Video Strikes a Nerve Nationally With Parents in Support of, and Against, Laptop-Shooting Dad
(AP)It’s classic parent-teenager strife, revamped for the Internet age: A 15-year-old takes to Facebook to curse her parents and complain about chores and the pressures of youth. Her disgusted father videotapes and posts a lengthy rebuttal punctuated by nine gunshots as he empties his pistol into her laptop.
The bizarre tech-xecution has garnered more than 26 million views on YouTube and tens of thousands more on Facebook, touching a nerve with others tired of their kids’ attitudes but also drawing backlash from parents who have kept such desires in check, people who believe the father is the one being childish.
“It represents a fantasy scenario for parents,” said Anthony Rotolo, a Syracuse University professor who specializes in social media. “Most parents would not respond in this manner … but many parents have certainly felt unappreciated and imagined taking similar action.”
The furor began when Tommy Jordan of Albemarle, N.C., aired his feelings in the video he posted last week. Sitting in an Adirondack chair on an expansive stretch of grass, Jordan is wearing jeans, a plaid shirt and a wide-brimmed hat, a lit cigarette between his fingers.
Then he launches into his diatribe, quoting from his daughter’s Facebook post, in which she told her parents “I’m not your damn slave,” ”I’m tired of picking up after you,“ and ”You know how hard it is to keep up with the chores and schoolwork? It’s freaking crazy.”
Jordan is clearly infuriated by his daughter’s suggestion that she be paid for her chores and disturbed by her decision to go public with her criticism.
“You don’t have to worry about buying a new laptop battery. You don’t have to worry about buying a new power cord. You don’t have to worry about buying a new camera. Because you won’t be using any of them till probably college,” he says in the video. “I don’t know how to say how disappointed I am in you and how disrespectful you were to every single adult in your life. But, kid, you’ve got it easy, way easy. It’s about to get harder.”
Rising from his chair and picking up the video camera, he settles the image on the laptop, set on a patch of dirt among the grass. He shows his .45-caliber gun for the camera, then fires nine rounds into the computer.
“I hope it was all worth this,” he says to her.
Jordan has not given any interviews to reporters.
Other parents have been eager to weigh in on his outburst.
Sonia Carballo, 37, of Bethlehem, Pa., found herself laughing aloud when she saw the video last week. Her three children — ages 9, 13 and 16 — air similar complaints that their mother is too strict, that she doesn’t understand, or that they have too many chores.
“He’s a parent after my own heart,” said Carballo, an insurance claims processor. “I thought he handled it better than I would have. She was completely out of line and disrespectful.”
Michael Sands, 66, of Los Angeles, said he’s had similar arguments with his 16-year-old son, whom he says he can’t peel away from the computer to do simple things like eat dinner or take a shower. Sands has been so frustrated that once, he tipped over his son’s computer tower. Another time, he flicked a switch on the circuit breaker to cut power to the computer.
“They are hooked on the computer and it gets under any person’s skin,” said Sands, a media consultant. “It really gets to be a match against your child.”
Messages of support have poured in for Jordan from similarly frustrated parents who admired him following through on his threats. But others say he stooped to a child’s level and taught his daughter nothing with his show.
Carleton Kendrick, 65, a Mills, Mass., psychotherapist and father of two, said he found it troubling the video was resonating with so many people and called Jordan’s actions “frightening and humiliating.”
“What’s next from this guy, filming himself burning all his daughter’s clothes in a pile on his lawn because she dressed in a manner he considered too provocative?” Kendrick asked.
Gary Baker, a 51-year-old father of two teenagers in New York, said all parents find themselves pushed to the edge from time to time, but he thought Jordan overreacted.
“She was simply venting to her friends and showing the world what a spoiled, self-centered and unappreciative child she was. Nothing even slightly unusual there for a teenager,” he said. “For any parent to respond with wanton violence and destruction of property is unnecessary and clearly an overreaction.”
Dr. David Reiss, a psychiatrist who’s interim medical director at Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Mass., said the teen was expressing normal emotions of someone their age.
“A kid who isn’t complaining, a kid who isn‘t testing limits isn’t going to grow up,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is to show inappropriate behavior as a parent. What does that lead the kid to want to do? To one-up that.”
There are no signs of that in Jordan’s case, not yet at least. But he had a warning for his daughter in his video message: She needs to pay him back for the bullets, too.