After initiating a boycott against the Walt Disney Company in 1996, AFA has decided to end the campaign, citing new challenges in the culture wars and some positive signs at Disney, including the resignation of CEO Michael Eisner, effective this September. "We feel after nine years of boycotting Disney we have made our point," AFA President Tim Wildmon said. "Boycotts have always been a last resort for us at AFA, and Disney’s attitude, arrogance and embrace of the homosexual lifestyle gave us no choice but to advocate a boycott of the company these last few years."
The AFA is made up of good people, genuinely concerned about American families. They even did a very nice interview with me for their magazine recently. But as I've said before, boycotts are the "nuclear option" and should rarely be used. To the AFA's credit, they admitted it was a last resort, but even then, we have to ask, what difference did it make?
Did Disney sales fall? No.
Did attendence to the parks fall off? No.
Did it effect their bottom line? No.
So what's the point? In a media driven culture, the old strategies rarely work anymore. We can sue TV networks, boycott entertainment companies, or protest movies. But as we've seen in so many recent examples, the dog barks, but the train keeps on rolling.
So what's the answer? In this culture, we live in territory occupied by the media, so when it comes to the public square, we have to understand how it works, and realize the impact it has in the culture. I was a Judo student as a young man and our instructor would tell us not to fight the enemy, but to use his force against him. It's the same way with the media. Billy Graham spent an enormous amount of time and effort with media relations, and he's pretty much considered an icon these days.
Is it fair? Absolutely not. The news media in particular is powerful, well funded, makes plenty of mistakes, and is often biased to boot. But rather than fight, we should understand the rules and play in their sandbox. Change can happen, if we stop fighting, and learn how the media works. We may get a rush out of taking them to court, starting a protest, staging a boycott, or more. But what have you really accomplished? What have you changed? What have you won?
The AFA press release says that they've still got Disney "on probation." On my way home tonight, I'll check in at the front gate of the studio, and see just how terrified the Disney execs are…