JCPenney, Sears Pull Ad Buys From Saturday Night Live

Ben Shapiro is a Senior Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. He is the author of the new book "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration" (Threshold Editions).


Back on February 16, Saturday Night Live – a show that would never have the guts to lampoon Muslim prophet Mohammed – went after Jesus with both barrels. Or rather, they had Jesus go after everyone else with both barrels. The skit, titled Djesus Uncrossed, featured Christoph Waltz’s Jesus killing Roman soldiers using swords and firearms. “He’s risen from the dead,” the voice-over says. “And he’s preaching anything but forgiveness.”

In the aftermath of that slap against Christianity, Tim Wildmon’s American Family Association went to sponsors of the program and asked them to pull their advertising. The skit, Wildmon wrote, was “an affront to all people of faith, especially Christians … NBC would never do this to any other religious group, but it’s popular in Hollywood circles to go after ‘crazy’ Christian.” Sears sent Wildmon a thank you, and pulled its ads, stating that they had also “taken steps to ensure that our commercials do not air online ….” Wildmon is pushing more boycotts, stating, “As long as corporations support this kind of offensive material, their sales are going to suffer as shoppers abandon retailers that support blasphemy …. When you embrace television programming with no morals, you can’t possibly embrace the public you are trying to sell to.”

So, is Wildmon right? Should conservatives begin targeting advertisers in order to curb Hollywood’s anti-religious propaganda?

In an ideal world, such boycotts wouldn’t be necessary. We’d all be able to watch television without being hit over the head by propaganda. Comedians would be equal opportunity defenders. The Obama hacks at Saturday Night Live would spend time going after Islam the same way they go after Christianity.

But we don’t live in that ideal world. Which means that the only way to really fight back against offensive material on television is to target advertisers. We can take the high road, and declare that advertisers should be able to get away with placing their ads anywhere. But we’ll lose the fight. The left uses such pressure tactics on a regular basis. The Obama administration unleashes  its allies like Media Matters and Common Cause to launch boycott efforts against figures like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs. They target advertisers and encourage them to pull their funding, not for breaches of public taste, but for breaches of political correctness.

And it’s tremendously effective.

So why doesn’t the right use such tactics? It used to. Back in the 1930s, all of Hollywood voluntarily adopted the so-called Hays Code after Catholics began boycotting films because of their sexual improprieties. For thirty years, Hollywood made films that didn’t depict raunchy sex, criminals getting away with it, or anti-American themes. That wasn’t fascism, as the left claims.  It was the power of the free market.

But now the right has been convinced that to boycott breaches the boundaries of appropriateness. While the left uses every tool in its arsenal to destroy the careers of those on the right, the right hopes to take the moral high ground, and then scold the left into decency. It isn’t going to happen.

Freedom of speech doesn’t include freedom from consequences of speech, and it’s perfectly within the rights of religious people to choose their consumption habits based on whether advertisers back views antithetical to their own. Will entertainment become more bland as it becomes more politicized? Surely it will. But it has already been made both bland and left-wing because the left has used boycotts so adroitly. If the right doesn’t fight back, it loses the opportunity for a fair shake — and blows the opportunity to teach the left about mutually assured destruction.

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  • Mr. Polly

    How incongruous it is to see a Jew pretendting to share outrage over mockery of Jesus for the sake of reinforcing the grotesque alliance between Zionist Jews and Christian Zionists.

    • kafir4life

      Polly want a pork rind? This week, there's a sale over at the allahu snackbar. Buy one get one free.

      From my experience, muslims DO love pork, it's just better they not know they're having it. In NYC alone, there are at least 15 "halel" shops that sell pork (half of the shopkeepers don't know it either). It's a hoot to watch. It tastes just like chicken!

    • JacksonPearson

      Anti-Semites are Ugly Ba*tards, and so are you…
      http://i56.tinypic.com/207730o.jpg

    • Mary Sue

      *facepalm*
      way to miss the point, bird.

    • Ghostwriter

      I don't know if this will register with you Mr. Polly,but Jesus was Jewish!

  • Chezwick

    WILDMON: “As long as corporations support this kind of offensive material, their sales are going to suffer as shoppers abandon retailers that support blasphemy…"

    I'm all for using public pressure – including boycotts – to further conservative causes, but use of the word "blasphemy"repels me. It reminds me too much of Islam and their quest to silence free speech.

    MR POLLY: "How incongruous it is to see a Jew pretendting to share outrage over mockery of Jesus for the sake of reinforcing the grotesque alliance between Zionist Jews and Christian Zionists."

    Wasn't "incongruous", nor was it "pretending"…and there is nothing "grotesque" about an alliance of Jews and Christians to preserve Western civilization.

    • EarlyBird

      "I'm all for using public pressure – including boycotts – to further conservative causes, but use of the word "blasphemy"repels me. It reminds me too much of Islam and their quest to silence free speech."

