Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Baby Einstein blog hub:
- Buzzfeed - lots of links
- Opensecrets.org - The founder of Baby Einstein's husband William E. Clark is a Republican Party contributor of up to $7,100 in the last few election cycles
- Reason.org blog
I swore when my daughter was born that we wouldn't buy anything labeled "Baby Einstein," "Junior Genius," "Newborn Vulcan," etc., and I've kept to that promise; my only exposure to Baby Einstein's series of Warholian videos for toddlers has come at other parents' homes. But we did receive one or two Baby Einstein books as presents. Here's a quote from Who Lives in the Pond, written by the presidentially approved Julie Aigner-Clark herself:
Tadpole scoots through the water. He spies a spotted salamander slide along the mossy green bank."Slide"..."sliding"...what's the diff? It's all the same to us Einsteins, right?
- Word of the people blog
What does the Surge and Baby Einstein have in common?
They don't work.
- Mother Jones blog
Baby Einstein in SOTU--WTF?
Ok, so what was up with Bush pimping the woman who founded Baby Einstein? What was her great moment or heroism or contribution to the country? Maybe Baby Einstein is an OK product or maybe, like some charge, it is a harmful scam, but I just don't see how it rates the SOTU gallery of heroes treatment.
- Silicon Valley Mom's blog
Baby Einstein! Give me a break. This is the woman that convinced parents that it's perfectly OK to prop up babies in front of the television because it's educational (they don't even have to be old enough to sit)! The woman that found the perfect combination of music and colors to hypnotize a baby into complete docility, to ensure that the next generation really will be passive observers, not interacting or caring much about the people around them or their environment.
Or, perhaps, this is the woman that has found the way to raise the perfect Republican...
- Adfreak blog (part of adweek.com)
Apropos of nothing, the Baby Einstein Co. got a valuable plug in last night’s State of the Union address. President Bush praised gallery guest Julie Aigner-Clark (r.) of Centennial, Colo., for launching the kids video company and cashing out by selling to Disney Corp. Aside from its entrepreneurial roots, some bloggers and pundits wondered why this product earned placement in an address normally reserved for mysterious aluminum tubes and yellowcake. “Huh?” says Time’s James Poniewozik. “Clearly she’s a canny businesswoman and believes in her product. But what did Baby Einstein do, other than convince nervous yuppie parents that it was educational to buy mesmerizing video crack for babies—replete with product placements—by vaguely linking them to art, literature and questionable research on the brain-building benefits of classical music for infants?” Maybe Bush wishes he had been a Baby Einstein.
- courant.com blog
... the presence of the Baby Einstein woman in the First Lady's box was, I think, symbolic of the president's vision of the great entrepeneurial spirit of America. Educational smoke and mirrors for self-congratulatory well-to-do people. Like so many Bush ideas, there is not necessarily any compelling reason to suppose that this one works.
- Nell Minow's blog
It is appalling that President Bush used the founder of Baby Einstein as an example of American entrepreneurial zeal in his State of the Union address. It's like some intrusive product placement. Worst of all, he has turned the annual address to the nation into an infomercial promoting DVDs for infants and toddlers, a product that is contrary to the recommendations of the American Pediatric Association that children under age 2 have no "screen time" at all in front of a television or computer. Not one study has shown any benefit to children from these materials (which is why they say they make no "educational" claims and admitted to me that their materials are not "research-based"). Several studies have documented deficits in what children learn from them compared to what they learn from direct observation and interaction.
A President who is married to a former teacher and host of the National Book Festival should know better. No child left behind? Then maybe he could recommend that parents read to their children instead of sitting them down in front of the television.
- Time blog (referenced in the Adfreak post above)
... what did Baby Einstein do, other than convince nervous yuppie parents that it was educational to buy mesmerizing video-crack-for-babies--replete with product placements ...Baby Einstein actually has a webpage that promotes product placement in their videos. Here's what they say:
Toys Seen in Baby Einstein Videos and ProductsJust to pick one video link at random, here is the list of toys featured in the Baby Bethoven video:
Baby Einstein is proud to feature toys from many manufacturers in our award-winning line of developmental DVDs and videos.
