David Rock has become YouTube royalty with videos of epic, hoontastic stunts on his Canadian farm. He's also a convicted sex offender and now at the center of a flame war that's escalated to death threats.
From the "redneck rollercoaster," to the half car and blowing up appliances with air bags, David Rock's combination of mechanical skill and adolescent regard for physics and safety has drawn 95 million viewings. Rock says YouTube pays him up to $15,000 a month as part of a business partnership, and his channel has 93,000 subscribers.
Click to viewLike most YouTube stars, the genial Rock, 48, reveals much of his private life online, inviting fans up to his farm near Lucan, Ontario, to drink beer and play with his rustbuckets and barn cats. He's also revealed some of the custody battles with the two ex-girlfriends with whom he's had children. And he's occasionally posted nude videos, although none still exist on his own channel.
But after a September 2009 accident where one of Rock's friends broke his spine while trying to catch air in a Winnebago, Canadian newspapers revealed that Rock pled guilty in 1992 to seven charges of sexually exploiting two children and spent time in prison.
Rock admitted to videotaping two teen-age boys while encouraging them to masturbate. He said at the time he suffered from undiagnosed manic depression, which has since been treated, and that minors aren't allowed on his farm without adult guardians.
Those revelations set off an online war between Rock's supporters and critics, including one ex-girlfriend, Anna Thoms, conducted mostly via YouTube comments and a video supposedly showing Rock decapitating a pig with a chainsaw. Thoms eventually won a restraining order barring Rock from disparaging her online; Rock himself has had videotaped death threats made against him.
Rock's backers contend he paid his debt and hasn't been arrested since:
Im 22 and love his vids. Its targeted for men in general....what guy wouldn't want to trash cars. The guy did his fucking time, leave him alone. Jesus Christ. Why does society make these people out to be worse then murders and rapists? Everyone fucks up at least once in one way or another. This type of thing should be public knowledge and people should approach it how they see fit.
Others say Rock has never come clean and acts suspiciously around minors:
Dave is a threat to children and shouldn't be allowed to surround himself with them. To me the most disturbing part is that YouTube is actually paying him to do this. I have to question YouTubes ethics.
Despite the online furor, Rock's popularity keeps rolling, and he's still posting four or five new videos a week to his channel. Many of them show groups of teenagers hanging out, training for hoonage. A new documentary, "David Rock, The Man Behind The Farm," attempts to sort out some of the details.
Rock's "haters" did successfully prank him into believing earlier this year that Mötley Crüe wanted to throw a concert on his farm. After admitting he'd been had, Rock recorded a new message for his opponents.
"Haters are haters, you know," Rock says in the clip. "They like to get attention and pretend they're somebody they're not. That's what makes them tick. Glad we're not all that way."
[Davidsfarm via YouTube]