Hallmark Under Fire Again

Hallmark Under Fire Again

When Hallmark announced their new movie line-up for 2020 they once again were chastised by LGBTQ advocates for not having any LGBTQ stories, characters or plotlines in their productions. Hallmark had previously aired a same-sex wedding in a commercial in December 2019 which resulted in a protest of the channel by a conservative group called One Million Moms.

Hallmark yanked the commercial, then reinstated it after a few days of getting scorched on social media.

After dismissing and replacing their CEO, Hallmark has just announced they will develop LGBTQ movies to include in their Christmas content.

One Million Moms is on offense again. One Million Moms posted a petition stating that “so many people feel betrayed by Hallmark over these past seven months,” claiming that families can’t watch “without being bombarded by politically correct commercials and the LGBTQ agenda.” The post goes to cite a verse from the Bible and list what One Million Moms will be boycotting in reaction to Hallmark exploring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors: Hallmark Channel, Hallmark wrapping paper, greeting cards, and Christmas ornaments.

For now, Hallmark appears to be holding their ground. One executive released a statement say, “Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors. We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”

Obviously, One Million Moms (or less or more, depending on who you ask) do not feel included. According to the One Million Moms website, the organization began to “give moms an impact with the decision-makers and let them know we are upset with the messages they are sending our children and the values (or lack of them) they are pushing.”

It will be interesting to see how Hallmark intended to deal with this situation. They are bound to be bullied by either side.

Hallmark as a lock on Christmas television, with their endless productions of schmaltzy Christmas movies earning them hundreds of millions of dollars a year. So a lot is at stake with this situation.

Twitter Bans the Star of David

Twitter Bans the Star of David

Twitter is locking the accounts of users who display the Star of David in their profile image or header, deeming it “hateful imagery.”

The London-based nonprofit Campaign Against Antisemitism said several Twitter users have contacted them recently to report that their accounts had been locked because various images of the Star of David violated the social media platform’s “rules against posting hateful imagery,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Twitter has been aggressively banning accounts of many types over the past four months. Twitter also banned thousands of accounts tied to QAnon, a group Twitter says falsely promotes that President Trump is fighting human trafficking.

In defending itself Twitter claims to be stopping hate speech.

“You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. As a result, we have locked your account,” Twitter wrote to the users.

The Post reported the offending images “ranged from a white Star of David in a graffiti style, to a superimposition of the modern blue star on the flag of Israel spliced with the yellow star Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, to a montage of yellow stars.”

The jump from mass banning pro-Trump individuals and groups to banning Jews is a big one, however. The very hate speech Twitter says they are trying to avoid is actually what they are guilty of.

Note that what Twitter is doing is perfectly legal. As a private entity the can set whatever rules they want on their platform. There are no first amendment rights on social media.

But it is a bad sign and a dangerous move. After all, Twitter is a platform that has consistently lost money. Dramatic and far reaching actions such as this will no doubt have consequences determined by the free market and investors.

Twitter users, naturally, are outraged:


Why is this applicable to Christmas?

You honestly don’t think this can’t happen to you?

Dickens Labeled as Racist

Dickens Labeled as Racist

Few men carry the weight of Christmas fame like Charles Dickens. From the publication of his wildly popular story A Christmas Carol the name of Dickens has been sacred in the world of Christmas. But like many popular figures of the past Charles Dickens is now being called out as racist.

In late June the Dickens House Museum was tagged with graffiti declaring “Dickens racist” by a former politician named Ian Driver.

Campaigning against what he says is “institutionalised racism” amid the Black Lives Matter protests, Driver says he sprayed “Dickens racist” on the wall outside The Dickens House Museum.

“Charles Dickens is celebrated in Broadstairs like a local hero and money maker just because he wrote a few books here. In reality, he was a notorious genocidal racist and should be depicted as such. That’s the real Dickens.” Driver said.

The Dickens Museum is located in the building that inspired the author’s portrayal of Betsey Trotwood’s home in the David Copperfield novel. Dickens also visited the town frequently.

Some of Dickens’s work has attracted controversy over claims that it is racist. These facts have long been known and some biographers in the past have tried to highlight it.

“In modern terminology, Dickens was a ‘racist’ of the most egregious kind, a fact that ought to give pause to those who persist in believing that he was necessarily the epitome of all that was decent and benign in the previous century,” wrote Peter Ackroyd in his 1990 biography of the Victorian author.

Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist has also been accused of using anti-semitic tropes for its portrayal of Fagin who is repeatedly referred to as “the Jew” while there is no mention of other characters’ race or religion.

For Christmas fans, there are no charges of racism yet levied against Dickens in his creation, A Christmas Carol.

In fact, the social justice themes of A Christmas Carol would seemingly defend Dickens in the extremist environment of today’s debates.

Dickens felt strongly that Victorian society ignored the poverty of its underclass. On the one hand were the rich who enjoyed comfort and feasting at Christmas, and on the other were children forced to live in dreadful conditions in workhouses.

The children that hide under the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present are ‘pinched’ and ‘twisted’ rather than being happy and joyous as we would like children to be. The Ghost tells Scrooge that the children are the responsibility of all mankind.

These themes would suggest that Dickens was promoting social change.

But Dickens was a complicated political thinker and looking back more than a century and a half later it is impossible to fully understand the nuances of both the time and the person.

Politically and socially, Dickens could be considered a mixture of a liberal and a conservative. He railed against the Tories – ‘people whom, politically, I despise and abhor’.

In some regards, Dickens was a liberal, calling for slaves to be freed and for slavery to be abolished. No doubt today he would be a keen public supporter of Black Lives Matter.

Privately, it was another matter. In letters to his friends, he railed against Indians as ‘low, murderous, treacherous, tigerous villains’, called for their extermination and cheered on the consequences of the Indian mutiny, applauding the ‘Hindoo’ being ‘blown from English guns’.

As for the blacks he so publicly supported, he privately questioned the wisdom of their ever being given suffrage, writing as late as 1868 that the ‘melancholy absurdity’ of their being allowed to vote ‘would glare out of every roll of their eyes, chuckle in their mouths, and bump in their heads.’

Complicating matters is the continual re-interpretation of A Christmas Carol. A recent BBC adaptation reads like a script from a left-wing activist. Scrooge was characterized as a victim of sexual abuse by his housemaster at school, causing him to be the bitter and miserly old man he became. Scrooge was also re-cast as a #MeToo type character by suggesting to Mrs. Cratchitt that he would give money for Tiny Tim’s medical bills for sexual favors from her.

None of these things – and many other departures – were part of how Dickens created the Scrooge character or the story of A Christmas Carol.

Dickens is a UK author. While he is appreciated in the United States he is a national hero in the UK. He is, after all, buried in Westminster Abbey in Poets Corner, which contains the graves of some of the biggest star in British literary history.

But like many of the people buried in Westminster Abbey and memorialized in sundry places with statues and monuments Charles Dickens was not perfect. His life, like the lives of many others, is a story of contradiction and imperfection.

Will this result in further debate about Dickens and will it result in the diminishing value of his works, such as A Christmas Carol?

That remains to be seen. We hope not.

We are not here to defend Dickens. But we do uphold the work he gave us in A Christmas Carol and we believe it deserves the rightful spot it now holds as a treasure of Christmas observance.

Christmas Episode of The Office Quickly Edited to Remove Blackface

Christmas Episode of The Office Quickly Edited to Remove Blackface

A classic Christmas episode of The Office has been edited to delete a scene showing an actor in blackface depicting Zwarte Piet or Black Peter, of Netherlands fame.  The revised version has been distributed to Netflix and other various streaming services that showcase it.

The Office is about a group of people trying to work together with mutual respect despite the inappropriate actions of their boss and assistant manager,” series creator Greg Daniels said in a statement today. “The show employed satire to expose unacceptable behavior and deliver a message of inclusion. Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticize a specific racist European practice. Blackface is unacceptable and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that caused.”

The so-called “racist” European practice has for years now been embroiled in dispute in the Netherlands where Zwarte Piete has been a tradition for hundreds of years. The character accompanies a strict version of St. Nicholas and serves, in legend, as his “helper”. The legend identifies Black Peter as a Spaniard but in modern day parades dating back more than a century the character is customarily played by a white person wearing blackface. The character in some stories of legends can be mean and dishes out discipline to naughty children. Over time, however, the character has morphed into a more silly persona who plays tricks and gives gifts.

Proponents of the tradition claim the depiction of Zwarte Piet because the blackface is not symbolic of a particular race but of soot from the fireplace. Imported protesters to the Netherlands more than a decade ago claimed it racist and have kept a steady presence at traditional parades to protest. Some times those protests have become violent and have involved children.

