We at The Loop would like to first make clear that, generally speaking, we are in favor of both 6-year-olds and people who get independently wealthy. We love them both! Six-year-olds are old enough to enjoy object permanence, appreciate puns and watch Tom and Jerry, yet young enough that they haven’t yet formed opinions or established that your screen time rules and behavioral punishments are 100% arbitrary. And getting rich is awesome! Good for people who get rich! Unless you’re born into it because your real-estate carnival-barker father invented a bunch of stories about himself to the New York media in the ‘80s, you know what, this is for another story time.
Yet it is with a certain degree of horror and a certain quantity of sideways glances at our student loan bills that we report a tale of a 6-year-old child—an adorable, inventive 6-year-old child—who made $11 million reviewing toys on YouTube this year, according to Forbes’ godawful annual list of YouTube celebrities, which comes out every year and is responsible for whatever increase in suicide rates you see this week. Planet Earth’s 10 highest-paid YouTubers last year earned $127 million, a figure that was up 80 percent from the previous year, so when you’re spending the holiday worried about your manufacturing, education or journalism job, comfort yourself with the notion that adults filming themselves video games on YouTube will do just fine in the New Global Economy.
The child in question is the host of Ryan ToysReview, a questionably grammatical channel that has attracted 10 million followers by posting videos of this kid — who is, again, adorable — opening boxes of toys and playing with them. Here are the words this site uses to distinguish itself: “Toys Review for kids by a kid! Join Ryan to see him play with toys and review toys for kids! He loves Cars, Trains, Thomas and friends, Lego, Superheroes, Disney toys, open surprise eggs, play doh, Pixar Disney cars , Disney Planes, monster trucks, minions, playtime at the fun, family fun adventure and so much more!” Normally we’d make a throwaway gag about the spelling and punctuation here, but this text represents a pretty solid morning in the world of the president.
All these forehead-slapping figures exist because today’s youth stars come not from the usual outlets — cable TV, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Guns N’ Roses, primarily — but rather YouTube, where they thrill viewers with such escapades as “playing Minecraft” and “opening boxes” and “talking about the objects in the boxes they just opened.” Forbes’s list of your new least favorite people includes — all of these are real — several twentysomethings who play Minecraft, several other twentysomethings who play other video games, some other people who play video games, additional people who engaged in regular video-game play, Jake Paul (who is described as a “villain” for reasons that are not remotely villainous) and a “boisterous Swedish video game commenter” who reportedly included anti-Semitic messages in his video game commenting. If I sound like a dying nonagenarian flipping through daytime-talk in his motorchair, get bent, put your commenting fingers down and this isn’t vanilla pudding, I said vanilla pudding, pay f**king attention.
Unlike most of those actual adults, Ryan is certainly adorable and endearing, and you can see why other children would be into his enthusiasm (and capitalization). Ryan ToysReview’s biggest video features Ryan reviewing a “GIANT EGG SURPRISE” box that contained hundreds of toys from “Cars.” Currently, 800 million people have watched this. Generally speaking, his most popular videos included SURPRISES, such as “HUGE EGGS SURPRISE TOYS CHALLENGE,” “BALLOON POP SURPRISE,” “SURPRISE TOYS Giant Ball Pit Challenge,” and well you get the idea, they’re not messing with the formula much here.
Look, again, AGAIN, we like 6-year-olds, We’re generally in favor of enthusiasm. We love surprises of all kinds, balloon pop and otherwise! But stories like this make us wonder if we’d ever let that many people have access to our children doing anything, wait, no they don’t, f**k no absolutely not what is happening here? Ryan’s family has said they’ll close the channel when the boy gets bored of making videos, thus closing down a revenue stream that creates $11 million in a single year, so look for this trend to slow down never.