Tis’ the season to be jolly, but not quite so gay apparently. At least on the Hallmark Channel.
A wedding planning company named Zola had taken out some advertisements on the network, scheduled to run during the Christmas season. One ad in particular, however, stirred some controversy and brought complaints from One Million Moms, a conservative group opposed to gay marriage and indecency on television and in movies. At issue was an advertisement featuring a scene from a wedding with two brides. In response, Hallmark said they were pulling the ad. The tit for tat battle escalated and Zola said they would pull all of their advertising from the network.
Under pressure from a conservative advocacy group, The Hallmark Channel has pulled ads for a wedding-planning website that featured two brides kissing at the altar.
The family-friendly network, which is in the midst of its heavily watched holiday programming, removed the ads because the controversy was a distraction, a spokesperson said in an interview Saturday.
“The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value,” said a statement provided by Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark.
While I understand that there are still some conservatives who oppose gay marriage despite it being legal across the country, it seems like a bit of a stretch to call this advertisement “indecent.” (Unless you simply find the entire concept of gay people getting married indecent.) This advertisement isn’t even remotely “sexy” in any way. If anything, it’s just sort of dumb. They’re going for humor, with the brides complaining at the altar about the guests being late and lamenting that they didn’t use Zola to plan their nuptials and send out announcements.
Take a look for yourself. And yes… I suppose I should include a trigger warning for some of you. The two young women kiss at the end of the ad, though it’s really more of a peck on the lips than anything else.
So can the Hallmark Channel yank the ad based on this content? They aren’t the government so they should certainly be able to. The free market will judge them accordingly. If viewers agree with their decision they will be rewarded with better ratings. If not, their viewership declines. It’s really as simple as that.
But should they remove the ad? I know they specialize in “family friendly” content and want to avoid controversy, but this advertisement is pretty milquetoast if you ask me. Perhaps One Million Moms is more influential than I’d imagined (I’d never heard of them until today), but it still seems like they’re going to lose revenue either way. If they run the ad, OMM will protest and ask people to boycott the network. But having pulled it, the LGBQ community will be doing the same thing. It’s a lose-lose proposition.
And what is OMM trying to protect the children from? Learning that there are gay people in the world and that they get married sometimes? Really, I think the cat is out of the bag at this point. Just for the record, OMM is also boycotting this commercial from Hotels.com because Captain Obvious says the word “condoms” and suggests that two mothers are missing out on vacation trips because of their children.
There’s plenty to be outraged about on television (and even more so on the internet), with a lot of material that I think is inappropriate for children. But these advertisements seem awfully tame compared to a lot of what is out there. I think Hallmark’s mistake here was not having a clearly defined policy in the first place. If they weren’t going to run any advertisements including gay weddings, they should have just rejected the advertisement upfront. But by taking it and then caving to pressure and pulling it, they allowed the issue to turn into a tempest.