Hallmark has managed to do something that is very rarely heard of in the corporate world – take a small, commonly used product and turn it into a Christmas juggernaut. There was a time very recently when the name “Hallmark” immediately brought to mind greeting cards. Some very clever executives turned that “Hallmark” sentiment into an entire channel, and that channel now basically owns the cheesy Christmas movie market.
The product isn’t complicated – good looking, (mostly) white people fall in love over a snowball fight and copious amounts of hot chocolate. Simple, but effective. Now the holiday honchos are facing an unsurprising challenge to that formula. Some activists have called for Hallmark to include gay representation in their love stories. So, should they do it?
I’m a black woman. There are very rarely black main characters in the Hallmark universe. Typically if a minority character shows up it is in a secondary role. They’re either the best friend who has nothing better to do with her own life then cheer on the protagonist in her romantic struggles, the “magical” wise man or woman who is only there to provide important advice to advance the plot (and who may or may not be Santa reincarnated) or they are the boss of the company the busy businessperson protagonist is trying to merge with.
In short, I don’t go to Hallmark looking for black folks. I know exactly what they do over there and I’m fine with it. I have plenty of places to turn if and when I want to see people who look like me fall in love. When I go to Hallmark, I know I’m going to see people who don’t look like me fall in love. The entire operation is a wholesome, bland fantasy. I love it when they have black actors in title roles, but I in no way require it.
Hallmark has one note. It’s a lucrative note and a strangely addicting one. Their formula thus far has been nothing but ratings gold. Why would they and should they mess with that? If gay people want to see gay Christmas love stories they can look…well, anywhere else in the industry frankly. You won’t see one Hollywood movie that doesn’t have a gay storyline of some kind. LOGO is an entire channel dedicated to gay interests. Showtime’s “The L Word” is back and bigger than ever and that’s an entire series based on the romantic entanglements of a group of lesbian friends.
We live in an era of choice. We are practically overwhelmed with options. Cable, streaming, platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud. The choices are endless. The competition for viewers is fierce. Outside of blockbuster shows like Game of Thrones, the best way to find success for your entertainment product is to find a niche. Hallmark has found that niche.
We should not be demanding they acquiesce their highly successful niche in the name of “inclusion” or whatever politically correct name we’re putting in quotes these days.
The Hallmark brand is a relationship between the consumer and the provider and that’s how it should stay. If someone doesn’t like what they do, the answer is not to force them to do something different. The answer is to take your business elsewhere. We consumers know exactly what we’re getting when we tune into a Hallmark Christmas movie. We’re going to see bland, attractive, straight white people in impossibly quaint towns fall in love with other bland, attractive, straight white people. At some point there will be a sleigh ride, cookie decorating and a precocious child. In the end, everyone will get what they want and no one will be alone for Christmas.
It’s peppermint cotton candy, not activism. Leave Hallmark alone.