Holy Wood

The Associated Press has an interesting story out today about the latest trend in Hollywood: Bypassing the usual mainstream ad route and instead promoting family-friendly fare directly to church groups. Hoping to ride the wave of the phenomenally successful box office of The Passion of the Christ (which used a similar direct to church groups promotional campaign), studios are hoping the strategy will take hold. Fox has even launched a Web site, foxfaith.com, to help promote said films. Last month Disney made the bold move of deciding to only sell it’s new direct-to-DVD Christmas cartoon at that bastion of right-wing Christian retailing, Wal-Mart. And NBC is also getting in on the trend (as we reported earlier this week), promoting their faith-based new show Three Wishes by sending advanced copies of tonight’s episode to a number of small-town churches. The funny thing is that the AP report cites two recent examples of movie studios taking their films to the house of God before the multiplex — Disney’s The Greatest Story Ever Told starring the very Jewish Shia Lebeouf and Paul Reiser’s new film about a Jewish father and son trying to reconnect. A good way to promote family films or a secret plot to infiltrate the world of the Jews? You decide.
Cross-posted on The Yada Blog.

14 thoughts on “Holy Wood

  1. WALMART is a “bastion of right-wing Christian retailing”????
    Proving once again just how out-of-touch and elitist lefties are…

  2. oh right… because benyamin cohen, the frum guy from the dirty souf, is an elitist lefty. god you don’t even know who the hell you’re talking about. and by the way, mr. i haven’t lived in the u.s. in 15 years, yes walmart:
    “Is Wal-Mart a Christian company? No,” said former Wal-Mart executive Don Soderquist at a recent prayer breakfast. “But the basis of our decisions was the values of Scripture.”
    Indeed, based in the Bible Belt town of Bentonville, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has a tradition of tailoring its service to churchgoing customers. It sells only the sanitized versions of hip-hop cds bearing warnings of objectionable content. Responding to a campaign by the largest evangelical mutual fund group, The Timothy Plan, to keep Cosmopolitan magazine covers out of view of Wal-Mart customers, the company slapped plastic sheathes over suggestive women’s periodicals and banned “lad mags” such as Maxim.
    Wal-Mart knows its churchgoing, Middle America market. When Target Corp., a top competitor, refused to allow Salvation Army bell-ringers in front of its stores last Christmas, Bentonville seized the public-relations moment. Wal-Mart pledged to match the amount that Salvation Army bell-ringers collected at its stores.
    In addition, according to Forbes magazine, Wal-Mart has become the largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise, with well over $1 billion in sales of such items as VeggieTales videos and The Purpose-Driven Life books.
    Christianity Today
    what’s the difference between a christian and a right-wing christian? a christian believes “live and let live”; a right-wing christian believes in censorship and using legislative and economic power to impose their views on others. so yes… a bastion of right-wing christian retailing.

  3. Wal-Mart did not get to be the behemoth it is by limiting choices and dictating to its customers…. if it’s moving veggie tales tapes and bowdlerized rap CDs, it’s because there’s a (mass) market for them…
    Evangelical/”fundament alist” Christians are barely 40 percent of the US population. Wal Mart’s base and geographic spread covers much more than that.
    The Salvation army thing? Target should get a marketing clue. Kick out the salvation army during THE retail season, at a time when the national mood is all about “traditional values” and “community”? Assholes… and I can see The Gap doing the exact same thing if THEIR competitors fumbled the ball that way…
    Just to clarify, mobi – if WalMart had pulled Penthouse or Hustler from its shelves in response to feminist pressure – would that be “chilling self-censorship” or “sensitive corporate citizenship”?
    What if it were in response to suburban mothers?
    The G-d of Israel is my King – but I’m still pretty sure that in Wal-Mart’s aisles, it’s the customer and the almighty dollar that rule…

  4. Just to clarify, mobi – if WalMart had pulled Penthouse or Hustler from its shelves in response to feminist pressure – would that be “chilling self-censorship” or “sensitive corporate citizenship”?
    see you still have this delusion about me being a left-winger, and in that, having a double standard in my principles that i only apply selectively. and that’s why your view is entirely provincial and narrowminded. because you try to squeeze everyone and everything into little boxes that you can tuck away neatly because it makes you feel like you have a comfortable grasp on the world. get past it.
    walmart is on the record saying who they are, who they’re targetting, and so forth, and you’re staring blankly back in the face of the former ceo — someone who, unlike you, was involved in the day to day operations of the company — and you’re saying, “nope. that’s not what’s going on.”
    you exist in a tunnel. i’m done debating with you. it’s entirely unproductive.

