Forget whiny Caillou. Forget hyperactive SpongeBob. If you want a divisive character in the world of children’s entertainment, check out DisneyCollector and her YouTube channel.
Actually, better yet, don’t check out DisneyCollector because you or your child might just get addicted, and I really don’t want that on my conscience.
The mysterious star of the insanely popular video series is faceless to the world. All you see of her are her colorfully manicured hands, which are always busy opening an array of toys, some of the Disney variety, some not. Her sing-songy voice painstakingly describes each toy and what accessories they come with. Sometimes she’ll even play with the toys herself, staging a pool party with Polly Pocket and Frozen’s Queen Elsa, for instance. (Polly really should have brought along an ice pick in case the Ice Queen accidentally sneezed or something. Yikes.)
DisneyCollector’s videos are part of the trend known as “unboxing” — videos featuring consumer goods being removed from their packaging — but I think for DisneyCollector, a more apt term is “unravelling” … as in watching this stuff will unravel your sanity. After all, who could possibly watch 15 tedious minutes of someone’s hands unwrapping toys, particularly if that someone sounds like a kindergarten teacher on quaaludes?
The answer: Kids! To my chagrin, my own toddler sat transfixed when I experimented and showed him one of the videos in which DisneyCollector opens “surprise” plastic eggs to reveal toys and treats inside. By minute 4 or so, I was ready to bang my head against the desk TO MAKE THE PAIN END, but my son was perfectly content.
By minute 8, I was feeling all the guilt that comes from reading many, many pediatricians’ warnings about screen time and kids. So I turned it off … but by then, I have to admit that — shudder! — I was kind of getting into it, too. My brain had grown accustomed to the voice and I found myself eager to see what was in the various eggs. Did the Super Friend eggs include Batman or Superman? Would the Peppa Pig notebook be square or heart-shaped? Did the Angry Birds stickers look angry enough? I had to know!
I had crossed to the dark side.
Fortunately, other moms jolted me back to my senses as they shared their opinions of the videos, decrying their kids’ infatuation with them while tossing around adjectives like “freaky,” “ridiculous” and “super annoying.”
“My husband, a child neurologist, heard about how intoxicating they are and immediately came home and put one on for our kids to see what they’d do,” Ohio mom Sarah Stankorb recalled. “They didn’t blink. It was mad creepy. I shut the computer and made them go get books.”
But not all moms are ready to take up pitchforks and storm whatever overstocked toy store DisneyCollector calls home. YouTube star Elle Walker, of the channel What’s Up Moms, was so impressed by DisneyCollector’s success that she made a video gently parodying her YouTube compatriot.
“DisneyCollector is an absolute genius,” Walker told me. “She’s managed to hypnotize toddlers worldwide with a formula that probably has YouTube questioning their search algorithm.”
And why, exactly, are toddlers hypnotized? Dane Golden, the marketing vice president at the online video branding startup Octoly, shared one theory with Buzzfeed this past summer, and it largely revolves around DisneyCollector’s anonymity.
“What I believe to be true is that kids are loving this because the woman never shows her face,” he told Buzzfeed. “You never see anything but her well-manicured hands. She has a very comforting voice. It’s just like playing with other kids playing toys. I think she disappears in the mind of the children.”
Clearly, many parents wish that the videos would disappear all together. I think I feel the same way, but I’d better watch one more video … or two … or sixteen, you know, just to be sure.
Don’t judge me. I’m doing this for the children.
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