Entertainment

Hallmark Pulled Four Ads That They ‘Deemed Controversial’ After ‘One Million Moms’ Had A Fit Over A Lesbian Kiss

Although the Hallmark Channel is technically an apolitical brand, it has a reputation for representing “traditional” (read: stereotypical, nuclear, cookie-cutter) family values. For this reason, it’s become wildly popular over the years with politically conservative viewers in suburban and rural parts of the US and Canada—in fact, most Hallmark movies are actually filmed in Canada and feature Canadian talent.  So, it may not come as a surprise that the network pulled four ads that they had “deemed controversial” from circulation last week. What was so controversial, you may ask?

The commercials were for Zola, a wedding planning site that helps couples organize their big day. Originally, Hallmark was set to run six Zola ads, all of which featured different couples celebrating their wedding day. The primary focus of the ads landed on one lesbian couple, while a few heterosexual pairs occupied the periphery. In some of the ads, the couples share a meaningful kiss . . . you know, like they would at an actual wedding.

But One Million Moms, a branch of the conservative American Family Association, started a petition that urged Hallmark to “please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.” And they did.

The mission of the American Family Association is to “fight against indecency,” and according to their website, nearly 25,000 people had signed their petition within just a few days of its publication.

When Zola was notified that four of their six ads would be pulled, an ad buyer representing the company asked for an explanation.

“We are not allowed to accept creatives that are deemed controversial,” a Hallmark account representative responded. He added, “The decision not to air overt public displays of affection in our sponsored advertisement, regardless of the participants, is in line with our current policy, which includes not featuring political advertisements, offensive language, R-rated movie content and many other categories.”

But Zola had previously advertised on Hallmark without any problems, and Mike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola, didn’t buy this explanation. He expressed frustration with the network, asserting that Zola would cancel its partnership with Hallmark.

“The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing,” he said. “Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”

The internet was also not pleased with Hallmark’s behavior. On Sunday, the hashtags #boycotthallmark and #BoycottHallmarkChannel were trending on Twitter, with more than 8,000 adamant tweets from LGBT families and allies—many of whom also identified as Hallmark viewers.

But after facing days of backlash for their decision not to air Zola’s ads, Hallmark has apologized—and the responses to their apology are also pretty polarized.

In an early statement, Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, said that “the debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of [the] network, which is to provide entertainment value.” However, Mike Perry, the president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, offered a more direct and compassionate follow-up.

“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives,” he said. “Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”

Hallmark even insisted that it would work with GLAAD, a national LGBTQ media advocacy organization, “to better represent the LGBTQ community across [their] portfolio of brands.”

But as the controversy initially unfolded, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis issued a statement that read, “The Hallmark Channel’s decision to remove LGBTQ families in such a blatant way is discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming and also recently stated they are ‘open’ to LGBTQ holiday movies.” In spite of this assessment, Hallmark has reiterated its focus on learning how to better advocate for diversity in collaboration with GLAAD.

Hallmark also claimed that it plans on contacting Zola to “re-establish [their] partnership and reinstate the commercials.”

But before that happens, Chi said that he first needs to “understand concrete actions they are going to take.” A Zola representative confirmed that Hallmark has reached out to Zola to begin a conversation.

While many folks are praising Hallmark’s apology and attempts to mend the situation, Monica Cole, the director of One Million Moms, critiqued the network’s change of heart. “One Million Moms is extremely disappointed that the Hallmark Channel caved under pressure,” she said in a statement Monday. “This is an enormous mistake that will cause a majority of its viewership to turn the channel.”

Well, Monica, if progress means losing a few viewers, those viewers should probably get ready to just turn their TVs off.

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Socially Distanced Navidad? Here Are the Best Family Games to Play Over Zoom

Culture

Socially Distanced Navidad? Here Are the Best Family Games to Play Over Zoom

Photo: Getty Images

This Christmas, unfortunately, is going to be tough for a lot of people. With the coronavirus pandemic still waging on, many of us have had to make the tough decision to stay home for the holidays. That means no traveling out of town or visiting extended family like we have in years past.

If you come from a family that likes to get into the competitive spirit and play games over the holidays, then giving up that tradition might feel too disappointing. Luckily, we can all rely on technology to keep us connected in these trying times when we’re forced to be apart.

