Lil Terrio: Cute and Genuine Fun or Child Exploitation?
It’s the middle of 2013. I’m sitting in front of my laptop checking out trailers for upcoming films. I hop on Facebook just to see what’s popping on my feed. A friend posts a video with the caption “LOL check this out, HILARIOUS!” I click to see an obese little kid doing what looks like one of those swagged out two steps that usually come out of Atlanta. The person filming in the background eggs him on yelling, “Oooh kill ’em oooh kill ’em ooooh!”.
I admit I laughed my ass off. Honestly I felt like Mr. Chow from The Hangover laughing at Allen being punched in the stomach. “Hahaha it’s funny because he’s fat.“ Harmless right? However, as the months passed, the videos kept coming and the Internet phenomenon known as Lil Cousin Terrio began to take on a life of its own. This begs the question, what are we doing here?
Let’s start with the basics on Terrio. He’s a fat little kid from Riverdale, GA, nothing wrong with that. His “Oooh Kill’em documentarian” so to speak is his cousin Maleek. He’s not a cousin in the traditional sense, but more of the next door neighbor, play-cousin type of deal.
He’s six years old. Wait, GTFOH, six? SIX? Terrio has the build of a grown ass man with his own booth at the Golden Corral. He wears adult shorts that hang to his ankles simply because child clothiers don’t make anything with a waistline for the little guy. I did some further digging and found a picture of his seldom seen mother. Let’s just say he got it honestly. He’s not mainlining maple syrup or any wild shit like that. Either way, he doesn’t seem like the healthiest of young people. (There is a recent video of Lil Terrio playing ding dong ditch in a hotel hallway. I clocked him at 12 seconds to get from one end to the other.) Anyway, besides the possible health implications, the fact that he’s only six became kind of troublesome for me.
He’s A Child
One can easily glean from any number of Lil Terrio’s videos or interviews that he’s a kid’s kid, innocent and not precocious in the slightest. It seems like he’s being coaxed through the videos until dance time, not at all cognizant of whether or not he’s being laughed with or at. The seemingly positive reaction is enough for him to keep the party going.
Complex (yes the magazine) recently conducted an interview with Terrio in which he was asked if he always dances around the house or just when he’s being filmed. His reply was only on camera. Actually, in his earliest videos there is a kid in the background who looks like he could be Terrio’s twin, who simply isn’t having it. He merely watches the spectacle with a blank stare.
I get it. Some may think it’s cute; but is this kid just being paraded around for our amusement, naïve of the fact that the joke is on him?
Terrio The Star
Since his eruption on the internet (some writers credited Lil Terrio with saving the social media site Vine). He has gone on a publicity tour around the country making appearances, hosting parties at nightclubs, posing with celebs and models you may find in the back of tire & rim magazines or other niche publications. I’ve never been one to hate on having fun, but he may be too young to fully appreciate the kind of fun he’s exposed to. Sheeeeit, I hit up my first adult club when I was 13 or so. Is Terrio in school during this tour? His handlers have said that he is being homeschooled. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt but who knows? In essence, the Terrio machine has been monetized to the fullest. He even has a website hocking Lil Terrio merchandise like hoodies, t-shirts, hats, and socks. My question is where do the profits go?
We’re all familiar with the phrase “Hollywood eats its young”. Well does the internet and reality TV devour its little stars? Is cousin Maleek Honey Boo Booing the shit out his unsuspecting next door neighbor? The last straw for me was a video of Terrio standing in a wash tub singing “Oooh I’m taking a bath”. This is some strictly for home video, maybe pulled out for a birthday party tribute with close friend and family type video. Cousin Maleek, don’t be surprised if in a few years big Terrio puts hands on you for that one.
Let’s keep it funky. America loves little fat kids, so cute and adorable. However, as they grow into adulthood the novelty wears off; the cuteness goes away, substituted with other not so flattering adjectives. These things don’t typically last forever. Who knows where the lil homie Terrio will be in a few years? I just hope he’s paid wherever he is. The only way I’m cool with this is if there is a trust fund in his name somewhere gaining interest. I would even buy a hat if this were the case, so when the haters yell from across the street, “hey fat ass,’Oooooh Kill ’em’”, Lil Terrio can reply, “Ooooh kiss my ass, I’m paid.”
Although we all play some sort of role in popularizing Terrio, if the little dude is just being used to line other peoples pockets and has nothing to show for it in few years; I have three words for his handlers and all the celebs and models piggy backing Lil Terrio. “Oooooh kill yourself”.