When it comes to content aimed towards kids, Ryan ToysReview is a behemoth in the social media landscape. Surely, something that’s so innocent couldn’t be harboring any dark secrets. 

Or could it?  

Aimed at an audience of Pre-K through 1st grade, Ryan ToysReview normally releases a new video every day. The YouTube channel has racked up over 21 million subscribers and over 31 billion total views. After spawning a line of toys carried by major retailers, Ryan ToysReview has become YouTube’s highest-paid creator, recording $22 million in revenue for 2018. 

And at the center of it all is Ryan, an innocent young boy who likes to play with toys. 

But some people ask, how could a multimedia empire be built around such a lynchpin? The whole business revolves around one key ingredient that fuels this money-making machine — youth.

A vital element to the success of the channel is Ryan’s age. As a kid, of course, he’s playing with toys, but how long can that go on? Will audiences want to see a 17-year-old playing with a choo-choo? Will the Powers-That-Be be content to walk away from the goose that laid the golden egg, or will they do what it takes to force the goose to keep laying? Are they going to let him age out? 

What kinds of schemes could these masterminds cook up to keep Ryan a kid forever? There are the old filmmaker’s tricks of makeup, latex prosthetics and CGI. And of course, deep fakes are all the rage. But with this kind of money coming in, how far would nefarious people go to keep their hands on the cash cow? 

Sophia the robot, China’s AI news anchors, and GAN projects like ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com have shown us a glimpse of where the future could be taking Ryan ToysReview. But consider this: it’s been 20+ years since scientists first began cloning animals with Dolly the sheep, and still only 1/4 of the world’s nations have banned human cloning.  

What kinds of schemes could these masterminds cook up to keep Ryan a kid forever?

Maybe you say this is far fetched. No one would clone a young boy just to keep a YouTube channel running. But have you done the math? How many videos has Ryan ToysReview put out? Hundreds? Into the thousands? It takes time to create this much content. It takes commitment. What if Ryan gets sick? Big Broadway shows have understudies, shouldn’t YouTube channels? Wouldn’t it be a smart move to have a few spare Ryan clones on hand for days when the real Ryan has school or wants to go to the park or something besides churning out yet another daily video? And, I don’t know, but it seems like they’ve been around forever — I mean, shouldn’t the real Ryan be like 23 by now??? 

Toy reviewing is a cut-throat industry. The people behind the scenes at Ryan ToysReview are at the top of the game, would they just walk away because the star of their show gets outshined by the next new celebrity? Chances are, they intend to stay on top at all costs. 

Let’s just hope the real Ryan is out there somewhere, safe, a mere pawn in the game of YouTube.  

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