Drunken Baby Photos? Not So Funny

Filed under: Weird But True, Opinions

Call me humorless, but I just don't see what's funny or cute about photos of babies meant to look like they're drunk. In fact, I'm offended.

I'll admit, when I first came upon this article from The Stir about chocolatiere Lunivers de Chocolat's drunken baby ad campaign for their whisky-filled chocolates, I wasn't immediately irritated. As an urban mom of two teenagers, who actually ask me to hang out with them and their friends sometimes, I like to think I'm cool and hip to modern culture. I wear Converse and rarely tuck my shirts.

So, when I read the bit about how there are three types of parents: "The ones who think it's hilarious to have baby pose with a beer bottle for a photo, the ones who have photos where baby looks drunk and they play that up, and the ones who think the other two types are borderline bad parents. (Read: Have no sense of humor.)" -- I naturally assumed I would never be the type who has no sense of humor.

So why am I feeling so uneasy about these photos?

Simple. I've seen those looks before on my own baby. Granted, she was 17 at the time, and not a toddler -- but, honestly, that makes no difference. Three weeks before my daughter headed off to college, I got a call that she was stinking drunk.

I jumped in my car, drove the mile or two to reach her, and was greeted by the sight of two girls and one random man carrying my daughter. They unloaded her onto the sidewalk, where she lay, half-conscious, perpetually throwing up.

I dialed 911 for an ambulance, then tried to make her talk to me. At the hospital, they put her on multiple bags of intravenous fluids and catheterized her. Five hours later, they gave her medication to help her stop throwing up so we could take her home.

This may sound new-agey, but my sense is that she was lucky this happened to her right before she went away to college, where she could have suffered a far worse fate had this happened amongst strangers or at a wild party.

Sure, this is my family's story, but before you sit back and say "it'll never happen to my child," think again.

Here are some pretty jarring statistics about adolescents, aged 12 to 17, from the National Center for Health Statistics:

  • 16 percent had their first alcoholic drink before age 13
  • 39 percent had at least one drink of alcohol in their lifetime
  • 21 percent had at least one drink of alcohol during the 30 days before the survey
  • 37 percent of those who drank in the past 30 days reported drinking on three or more days during that period
  • 10 percent had five or more drinks of alcohol within a couple of hours -- binge drinking -- on at least one day during the past month
  • 3 percent had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row on three or more days in the past month
The National Institutes of Health considers underage drinking "a leading public health problem in this country," according to the organization's website, and reports that each year, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking.

In fairness, I tried reaching Lunivers de Chocolat and their advertising agency, Dentsu Latin America Propaganda Ltda. to explain the joke, but neither one returned my emails.

So, Lunivers, sorry if I don't think your ads are funny. Maybe it's an American thing, considering that the ad campaign won a prestigious Gold Lion award at the 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Or, maybe it's because alcohol abuse in kids just isn't funny.

Jo Parente is the ParentDish nom de plume, a pen name, used by our editorial team when we want to spill our dirty little secrets but still keep our dignity, and families, intact.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.