Group Threatens to Break Wal-Mart Over Gay Western
By George Anderson
It is not the only retailer selling or renting Brokeback Mountain, but it is the largest and, as a result, Wal-Mart has been singled out by a conservative Christian organization for what it says is the company’s promotion of the gay lifestyle.
The American Family Association (AFA) began a campaign last week asking its three million members to contact Wal-Mart and ask it not to stock the film about a love affair between two ranchers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Wal-Mart has been actively promoting the film’s release in its stores, including placing ads for the movie at the front of some stores.
Tandy Sharp, director of special projects for the AFA, said Wal-Mart was pushing a homosexual agenda. “It wasn’t even a blockbuster movie, so if Wal-Mart isn’t trying to push an agenda, why would they put it at the front door?”
Wal-Mart spokesperson Jolanda Stewart said, “The fact that we are offering the movie is not an endorsement of the content of the movie or any specific belief. We simply offer the latest titles that consumers want.”
Brokeback Mountain tallied $83 million in domestic box office sales and was nominated for several Academy Awards. The film won in the Best Director category.
AFA’s Sharp maintains that, by stocking the film, Wal-Mart is “trying to help normalize homosexuality in society. How many copies are they going to have to sell to recruit the losses of customers who they’ve offended and will no longer shop at Wal-Mart?”
This is not the first time the AFA has exerted pressure on Wal-Mart to drop a product. In 2003, the group was successful in getting the retailer to remove magazines it considered too sexual, such as FHM, Maxim and Stuff, from store racks. Other magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, were covered with plastic shields.
Moderator’s Comment: If you’re in charge of marketing and merchandising for Wal-Mart, what do you do with Brokeback Mountain? How should Wal-Mart
public relations handle the controversy over the company’s decision to sell the film? –
George Anderson – Moderator