Charles Marvin Green Jr. – far better known to internet video fans by a different moniker – is being given a tour of his son Michael’s new home. Filmed the whole time by Michael’s girlfriend Bridgette, the older man has no idea what his son is about to say. Certainly he has no inkling that it will cause both men to weep uncontrollably, hugging one another tightly.
The undeniably sincere outpouring of emotion from the Greens in this moment is a far cry from the material they usually film. You see, Charles is better known as the YouTube celebrity Angry Grandpa. Michael is the mastermind behind their viral video phenomenon, which has a mammoth 4.2 million subscribers and over 1.1 billion views on the internet clips site.
The pensioner’s internet celebrity status had started quite by accident on Christmas Day back in 2007, when Charles unleashed a tirade of anger that was captured on film by Michael’s new camcorder (which his father had ironically given him as a Christmas present). The senior citizen’s fury was triggered when he found out his family had already opened their presents without him being there.
“I should have been here for this! What is your problem? I’m your dad!” he yells in the footage, before telling the family, “You can all kiss my fat ass!” and storming out of his daughter’s house, slamming the door behind him. His daughter cries while sitting on the kitchen floor, her baby wailing loudly. Meanwhile, another child appears buried under a pile of wrapping paper.
All in all, it doesn’t sound like a funny situation in the slightest, and Michael hadn’t intended to catch his father being humorously furious on film. Rather, he did it to show him evidence of his poor behavior. In the son’s own words, “He was such an asshole around the house all the time”.
Michael first posted the video on Break.com, a humor website, but nowadays he maintains that he only did that so he could share it with his sister in New York City, not so the world could see it. However, the video very quickly garnered tens of thousands of views, due to it having been featured prominently on the website’s homepage. It was obvious people were getting something from Charles’ outburst.
Michael seized his opportunity and began posting more videos of his father’s rants online on sites including The Break, eBaumsWorld and YouTube. Over the years the brand grew and grew, with Charles appearing on MTV, Comedy Central, truTV and the British clip show Rude Tube. Being unnaturally furious about everyday things had become a job for Charles and Michael Green.
Michael has always insisted that he had never intended to make his father a star. Rather, the fame, money and free merchandise were a by-product of him filming Charles simply being himself on camera. The son claims his dad’s anger was entirely genuine, even if he sometimes had to cajole Angry Grandpa – or AGP as he became known – into a customarily fiery reaction.
Even though there was some debate about how much of AGP’s anger was 100 percent genuine and how much was played up for the camera, there was never any doubt about the father and son duo’s love for one another. It’s true they regularly pranked one another, and Angry Grandpa hurled abuse and broke things in frustration. However, he also admitted, “I love my son. I worship the ground he walks on.”
Some of the most popular Angry Grandpa videos include Charles flying into a rage at a pizza parlor when he’s forced to wait two hours for his meal, and another in which AGP smashes his son’s PlayStation 4 console and his own coffee table to pieces because Michael hadn’t come to his house to make Christmas cookies.
Interestingly, Michael’s day job may give some insight into the inner workings of Angry Grandpa. When he first started uploading videos, Michael was a web designer and the developer behind the website HeymanHustle.com. This was the online home of infamous pro-wrestling promoter, commentator and personality Paul Heyman, who created Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and has a longstanding relationship with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
As a wrestling fan, Michael would have some knowledge of “kayfabe”, the industry term for a performer staying in character at all times. In 2013, the Charleston City Paper newspaper theorized that Angry Grandpa was, at least in part, a performance art piece that owed a lot to the concept of kayfabe.
The article argued that, if you watch enough videos, you’ll see certain cracks in AGP’s persona, such as slight grins forming on his lips when he’s supposed to be angry. The writer also wondered whether some props, such as the utility hammer used to destroy the PS4 and coffee table, were planted for use in the performance. This, too, would be in a similar vein to steel folding chairs left conveniently close at hand in wrestling.
Regardless of whether or not his anger was always genuine, there could be no doubting how genuinely people loved Angry Grandpa. Indeed, a late-life foray into internet fame appeared to give this old man a new lease of life. He referred to his fans as “young’uns” and always made sure to stay in contact with them through Facebook messaging and even phone calls.
When being interviewed by the Charleston City Paper, Charles gave the journalist Paul Bowers contact details for a few such “young’uns,” who told him just how important Angry Grandpa had been to their lives. An Australian 29-year-old named Heather spoke of getting her “medicine of laughter” from the videos, which helped her deal with anxiety disorder and acrophobia.
Meanwhile Nazir, a 15-year-old, spoke of a bullying campaign he suffered every day at the hands of a classmate. The teen told how he always looked forward to the next Angry Grandpa video to help him get through it. AGP’s brand of anger, which mostly comes across as something akin to an eccentric uncle throwing a tantrum, was surprisingly affecting to his fanbase.
Indeed, a 34-year-old fan named Drew Hayes, a medical student from Baylor University in Texas, drew a direct comparison between Angry Grandpa and his own Uncle Terry. “Everybody has a crazy uncle, and he comes across just like that,” said Hayes. His own relative had bipolar disorder and a habit of talking “out of his head”.
Hayes spoke of filming his own uncle in the past, believing that people would have gotten enjoyment out of it. “Fifteen years ago, I was always telling everybody, ‘If I could get this crap on tape, people would buy it.’ I made some videos, forgot about them, and once I saw [Angry Grandpa], it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s him.’”
Some may question the morality of filming someone with a mental illness for the purposes of entertainment and/or financial gain. However, Hayes believed the Angry Grandpa videos helped him in the grieving process when his beloved uncle passed away. He observed, “It brought a lot of joy in dealing with loss, I guess.”
