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A recent clash between a motherhood-based activist campaign and JP Penny’s decision to support an openly gay spokesperson, should have us all thinking about the “right message” we want to teach our children. Comedian and TV mogul Ellen DeGeneres is no stranger to endorsements and publicity campaigns.
She is, or has been, the face of multi-million dollar brands like Cover Girl and American Express, and she hosts her own show daily in front of millions of viewers. Recently, DeGeneres was dubbed JC Penney’s new spokesperson amidst a whirlwind of controversy and conflict.
‘One Million Moms’, a division of the American Family Association, expressed their disagreement through the following message on their website:
Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an openly homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families.
They also predicted a huge loss in sales for the popular brand. Ellen herself addressed the highly publicized issue as it exploded all over the internet, thanking fans and JC Penney CEO, Ron Johnson, for their unconditional love. “My haters are my motivators,” she commented. In fact, Ron Johnson confirmed that his company will stand by their decision because they share the same values as DeGeneres.
Within hours of its creation, the Facebook platform ’1 Million People Who Support Ellen For JC Penney’, created by Cathie Winter Miller, became the official response to ‘One Million Moms’. It took less than a day for the Pro-Ellen campaign to garner thousands of likes, comments, and attention. It is currently sitting at more than 150,000 likes at the moment and racing towards 200,000 at the speed of light.
Not only is ‘One Million Moms’s comment being viewed as a personal derogatory attack on Ms. DeGerenes, but the statement has also insulted supporters and others, gay or straight. ‘One Million Moms’ is being criticized for sending the wrong message when it lambastes a company for hiring a lesbian spokesperson, instigating supporters to call their local JC Penney store managers and complain. This has proven more than just a random group of people, speaking their mind.
The message of the ‘One Million Moms’ campaign is no different than the hateful slurs anti-gay bullies use against LGTB kids at schools. If our community leaders and representatives spew out nothing but hate towards a specific group of individuals, then we should all be offended If children and teenagers receive the message that being openly gay is enough of a reason to attack someone, we should be deeply worries. Discrimination should not be confused with freedom of speech.
The 40,000 members of ‘One Million Moms’ have launched many other campaigns on behalf of their traditionalist values. They ask their followers to e-mail the many sponsors of the hit TV series ‘Modern Family’, to yank away ads and support from the show. They have also issued various complaints against ‘Dancing With The Stars’ for allegedly forcing LGTB-related content into their homes and bickered about comedian Kathy Griffin, Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner, and the hidden agenda of pop culture sensation Glee.
Wouldn’t we all be offended if an organization publicly slammed the hiring of a person on the basis of him or her being black, Asian, or Hispanic? At this point, and believe me, I have researched the official site of ‘One Million Moms’, I am left to wonder how the lovely Ellen DeGeneres can compromise anyone’s integrity by being on a billboard or in a commercial.
Fortunately, the supportive response has been massive, and the many comments on the Facebook site range from a deliberate customer-to-be who said, “Good for JC penny. I have never bought anything there, but I am sure I will take another look at the merchandise now,” to a heartfelt fan who stated, “There’s no better way to say it. Such integrity in her response to this group of haters. A great role model for young LGBTs everywhere.” The comments and support keep rolling in for Ellen.
Looking back on how far we have come, I could not help but remember a YouTube video I recently saw of the ‘The Rosie O’Donnell Show’ from back in the mid ’90s.
Ellen DeGeneres came on to discuss her sitcom, and at one point, both Ellen and Rosie engage in a funny conversation about how her character on the show would finally reveal she was “Lebanese” to which Rosie cheerfully responded she might be “Lebanese” as well. Well, 15 years later they need no hints nor a Lebanese passport; they can stand by their sexuality as two proud lesbian individuals at the top of their game.
It seems as if campaigns like ’1 Million People Who Support Ellen For JC Penney’ can help sketch out a new concept of what decent values are to our society. According to Ellen and her millions of fans, the core of ‘traditional’ values are the following: “honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”