Friday, June 03, 2011

Hallmark, Maxine & Memorial Day

Lots of people don't have to work today.
my motto is "Live every day like it is Memorial Day"

Saturday evening I was feeling a little melancholy, as I do each year at Memorial Day, thinking about the beautiful lives lost serving our country -- especially the ones who have touched my life - James Craig, Gregory Stone, Tom Tucker, Randy Newman, James Holtom, to name a few from the War on Terror - and, many others from Vietnam and those I have learned about over the years from all of our wars.  I was reading tributes people had put up about their loved ones or people who had affected their lives.  I was feeling the best about America and Americans.

Then, and without warning, the Maxine cartoon popped up on my Facebook page.  Wait.  Stop.  One Moment.  You mean Memorial Day is about having a day off?  Within moments the firestorm began.  There were several of us who posted almost simultaneously.  We were absolutely appalled at the message.  Those who were opposed to our feelings, at least saw the message for exactly what it was... the celebration of a day off.  You can read the original comments here.

It didn't take long for the crowds to turn on people.  Messages about attacking Maxine.  Messages about it 'just a cartoon'.  Many, many personal attacks were waged against anyone who suggested that the purpose of Memorial Day was to honor those who had fallen in battle.  At one point it descended to this level:  "Maybe the Bible Belt Inbred's need to do something for their country than sit behind a computer & complain get a life seriously."  She went on to talk about "bible thumpers who voted for Obama should leave Maxine alone."  It was later revealed that she was a Canadian and didn't even know what Memorial Day was.  It was evident that she didn't know what an Obama voter looked like either.   But, that didn't stop her vitriol - which she continues with daily.

Gold Star Wives and Mothers were viciously attacked when they asked that their loved ones were remembered on Memorial Day.  People even started pretending that they were members of Gold Star families to attack others.  

Then, the rewriting of the caption began.  Those who were defending Maxine started to leave out the "which is why" part of the caption and changed the meaning.  The attacking escalated.  People who were out of town and never read the cartoon or the original comments started to opine.

I was stunned at the behavior of the people commenting.  The stupidity and the disrespect were beyond belief.  Post after post after post was made attacking those who wanted a modicum of respect to be made to Memorial Day and the fallen.  And, it's still going on.

All this while, Hallmark moderators did NOTHING.  I guess they had the day, days, off.  Finally, they posted this apology on Tuesday:   

Dear Maxine Fans,

We understand some were offended by Maxine's post on Memorial Day, and for that we are truly sorry. While Maxine is known for her irreverence and playful nature, it can sometimes come off as being thoughtless and insensitive. Please understand that she meant no disrespect to the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom, as well as those who continue to fight and sacrifice so much for our freedom today.

Those of us who help create Maxine regret missing the opportunity to say something meaningful to everybody on Memorial Day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and rest assured we will be more thoughtful next year.

John Wagner
Ideally, that should have been the end to it.  But, it just re-escalated the attacks on anyone who had asked for more respect.  Endless posts were made suggesting that people "get a life" - what an inane little phrase - and censorship.  "It's a cartoon" was repeated ad nauseum.  Yes, a cartoon written by a man who should know better, and admitted he did.  I do remember the days when Maxine was a flag waving patriot curmudgeon.

It is still going on.  Hallmark has begun to scrub some of the posts.  On Wednesday evening they said they would be moderating.  It's hard to tell when things disappear who is doing it, but those annoyed with any criticism continue to start it up over and over and over.

Let's be honest.  Maxine is a cartoon.  Facebook is used as a marketing tool to sell Maxine and other Hallmark merchandise.  Hallmark/Maxine people sat back and watched posts like this one sit on their site for hours. "Well, your stupid son volunteered to be in the military.  It's his own fault he is dead.  He should have made better choices."

I have one thing to say to Hallmark.  I could have forgiven the stupid, stupid sentiment on the Memorial Day cartoon.  I could have accepted your apology.  But, to allow Gold Star Moms and Wives to be derided was beyond the pale.  I went from, "It will be a while before I go into another Hallmark store" to "Hell will freeze over before I do."  Hallmark is a corporation that knows enough about PR to know better.  The ironic thing is that the 'get a life' people brag about not shopping at Hallmark.  Those that were disrespected used to shop at Hallmark, but will no longer.  You lost my business, and it was a considerable one.  I also am learning to like the new card maker I got for my new computer -- this time, I didn't buy Hallmark!


kate said...

I will never step foot in a Hallmark store again and its not because of the Maxine card itself. It's because of the hate of the Maxine fans over the last few days and the fact that Hallmark allowed the savaging of heroes' families to go unabated. Thanks for the post FG.

Flag Gazer said...