Curious understanding of the word ‘divisive’

The Hallmark TV channel, that has become synonymous with bland programming and anodyne content, had shown an ad from a wedding planning company called Zola that features a lesbian couple briefly kissing at the altar on their wedding day. This of course caused anti-gay bigots to get the vapors and an obscure conservative group called One Million Moms, part of the American Family Association, contacted the Hallmark CEO to complain and the company pulled four Zola ads that featured same-sex couples but not two that did not.

What is curious is the explanation given by Hallmark for its action.

“The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value,” said Molly Biwer, senior vice-president for public affairs and communications.

“The Hallmark brand is never going to be divisive. We don’t want to generate controversy, we’ve tried very hard to stay out of it … we just felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy.”

Just what exactly is controversial and divisive about a same-sex couple kissing at the altar, given that such marriages are now, you know, legal and commonplace? If Hallmark had ignored this absurd protest, hardly anyone would have noticed. But by taking this action, they have joined Chick-fil-A in being seen as anti-LGBT rights and their target audience as largely anti-gay bigots.

The actor Sandra Bernhard, who played one of the first openly bisexual characters on network TV in Roseanne, also criticized Hallmark’s decision.

“All the groovy gay ladies I know won’t be watching your Christmas schlock,” she wrote on Twitter. “They’ll be out celebrating with their families, wives, children, friends on and on and getting married in chic ensembles. Didn’t you all get the memo? Family is all inclusive.”

Hallmark has appeared to be considering more same-sex themed content. Asked about the possibility of holiday movies based on same-sex relationships, Abbott was quoted in the Hollywood Reporter in mid-November as saying: “We’re open to really any type of movie of any type of relationship.”

I think your actions belie your words, Abbott.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    I’d say they’re on the wrong side of history, but election results here in the UK and elsewhere seem to differ.

  2. Matt G says

    Remember, these are the same people who say that billboards which simply say “American Atheists” are hateful.

  3. says

    I saw an interesting post on Slate, I think it was, which pointed out that fundamentalists don’t hate LGBTQ people because of their religion at all; it’s because they are sadists; they enjoy making people they can have power over suffer. That seems to me to be a pretty fair explanation, and it embeds a very good argument for why they should be opposed: they are always looking for who to make suffer next. And it could be anyone, even one of their own: hence endless doctrinal slaughters and witch-hunts (kill ye nonconformiste!)

    I find that framing to explain christian blood-lust end endless search for superiority to fit the facts remarkably well.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ 4 Marcus
    I think this makes a lot of sense, at least for the Evangelical leaders. The vast majority of the leaders almost certainly are what Bob Altemeyer in his book The Authoritarians terms Double Highs. (Chapter 5). They will enjoy inflicting harm or pain on outsiders. The followers just go along like sheep and feel righteous at what they are doing.

  5. Matt G says

    They certainly do seem to relish the idea that those who reject their beliefs will burn for all eternity. If that isn’t sadism, I don’t know what is.

  6. Holms says

    Reminds me of the word inflammatory; plenty of things are completely innocuous until a religious nutbar decides to stoke outrage over it. Cartoons of Muhammad come to mind.

  7. Mano Singham says

    Pierce @#8,

    That is good hear, though I wonder what Hallmark plans to do in addition to apologizing.

  8. brucegee1962 says

    “The Hallmark brand is never going to be divisive. We don’t want to generate controversy, we’ve tried very hard to stay out of it.”

    Statements like this make me think that Rush wrote one of the most profound lines of the 20th century when they said “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

    There are no sidelines in the culture wars. The amazing thing to me is that, after everything that happened with Chick-Fil-A, there could be any executive who would imagine this wouldn’t blow up in their faces.

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