Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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15 seconds of fame

Q: Is it delightful or depressing that David DeVore has been able to turn a YouTube video of his woozy 7-year-old son into a six-figure business? Is this just another version of stage parenting or something more troubling? How do you think the marketing will affect DeVore's son when he gets older?

As long as our society has had the stage, we've had "stage mothers"-- and "stage fathers." They are unapologetic and happy to do it.

Many parents make major fiscal investments in their kids, hoping for an eventual payoff. The most bizarre example, to me, is the child beauty pageants. Little girls in full makeup, intricate costumes and elaborately styled hairdos prance around, singing and dancing in front of judges. These pageants came under scrutiny in the late 1990s with the untimely death of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey. But even this tragedy did not slow the pageant culture.

There is a real market for children who can act or who can merely "look good" as models. More than one mom or dad in the U.S. is giving their all to get their child that one big break.

But that "one big break" nowadays is not always a bit part in a Disney movie or a role in a commercial -- some parents are turning to YouTube to get their kids noticed. David DeVore Sr. stumbled on this road to success by complete accident in 2008 when he filmed his cute kid, David Jr., stoned from painkillers after a dental visit, making statements that were funny and even profound.

People found the whole episode a lot more entertaining than I did. And some of them want to buy tee-shirts and stickers imprinted with the musings of a drugged 8-year-old.

As a result, the kid will have nice college fund. And some of the money is also going to Operation Smile. It's a nice payoff, but I think David Devore will soon find out that, unless he is a prodigy at marketing, the oil has been pumped from this gusher.

I do not see the child being damaged by this. Some day, he can say with pride, "I had my 15 minutes of fame at age 8 and got two years of college funded by it!"

By Jan Scruggs  |  April 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Parenting Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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