By: Alyssa Murphree, April 26, 2017
Last week on his show, Youtuber Phillip DeFranco opened up a can of worms that would leave the Youtube community, the internet, and the media up in arms. In the initial segment that appeared on The Phillip DeFranco Show, he accuses the channel DaddyOFive, a family prank channel, of abusing their children.
The “pranks”, include parents Mike and Heather Martin of Baltimore, Maryland accusing and punishing their kids for things they didn’t do, staging a home intrusion, and breaking their kids belongings, among others. These things sound bad enough on their own, but there are many other red flags within the videos that are out of context with the pranks themselves and involve the welfare of the children. DeFranco includes clips from some of their videos for his segment, which include the kids being hit and yelled at by their parents, hit by each other, and gaslit by their parents.
The last prank video that DaddyOFive uploaded which caused this uproar consisted of the parents spilling ink on the floor and blaming their youngest son, Cody for it. However, their version of “blaming” him is them swearing and yelling at him at the top of their lungs. Cody is in very obvious distress during this, even after his father concludes by telling Cody “it’s just a prank bruh”. I can safely say that I am not the only person who was made uncomfortable watching this video and I am glad that these parents are receiving this negative attention for their “humorous” “prank” videos.
DeFranco’s video quickly circulated the internet and it didn’t take long for major media outlets to pick up this story and for investigations on the family to commence. In fact, it has been stated that Child Protective Services have been called to the family’s home previously, but were unaware of the videos. Now that they are under more intense public scrutiny, the family is undergoing a more thorough investigation for child abuse.
Not only is the blatant abuse of their children unsettling to watch, but the fact that these parents continue to upload videos because they actually have a fan base is equally disturbing. DeFranco has said that he has come across people defending the actions of the Martins. As for the family themselves, they have uploaded a series of defensive videos following the accusations. In the first one, they are gathered in the kitchen with all of their kids and the parents ask them if they are traumatized, to which the kids unanimously replied “no”. Those in defense of the family now believe they have fodder for their argument but anybody who is familiar with the dynamics of an abusive household know that disagreeing with an abuser usually doesn’t work out in your favor, which is why the kids are siding with their parents. The big theme here for this family is gaslighting, which is a form of psychological manipulation used to make the victim believe they are wrong and the abuser is right. But emotional abuse isn’t the only occurrence in these prank videos, there are multiple accounts of physical abuse as well, such as one incident where Mike pushes Cody headfirst into a bookshelf, giving him a bloody nose.
“Apparently, a lot of people don’t get it, don’t see the humor in it”, states Mike in the first follow up video, titled Blocking all the Haters! You are correct sir. Quite a lot of people don’t see the humor in watching your kids scream in distress while you exploit them for video views and sponsorships. Not to mention how twisted it is to refer to people as your “haters” for expressing concern over the wellbeing of your children.
But this story is far from over. Following the initial Phillip DeFranco video, Mike and Heather are interviewed by another YouTuber where they tell them that their pranks are staged and that the kids’ reactions are “slightly exaggerated”. After that video though, the backlash didn’t stop, as you could imagine, and they ended up deleting every video from their channel except for one new video. This video, titled Family Destroyed Over False Accusations consists of the parents explaining in a defensive tone that their videos are fake and that the kids are willing participants.
The last time we have heard from the Martin family was last Saturday. They deleted their previous video and uploaded a new one in its place called DaddyOFive Founders Issue Public Apology. This video displays a completely tone than what we’ve ever seen from Mike and Heather Martin. They are teary eyed and apologetic as they take responsibility for their actions and acknowledge the bad parenting decisions they have made. They also tell us that they’ve hired a crisis public relations agent and are in family counseling to deal with the situation.
I have been following this story since the beginning because I have always found the power of social media to be incredibly remarkable and powerful. It’s interesting to witness many people finding themselves and successful careers out of a single upload or channel. On the other end of the spectrum though, sometimes that power can be taken out of hand and used improperly, as we have seen here. I’ve always respected Phillip DeFranco as a content creator due to his level-headed demeanor and honest response to a wide range of subject matter. I think it was important for him to shed light on this channel. With this story still developing and the DaddyOFive channel’s videos deleted, I hope we can all see a happy ending with justice for these kids.
Phillip DeFranco’s video that started it all: