I had huge emotional problems over it, I was just doing for it for family. I definitely have tougher skin for it.” She still maintains today that the video is authentic.
Whether or not the video is true or not will still remain up for debate, but one thing is for certain: The problem of faking YouTube videos for online stardom may cause problems for the child stars. Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, a New York City psychotherapist and author of “Make Up, Don’t Break Up,” said that parents may be harming their children by falsifying a clip, especially if that child becomes an online celebrity. “You can be teaching a child that lying and fabricating is okay,” she said.
“They can grow up and become narcissistic and learn how to manipulate. It also makes them feel that the only way to be loved is to get attention in these ways,” Weil explained.
Either way, the negative comments, especially those about appearance, can have adverse affects on children who may not understand the difference between reading comments online and real world critique. “Three million people are judging you. People can be mean and sadistic,” she said.
“What you want to do as a parent is talk about the bullying that happens on YouTube,” she said. “YouTube (comments) are another form of a reality show. This is another chance to tell children that (these comments) are not the real world, this is not reality.”
Bashar Akhtar agrees that the negative comments can be hurtful. His son and daughter became online stars after their video “Son’s reaction to ‘Empire Strikes Back’ reveal!!!!,” which showed his son Faris’ cute shocked face after he found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, received over 3 million views. “The downside is that a couple of nasty comments were posted but once you realize the people hide behind their keyboards you can ignore them,” he said to Metro during an e-mail interview.
Akhtar maintains the video is true. “It's 100% genuine, I don't think Faris or Shazia are that good actors!” he said.
Like Napoli, he claims the clip was uploaded only to show family, and both parents were surprised at the negative reaction. “There’s so much stuff in the world, and this thing became this huge news story. I thought people would find it funny or cute but not controversial,” Napoli explained.
The good news is that both families claim online celebrity hasn’t affected their kids. While Akhtar’s daughter Shazia liked being on TV, his son really didn’t care. Napoli claims no one recognizes her children from the video, and they only remember the clip when she trades stories about the destructive power of children. “They’ll say ‘Oh my gosh, you’re the people with the flour video!’” she said.
Either way Akhtar doesn’t care what others think, he’s just proud he created a “Star Wars” fan. “He loves ‘Star Wars’ - and keeps trying to Jedi Mind trick his sister,” Akhtar said.