Everything We Know About Fatherhood, We Learned From YouTube


Home movies have evolved since the days of Panama hat-wearing patriarchs milling about the backyard, holding a Super 8 or shoulder-mounted camcorder, shouting at the children to "wave to the camera!" (only to have those images disappear into a closet to gather dust for decades). Now, with the help of YouTube, these moments can go from minivan to majorly viral in 30 minutes or less. In honor of Father's Day, we found some of the funniest examples of fathering available on the Web. And we've asked two of NEWSWEEK's (fairly) new fathers--Tony Dokoupil (dad to 11-month-old Oliver) and Andrew Bast (dad to 20-month-old Alexandra)--to add their commentary below the clips. We welcome your thoughts, other dads of the Internet, in the comments below.

"David After Dentist" is quite possibly the quintessential "YouTube dad" video. Dad takes his 7-year-old son to the dentist. Dad innocently records son's reaction to the laughing gas. Dad uploads said video to YouTube. Family video is viewed more than 60 million times. Hilarity ensues. Followed by remixes. And controversy.

TD: Insufferable and suspicious. How did this kid get his front tooth knocked out in the first place? On his (curiously monetized) Web site David After Dentist--which sells stickers and T shirts with the kid's image--the father says that the hole in his kids mouth is from the removal of "an extra tooth." Yeah--and there was a boy lost in a balloon last fall.

AB: Yeah, capitalizing on this is suspicious enough. So is the way that the kid's comments sound a lot like he's a wayward college student on an acid trip. "Is this going to be forever? Arrgh."

The Whittaker family went from total unknowns to must-haves on the morning talk-show circuit after their family video--"Single Ladies Devastation"--was uploaded to YouTube. Recorded by driver dad (NEWSWEEK does not endorse the use of electronics while behind the wheel of a moving minivan, even to film adorable events) as his children rocked out to a Beyonce hit, laughing and crying all the way through.

TD: The lesson: Pre-preteen girls and little boys shall not sing about coupledom unless they are getting paid for it (see: Cyrus, Miley, and Bieber, Justin). On a side note: who drives with a camcorder at the ready?

: The lesson? Avoiding telling your kid what they don't want to hear is not the problem. The problem is backtracking, and telling your son that, in fact, he is a single lady.

This one's gotta be tough to watch. You wait your whole life to catch a foul ball on national television, and the moment you do, your kid tosses it off into oblivion. Ouch.

TD: Actually, here's a solid lesson. Always father as if you're on a JumboTron.

AB: Agreed. Also, as I've learned in my life, a good, solid high five to your kid goes a long way. Probably further than the fouled-off baseball.

Remember when kids used to lose their baby teeth the old-fashioned way? After plenty of wiggles, or by chomping down on an apple? Now, dads can cement their status in viral-video space by concocting the most unsafe ways to pull their kids' teeth out, as long as they film it and upload it. Got a tough stomach? Check out these dads pulling out baby teeth with toy trucks, motorcycles, a Nerf gun, and even a bow and arrow. Have these dads crossed the line?

TD: Even Homer Simpson shakes his head at you, sir.

AB: Best I ever got was a door handle tied to my tooth. And I can't figure out if this is more twisted. Actually, yes, it is.

We've got no proof that this child's father is recording him flipping out while watching an otherwise rather tame puppet show. Maybe it was some other kid's dad. But whoever it was spent a lot more time thinking about his filming techniques than about rushing to the aid of this young boy, who is having a near panic attack at the sight of a silly-looking puppet. Dads, what say you?

TD: I'm with the kid. Puppets are scary.

AB: Filming him? Terrible. Whoever taught him that bit with the chair? Probably even worse. But at least they dressed him really well.

It was Dad who filmed this viral classic. But when he pointed the camera at his young blokes, he probably didn't know that what he was recording would become YouTube gold. (At the moment, this is the second most-viewed video on YouTube--ever.) But what's the takeaway, here, Dads? (Other than cute babies with British accents equals 200 million views.)

TD: Dads could learn a lot from this young Austin Powers impersonator ("Ouch, that reeaallly hurt!"). For starters, when a baby bites your finger, remain still. Don't flap your arm.

AB: Better his finger than mine, honestly. Because unlike this little Brit, I learned my lesson about how sharp little teeth are (even if there aren't that many of them) long ago.

It's only luck that this young boy jumped off the flaming skateboard just before the explosives rocketed the thing halfway across the suburb. Although maybe this kid bragged to all his friends about how totally awesome his dad is.

TD: Remember, dads, always play with fireworks.

AB: How in the world did he think that would ever work?

This brave young boy has plans to ... well, we're not sure exactly. Jump off the slide? Get high enough up to see over the neighbor's fence? Show off for a young lady? Either way, Dad does not succeed at reprimanding him for not listening. Although we're pretty sure the child still learned his lesson. Dads, thoughts?

TD: Note to fathers: if your son is on the shakiest slide ever approved by Her Majesty, you shouldn't get the shot, you should just get him off the thing.

: Saying no is important. Saying no to shoddy lawn toys is, um, essential.

Watching 30 seconds of this middle-aged man groaning while trying to operate a child's tractor is kind of a cautionary tale to dads: never let your adult children film you. Ever. Gentlemen?

TD: Kind of boring. Where's the football to the testicles?

AB: The worst part about this video is that he's wearing crocs. Well, maybe, too, is the fact that he's not doing this for the enjoyment of his children. Let's hope he has some.

Most people who watch this video probably giggle at the way this kid tries to say "blood." But it's a bit funnier listening to dad behind the camera, trying his hardest to hold himself together. (Although it seems our resident dad commentators aren't as tickled by this video.)

TD: Wow, this kid's going to make some 911 operator very happy someday.

AB: OK, I have to call hokum on this one. And I doubt many of the 23 million people who watched this have kids because, news flash, kids talk funny!

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