Cold words, warm hearts

It’s official. My sons are more successful than I am. Three weeks ago, they made a song parody, and it’s had more than 49,000 views on YouTube. Granted, most of those have been me, clicking on it to see the latest count, but still…

I’m even more proud of them because it’s a parody of a song from the movie Frozen; a project like that took a significant amount of effort from them because, well, it’s from the movie Frozen.

Their mother forced all of us to watch it – something she probably regrets to this day. We weren’t very receptive to doing so, and we made our feelings known the whole time she was trying to enjoy the movie.

Also, we still use the songs to torture each other. Whenever someone says a phrase that matches one of the song titles from that movie, the others immediately break into that song. You might think that wouldn’t happen very often, but you’d be surprised how common the phrase “Let it go” is. It’s especially common in a house filled with grudge-holders – like ours…

“Remember that time you ate the last bit of Lucky Charms and put the box back in the pantry, you jerk?”

“That was five years ago; let it go….”

“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore! Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door!”

I have to admit, with respect to that last quote, the singer rarely gets that far before having something thrown at him. Bonus points, though, if he can get all the way through, “The cold never bothered me, anyway!” before someone forcefully shuts his mouth.

So yeah, that one’s pretty common. Less common, however, is “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” – it’s just not a phrase you hear uttered around here, so we have to take liberties with that one, and sing it anytime anyone asks anything that sounds like it: “Do you want to _____?”

That’s what happened when Chris was working a storefront popcorn booth with his Boy Scout troop, and one of them half-heartedly asked a potential customer, “Do you wanna buy some popcorn?” Inspiration hit, and he brought it home with him. Matthew jumped onboard, being a Cub Scout who also needs to sell popcorn.

They work well together.

They work well together.

For one thing, the question was worthy of parody, because they’re not supposed to ask it to begin with. Selling popcorn is a fundraiser, and they’re supposed to express it as such. They know their popcorn is pricey, and can’t compete as popcorn alone. What they are selling, is the opportunity to help Scouts pay for the cool things they do. The popcorn should be considered incidental, a gift the donor gets in return for their support. It’s like selling someone a $20,000 key chain, then giving them a small car as a gift.

So the question is supposed to be, “Would you like to support Scouts by buying some popcorn?” Not that that isn’t a particularly loaded question, but it’s more accurate in its representation of the transaction.

For that reason, “Do you wanna buy some popcorn?” was a funny question to them. Plus, it fit the meter of the song. So they got to thinking about other lyrics, and it wasn’t long before they had pulled in a certain columnist who lives under the same roof, to act as a consultant on their parody. Soon, we had a full verse of lyrics, and I told them I’d like to record the song for uploading.

That’s when Chris remembered he doesn’t like to sing in public. He’s more of a comedian, so we gave him a punchline to deliver in his own inimitable style, after Matthew had sung the parody in his. And a 52-second fundraising parody video was born. I uploaded it to YouTube, included the URLs for people to support them by ordering popcorn, and shared the link on Facebook, generating a couple hundred hits and a couple of sales.

The next day, I sent the link to Bryan Wendell, a nationally known Scouting blogger, and he asked if he could share it on his blog, Bryan on Scouting. I told him that would be fine, then watched as the hit count grew. That evening, the boys were thrilled to watch the count increase every time we refreshed the page.

Bryan’s blog has about 5000 subscribers, so I expected the views to get to maybe 3000 or so. The next morning, it had surpassed 20,000 – and the boys were ecstatic. Of course, most of the people watching it were involved in Scouting, so they already had bought popcorn from their own sons.

By the time the video reached 48,000 views, the number of orders had increased by a whopping three, ensuring the boys would learn something I already knew from experience – someone can do something creative and/or funny, and people might like it, but it doesn’t mean people will buy whatever that someone is selling. Still they’ve managed to sell more popcorn than I have books. But the boys enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame, and I managed to shield them from the other downside of receiving a lot of attention online – haters.

Because the trolls came out in force. That second day, I was shocked to read the comments and see that some viewers had posted hateful comments about the boys. I tried to remember the Scout Law – a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent – but it’s hard to maintain that level of civility when someone has written vile things about your young sons. Fortunately, despite my lack of YouTube posting and moderating experience, I figured out how to delete readers’ comments.

