“The kids are kings”: Forever with a pink tutu online

Kimmy and Sammy are kids and internet stars. The whole world can watch them grow up on Instagram and YouTube. It sounds like a perfect world, but it’s a hell in itself that one can not escape in Delphine de Vigan’s novel “The Children Are Kings”.

The Frenchman Delphine de Vigan is not exactly known as a thriller writer. Your new book “Children Are Kings”, translated by Doris Heinemann, still appears as one at first glance. Six-year-old Kimmy has disappeared while shopping for shoes and playing hide-and-seek with her big brother Sammy and children from the neighborhood.

Mélanie Claux, Kimmy’s mother, herself witnessed the beginnings of TV waste formats. In her case, it was a TV show for falling in love at first sight. The dream career never becomes a reality, at least in the first place. Years later, she is an Instagram mom who regularly lets her kids appear on the internet. Shoes are bought, crepes are baked, the camera always rolls to share everyday life as children with the growing number of followers.

Childless detective Clara Roussel looks through countless of these posts in an attempt to track down Kimmy’s disappearance, which turns out to be a kidnapping. The children, and especially Kimmy, appear to her increasingly as slaves of the successful family blog “Happy Récré”. “The need for recognition that spoke of these images could not be overlooked. Mélanie Claux wanted to be looked at, followed, loved. Her family was a work, an achievement, and her children an extension of herself. The deluge of emoticons spilled over her with every picture that was posted, the compliments to her clothes, hairstyle, makeup definitely compensated for a weakness or concern. “

Likes as a return on an emotional investment

The novel quickly leaves the logic of a thriller and returns to where de Vigan has always been at home, to social critique. Homelessness (“No & I”), suicide (“My Mother’s Smile”), child alcohol abuse (“Loyalty”) were already topics in previous books. This time it’s about marketing kids in a digital world. “Likes, the little hearts, the virtual applause” has become Mélanie’s engine, her life’s work, Vigan writes and it is impossible not to mention Mélanie with the countless social mediaConnects personalities who do just that every day. The author describes the likes, enthusiasm and approval of countless strangers as “the return on an emotional and effective investment”.

In the family business, the children have to go to work every day to unpack “gifts”, to show the partners in the best light, to present clothes that can then be ordered one mouse click later, or to participate in the next one. shopping challenge, which involves other completely useless things in the house, but also brings “so much fun”.

Mélanie is completely convinced that it’s all fun. Even though she has to admit that Kimmy is getting more and more angry. Or when Kimmy’s teacher tells her that the girl increasingly understands that the videos are being watched by countless strangers. And of course the children go to private school, the family can of course afford that, but bullying is becoming a growing problem.

traces in the soul

All this occupies Mélanie while her daughter is still away and also when she is back. But in the perfect internet world, there is not much room for doubt. For the possible consequences, they choose Vigan another time level where Sammy and Kimmy have grown up. The former child stars and siblings have become strangers, to an even greater degree. They have lost all confidence in their surroundings, feel constantly monitored, fear for their private sphere, which in any case is only perceived as rudimentary.

The contact with Mélanie, who still works as an influencer, is now quite loose. “Kim and Sam have not been in touch with her quite often for a while. They have not broken the ties, of course they have not, but she often has trouble reaching them. Of course, she can not share it with her subscribers.” The image of the devoted mother, of the successful family business, must not be damaged. But the daughter and son, of course, live in their condominiums on the income they earned as children.

A text about the sweet social media world of family influences could have been banal, even for Delphine de Vigan. Instead, it has become eerie and disturbing, where the adult Kim’s descriptions of his child’s everyday life are at once frightening and filled with horror. According to the slide of “Happy Récré”, there are comparably successful models in all countries. If you follow it closely, the growing children will eventually disappear from them as well, while their video sequences in the pink tutu will remain available on the internet forever. It is hoped that they will increasingly feel empowered to make decisions about their image online. Or maybe it’s completely different, like Sammy and Kimmy.

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