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December 16, 2010

Another Year of the AFA's War on the 'War on Christmas'

It's that time of year again! It's time for the American Family Association's War on the "War on Christmas"... which means it's time to debunk the AFA's Christmas boycotts once again!

First a little reminder, for those of you who don't follow the AFA's craziness the way we do... The AFA has a little "naughty or nice" list that they compile every winter to show how some retailers recognize Christmas:
Based on current advertising, below is a list of companies that avoid, ban, or use the term "Christmas" in their advertising. We will continually update the list, so check back often.
Criteria - AFA reviewed up to four areas to determine if a company was "Christmas-friendly" in their advertising: print media (newspaper inserts), broadcast media (radio/television), website and/or personal visits to the store. If a company's ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach "Christmas" shoppers.
If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word "Christmas," then the company is considered as censoring "Christmas."
Color Code:
GREEN: Company uses the term "Christmas" on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.
YELLOW: Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others.
RED: Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.
Here's what we had to say about it last year:
Yes, the fact that some stores choose to use a general holiday greeting that applies to everyone is a horrible nightmare. Sometimes when I'm out shopping for gifts and someone in a store wishes me "happy holidays", I find myself losing my moral and spiritual bearings and beginning to question who I am as a person and reevaluating the meaning of life, and then I have to get a lemonade from Auntie Anne's and sit on a bench outside of Socks Appeal until I feel better. It's a challenging experience.
Obviously we think it's ridiculous to get upset at a store daring to be more inclusive during the holiday season. Not that 'Christmas' is necessarily offensive, but c'mon, it's not the only holiday out there. There is also a big difference between trying to be more inclusive and sensitive to the fact that a lot of people celebrate other holidays and 'banning' Christmas (or, as the AFA calls it, "hostility toward Christmas expression").

Last year we debunked their classification of Bass Pro Shops as 'yellow' and low and behold: this year they're on the 'green' list. (So clearly they've been reading our blog.) We also pointed out a few of their others big fat mistakes.... for stores like Gap/Old Navy, Starbucks and Victoria's Secret.

This year we're going to pick out a few select stores that are totally in the wrong categories on the list and prove the AFA wrong one by one yet again. If the AFA is going to take the step of calling for some of these companies to be boycotted, we don't think it's too much to ask that they at least get their research right before they do. So, in the spirit of the holidays, we're happy to help them out. But before we get to those posts, here's a few general things wrong with their list (aside from the fact that the whole point of the list is idiotic to begin with, of course)...

The full list...
Companies FOR "Christmas"
Bass Pro Shops
Bed Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Big Lots
Collective Brands
Dick's Sporting Goods
Family Dollar
Dollar General
H.E.B. Stores
Harris Teeter Stores
Hobby Lobby
JC Penney
JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts Stores
Michael's Stores
Neiman Marcus
Office Max
Pier One Imports
Rite Aid
Scheels Sporting Goods
Super D Drug Stores
Toys R Us
Wal-Mart/Sam's Club

Companies marginalizing "Christmas"
Bath & Body Works
Dollar Tree
Hy-Vee Stores
Old Navy
Limited Brands
Whole Foods

Companies against "Christmas"
Banana Republic (NEW!)
Barnes & Noble
CVS Pharmacy
Foot Locker
Gap Stores (NEW!)
Hancock Fabrics
L.L. Bean (NEW!)
Office Depot
Radio Shack
Victoria's Secret
Notice how the 'nice' green list is longer than the yellow and red lists combined? It has been our theory that some of the companies on the yellow and red lists are only there to make those lists look longer so the AFA can continue to keep the 'War on 'Happy Holidays' going in order to make some anti-inclusive point.

Notice that they have Limited Brands listed on their yellow list. But then they also have Bath & Body Works in yellow and Victoria's Secret in red, even though Limited Brands is the parent company of both retailers. What's the point of listing the parent company separately in just this one case? (Besides making the list look longer, that is.) They have Old Navy on the yellow list and list Gap Stores and Banana Republic as 'NEW!' additions to the red list (even though they're not new at all, the AFA boycotted them last year and then ended the boycott when they realized that they weren't anti-Christmas after all). All three retailers are owned by parent company Gap, Inc., which is not listed separately. Maybe Limited Brands is just extra super ultra anti-Christmas.

Also on the red list is SUPERVALU, which is a chain of grocery stores... not exactly the first place you're going to turn for your holiday Christmas gift shopping. The same goes for Staples and Office Depot - technically retailers, but unless you're planning on giving your loved ones toner and copy paper, stores like that don't exactly need to be 'Christmas central'.

Then there are companies that aren't actually retailers at all... like NASCAR? Sure they have an online store and merchandise, but they're really a sporting association, not a retailer in the way that Gap is. A brief scan of NASCAR.com's shopping section shows that they haven't ignored Christmas completely:

They're not any less Christmas-friendly than the online stores of the NBA, the NFL,the NHL, Major League Baseball, etc... so why did they get singled out for the list?

It seems like they're just trying to pad the 'bad' lists to make their point, but these ploys only weaken their argument. Since their argument is so weak to begin with, and this obsession with shopping and retailers is so far from what the true meaning of Christmas is supposed to be, this whole exercise just makes the AFA look more ridiculous each year. Christmas is almost here, so stay tuned for a series of AFA Naughty or Nice posts... Happy Holidays!

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