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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

That's showbiz

Well, that's one less trailer you'll have to watch before the main attraction.

On Sunday, Famous Players theatres announced that it was pulling controversial pre-movie advertisements urging moviegoers to support same-sex marriage. The ads, by the lobby group EGALE, were paid for by Famous Players Media president Salah Bachir, a flamboyant entrepreneur and philanthropist, with a soft spot for gay charities. (Famous Players Media is the company that sells commercials for the Famous Players movie chain and publishes its in-house magazine.)

The movie chain is insisting that they had to stop airing the ads because they were getting too many abusive e-mails and phone calls. Ok. But then they also said that they were hereby staying out of "issue-driven" advertising, because, they have concluded, people go to movies to get away from politics. From now on, spokeswoman Nuria Bronfman says, advertising shown before screenings "will focus on consumer products and services and stay out of issue-driven advertising altogether." (This, by the way, was after the movie chain told critics of the ads that if they didn't like them, they could buy their own ads to counter them. Whoops. Time's up.)

What Famous Players didn't say is that they were also facing a boycott and all kinds of bad press. And given the news today, that the theatre chain is putting itself on the market, well, it would seem funny if that weren't part of the decision not to renew the ads too.

Make no mistake: the privately-owned movie chain is free to run whatever ads it likes—and face the fallout among consumers. But, wherever you stand on the gay marriage issue, it's obvious that painting gay marriage opponents as intolerant and violent achieves much the same end as the ads in the first place. Headlines like "Threats force chain to pull same-sex ads" defame advocates of traditional marriage and have the effect of making opposition to C-38 seem irrational and visceral, ensuring Canadians feel increasingly uncomfortable about supporting the "no" side. If Famous Players' staffers received genuine threats, well, that's shameful. But clearly there were other factors at work in the calculation to defuse the controversy. Neglecting to mention that is, at best, disingenuous.

Posted by Kevin Libin on February 22, 2005 | Permalink


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I've read recently that Famous Players was planning all along to end the pro-same-sex ad campaign on February 18 (Friday).

Conveniently, on February 19 (Saturday), the Globe/CTV ran with the story that they were terminating the campaign due to safety concerns based on threats from marriage supporters.

Very disingenous, to say the least.

Posted by: Joel | 2005-02-22 3:30:11 AM

As you say Joel the ads were only paid up to the 18th of Feb. Also I saw a report on CanWest last week that said that most newspapers reports regarding Harpers stand against same sex marriage and trying to woo ethnic support, were press releases put out by a company usually on behalf of one person. In one case a gay woman.
Also we are getting poll after poll now showing the country as being evenly split on the issue, which we know not to be true. Pure propaganda.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-02-22 4:43:24 AM

Joel's right.

I wrote a very civil letter to complain about the ads after seeing them three weeks ago. In their response, Famous Players told me that the ads were not going to be renewed after the contract had run out (the 18th.)

Posted by: Pat C | 2005-02-22 6:55:51 AM

Regarding marriage: Due to the fact, the Western World form of marriage was intented and meant exclusively as a male/female union. No government, nor equality and rights ect., should be allowed to change the definition of marriage. Plain and simple also in truth, marriage was never meant for homosexuals. The traditional marriage institution is a moral, Spiritual, natural and heterosexual concept. The four reality's are- History, naturalism, Spirituality and tradition. These four truths all confirm in reality not ideology, marriage in fact is exclusively a male and a female union.

Posted by: Larry | 2005-02-23 11:38:55 PM

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