The international media, including most in the USA, have accepted wholesale the argument that the tradition is racist, putting pressure on government officials in the Netherlands to clamp down on the tradition. The government in recent years has responded to the controversy by introducing individuals who are without blackface playing the role of Black Peter with the goal in  mind that the blackface would eventually disappear entirely. The solution appealed to almost nobody. The racial protesters said it wasn’t enough and the proponents of the tradition have responded by showing up in the crowd in blackface.

It is doubtful that the actions of the creators of The Office will have any bearing on the blackface tradition of the Netherlands.

The blackface scene was previously included in an old version of “Dwight’s Christmas,” Episode 909, which aired in 2012. The episode has now been replaced on Netflix, and the edited version will added to Peacock in 2021 when The Office moves to its new streaming home there.

In “Dwight’s Christmas,” Dwight tries to get his coworkers in the Christmas spirit using his own family traditions with a Schrute Family Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas. He comes into the office dressed as Belsnickel, a St. Nicholas-inspired character from South German folklore, but Oscar looks up the character and discovers his unsavory roots.

Oscar informs Dwight that Belsnickel’s partner, Zwarte Piet/Black Peter, is “a slave boy often portrayed in colorful pantaloons and blackface.” Dwight replies, “Oh, come on. We don’t blindly stick to every outmoded aspect of our traditions. Come on, get with the spirit of it, you guys!”

He’s then shown grabbing his phone and sending a quick text, which goes to warehouse employee Nate, who is wearing full blackface and dressed as Zwarte Piet. He turns around after Dwight’s text, and later returns to the office Christmas celebration with most of the black makeup wiped away.

This change of the Christmas episode is significant because it is the first revision to a Christmas theme of pop culture related to the holiday to happen. It is not likely to break a lot of hearts either way because tradition of the Netherlands is barely known in the USA. But the change signals a warning that nothing will stop the level of political correctness now prevalent in American society.

We will definitely see more of this kind of thing.

 

Hallmark Telling Customers Gone with the Wind Ornaments are History

Hallmark Telling Customers Gone with the Wind Ornaments are History

Gone with the Wind OrnamentReports are swirling on social media that Hallmark is telling customers their famed Christmas ornaments themed after the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind are no longer available.

Recent civil unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has elevated the charges of racism and “white privilege” in American culture.

As a response, companies all over America are posting racism policies and quickly distancing themselves from anything that might be construed as racist. Aunt Jemima is suddenly being retired after being in business on syrup bottles and boxes of pancake mix since 1889. Uncle Ben’s Rice is “evolving the brand”. And HBO removed Gone with the Wind over its depictions of “ethnic and racial prejudices.”

All of a sudden, after decades of enjoying “one of the greatest of all time films” acclaim, anything having to do with Gone with the Wind is poison. Snowflakes nationwide are suddenly triggered by what has been right in front of their face this whole time. Here’s a good example of their shock and outrage.

To be fair, other streaming services have kept Gone with the Wind available and the buying public has recently made Gone with the Wind a popular buy on Amazon streaming.

Popular movies of all types are frequently used to market Christmas collectibles in the form of ornaments. Christmas enthusiasts are famous for theming home decorations and Christmas trees under all manner of topics, from foods to music to, yes, movies.

So for Christmas collectible fans, far removed from the racial debates, the sudden unavailability of a collectible line that has been around for years is a bit much to handle.

On the one hand, all the grey market sources for these ornaments are going to clean up. Secondary markets such as eBay and Amazon for used for excess inventory sales are sure to enjoy healthy price increases. On the other, honest fans who spend years building up a collection at considerable cost the sudden change is aggravating.

One member of a Hallmark collectibles group on Facebook was just outraged when Hallmark would give no explanation when he called to order. “She just said it’s no longer available,” the poster commented. “Not it’s temporarily out of stock. She made it sound like Hallmark would not be bringing it back”. Several other posters claimed similar conversations with Hallmark.

Another poster commented that if Hallmark made a “mammy” ornament available she would gladly purchase it. That comment quickly resulted in the now-common retort that the poster’s “white privilege” needed to be checked.

Hallmark has not responded to our requests for further information.

Given the current trend in marketing it will not be a shock if Hallmark causes its Gone with the Wind products to go the way of Disney’s Song of the South.

The irony in that is that Hallmark has fallen under some criticism lately for not having enough people of color in their famous made-for-TV formulaic Christmas movies.

Clearly Hallmark has a problem and they know it.

Editor’s Note: A few hours after we posted this a kind reader on Twitter shared this screen shot from their seach at Hallmark for Gone with the Wind products:

Hallmark