Your Boycott Is Futile (And How to Fix It)

So, you’re considering boycotting the newest film in the Disney collection? You’ve found some items in the movie that you disagree with and would prefer not to see the movie. You’re now on a mission to get all of your friends and family to do the same! Onward Christian soldiers, to the battle lines to stand there and do… well… uhm… nothing?

The problem with most boycotts of the Christian variety is that they are fundamentally campaigns of inaction. It’s much like saying, “All right men, steel yourselves for the coming battle in the ‘Culture War.’ Our next move is to continue to sit here with crossed arms and scowls.” Really? Is this the best we can come up with?

History lesson: American Christianity has already tried a Disney boycott. Do you remember the nineties? Do you remember when a major denomination suddenly declared Disney the enemy and all families should give no more money or time to Disney and its related media? I do. I remember almost missing Hercules because it was released during the “Boycott.” (To be fair, it’s not a great movie… but I have a soft spot in my heart for its art style and dialogue writing.) Did that boycott accomplish anything? Did it last? Did it slowly die as the leadership of that denomination realized that people were still watching these movies and spending money on trips to Disney World/Land anyway? (In order the answers are no, no, yes.)

So what’s different this time? Is there a real call to action? Is something going to be done with the money that would have been spent on tickets to Beauty and the Beast? I haven’t heard of anything like this. For the average family, a theater trip is around $40. What could $40 do to change the life of someone around you in your community?

In today’s culture Christians are often known by what they’re against rather than what they’re for. But I seem to recall Jesus saying something about we should be known by our love… It’s a shame that such a positive thing as “looking out for the good of others” has been replaced with “what makes us uncomfortable or what we disagree with.”

Now, I haven’t seen the movie yet, so, again, I cannot give a fair review. But here’s the rub: if something in the movie does reflect one of the more sweeping societal changes in our American society, what makes you think your child won’t see it elsewhere? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to have the discussion at home after a shared experience rather than let someone else teach your child about the ethics your family has chosen to uphold?

I’m not advocating for seeing Beauty and the Beast, though I will most likely be going to see it. (My wife and I played Belle and the Beast the same year in separate troupes. It’s one of those shared stories that we enjoy.) Disney has spent enough on advertising that one mediocre blogger (me) won’t make much of a difference. And I’m not advocating for a boycott, either. But, if I were to advocate for a boycott, I would recommend putting some money where your mouth is. I would recommend donating the money that would have gone toward tickets to a local food bank, community kitchen, or homeless shelter. I would recommend spending an hour or two volunteering to spend the run time of the movie doing something to make a difference in your community.

As parents, we all have decisions to make regarding media. Your decisions are yours to make. My only caution is to think all the way through your decisions to see what the long-term, or maybe unexpected, outcomes may be. Do our children see us as people of action, of love, and of charity? Do our children see a culture of anger, complacency, and clenched fists?

How will your family handle social action: volunteering, boycotts, marches, protests, just to name a few? How do your discussions and reactions to these things affect your children? How are you modeling Christ’s love in response to these things?

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