Thursday, February 1, 2007

Timothy Noah Tears Baby Einstein a New One

Of the many good scribes at Slate, I really like Tim Noah. And this article shows why. He does his research, understands the issues and keeps an obscure topic lively.

Read it here.

Long story short, the Baby Einstein Company founder sat next to the First Lady during the President’s recent State of the Union address. Every year, a few lucky American Heroes get this honor. This year there were 3:

1) That guy who recently jumped under a NYC subway to save a stranger
2) A soldier in Iraq who fought off an enemy attack with shrapnel in his legs and bullets in his arms
3) The woman who started the Baby Einstein Company – they make videos for babies.

This is an example of a puzzle for babies called “which one doesn’t belong here

So anyway, she’s rich now and in 2004, she and her husband gave $5,000 to the Republican National Committee. Probably just a coincidence.

When the Baby Einstein founder writes into Slate to argue about being treated unfairly, Noah’s reply is even more researched and twice as damning:

Choice quote concerning Baby Einstein’s claims to making your baby smarter through the magic of TV:

By all accounts, what Baby Einstein videos are really good for is distracting the baby while Mom or Dad sneaks off to take a shower. I'm a parent myself, and I well remember those moments when a baby could feel like the commandant of a particularly inhumane prisoner-of-war camp. (No, you may not go to the toilet! I don't care how long you've been waiting!) But you didn't market these videos under the brand name Baby Hypnotize or Baby Chloroform. You marketed them under the name Baby Einstein. That's deceptive.

Ha, Baby Chloroform! Most parents actually call them Baby Crack (no really). And the parallels are uncanny:

1) Babies can’t get enough of them - much like crack
2) You can only buy it from unsavory characters (Baby Einstein is now part of Disney Corp)
3) Babies kind of act like crack-addicts to begin with: both are incomprehensible; concerned only about their own needs; often soiled

[Regarding the video cover image above: would you trust a giraffe who appears to only be wearing a partial tuxedo top without any pants to watch over your children? No matter how musically inclined he is, that doesn't seem like a prudent choice.]

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