You don't call a whole class of people deplorable, as Hillary Clinton has learned.
It's especially dangerous to criticize people's parents, as I learned some years ago when I blamed a teenage motorcycle racer's parents for his death. I did so on the shoulders of my late father, who wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed 22 years ago, against the parents of Jessica Dubroff, a seven-year-old girl who died in 1996 while trying to fly an airplane.
But the briefest foray into the world of teenage YouTubers the other day—with my 15-year-old daughter as my guide—convinced me there is a class of American parents who really ought to have their licenses suspended.
The parents who allow, let alone support, let alone finance their teenage-and-younger children to become the bedroom pundits who, while you and I have been downstairs with our highballs tut-tutting about Trump and binging on Downton Abbey and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, have become now the primary cultural influencers in our children's lives.
YouTubers like JoJo Siwa, who has 6.8 million subscribers. (Almost as many as Writing Boots, can you believe it?)
Please watch this for as long as you can stand to. I made it 30 seconds.
My daughter asked me if she could start a YouTube channel about five years ago, when she was 10. I told her I'd just as soon let her perform a solo variety show on a busy Chicago street corner on her way home from school, before a gallery of whatever passersby found the show scintillating, for whatever reason.
"Oh my God, thank you for not letting me get a YouTube channel," she told me the other day. She recently looked at the videos she'd been hoping to post back then, and they were idiotic. "Me just dancing in my room!"
I told her she could start a YouTube channel just as soon as she had something regular and relevant to say—or some form of art to express. At 10—and also at 15—unless you are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, you have no art. In fact, you don't know the difference between your thoughts and your feelings, your personality and your persona, what other people think of you and what you think of yourself.
As any parent who who can fog up a mirror should clearly know.
I can imagine a responsible stage parent. I can imagine a parent doing a good job of handling a sports prodigy. I cannot believe there's a parent of a famous young YouTuber who has a shred of sense, taste, decency, wisdom or—honestly?—even love, outside of that gangrenous narcissistic stuff that could drive an emotionally intelligent buzzard off a culturally tainted meat wagon.
I'll close with my father's bottom-line motto, which ought to apply to the parents of YouTubers, and the parents of YouTuber watchers:
"Take care of the babies."