Meet Scumbag Dad: The influencer parodying annoying internet trends
Brad Podray is mad at the internet.
Podray, better known by the nickname Scumbag Dad, is a comedian who has channeled his seemingly boundless creative energy into almost every form of media. He has done short form videos, long form videos, music, cooking shows and even dentistry.
The videos from which Podray gets his nickname, his Scumbag Dad series, give a first-person view of a child with the world’s worst father. Under the guise of family days out, the Scumbag Dad, played by Podray, has his child as an accomplice to drug deals, human trafficking and murder.
The videos are brilliant, darkly humorous pieces. But his hard-working approach to Scumbag Dad didn’t pay off. Apparently, social media sites like TikTokYouTube and Instagram do not help creative creators, who prefer lazy work.
To buck the trends
“I see people who have little or no creative skills, and they are willing to lie and get big platforms from their dishonest content,” says Podray.
Podray is angry at the lack of work other creators put into copycat content whose sole motivation is to boost views and potential profits. Aware that he shouldn’t look a nice horse in the mouth, he commits to the same kind of mindless content.
Podray started trying out his own reaction vids because they saw how little work people put into reaction vids — videos where people react themselves to someone else’s content.
“I’m a little too stupid to do that, though,” Podray says.
To clarify, Podray’s attempt at a response vid is to satirize the metaphysics of the premise. He will film himself responding to a video. But it’s not a video; it happens live next to him and is filmed by a second camera. Then the “original” video will attack and Podray and the other creator will fight. Everything filmed by a third camera.
Sound confusing? It makes more sense in motion and speaks to Podray’s tireless approach to creativity.
Even when criticizing someone else’s lazy content, anything less than three cameras, a metanarrative, and sudden inexplicable violence just won’t cut it.
But this is only the beginning of Podray’s world of satire.
Another video style he likes to parody is the ‘Rich Vs. Really Rich’ series. In these videos, a rich man is typically found being rude to someone in customer service, only for a very rich man to surprise him with his kindness.
“When someone creates a trend or series like this, what they do is they create their own world where, for example, every day the rich guy you know is insulted by the really rich guy because he doesn’t understand. kindness,” says Podray.
“I tried to explore what other elements of this trend are like this world,” he adds.
While the original producers of these series stick to their scripts, Podray distracts. In recent versions of his Rich Vs. Really Rich sketches, he begins to question his Rich character the very reality in which he exists.
“Have we done this before?” We are in a Rich Vs. Really Rich person simulation,” Podray asks himself in one video.
Going through Podray’s feeds, there are almost countless examples of how he takes different internet trends and finds ways to deconstruct them.
Did any original creators resent him for doing this?
“We have had contact at this point. I’ll leave it at that,” says Podray when I ask him about Nicholas Crown, the original creator of the Rich Vs. Really Rich series.
Fight Internet manipulation
What frustrates Podray most are the trends that turn acts of kindness into a commercial act, or lying to viewers to sell a product.
“A lot of the online population is pretty young and pretty impressionable,” he says. “I really, really dislike all the easy saccharine content that’s being pushed out on YouTube. I hate the idea that morality should be rewarded.”
Podray points to videos where creators ask strangers for money and then reward these strangers with large amounts of cash.
“On the surface it’s a nice story because they were charitable and rewarded. But they forget that this is the exception to that situation. In a way, it’s weak shaming.”
To satirize these kinds of videos, Podray made equivalents with his signature dark twists. In one, the charity person is not rewarded with money, but a used needle. In another, Podray poses as a homeless man who is available to be used in other people’s TikTok videos for influence.
Podray showed how easy it is to create manipulative content with an experiment he conducted at Drake University. By parodying charity videos of people going up to strangers and offering them money or the option to double the amount and offer it to the next person, he enlisted students to participate in a fake version of the video.
He claimed to the students that despite the fact that the video was almost clearly staged, it would garner views. He was right. The video has received more than 3 million views on TikTok.
The real father behind Scumbag Dad
Using his humor to deconstruct trends is not where Podray expected to be in life. By almost any measure, he is not a typical person internet influencer.
In his forties, Podray lives in Iowa with his wife Hannah and young child and works full-time as an orthodontist. His career in comedy began when he formed the pirate rap group Captain Dan & the Scurvy Crew with his best friend from dental school.
After several years of increasing success with the group, the group went on America’s Got Talent. It was seeing how staged and manipulative reality TV was that Podray initially began to question the industry. A failed attempt to appear on Masterchef followed and Podray was now committed to his career in comedy and music.
He has since released around 40 albums and his videos have achieved millions of hits. And while he’s gaining more and more followers through his parodies, that’s not where his heart really lies.
The real core of what Podray is about is his Candy daddy series. He spent years working on a long narrative for Scumbag Dad as his actions slowly wear down on his once innocent child.
But before he could complete the narrative arc he had vaguely planned for the Scumbag Dad character, his content was banned on platforms and his channels were demonetized.
“I was really building towards a message and I wasn’t able to achieve it,” complains Podray. “I started getting banned all the time. So I had to nerf the series.”
Any use of blood or violence will be videotaped. Drug references had to be fully italicized so as not to have its content removed. Podray realized that the platforms through which he had grown his fame were no longer willing to accommodate his dark creativity.
Utilizing multiple locations, complex storylines, and a large acting ensemble, the Scumbag Dad series was by far Podray’s most involved series. This is the one he also loved the most, enjoying the opportunity to film ridiculous plots with his friends.
He still creates Scumbag Dad videos, but they no longer appear in the same way as part of a longer story. This is Podray’s passion project, but for now, making his version of “easy” content is what gets the views. This is Podray’s own Scumbag Dad origin story.