The AFA Lifts its Boycott of Disney. Did Anyone Notice?

The American Family Association lifted it's boycott of the Walt Disney Company recently, but I'm not sure if anyone noticed. As the AFA says in their press release:

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…

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  1. Phil  –

    I agree with you on this one… While we may not agree with Disney's actions or policies, I believe we can have a much greater impact through influence than through opposition.  The problem is that we all tend to do nothing rather than something. My challenge to you and your readers is to truly become proactive and create a positive influence.

    Mainstream America is more sensitive to Christian values now than ever before. We can use our influence to effect positive change.  Will we always be successful?  Probably not.  Will we make a difference?  Definitely.

    I recommend we boycott boycotts… and use our ability to positively influence our culture one e-mail, one letter or one phone call at a time.

    Mark Dreistadt, Infinity Concepts, http://www.infinityconcepts.net


  2. Actually I do think that Christian Boycotts has affected Disney.  Disney was for many years the greatest source for family entertainment that we had in this country.  When Disney's TV program came on the air in my area on Sunday nights, it effectivly killed any Church programs that ran on Sunday nights.  And being the forward thinking people that good Christians are, we complained when any Disney movie did not live up to our concept of good Christian entertaintment.  So the trickle began, we stopped going to view the Good Disney films, but on the other hand, those that did not live up to our standards did fulfill the desires of those that do not set their standards according to the Church.  So over time Disney found that more money was to be made serving up non "G" rated films than its old mainstay of family films.  Sure they continue to produce family films, they play at 3:00 am on the Disney channel.  So did we the Christian community get the results we wanted from Disney?  In my opinion we pushed them much like any other business to focus on the people that buy their products, not on the people that boycott. There are people I know that will never set foot in a WalMart, but that does not stop the thousands of others that call WalMart home.  Its like Phil keeps pounding into his dialogs, we have it all backwards and still have not caught on that our approach to the media is to be the light that guides, not the darkness that hides.

  3. Well one thing about a boycott is that it aims to hurt a business by cutting off its profits. But there are other ways to do that. If I don't like a product, I don't buy it. Not because I want to hurt the company, but just because I have no reason to invest in what it's making. If Disney's products weren't such a painful sacrifice, it might have been easier for us to boycott. But that's kind of the point, I guess.

    But what about competition? I honestly think that so many billions of America's money goes to Disney and other big studios because there's just not much else to compete with it. As well-intentioned as our Christian films have been, they're just in a different category than what Disney puts out. And over time that makes for an obvious wielding of power. So let's make some great films that give the American people other options to spend their paychecks on! Makes sense to me.

    Whom shall we send? And who will go?

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