Nothing brings on the holiday feels like a cheese-filled holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel, where stars from my favourite childhood shows - like Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years), Candace Cameron Bure (DJ Tanner from Full House), and Lacey Chabert (Claudia Salinger from Party of Five) - grace the small screen with character names like Holly and kiss their co-stars under the mistletoe while snow falls and holiday carols play merrily in the background after a dramatic turn of events.
Equal parts cheesy and charming are the commercials that run during the Hallmark holiday specials, including a series of wedding ads that recently ran for Zola, a wedding registry site.
While I was pleased to see one of their commercials feature two women standing at the altar, saying their vows while professing their love for Zola, the backlash that ensued triggered turmoil for the beloved TV channel.
Like the predictable endings of the made-for-TV movies, the holidays are supposed to be merry and bright. Unfortunately, thanks to an onslaught of complaints from anti-LGTBQ groups like One Million Moms, that bright holiday light was quickly dimmed.
In a homophobic plea made by One Million Moms to the Hallmark Channel (as published in Advocate), a representative from the group asks, “Please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples, and please do not add LGBT movies to the Hallmark Channel. Such content goes against Christian and conservative values that are important to your primary audience. You will lose viewers if you cave to the LGBT agenda.”
In response, the ads featuring same-sex couples were pulled by Hallmark Channel, and the remaining ads showing heterosexual couples continued to air. Displeased, Zola responded to the cancellation of their ads with the following: “We decided to cancel all our advertising on Hallmark and pull the remainder of our ads.”
While I’m sure this scenario has spiked the page views and registry signups for Zola, I’m confident that it has also caused many families (like mine) to change the channel in search of new holiday hits, or turn off the TV altogether.
The people who join and support anti-LGBTQ organizations such as One Million Moms need to give their heads a shake. It’s almost 2020, not 1945. As a parent, I’m not only disappointed to see such a big-name family brand fail their fans in such a close-minded fashion, I’m also appalled by the fact that a lovely scene showing two women sharing a wedding kiss would create such cause for concern in the first place. Families come in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s important for our children to see that in every aspect of their lives.
After rumours of Hallmark Channel boycotts and bans hit the media, Hallmark retracted their ban, stating in an interview that, “Hallmark is, and always has been committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it.”
Too little too late? Has the damage already been done for Hallmark, or will people focus on the positive side?
Only time will tell.
Bianca Bujan is a mother of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.