Ever seen a 1-year-old onstage screaming about Jesus into a microphone?
Turns out a few million people have indeed done so on the Internet, where Kanon Tipton of Grenada, Miss., became a viral-video sensation.
By the time the producers of “Pint-Sized Preachers” arrived, Kanon was 4 and thumping the Bible with fiery fervor, as his Pentecostal dad and bishop grandpa looked on with pride. (The rest of us are left reading subtitles to learn what the tot is saying.)
Cameras also take us to see 12-year-old Terry Durham, of Margate, Fla., the “world’s youngest ordained minister,” and (lest this be perceived as a U.S. phenomenon), 12-yearold Matheus Moraes of Rio de Janeiro. Both tweens also lay hands on believers who say they’ve been healed by their touch.
So is this a faith-proving gift from God or an exploitative horror story? Let’s just say that “Pint-Sized Preachers” is underscored by a pervasive rumble of soundtrack music and occasional slo-mo effects that seem to portend Freddie or Jason slashing into view any second.
It’s a moody, almost expressionistic portrait, where only the studiously impassive narration pretends it’s anything other than eerie efforts by the kids’ guardians to shape Stars for Jesus. Kanon’s dad admits to “training” his son, who practices in his room at a pint-size pulpit.
Terry says he wouldn’t be preaching if his grandmother “didn’t groom me and guide me in the way that I should go.” (The narrator tells us, by the way, that Grandma has been convicted of fraud.) None of which settles the question either way, though the program means to leave us unsettled about these mini-ministers — despite the impression that their flocks remain minuscule.
This muckraking hour promises revelation, delivers only Revelation.
“Pint-Sized Preachers” debuts on NatGeo tonight at 10.