This week, a friend of mine sent me a link to the webpage of bulletproofbaby.net along with his commentary that "something is profoundly rotten in America." I can understand his exasperation, seeing as he is a researcher on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons whose main goal in life is to find ways of reducing armed violence in the world.
The company's homepage features the above video of a woman demonstrating the protective power of a bulletproof stroller by placing a baby (presumably her own) in it and then opening fire with an automatic weapon. The baby emerges unscathed and smiling from the episode.
A few things made me question whether all of this was for real. The way the company's founder and CEO described how she came up with the idea for her products struck me as surreal. She explains, "When stray bullets hit the pram but narrowly missed my son, I realised there was a gap in the market for a range of products to protect babies in today's increasingly violent society." Not the thought that would be going through most parents' minds in such a situation.
In the video, the stroller would have been overturned by live ammo, so blanks were obviously being used. I also found it strangely inconsiderate that the mother firing the assault rifle at her baby should be wearing glasses and ear mufflers while her baby wore no such protective gear (apart from the kevlar stroller that is).
Finally, some of the company's products were also a bit puzzling; not least the toddler taser. How could a toddler possibly use a taser!? I surmised that the taser was perhaps meant to be used on the toddler when tantrums showed signs of escalation.
After a bit of digging, I found out that the whole thing is a hoax designed to promote a particularly violent film entitled, imaginatively enough, "Shoot 'em Up," which features, it seems, babies crawling frequently into the line of fire. I won't be rushing out to see that one and I sincerely hope that this posting does not cause anyone else to do so.
All the same, this episode is startling; not least because it is believable, which is a dire reflection on the state of insecurity and fear in which many people in the world today live, especially in urban areas. I'm sure that people tried to buy these products - the "baby bomb blanket" maybe (effective against most pipe bombs and hand grenade fragments), or "my first gas mask" (to protect against chemical weapons, dirty bombs or nerve agents). In fact, it would not surprise me to learn that there were so many hits on the site that some enterprising individual is taking up the idea for real.
Watch this space.
Patrick Mc Carthy
Video from fakiris33 on youtube.