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Here at Cracked, we love badasses. Either because we recognize a kindred spirit when we see one, or possibly because we adore the things that we can never be. Judging by all the crying and non-karate in here, it's almost certainly the latter. But as we quietly sob witty retorts we didn't have the balls to say at the time into our moist, shameful pillows, it gives us hope to see evidence that anybody can be a badass. Even children.

Holy shit, especially children:

6
Tibetan Steampunk Kid

This looks like a screencap from the Bollywood version of The Road. It looks like somebody got their Lone Wolf and Cub mixed up with their Mad Max. This photo looks like the immediate aftermath of something the steam-powered men still whisper about at night, in hushed voices around the campfire. This is what would happen if Joss Whedon invaded Tibet. This image is such a perfect amalgamation of the ad-hoc tech of steampunk, the thousand-yard stare of hardened war veterans, and the quasi-mysticism of the Far East, that it simply has to be staged. It's some snotty sophomore's art project or a promotion still from an indie apocalypse movie, right?

Nope.

This is a photo of a real Tibetan father and son, on a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash, before ultimately attempting to illegally cross the border. And sure, the father is probably the bigger badass here -- with his Road Warrior eyewear, vintage sniper rifle and pith helmet -- but then he's the adult.

He's had decades to grow that immense pair of balls. But the little kid - with his mad scientist goggles, yak fur sash and presumably wise-cracking horse - is still holding his own, even in the company of a man who looks like he's going on robot safari. As children, we complained when our GI Joe didn't come with all of the packaged accessories, and here's this little kid, jury-rigging mountain-gear so he and his post-apocalyptic sniper/father can cross the Tibetan mountains in fucking Chuck Taylors to escape a brutal occupying regime.

If I were China, I would be intensely worried by this picture, because it is quite obviously prophetic. One glance, and we all know how this is going to play out: At some point the father will sacrifice himself, likely while shoving a clockwork handgrenade down the throat of a screaming Chinese steam-yeti, and the son will be forced to grow up half-feral in the merciless mountains, periodically emerging to fire-bomb guard outposts while delivering sermons comprised of equal parts howls and headshots.

5
Youngest Female Black Belt in the World

Update: The old entry in this spot, "angry sports kid," has been replaced, due to...ah...is there a fancy editorial term for "just plain got my shit all wrong on this one?" No? Okay, let's go with "conflicting sources" then.

This is Varsha Vinod from Purakkad, India, and that is not a picture of a child in pajamas being violently hucked into the face of a passing Caucasian. That picture is exactly what it looks like: A 5 year-old girl (now seven,) the youngest female black belt in the world, delivering a gravity-mocking jumpkick to the mouth of a full grown man, presumably after he commented on her adorable little pigtails. Varsha started her martial arts practice at two years old, and showed such talent for it that she blew through eight belts in the next three years. She's a master of several deadly weapons as well, including the yawara stick, nunchaku, and temper tantrum.

But all this still leaves one question unanswered: If the guy in the back isn't, in fact, hurling that little girl across the room like a precocious ninja star, what is he doing? Well, he could be doing anything - practicing his own forms, or advising the unlucky opponent in proper defense strategies, or just sneezing at a hilariously inopportune time - but we all know that's not the case. He's just doing exactly what we'd be doing in his place: Flawlessly executing the Chris Tucker "aw! You got knocked the fuck out!" maneuver.

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4
Sharkboy

This is Enal. He swims with sharks.

If you need more information than that, perhaps you should take a step back from the computer and contemplate how fucking spoiled modern-day media has made you - that a boy gleefully riding a shark like a little Thai Aquaman is somehow not "enough" for you.

But okay, fine, details: This image was not taken out of context, and it was not a once in a lifetime thing. Enal begins every single day by slapping on a pair of goggles, slipping into the penned area beneath the Indonesian fishing community he's a part of, grabbing the nearest shark by the tail, and then steering it around like a murderous jet-ski. There is no further purpose for this action - it's not training for anything, it's not a show for tourists - the only benefits that daily shark-wrangling provides Enal are a quick and energizing way to wake up, and presumably an unflappable sense of invulnerability that borders on madness.

3
The Zipline Kids

This is Daisy Mora, an 11 year-old girl, pulling some commando crap so crazy that you'd call bullshit on it in a video game. There's a YouTube video of her taking this zipline, and despite what one would reasonably assume, it does not show the girl desperately screaming for her mommy while her callous and irresponsible uncle laughs from the launch platform. She not only ziplines by choice, but has done so on this ramshackle, ancient setup - situated over 1200 feet in the air - twice a day, every day, for her entire life.

