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Caveat Emptor, Daddy Einstein

October 24th, 2009  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  5 Comments

Strange report in the NY Times today. Apparently Disney has pledged to refund $15.99 for each Baby Einstein video (up to four) you return to them by March 2010. They did so because of  growing legal threats over false advertising.

Few people can out-hater me on Baby Einstein. I still get queasy thinking about the cover of Baby Einstein’s Baby van Gogh DVD: the one with a smiling blue goat wearing a beret and a bandage on his blue goat ear. There’s just an awful lot wrong there.

But I am man enough to say that whenever I’ve put the couple Baby Einstein DVDs we got as presents into the DVD player, I did it for selfish reasons: I wanted to read a magazine or make a phone call or have a slug of vine vodka in peace for five minutes, not because I thought the DVD would enlighten the kid. It’s hard to believe there was a class-action sized group of parents who actually felt deeply betrayed when they found out that watching Myles the stony purple raccoon or the rest of his Einstein Pals didn’t make their child skip a grade.

Besides, on the scale of the marketing lies we feed on every day, this is not only pretty easy to catch, but it’s also just not that harmful. We’re not talking about cigarettes or even corn syrup here. It’s not like a Baby Einstein DVD is going to drown the baby or “forcefully lodge” a toy nail in its throat.

Anyhow, I’d normally be inclined to gloat when the Baby Einstein juggernaut gets taken down a peg.  But dudes, seriously: trust your own judgment. Don’t expect that Disney is making good parenting decisions for you, even if they say they are.


  1. Chris Bonanos says:

    October 24th, 2009at 5:45 pm(#)

    Does anyone remember the weird moment when Baby Einstein’s founder turned up in the State of the Union address? She was in the gallery for that part where the president introduces ordinary Americans who’ve done something great, and George W. Bush held her up as a fabulous example of entrepreneurship. A lot of people remarked on the oddness of the choice, even back then.

  2. Matt Gross says:

    October 25th, 2009at 5:10 pm(#)

    So, what does a right-thinking parent pop in the DVD player when an electronic babysitter is needed? If we cut out Baby Einstein (and we’re probably not going to), that leaves only “Baby Signing Time,” the baby sign language instructional video, which the kid absolutely loves—but which she tires of after one viewing. Any recommendations for better material? “Eraserhead,” maybe?


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