Although Baby Einstein does not sell these products, we do provide as much information as possible for those interested in obtaining these items. Click on any of the Baby Einstein videos below to view a list of toys featured in each.
Crystalites by West Coast Design Studios
Stacking Links & Rings by Tiny Love
Sandie Sea Crab by International Playthings
Floppie Fellow by International Playthings
Boppin' Bench by International Playthings
Hamster Wheel by Carlisle Company
Fiber Optic Flower Bouquest by Carlisle Co.
Motion Lamps by Carlisle Company
Triple Ooze Tuby by Carlisle Company
Run, Giraffe, Run by Carlisle Company
Space Shuttle by Carlisle Company
Spiral Timer by Carlisle Company
Motion Wave by Carlisle Company
Solar Motion Lamp Ferris Wheel by Carlisle
Space Wave by Carlisle Company
Plush Dog w/raingear by Cool Things
Green Dragon Marionette by Daniel Oates
Walking Owls by Toysmith
Pull-Along Bull Frog by Hearthsong
Caterpillar by Heros
Wooden Wagon by Heros
Pull-Along Pony by Tolo Toys
Jack-in-the-Dogg by Jack Rabbit Creations
ZooCubes Nesting by Jack Rabbit Creations
Jungle Gears by International Playthings
Musical Fantasy by International Playthings
Silkworm by International Playthings
Playful Penguin Race by DYToy
Peter Puppy by Somersault
Little Knotties by Learning Curver
Magnetic Door Puzzle by Lights, Camer & Interac
Worm Cone Puppet by Manhattan Toy
Spinwheel Trio Rainbow by New Tech Kites
Sunny by New Tech Kites
Wooden Green Turtle
Solar Swing Set & Tumbling People
Donkey Cone Puppet by Petra Toys
Two Boys on Seesaw by Petra Toys
Double Run by Petra Toys
Rabbit Walker by Petra Toys
Harlequin Cone Puppet by Petra Toys
Saxophone by Bontempi
Kids Floor Tom Tom by Remo
Music In Motion Mobile by Sassy
Fun Wheel Ferris Wheel by TAG Toys
Tetra Tops by Duncan Toys
Tetra Tops by Duncan Toys
Soft Sorter by Learning Curve
Mr. Piano by Mega Blocks
Thingamabotz by Uncle Milton
Thingamabotz: Spinfidget by Uncle Milton
RC Webster by Ready, Set, Grow
S Kenetic Art
Just to be clear, this blog harbors no ill will towards the Baby Einstein business (and let's not forget that it's a Disney subsidiary now). They are free to sell their videos and books, and if that means product placement, that's fine. Toys can often be a good learing tool. But it was the mention in the State of the Union address
that was off. Bush presented it as an example of the "enterprising spirit of America". Well, maybe. But Baby Einstein is a big player in the home schooling movement
. And that's something that conservatives love to promote.
Wow. Y'know, when I watched the SOTU I had a moment of curiosity about what the whole "Baby Einstein" thing was -- I honestly cannot remember having heard of it before -- but when saw what's-her-faces pretty blonde mug and heard The Decider oozing about what an "entrepreneur" she was, I figured she was probably behind something hacky and disreputable. "Mesmerizing video crack for babies," and full of product placements: sounds exactly like ChimpCo's idea of an "educational innovation." Thanks for the enlightenment, Q.
I posted this over at Yglesias' joint:
"After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children's videos in her basement."
This was not product placement. It was a reverie about the stay at home mom combined with the Reagan-era philosophy of pull yourself up by your bootstraps. All you need is a basement and a video camera - actually, that probably describes some other entrepreneurial opportunities.