In fact, her whole village has to take this dilapidated, rusting cable, precariously strung roughly the height of the empire state building above the valley floor, because it's simply the only way to get around. There are no roads or bridges to their village, and not enough people live there to warrant further construction. So to get to school, Daisy straps on her self-built hook and harness, grabs the bit of stick that is her only brake in one hand and her travel sack in the other, then hurtles down a rattling steel cable at highway speeds across certain death.

Oh, and that travel sack? It's not school supplies or lunch or any such nonsense; it's her 7 year old sister, who's too small to take the zip line herself, so just rides over the abyss in a god damn bag.

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2
The 'Lil Arsonists

This image is referred to as 'Disaster Girl' in the dark, musty corners of the internet where people communicate entirely in retarded strains of hieroglyphics that consist solely of recirculated pictures and hasty, tangential photoshops. The Disaster Girl meme, in the few short years it's been around, has already been driven into the ground like the fucking Technodrome. But despite what some articles say, the original image itself was not photoshopped. It's completely real: Her name is Zoe Roth, and the picture was taken by her father Dave back in 2008, when the Mebane Fire Department burned down a home on their block for training purposes.

Some of the kids laughed and played at fireman, some were even allowed to hold hoses, while some simply listened to lectures. But some children were not content with games. Some children did not respond to logic, or reason. Some children did not want to play, learn, or listen.

Some children? Some children just wanted to watch the world burn.

Zoe was one of them, but she was far from alone...

1
Riot Kid

The Riot Kid photo has become an icon for resistance despite overwhelming odds. It's easy to see why: This is a pure visual representation of the most powerful thing in the world - that unique slurry of bravery, fury and complete lack of self-preservation that can topple governments and tear down entire societies. The riot kid is simultaneously inspiring, funny, and awesome, and if you don't want to whip a bottle into a corrupt wall of faceless facist automatons after seeing this, then congratulations on finding this website through the ReThink filter, worker #264XJ6, but authorities have been alerted and are on their way. Please remain calm and fill out form 27b stroke 6 while you await their arrival, to best facilitate your transition to the Purification Factories.

For the rest of us, Riot Kid is emblematic of every wandering fuck not given. He's scrawny, alone, half the size of his enemies, and he just does not seem to care. Those cops are going to get their god damn heads bashed open, and that is just a fact; the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and some motherfuckers are going to get their mullet-helmets caved in today.

Once again, this kind of photo doesn't seem to need context, but context still changes everything. The picture originally comes from photographer Evandro Monteiro, and was taken during a police action in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And while we look at an image like this and recognize what it inspires in us all, we still kind of assume the kid was just joking around. The boy probably didn't know what he was doing at the time; he was just making funny faces at the cops until his panicked mother could sprint in and sweep him away. But then here's another image of the riot kid from Monteiro's portfolio that implies otherwise:

So not only was he actually standing out in that street, alone, hurling rocks at the police (which is way more impetus than they need in Sao Paulo to beat some ghetto kid to death,) but he was so overcome with rage afterward that he stripped to the waist, slammed his jacket to the dirt, puffed out his chest and dared them to make a move. This was not a joke, or a childish prank. This was life or death.

Literally.

The photographer has this child tagged as a 'street boy.' That's not a generic descriptor. In Sao Paulo 'street child' refers to a specific type of young homeless in the city. There are thousands, if not millions of them in Brazil, and they're largely considered pests. Roughly 20% of police homicides in Sao Paulo are minors. In fact, the street children are so reviled that in some places, local shopkeepers and low-level politicians actually put out bounties on their heads to the tune of about $50 per kid. As a result, masked death squads rove the streets of Brazil at night, eliminating children.

And while that knowledge is incredibly awful, and gut-churning, and heart-dropping, and just makes you want to burn this whole miserable species to the ground and hope that nature knows enough to start from scratch this time, it also drastically magnifies the importance of this image.

This is not the same as a white, English-speaking child playing at revolutionary because he's got the implied protection of society. This boy is not joking, and he is not safe. If he's really a 'street child,' then those cops he's challenging are the men that might make half a week's pay for murdering him, and would face little to no reprisal for it. And if he really is a 'street child,' then he is utterly alone up there: It's unlikely any of the other people in those photos have a vested interest in whether he lives or dies.

And he simply does.

Not.

Care.

Because there is nothing on this earth - not overwhelming odds, nor brutal police states, nor fear, nor violence, nor the kind of horrible, devouring apathy that makes things like death squads for children possible - that will ever, from now until the heat death of this whole screwed universe, force this kid to sit down and put his fucking shirt back on.

If you were going to spend any time looking for places to follow Robert or buying his stupid book, please instead spend that time visiting and possibly donating to a fund for street children, like Action for Brazil's Children.

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