Dad goes pop
Dads get viral
They've racked up 50 million views on YouTube, 250,000 likes, 85,000 shares, dozens of TV appearances, and an Academy Award. They are fathers gone viral. Relying on bravery, creativity, silliness, fearlessness, and a willingness to embarrass themselves and their kids (a time-honored dad tradition!), these are the men who brought the best aspects of fatherhood to our inboxes, Facebook walls, front pages, Twitter feeds, and TiVos, and inspired a gazillion emoticons and OMGs.
Claim to viral fame: 'Dragon Baby'
Dad: Patrick Boivin
Filmmaker Patrick Boivin admits he was surprised when “Dragon Baby” notched 26 million views on YouTube. “Never did I think the video would be this popular.” How could it not be? In the 90-second clip, Boivin's son, Romeo, does some wicked Kill Bill—style kung fu with a slight CGI assist. Normally, Boivin shies away from working with children, but he says his own kids have been a delight to work with. “Years from now, they will either think that I'm crazy,” he says, “or the best father in the world.”
Claim to viral fame: 'World's Best Father' photographer
Dad: Dave Engledow
General cluelessness about fatherhood prompted new dad Engledow to ironically crown himself the “World's Best Father,” a theme he mines in a hilarious, surreal photo series starring himself and his 2-year-old daughter, Alice Bee. “I wanted to create images that poked fun at how unprepared I was as a new dad,” he says. “Parenting is a humbling experience. We need to be able to laugh about it.” A self-proclaimed amateur, his Facebook page now has 60,000 likes.
Claim to viral fame: Terrified roller-coaster dad
Dad: Steve Fuehne
What do you do when your 10-year-old daughter asks you to go on a roller-coaster ride with her and you've got a deadly dose of coasterphobia? If you're Steve Fuehne, you suck it up—with hilarious results. Recorded at a small amusement park in Pigeon Forge, TN, the video captures Fuehne in abject terror as the ride picks up momentum, eventually doing a full loop. “Never again, Grace Elizabeth!” he shouts as his daughter giggles with delight. The clip picked up nearly 2 million views on YouTube. Says Fuehne: “My philosophy on fatherhood is simple: Never disappoint your kids. It's OK to face your fears and to laugh at yourself.” Fuehne has since sworn off roller coasters. “We went to Disney, and I didn't do one ride,” he boasts.
Claim to viral fame: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' carpool jam
Dad: Robert Parker
Every morning on the ride to school, Robert Parker and his three kids would queue up Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody” and sing along. Parker decided to film their routine for his wife, but it was the rest of us who benefited: The clip of the quartet rapidly netted more than 4.5 million views, landing the family a segment on Good Morning America. Parker works full-time and spends his evenings at law school, meaning he doesn't get much QT with Schuyler, 8, Zoe, 7, and Callum, 4. So he makes every minute count. “When you Google ‘greatest dad ever,’ I was number two for a week. I saved screenshots of that so I can show them when they're older and they hate me,” Parker jokes.
Claim to viral fame: 'Home With Dada'
Dad: Emio Tomeoni
To let his working wife see what they do on weekends, Emio Tomeoni filmed a time-lapse video of a wide-ranging play session (mess, cleanup, repeat) with son Xavier. “Home With Dada” has racked up 1 million views. “I get e-mails that say ‘Your video makes me miss my dad,’” he says. “That makes me put more effort into my relationship with my son.”
It began as a private moment: father and son stroll through a hardware store in matching superhero garb. “My wife sensed a good photo-op and took out her camera,” says Superdad, who—like most superheroes—declined to have his true identity revealed. “It's important to show our kids that they can be who they want to be.” The impromptu snapshot landed on reddit, the self-described “front page of the Internet,” then showed up everywhere from Canadian TV to Pinterest. “When I see a dad goofing around with his son, or playing princesses with his daughter, I think: That's the definition of being a man,” Superdad tells us. “It's a perspective that has changed over the last few generations, and it's an amazing evolution.”
Claim to viral fame: Single dad who built the fire truck bed
Dad: George Ward
George Ward's son, Jason, wants to be a fireman like his pop. So with the help of his own father, the single dad built an elaborate fire-truck bed complete with working lights and sounds. “When we turned on the lights, he flipped out,” says Ward. “He didn't get out of that bed for a whole day.” Ward posted pictures of the completed bed online and they spread like, well, wildfire. The photos have been viewed more than 200,000 times, inspired thousands of comments, and were featured on MSN and the Huffington Post. No amount of heroism in the field, he says, could ever “top seeing my son's face when he saw that bed. You still can't get him out of it.”
Claim to viral fame: Classical portraits of his modern daughter
Dad: Bill Gekas
Bill Gekas began taking classical-influenced portraits of his daughter, Athena, in 2010. They've garnered worldwide attention—from the U.S. to China—as much for their beauty as for Athena's poise. “She really looks forward to doing them,” he says. What little girl doesn't love to play dress-up?
Claim to viral fame: Sent his son's favorite toy into space
Dad: Ron Fugelseth
Santa Cruz, CA, video producer has a simple philosophy on life: “Find things you love, find people you love, and mix the two.” It is this alchemy that inspired one of the most charming and compelling viral videos in recent memory. Using a cell phone and a balloon, Fugelseth sent his son Jaden's favorite toy, Stanley the train, into the wild blue yonder. Stanley kissed the dark blue curvature at the edge of space before tumbling back to earth, traveling some 27 miles in total. (The phone's camera captured the whole trip.) More than 4.5 million viewers have watched the clip. A number of vendors have licensed the footage, and Disney has come calling.
Claim to viral fame: Walking from Philadelphia to Boston to raise awareness for BDD
Dad: Denis Asselin
Last summer, Denis Asselin walked 525 miles in memory of his son, Nathaniel, who suffered from a severe form of a mental illness called body dysmorphic disorder. The disease ultimately led Nathaniel to take his life, leaving his father grief-stricken. Asselin's epic walk and the ensuing media coverage (CNN, The Boston Globe, ABC News, Los Angeles Times) helped raise awareness for Nathaniel's brand of obsessive-compulsive disorder and $30,000 for the International OCD Foundation.