Cordero James Brady is a popular YouTuber with 5.6 million subscribers. His bubbly, YT-brand of enthusiasm is a shared trait of many vloggers.
Many of his video entries include his children and their reactions to him doing amazing things for his family. Like surprising them with a mega mansion, and dropping his kids off on the first day of school in a ridiculously tricked-out Camaro.
But a quick scroll through his feed reveals a trove of pranks that he pulls on his kids. Whether it's scaring them, convincing them he's cut their hair, destroying their toys, or tricking them into thinking they lost their house, CJ has racked up millions and millions of views on pranking his kids alone.
While there are tons of thinkpieces and psychological reports on the negative effects of parents excessively pranking their children, it's a bit of a touchy area to go and say that good-humored fun with one's kids, which could include scare pranks, are categorically bad.
From personal experience with my toddler, he loves it when we run through the house and I go and hide and pop out and scare him. He laughs with glee and says, "Again, again!" and will run out of the room and then, holding in his laughter, will tip-toe back in, giggling, anticipating just where I'm going to pop out and spook him from next.
But one of CJ's pranks on his children, involving laxatives, sparked outrage online. The YouTube personality filmed himself dumping Pedia-Lax into ice cream.
He then fed his kids what they thought was a delicious treat. It wasn't until 90 minutes later that they began to feel the effects of the laxatives. The result? Footage that was difficult to watch.
The since-deleted video shows CJ's children holding their stomachs in pain, crying, and running to the toilet repeatedly.
CJ didn't stop by just capturing his children's horrified reactions and cries for help on camera, he follows them into the bathroom. They attempt to close the door so they can relieve themselves alone, but he holds the door open and keeps recording.
Throughout the video, CJ responded to his children's cries with jokes. The footage was ultimately used in a case against the 29-year-old man, and the popular YouTuber now has a record with Child Protective Services as a result.
A police spokesman, in an interview with MailOnline, gave details to the investigation that was conducted.
"There was a case that was investigated in 2016 involving laxatives and this individual. It was a joint investigation with Clark County Child Protective Services. It was submitted to the DA's office and it was recommended as a criminal case."
Brady's YouTube channel was temporarily disabled as a result of the investigation. The platform issued a statement regarding CJ's pranks on his children, along with their stance on any posts that are deemed to fall under the classification of "child endangerment."
"Content that endangers minors is unacceptable to us and we have strict policies prohibiting child endangerment and harmful and dangerous content. We remove content that violates our policies as soon as we’re made aware of it."
Consuming laxatives when one's bowel movements are otherwise normal, especially in excess, could result in painful, and sometimes long-term harmful, side effects. Kidney failure, dehydration, fainting, and overall weakness are all symptoms of laxative abuse. Administering an adult dosage of laxatives to a child could amplify those effects.
CJ's pranks on his children still make up a huge chunk of his views, and they run the gamut of questionable behavior. He once made a video where he pranked his wife, Royalty, into thinking their infant had drowned in their pool. He also uploaded a video of his wife, sitting in a hospital bed after she suffered a miscarriage.
His now infamous laxative video was taken down after Babe.net wrote a damning article listing all of the gags CJ subjected his family to. In their article, they spoke with Dr. Kortney Peagram, the founder of Bulldog Solution, an organization dedicated to ending child abuse.
Peagram says that CJ's behavior sets a dangerous precedent for his children and that his behavior encourages child mistreatment — not only as a means for monetary profit, but also as a high form of fun.
"Harming your child on purpose with laxatives is child abuse. That’s child endangerment. [He is] ‘harming his children and bullying them to pull pranks on each other, it is really disturbing. He’s modeling inappropriate behavior and encouraging it by laughter… He’s teaching his children that it’s okay to harm each other for a good laugh."
Some of CJ's other prank videos, like when he woke his children up by lighting fireworks in their room as he laughed and said, "It's a prank because they think somebody is shooting!" has been taken offline.
There have been a number of pieces written about CJ and his family, and what his children endure as a result of his pranks. As a parent, it's easy for me to get on my high horse and decry CJ's actions as child endangerment, and there are plenty of his uploads that would support my claim.
But there's another factor that not enough people are mentioning, and that is the "cesspool" that has become YouTube entertainment. Mean-spirited pranks that parents pull on their kids isn't peculiar to CJ. DaddyOfFive was charged with neglect over YouTube videos that depicted some pretty awful cases of child mistreatment for views. Lots of views. Enough views that these families' only and primary source of income are filming the distress of children to the "delight" of people all over the web.
That means that there are enough individuals out there who repeatedly enjoy watching children being terrorized so much that they get a kick out of it. Enough to earn mean-spirited humans out there hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
Remember when Logan Paul walked into a Japanese suicide forest, found a dead body, filmed it, edited it, and then uploaded the video to YouTube? Tasteless stunts and footage like this result in initial blowback for many YouTubers, but after their accounts are reinstated, they oftentimes just get more subscribers and in turn, end up earning more money.
What does it say about us as human beings that we can't get enough of objectively tasteless footage? The CJs, DaddyOfFives and Logan Pauls of the internet wouldn't be making money if there wasn't an audience for these videos.
The case of CJ and his family is a sad one, because the man is clearly a hard worker. He clearly also understands audiences and knows how to make a living and make money off a platform that any vlogger will tell you is tough to dominate.
One can only hope that he discovers a way to earn a living that doesn't involve tormenting his family members and psychologically scarring them for years to come. You have to give him some level of respect for his accomplishments, but that doesn't make what he's doing any less dangerous.
Here's hoping he can transition out of being an uncaring father and into being a role model that will positively impact his children and the millions of fans who tune in to watch his programming.