  5. Well, yeah, my guess is that books of any kind are kinda marginal at a place like WalMart – but the pages do indicate which stores stock the books.
    And do you really mean to suggest that a company whose strings were being pulled by “the word of the Lord” would mount an entire GLBT book section? Or Hinduism?
    Gays make up less than 3 percent of the general population.
    Muslims barely break into the teens, Hindus are probably just a few percentage points above the Jews and gays.
    That’s a heck of a principle-compromizing loss leader just to cover your evangelical intentions. Considering the flack stirred up by fundies about SquareBob Spongepants and other innocuous media blips, do you really think Walmart would risk putting this stuff on their website if they really were in their thrall?
    Oh I get it – all the Xtians have been told to shut up about the Walmart book selections. People showing up at the California stores looking for GLBT books are kidnapped and sent to re-education camps in Alabama! It’s a conspiracy – like the Masons and the Jewish Bankers…
    – and hey, isn’t the Salvation Army also a Xtian group? So they conspired to make the heathens at Target look bad!
    Bush Lied – Target Shoppers Died!
    Wal-Mart sells what people want to buy. And a lot of people in America are more respectful of their native religion than many Jews of your stripe seem to be or ours. So?
    Any supra-legal ethical stringencies they apply to themselves in how they run the company is their business, as is what they do with their profits.

  6. none of this changes that fact that wal-mart is a bastion of right-wing christian retailing, being the largest retailer of christian merchandise in the u.s. and only selling censored music and refusing to sell books or magazines with sultry images.
    so they have gay and muslim books in the markets that have gays and muslims… that’s not their core constituency nor their target market.

  7. so they have gay and muslim books in the markets that have gays and muslims… that’s not their core constituency nor their target market.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … yet they sell the merchandise – despite its obvious incompatibility with “right-wing Christian” ideals.
    Maybe Walmart sells the censored music – and provides a smut-free shopping experience – for the same reasons that it offers niche markets the merchandise they want:
    It’s called customer demand.
    To lefties it is SO obvious that only an IDIOT would embrace religion – that there must be some coercion involved. (Yes I know you have a more nuanced personal take on faith, but you seem to be parroting the received anti-Bubba meme in this case.)
    But it’s the market that brings forth the merchandise. Nobody is being forced or deceived into buying anything at Wal-mart – nor are there any overtly Xtian messages in the shopping experience.
    Again: if the laddie-mags had been pulled from the shelves so as not to offend the sensibilities of militant feminists instead of suburban housewives – would that make it “socially responsible” instead of “repressive”?
    Walmart got big by giving its customers what they want. What is so wrong with that picture? What is so threatening about a mass market for non-smutty, tangentially religious content?

  8. capitalism is based on consumer freedom and giving customers a choice. there is no choice in whether or not to purchase censored music and there is no choice in allowing me to buy lad mags. if i shop at walmart, i am limited to their choice of appropriate merchandise — which is shaped by their christian values which they claim they were founded on. those values got them the christian market; the christian market didn’t give them those values.

  9. 1) Walmart’s market is much larger than the Christian segment – and they will sell whatever they can move in any particular market – which is why you will find GLBT books in the southern California stores.
    I suggest you read about the Wal-Mart management culture in the business magazines – what Wal-Mart really worships is the almighty barcode scanner. They run an incredibly lean organization that revolves around daily computerized number crunching of What sold, Where, and to Whom. Everyone jumps to this information – even WalMart’s largest suppliers. A gratuitous religious motivation could not be squeezed edgewise into WalMart’s business model.
    2) Consumer freedom does not mean every store – even the largest – has to carry every item. Or even that it must cater “equally” to all groups – that is an expectation lifted from left/liberal public policy positions. This is part of the reason why Walmart’s innocuous mercantile activities are viewed so darkly by those whose take on Wal-mart you are quoting.
    In fact, the retail business – especially women’s apparel, which drives large retail sales – is built precisely around product mixes that cannot be found elsewhere, and that project a distinct image or appeal to a well-defined audience.
    (and in this world Walmart distinguished itself for being so… undistinguished, so bland. So …. agenda-less.)
    You are free to shop elsewhere – and some do. But many find Walmart’s mix and… taste in culture to their liking.
    And the truth is that THIS is what galls those criticizing Walmart.
    If Walmart disappeared tomorrow, the 1.5 million Good Shepherd Night Lights that they sell each year would still get some – some at Target, some at Sears, some at little Christian book shops – but they’d get sold.
    However, Walmarts sprawling reach and computerized tallies dramatically drive home just how many people disagree with the liberal/left minority. Yet the notion that they are a tiny minority is anathema to them. They simply cannot process the information.
    So Walmart is basically blamed – despite their totally anodyne product mix and faceless corporate image – for the statistical reality that their sales figures represent, rather than for any offense or unethical behavior.
    This is the same frenzied denial of reality that has grown people claiming that Bush “stole” the last election – which he won by one of the largest margins in recent history.
    It’s the same frenzy that has people insisting that the Pentagon knew about 9/11, or that the Iraq war is about oil – as prices at the pump top $3 a gallon – or any of a number of implausabilities.
    The last century trashed, burned, and buried all the major assumptions and policies of the Left. Faced with the choice of between facing this reality or denying it to preserve their ideology, many have taken the insane step of turning away from reality.
    The reality demonsrated by Walmart – that Christian faith and traditional values have mass market appeal – is what must be denied, at all costs. So it must be some demonic plan.
    That is how the blandest, most cold-blooded retailer in the blandest segment of the retail market gets psychologically amplified into a ‘fundamentalist juggernaut.’

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