Nine-year-old Franklin Ziegler became a YouTube sensation this week after his father surreptitiously recorded him busting a move while obediently loading the dishwasher. The Lancaster, Penn., youngster showcases impressive dance skills during an impromptu performance of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. Franklin gets through nearly the whole song before catching his father filming him from the doorway of the kitchen.
The video now has almost 800,000 views -- thanks in large part to a boost from reddit after dad Steve Zeigler posted it on a thread. By Monday, the working-class Ziegler family had caught the attention of numerous major media outlets eager to get in on the action.
Steve Ziegler told IBTimes that while the family had never intended to profit from the young Ziegler's talent, he doesn't believe that major media outlets should profit, either. They want to use the video for advertising content, Steve said when we reached him by phone on his lunch break.
I don't care if we make a cent from this, but I do resent multibillion dollar companies asking to use my content for free, he told IBTimes, having previously explained in a YouTube post that numerous outlets had approached him to license the video, without offering any compensation. They'll go as far as creating new laws protect their own content and they just expect that I'm some publicity whore that just wants to be on some TV show. It would only have to be a token to say 'hey what your son did is worth something.'
Franklin was born into a musical family. Ziegler dance parties were a frequent occurrence before he was even born, Steve Ziegler told IBTimes. Franklin's 14-year-old sister Alice is a singer-songwriter with numerous videos on the family's YouTube channel. In one of them, ten-year-old Ava is on bass. [Alice] has been getting a lot more hits on her videos, because of Franklin's Smooth Criminal routine, Steve pointed out. Which is awesome!
Though Michael Jackson is Franklin's favorite pop star, his absolute favorite band is the Ramones, Mr. Ziegler said. The kid's always had rhythm, and he was never shy -- Franklin was only momentarily flustered upon discovering he was being filmed, as he regularly performs for the camera: Videos of Franklin dancing on the Ziegler's YouTube channel date back to 2007.
He's perfectly happy to put himself out there, Steve said. He's the opposite of what I was when I was a kid.
I was such an introvert, and it took me to my late teens to realize how much that hurt me. In part because of this, Steve and his wife Jennifer have encouraged all of their children to freely express themselves and never worry about what other people think.
Though Franklin is currently best known for his dance moves, he really wants to play the drums, Steve said, adding that Franklin wasn't able to take drum lessons this year because of budget cuts at school.
Here's hoping there is a kindhearted music teacher in Lancaster, Penn., looking for a protégé. (Double-click on the video title to go to the Ziegler family YouTube channel).