      You took the words right out of my mouth, Chezwick.

    • Kate

      Maybe it would be helpful if the supposedly repelling word "blasphemy" is looked up in the dictionary for clarity and then the Offended could get off their high horse and stop comparing it to Islamic beheaders being jihadist about reviling the Quaran or their beloved "Leader" who died for no one on a cross and never rose from the dead. No Christian, true Saved by Christ, ever bombed a busload of people in the name of their faith. We do however, have every right to shop at the outlet (store, tv station, etc) of our choice and bless those who bless God.

      • Chezwick

        No "high horse" here, Kate. Just a believer in free speech.

        Meanwhile, many atrocities have been perpetrated throughout history in the name of Christ. What was the 30 Years War but an orgy of murder to attempt to decide who had a monopoly on the word of Christ? What was the Inquisition but a gross attempt to impose Christian orthodoxy?

        What distinguishes Christianity from Islam is that, unlike the former, the latter COMMANDS the faithful to be violent. It is a paradigmatic distinction….albeit one that characteristically escapes the moral relativists. But I personally tend to find most religious zealots – of whatever faith – to be philosophically intolerant and hopelessly narrow-minded.

        • Western Canadian

          Suggest you actually check out the inquisition….. The common view, which you seem to have, is about as accurate as monty python. But no where near as funny.

        • EarlyBird

          Careful, Chezwick. You're in an insane asylum right now. Remember when you point out factual crimes committed by Christians, you are ipso facto "pro-Islamist." If you criticize an aspect of Israeli policy, you are ipso facto "pro-Palestinian terrorist."

          No hard thinking aloud here.

      • EarlyBird

        Kate, Christians have a right to be upset by the mocking of their religion, and to protest and boycott. I am also offended by nonsense like this SNL skit.

        But being personally offended is different than "blasphemy." Blasphemy is speaking for God Himself. That's a charge levelled throughout the ages by religious people, not to protect agains persecution themselves, but to shut down the right to parody, ridicule, etc. We still live in a democracy, not a theological state. Leave that to the radical Muslims, okay?

  • Gary Altergott

    Mr. Polly knows nothing about Mr. Shapiro and, with nothing of any substance to add to the conversation, engages in a typical Leftist trick…baseless attacks on an individuals' character. As Rush says, it's the seriousness of the charge, not whether the charges are true.

    • Mr. Polly

      What's really baseless is the assumption that the skit was mocking Jesus, rather than mocking Hollywood or at least mocking Quentin Tarantino, the director of "Django Unchained."

    • Mr. Polly

      The assumption that I am a leftist is also baseless. You know nothing about me!

      • Mary Sue

        Everything you parrot, is leftist!

    • EarlyBird

      Well, Gary, we know fully that Shapiro is responsible for starting the lie that Hagel received or receives money from Hamas. Shapiro is no more a journalist than you are. He's a hack and laughed at by professional journalists.

  • Asher

    This is the answer for When the Wicked Flourish. Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong: for like the grass they will soon Wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. psalm 37:1 Evil is here for awhile, but will not prevail in the end.

  • Loyal Achates

    So is freedom of speech bad now? Shouldn't we live in a world where we can make fun of everything without being targeted by people of any political persuasion? And if SNL avoided making fun of Muslims – not true, but even if it were – would that mean that now they can't make fun of ANYBODY?

    • EarlyBird

      No, it's not bad now. But Christians have as much of a right to be offended and upset and do boycotts as any other group. Pressuring corporations to pull their advertising dollars is as much part of the 1st Amendment as the offensive speech. Or, let's put it this way: we live in a very sensitive time, where people get easily offended, and Christians have just as much of a right to be offended and act against the offenders.

      I don't blame them. I'm a lapsed Catholic, and hardly a "Christian" by most Christians' standards, but that stuff pisses me off.

      I don't like the notion that it was offensive because it was "blasphemy" though.

  • DemetriusMinneapolis

    They boycotted Chick-Fil-A for their opinions, they target Israel every chance they get, but when it reverses on the G-dless liberals, they get offended. Day after day, their hypocrisy astounds me.

    • Loyal Achates

      I guess you don't know the difference between a joke and a policy.

      If SNL actively discriminated against Christians, and told other people to do so, and gave money for that cause, THAT would be cause for a boycott.

      • By the Book

        Ask why SNL does not do the same to Islam's phrophet Mohammed? Is that because it woud not be the opposite character or that they are just plain chicken?

        • Questions

          It's becoming old hat. Someone satirizes Christianity and instantly that person must stand trial for not satirizing Islam in virtually the same arm motion. Never mind the fact that many who lampoon Christianity also lampoon Islam (including Bill Maher, who has publicly denounced Islam). The larger point is that satire is a moral right. If the Donald Wildmons of this world are "offended," too bad.