Being Angry Grandpa also had a remarkable effect on Charles Green Jr.’s life. In 2003, he was (by his own admission) an alcoholic who weighed 800 pounds and an absent father. He received gastric bypass surgery and made some major lifestyle changes, but shooting the Angry Grandpa clips became another key aspect of his new life.
When journalist Bowers asked in 2013, “If you were born 50 years earlier and you didn’t have this outlet –”, Charles cut him off and said “I’d’ve done died.” He added, “I wouldn’t have cared about my health, and I wouldn’t have had an outlet to do anything, and I probably would have died.”
It’s obvious that Angry Grandpa meant an awful lot to both Charles and Michael Green, even if most of their output was simply created to make the audience laugh at their pranks. However, in a video uploaded on July 10, 2015, they gave the world something far more poignant. In the four years since it was posted, the video has been viewed nearly 16 million times.
The video opens with Michael talking straight to camera. “For the past few months, Bridgette and I have been planning a huge prank on Angry Grandpa and today’s the day we’re going to pull it off.” It’s immediately clear from his tone of voice and the soft background music that this isn’t going to be the usual silly fare.
Michael continues, “We’ve been taking my dad house-hunting with us under the pretenses [sic] that he’s looking for a house for me and Bridgette. The only problem is, he’s been looking for his own house.” The video then moves on to Bridgette filming father and son walking around the property, with Angry Grandpa expressing his admiration for it at every turn.
AGP first picks out the wainscoting, which he says he likes. This confuses Michael, who clearly has no idea what wainscoting is, but after a brief explanation from his father, they move on to admiring the fireplace. Michael talks about how he can position his play button, YouTube letter and pictures above the fireplace.
They walk through the other rooms of the house, with Angry Grandpa remarking excitedly on other features, such as a very spacious bathroom shower. After a few minutes of filming the tour, Michael decides to reveal everything to his father. “I’d like you to have something like this too, Pop,” he said, looking AGP square in the eye.
“One day I will. Right now, you make it ya’ll,” responds Charles, who doesn’t seem to realize what Michael is beginning to say. Michael then gives it to him straight. “We are searching for a house for you,” he says. He then pulls out a key, places it in his father’s hand and says three words: “This is yours.”
A confused Charles believes he is being given a key to his son’s new house, but Michael assures him that the property is, in fact, his. They have already purchased it for him. Angry Grandpa then breaks down in floods of tears, burying his head in his son’s chest while saying, “No, no, Michael, I don’t deserve this.”
The emotion overwhelms Charles, who continues to declare his love for his son while both men cry. “I love you son. I love you so much. My whole world revolves around you. If I didn’t have you in my life, I don’t know what I’d do,” he sobs. “I know we prank each other and do things but I swear to God, Michael, I love you more than life itself.”
Angry Grandpa would go on to live in this house for about two-and-a-half years, Sadly, he passed away from cirrhosis of the liver on December 10, 2017. In an emotional tribute posted on both Facebook and HeymanHustle.com, Michael mentioned the house, which held huge significance for both men.
It read, “A few years ago, I bought my father a house. For the first time in 65 years he was able to spend his money on whatever he wanted and not sink it into rent.” Michael went on to illuminate what life was like for the Green family before Angry Grandpa become an internet phenomenon.
Even though his father had just died, Michael still wanted their fans to know how grateful he was to them. He noted, “Before this we had nothing but a trailer we didn’t own and a bunch of debt that we’d never be able to pay off, but somehow all of that changed and it’s thanks to all of you that watched our videos and showed endless amounts of love and appreciation.”
Michael’s tribute to the purpose the Angry Grandpa persona had given his father was touching and highly emotional, but also open and fiercely honest. “The past ten years, I was able to spend nearly every day with my father thanks to my job with Paul Heyman and our YouTube channel,” he wrote.
Michael wrote, “I was able to work with him and watch him turn his life around, watch him suddenly have a purpose he never had before, a reason to live that nobody thought we could have.” He went on to say that “the most important thing you all gave my father was a reason to wake up in the morning and for that, I thank you.”
Michael would go on to make a YouTube video for all Angry Grandpa’s fans, explaining in more detail the circumstances of his father’s death. “So earlier in this year grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, and he beat it, and we were so happy.” However, this would turn out to be a brief reprieve from ill health.
Michael continued, “In July  he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, which we thought was early stage, but it turns out it was end stage.” Angry Grandpa’s health deteriorated from that point on but, in an encouraging turn of events, he was able to make it home for a family Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, it would be AGP’s’ last Thanksgiving. “Everything looked like it was going great, and he got to come home and that is where he died,” Michael said. He then posted a final statement on Twitter, which read, “Heaven just got a whole lost [sic] angrier. Dad, I’m going to miss you more than I even understand as I write this.”
Overall, Angry Grandpa was a very interesting case of modern celebrity. What was the appeal of an irate and often incoherent old man who would break things and yell obscenities at his own family? Why were his fans so dedicated to a man who was accused of being “trailer trash” and “racist” by certain YouTube commenters?
“I don’t like people to put down anybody,” AGP told the Charleston City Paper in 2013. “The color of your skin doesn’t matter to me. I have a lot of black young’uns, and they take up for me, too, because I get hollered at that I’m a racist a lot.” He also said that he simply laughed at anyone who considered him trailer trash.
Perhaps his appeal was rooted in his lack of pretension. In our modern internet-savvy world we seek out everyday people and elevate them to celebrity status because we relate to them on some level. As Angry Grandpa himself said, “I live in a world where everything’s real. Problems are real. And I react real.”