Do you want to know what's wrong with America?
You likely already have your suspicions, of course, but just in case you really are clueless as to what's wrong with our country, I present to you as Exhibit A this video from the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.
Jimmy Kimmel Live is hosted by - surprise! - Jimmy Kimmel, a droll, narcissistic comedian whose late-night television show on ABC is apparently popular with America's young parents. On Halloween in 2011, he half-heartedly challenged his viewers to lie to their kids about the candy they'd begged off their neighbors that night.
Tell your kids you ate their Halloween candy, and videotape their responses, Kimmel instructed his fans, knowing how valuable that sugary loot is to kids.
And apparently, many of them did. Here's the proof:
I hadn't heard anything about this stunt back in 2011, but for some reason, it seems to be making the rounds on social media these days. Apparently, it was a big hit when he did it the first time, and then again, when he repeated his "challenge" last fall, and parents once again obliged and obediently sent in videos of their traumatized kids. Lying about eating their candy is but one of several pranks Kimmel has asked his viewers to perform on their progeny, ranging from fake lie detector tests to terrible Christmas presents.
Obviously, it all makes for raucous television theater for Kimmel, his advertisers, and their audience. Otherwise, they wouldn't keep doing it. But can't you see the many problems here?
Regular readers of my blog will already know that since I've never been married, nor been a parent, I usually refrain from commenting too much on parental concerns. Regular readers will also already know what I think about Halloween, but even if you disagree with me about celebrating a Wiccan religious festival like that, surely you can't agree that the mentality captured in this video - and others like it - is good for any of us.
Right off the bat, what should be readily appalling is the willingness of these parents to tell a bald-faced lie to their kids. And not just a lie, but a lie about something they knew would likely elicit some sort of strong reaction from their kids. Are those parents that jealous of the lifestyle they've conjured for their kids that they want to upset it with unnecessary strife? In Ephesians 6:4, parents are warned not to intentionally exasperate their children. Shouldn't that be common sense? I may not be a parent, but in my career of uncle-hood, I've seen plenty of crying fits that are brought about entirely without any unnecessary stimuli. Shouldn't this unBiblical mentality Kimmel is manipulating disturb us?
And even if you condone what we erroneously call "white lies," should parents tell empty falsehoods of such a potent nature to their kids? How does that help build the trust that is essential in training one's children? Should parents tell empty falsehoods to their children with the sole objective of deriving some sort of sadistic pleasure in the responses they expect to see from their kids? Isn't that the sort of blatant manipulation of a human being over which parents could take somebody else to court, if they did it to their child? Doesn't it all smack of some bizarre, self-centered schadenfreude on the part of parents, Kimmel, and his audience? How is watching children throw tantrums, throw paper at their parents, and commit other forms of general repugnance entertainment?
What kind of loving parent does that to their kids, whether it's with Halloween candy, or anything?
Then again, maybe it's just as well I'm not a parent, since I can't find any redeeming qualities in such behavior. Maybe the fact that Kimmel has exposed a whole underworld of stunningly destructive antics parents will enthusiastically perpetrate on their own children doesn't really mean that they're contributing to even deeper depths of depravity being etched into the psyche of our next generation. Maybe I just don't know how to have fun at other peoples' expense.
Even if those people are exceptionally vulnerable and impressionable children whom God has entrusted into our loving, vigilant, and tenacious care.
It's not even like I can find any glimmer of hope in the likelihood that such stunts may instill an anti-Halloween culture in a generation of our kids. I want people to have a realistic respect for the dangers of Wicca's autumn festival, not a traumatized trepidation of it based on false pretenses. Besides, it's the blunt reality that a child's trust in their parent has been corrupted that is making these same parents laugh, while instead, it should be sending pangs of remorse and regret through them. Candy and Halloween are merely pawns in this horrible charade.
With the central pawn, of course, being the child.
And still, people laugh. So maybe it's not the worst problem America has. But might laughing at kids as they react to a dirty prank pulled on them by their parent be shameful behavior for a country shedding what apparently are nothing more than crocodile tears over tragedies like Newtown?