          • jay

            But we're talking just about SNL. What "many" do is irrelevant.

          • EarlyBird

            Yes, it is "too bad," that the Wildmons of the world are offended. But he's not calling for a law against offending Christians. He's using his freedom of expression. He's being as hypersensitive and overreactive (if we want to characterize his response that way) as any other group who's boycotted corporations.

          • Western Canadian

            Old hat? Not even close. Hollywood hypocrites bash, misrepresent, lie about, mock, turn it on it’s head etc. Christianity at will, and pat themselves on their backs for their ‘creativity’ and ‘courage’. And wet their pants at even the thought of mocking the most worthy of mocking and rejecting creation in human history.

            When the Monty Python gang got together, they actually had planned to lampoon Christ, but after checking out what he said and did… decided there was nothing that could be lampooned. Bit of respect for him, even. They opted for the life of brian, instead.

            Mad Mo?? If he even existed, he literally screams to be mocked…. as a hypocrite… HEY! Hollywood etc might not be avoiding being even handed here…. Mo, like obama, Castro, Chavez, are all huge hypocrite, just like them! All in the family, bash all others, but take care of their own…

  • Winghunter

    Insults Help Democrats Defeat Rich, Religious Nut, Racist, Redneck Republicans http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/insults_he

    • Western Candian

      Trying to figure out who didn't know what was in the linked article….. winghunter, or the people giving him a thumbs down. READ THE ARTICLE PEOPLE.

  • Joel

    Pulling ads and depriving any business of revenue is NOT a new tactic. Jesse Jackson has been doing that for decades because it works. Let's all keep up the good work. It is time to play hardball and win this game. Being tough on people does not mean Christians are not showing love. We are simply opposing those that do not show respect for others beliefs. It was John Calvin's belief that Christian apologetics was put in place "To shut the mouths of the obstreporous." as he put it. It is time we did the same.

  • Cat

    Saturday night made fun of Muslims? Mohamed ran around like their Jesus character did? No,that was an animated show and there were death threats.

    Or to prove your point, provide the many links to Youtubes of Saturday Night’s hilarious send-ups of the Prophet of Allah. Crickets!

    • EarlyBird

      But what a bizzare requirement. Why would SNL HAVE to automatically do a satire of Islam? And why not Judaism, Buddhism or Zoroastrianism for that matter?

      And, would you really be satisfied if SNL had done both a satire of Christianity and Islam? Really?

      • Western Canadian

        No, these hypocrites preen and strut, pretending to be courageous….. And then fail to prove it, by failing to attack those known to be a tad temperamental. Bashing them as hypocrites, is in no way out of line.

        The movie 2012 showed Christian and other monuments getting thrashed…. and the cowards who made the movie, out of cowardice, refused to include anything islamic getting the same treatment.

        And just what is the matter with deciding that if a merchant or company spits in your face, you will not consider them to be fit to do business with? Nothing at all the matter with doing so.

  • trickyblain

    "In an ideal world, such boycotts wouldn’t be necessary. We’d all be able to watch television without being hit over the head by propaganda."

    Not everything is about politics. Rightists take positions that border on insane. "Michelle Obama has a program for kids to get them to exercise and eat right? Well, nothing but Quarter Pounders and the couch for my kid. I'll show them!"

    Relax. It's a skit, not propaganda. It's making fun of the Bible miniseries in which angels appear as ninja warriors. Is Shapiro really too tight-sphinctered to catch that? To see true propaganda, witness the North Korean-style cartoons FPM has been recently publishing.

    Besides, in the 30-plus years of SNL, has there ever even been a Sears or JC Penney ad, anyway?

  • Kate

    Well said

  • Ignacious Hollander

    Let us not forget what humor and parody are. Are comedians allowed free speech? The one above who said the article sounds like Islam is right. Just as we can laugh at Presidents and still love them, so we can with religious personalities. Oversensitivity is as bad as block-headedness. Let us travel the middle path and allow the extremists (of humor) their excesses, or we’ll all be watching a movie like Missing – as our own lives!

    • Western Canadian

      Of course comedians are allowed free speech. Are they free to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre? Only if there is a fire. If someone goes out of their way to offend me (your pathetic and weak posts being an example), am I free to express a negative response? Yes I am. Free speech is a two way transaction. You don’t seem to understand that. Or much else. The article sounds like islam? Beyond a stupid comment, no one has been threatened with violence, or murdered. You don’t seem to understand much of anything….. The reference was to the use of a single word. You seem to have missed that.

  • pierce

    Mr. Polly must be a real turkey. I have read a lot of off the wall comments,but I have never seen that many disapprovals. Minus 29 shows complete ignorance with a lot of stupidity thrown in. Way to go Mr. Polly!