Bad parenting has never been so cute - or controversial. On the Monday broadcast before Halloween, ABC late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel issued a winking mandate: “I asked parents to tell their kids they ate all their Halloween candy.”
Mischievous parents followed Kimmel’s words and videotaped their heartbroken kids and posted the shaky-cam pranks to YouTube. The montage of whimpers, wails, and tantrums instantly went viral, amassing 9 million hits in 48 hours.
“I kind of thought they’d be mad,” Kimmel said with a laugh. “But I didn’t expect so much crying. Kids are very unstable.”
But the trick-or-treat trickery also ignited an online fire-storm of controversy and opinion on parenting blogs and message boards. While most viewers found the gag humorous (or at least mildly amusing), less-tickled parents found it in poor taste.
“What I don't understand is why someone would seriously think it was funny to disappoint children,” said one annoyed Florida mother in the comments section.
The cultural obsession with “funny kids” antics trace back to television staples like “Kids Say The Darndest Things,” but many felt the Kimmel goof crossed the line from charming and adorable to slightly sadistic.
“Kids that young trust their parents and wouldn't get the joke,” said Donna from Seattle. “Very mean thing to do to your kids.”
Others didn’t see the big deal.
“Where are your senses of humor? This wasn't mean or malicious or bullying,” said Jaime in New Mexico. “The kids got their candy back and will look back on this fondly with their parents and family.”
Still others took an educational approach. “The same thing is going to happen when they grow up, only instead of candy it will be money and the government will rob you blind,” said an Atlanta commentator. “But get used to it, kids, it only gets worse as you get older.”