Friday, December 01, 2006
An open letter to Baby Einstein
Dear Baby Einstein,
My recent convalescence has forced me to rely on a selection of your DVDs to entertain my daughter while I lie on the couch, feverish and in almost constant pain. As such, I now consider myself to be a minor authority on your video products and I thought I could offer you some feedback, mostly the helpful kind, but also some of the ranting kind.
1. First, allow me to thank you for making your products available at the local library for free. The cost of each individual DVD at an actual store is around $15, a little over $10 if you buy the massive, 21-DVD set at Costco. Charging customers the same amount for a 30-minute DVD featuring mainly toys and the children of your founder (both of which, I assume, worked for free) as a major Hollywood, big-budget release seems a little pretentious. But I can only assume that you do so because people will still buy it, so good on you.
2. Is it really necessary to disallow the viewer to skip to the menu upon insertion of the disc? Must we sit through the stupid caterpillar intro and anti-piracy message every single time we watch the DVD? The anti-piracy message, maybe, I can understand. Maybe. But the caterpillar intro has got to go, especially since it repeats itself when you select Play Movie. Maybe I'm being petty and impatient, but when I've got my toddler and her minuscule attention span all situated and ready to go, the last thing I need is an additional 60 seconds of waiting time. Every single time I put the DVD in.
3. On a related note, the voice-over done by your founder, Julie Clark, that plays over the anti-piracy announcement AND over the second caterpillar intro comes across as being smarmy. Especially when she says, "Enjoy the show!" Just so you know.
4. Please, please move your constant promotions for the new "Little Einstein" program to the Special Features menu under a heading like "Shameless Little Einstein plug." It does not belong at both the beginning and end of the main feature. Or, if it does belong, it is only at the end.
5. You're lying to everyone, including yourselves, when you say that Baby Einstein DVDs offer "boundless opportunities for you and your little one to interact with each other!" Deep down, we all know that we put in these DVDs so that we can get a 30-minute BREAK from interacting with our little one so we can go to the bathroom or get a drink or brush our teeth or whatever else we've been unable to do all day long.
6. On the back of the DVD case, you point out that each video is "set to music specially reorchestrated for little ears." I admire your efforts, but I wish you would just leave the music in its original format. The synthesized versions grate on the ears and have an uncanny ability to get stuck in one's head. I think my toddler can handle the sound of real violins and pianos, thank you very much.
7. Finally, and this is totally irrational, but it bothers me that your founder uses her own kids in these videos. I know it's her right and everything, having started the company and all, but for some reason that I can't explain, this is upsetting to me.
Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest. They've been building up over the past few days as I've been forced to watch your DVDs from my sickbed on the couch. To end on a positive note, I will tell you that if I had to choose a favorite DVD, it would probably be Baby MacDonald: A Day on the Farm. I think that's Miriam's favorite, too. The other ones, she is only mildly interested in. But Baby MacDonald usually holds her attention for almost the entire DVD. For those 30 minutes of freedom, I thank you.