July 17, 2013 at 1:57 PM ET
A video showing a group of kids watching a controversial Cheerios commercial from last month involving a mixed-race couple features priceless reactions that all seem to ask the same question.
What is all the fuss about?
“Some are them were like, ‘Why are you showing me a Cheerios commercial?’’’ Rafi Fine, co-director of the new video, told TODAY.com. “We want to let them give us their honest interpretation of it without letting them know there’s some big problem here. Do they, without me saying anything, already know why people would be angry?”
The video, posted on YouTube on Sunday, is part of the popular Kids React series and shows children 7 to 13 viewing the commercial and then being told why it became controversial.
None of the children in the nine-minute video, which has received more than 2.7 million views, knows why the Cheerios commercial made a certain segment of the population angry until being told by the directors.
“It’s just the color of their skin,’’ Samirah, 7, says in the video. “What matters is if they’re nice or mean.”
“How do they get angry over…but, what?” an incredulous Shannon, 9, says.
In the original Cheerios commercial, a mixed-race girl asks her white mother if the cereal can help people’s hearts. Told that it can, she then goes and dumps Cheerios on the chest of her sleeping father, who is African-American.
There were so many racist reactions when the commercial was posted to YouTube that its comments section was disabled.
Kids React is an award-winning YouTube series directed by Rafi Fine and his brother Benny. It has been in existence for three years. In previous installments of the series, kids are asked about topics like bullying and the death of Osama bin Laden.
“With the show, we like to address more of these hot-button issues to get a different perspective on them,’’ Benny told TODAY.com. “Once we saw this commercial and the ridiculousness that happened to it online and the reasons it went viral for all this negativity, it became the perfect point for our show to discuss racism and at the same time discuss it in the context of YouTube, where our show is based.”
The Fine brothers did not want to lead the children in any way, so they simply showed them the commercial, registered their reactions, then asked them why they thought it might have made people mad before revealing why it became controversial.
“We thought maybe some of the older kids would realize what was going on,’’ Benny said. “It was a bit of a surprise that all 12 of them had no idea what was wrong or why people would be angry at it.”
The reactions from the kids after being told of the controversy range from disbelief to disapproval.
“When was this (Cheerios) video made, the 1950s?’’ asks Elle, 11. “That’s so stupid.”
“Some people just fall in love like that,’’ Morgan, 8, says.
The children in the video, who are from various races, have either been with the Los Angeles-based Kids React series for all three years or were recently selected through referrals or from Facebook requests. The directors had no preconceived notions of what the kids might say, but a general theme emerged as they went along.
“I think that just generally we knew kids these days just don’t see color,’’ Rafi said. “We’ve been doing this long enough now and been with kids every week making this show and hearing their honest, raw opinions on things. It never ends up going into some comment about the color of the skin of the participants in the video.”
The Kids React videos are part of a larger series that also includes Teens React, Elders React and YouTubers React that come out twice a week, every week of the year.
“We want to have real, raw, genuine children,’’ Rafi said. “The idea is to always have real people discussing real things. Usually on television, you really only have media personalities talking, and our show is all about the normal person and what are their thoughts, what are their reactions on pop culture or presidential elections or whatever. You can watch it and feel like you’re watching yourself, and what is your opinion?”
The brothers also hope that one day they can expand their geographical scope outside of California to get kids’ reactions from across the nation about controversial issues.
“We wish that we could dive in and be doing this show all over the country in this area and see the variances, but for now, we have what we have,’’ Benny said.