One thing that can’t be deleted, is the “Dislike” counter. Why is it even there? Does it serve any practical purpose? Why should anyone care if some random troll out there claims to dislike a video? One commenter alluded to this – and to the mean voice behind the door in the video, telling the Cub Scout to go away – with this show of solidarity: “The people clicking Dislike are the same ones who would chase them away.”

"Take that, kid!"

“Take that, kid!”

An indignant troll saw that and said, “No, I clicked Dislke because I didn’t like it.” Fine, then. Don’t like it; nobody’s forbidding you from feeling that way. But don’t actively Dislike it! These are kids; if you really don’t like something they’ve done, the best way to provide feedback without causing undue hurt feelings, is to focus on something constructive. Don’t feel like going to that trouble? Then just. Move. On.

Look, I know the option is there to rate something, but that doesn’t mean we have to do so. Some opinions simply aren’t vital. If someone doesn’t like my kids’ video, that’s fine, but why tell them that? Why not just ignore it, move along, and forget it? If that person were facing my kids in person, you know they wouldn’t dare say to their faces, “Hey, I don’t like your video.”

Or would they? Surely they wouldn’t tell a kid in person that they dislike something the kid just worked hard to create, would they? If they would, I hope they stay off social media, and instead focus on the search for their lost heart.

Obviously, no Bain Waves reader would do such a thing. In fact, let’s be honest – after eight months of silence, any given Bain Waves reader is probably thinking, “Do I know this guy, let alone his kids?”

But if you remember me, and you’re up for it, then here’s your chance to further my shame. Make my sons even more successful than I’ve been, and order some popcorn! Please?

[Warning: Here’s where I get solicitous; there is no more fun to be had, but I’ll be grateful if you keep reading.]

Most of the money goes toward the boys’ activities, so their Pack and Troop can do fun things like taking them to Charleston, SC to spend a weekend onboard the USS Yorktown; providing them with Pinewood Derby kits, so they can carve and paint a car to race against their friends’ cars; paying for them to go to summer camp and work on merit badges that translate into lifelong skills; or even helping them earn scholarships (Matthew is about $200 shy of triggering one that will earn more money each year for the next nine years).

I’m not one to ignore the elephant in the blog; yes, I know there are some politics at play in any transaction with Scouts. I think everyone knows where I stand, but if not, I’m happy to answer any questions or discuss this in an entry that isn’t focused on my kids. Tomorrow, maybe?

If you’ve read this far, thanks. If you want to help out, you can buy from Chris, the co-creator with a pop-up cameo at the end, by going to his page, or you can buy from Matthew, the singer, by going to his page, or heck, you can buy one item from each!

If you buy something, please let me know, and I’ll add your name to a drawing for one of my books.

And if you don’t buy something, that’s fine, too. Thanks for reading, and for watching their video. But if you don’t like it please just don’t tell them….

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About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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5 Responses to Cold words, warm hearts

  1. Well, I think that was very clever, and I applaud the boys for being creative and brave. Some people are just assholes who have nothing better to do than to express their irrelevant opinions on something a couple of boys endeavor to make. They are to be ignored. I’m sorry this was how your boys had to learn that (and I would not have blamed you if you had gone off on those commenters). Well done, Chris and Matthew. Don’t let jackwagons kill your creativity or entrepreneurship.

    • Dan Bain says:

      Thanks for reading, watching, and commenting! Sorry it’s been a while; I’m hoping to avoid such lapses in the future.

      Also, “jackwagon” is one of my favorite words.

      • Don’t apologize. Life happens. Good writing is good no matter how long it’s been since its author has provided it. (This is how Donna Tartt manages to make a living with one novel every, what, decade?) I think of you fairly often, frequently in the context of our offline friend. I hope you have been well.

  2. Hi, Stranger! (I hit a blogging brick wall over the summer…I would just rather be outside, so I know where you’re coming from…) At any rate, that was really cute, and quite clever, and I know you are so proud of them…And am about to follow all the links.

    I hate a troll as much as anyone, but to troll kids, and of the Scout variety? That’s just…well, you know…

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