We’ve compiled a list of Zoom-friendly games that you can play with your family over the holidays and beyond. Take a peak at our fun picks below!

1. Charades

This one’s an easy one. All you have to do is create a Zoom link, send it out to family members and pick a topic to act out. If you’re having trouble thinking of a word, trying using a Charades word generator.

2. Card Games

Who says a little old pandemic can keep us from playing cards with our loved ones? For many of us, playing cards with our family is as steadfast a holiday tradition as exchanging gifts is. Log on to https://playingcards.io/ to create a custom game room to share with your family.

3. Bingo

Think about it: Bingo is the perfect game to play over Zoom. Websites like https://myfreebingocards.com/virtual-bingo have virtual bingo games you can play for free with up to 30 participants!

4. Heads Up!

Heads Up! is a game in which a player has to guess which word/topic is on their phone screen by the clues their team members are giving them. In order to make the most of this game, players at each Zoom location will have to download the Heads Up! app on their phone. And after that, it’s smooth sailing.

5. All Bad Cards (aka Cards Against Humanity)

If you’re the type of family that likes to push the envelope over a game of Cards Against Humanity, consider logging onto https://allbad.cards/. All you have to do is generate a party room and send the link out to the members of your “party”. Then, you’re ready to go!

6. Pictionary

Pictionary is the kind of game that Zoom was practically invented for. In order to play this game, you’ll have to fire up Zoom’s whiteboard tool and share your screen with all of the participating players. Again, if you can’t think of a topic, get some help with a Pictionary random word generator.

7. Trivial Pursuit

You’ll have to own this classic board game in order to play over Zoom, but if you do, setting it up and playing is super easy. In order to make this game user-friendly for all participants, make sure there’s someone in your location that can play on the same team as someone in a different Zoom location. That way, all the players can be sure that there’s no cheating involved.

8. Outburst

If you’re a fan of Family Feud, then Outburst is probably right up your alley. This game requires that each player brainstorm lists off of a given topic (i.e. Top Ten Christmas songs). Unfortunately, there is no virtual or online version of the game, but instead, team members can take turns coming up with topics and having other players brainstorm lists.

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Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Entertainment

Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Handout / Getty

Hark the herald! Stephen and Ayesha Claus Curry– are here to bring literary joy this season.

The Golden State Warrior and his wife are donating thousands of books to schools around Oakland, California this holiday season in an effort to bring joy to children.

The couple, behind Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, made the announcement earlier this week.

“We along with our entire team at Eat. Learn. Play. understand the importance of early childhood education, especially when it comes to literacy,” Stephen and Ayesha told People magazine in a recent interview. “Nothing is more basic, more essential, more foundational, or more important to a child’s success in life than the ability to read well. We know there is a lot of work to be done, but with partners like Literati, we’re hopeful that we will be able to make an impact on these children’s lives.”

The Currys’ donations will arrive to schools in boxes that will contain six books.

The packages will include five children’s books and one for adults. All of which come from Stephen Curry’s “Underrated” book club selection.

Along with their thousand book giveaway, the couple’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation will donate boxes to students who are learning remotely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in collaboration with and Literati. Fourteen thousand boxes will go directly to Oakland Unified Schools.

According to people, “The remainder of the donation, which was also made possible through Bay Area investor Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, will be distributed through community partners in the new year.”

Speaking about their own experiences of teaching their children during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Stephen and Ayesha (who are parents to Canon W. Jack, 2, Ryan Carson, 5, and Riley, 8) told People that they’ve been hard work attempting to keep their children busy and learning.

“My oldest is pretty disciplined so that’s been easy, but our 5-year-old has a little trouble staying engaged for an extended period of time,” Ayesha, host of ABC’s new show “Family Food Fight,” explained.

Ayesha says she has found that taking part in “some kind of physical activity right before class starts” helps her daughter Ryan “to focus the mind and get some of the wiggles out, and periodic ‘dance breaks’ between lessons.”

“We also added resistance workout bands to the legs of her chair, which give her something to do if she gets antsy during a long Zoom session,” Stephen added.

“Luckily for me, Stephen has really stepped in with education and their schooling. And I’m okay with that because I birthed them so now [he] can birth and nurture their education,” Ayesha joked in a recent episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

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