Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Boycott Boycotting: Part 2 of 3

In response to Christians claiming personal responsibility for the demise of THE BOOK OF DANIEL, I’ve made the claim that these organized boycotts by Christians do not work on Hollywood. (See blog below).

Here’s “Sean’s Reason’s Why Not.” (A reference to a show that nobody protested but still was pulled even quicker than DANIEL.)

1) People who aren’t watching a show and who decide to boycott that show do not affect the numbers.

I am not Latvian. I have never voted in the Latvian elections. And this year, I am boycotting the Latvian elections. And my not voting won’t change the elections one jot or tittle. (Victor Von Doom has a lock.)

Boycotts only work if you take your money away from the business – if you would normally give it to them but then choose not to. THE BOOK OF DANIEL is not a show that the protesters would have watched anyway, so choosing not to watch it made no difference.

2) Misplaced boycotts hurt the shows you don’t mean to hurt.

I remember a few years back when there was an organized boycott against Disney movies. Disney had made some controversial movies (under another company logo), and folks were ticked. So they organized a boycott of all Disney movies, including the inoffensive ones.

Let’s look at a model of such a boycott if it is successful. A movie company, called Goofy Movies, makes movies that Watchgroup likes, and movies it doesn’t like. Watchgroup boycotts, and does major damage, causing Goofy Movies to lose twenty bazillion dollars. Cool, right? Now, imagine what a business chart of sales would have looked like the year prior to the boycott (the chart shows sales by Goofy for both types of films they make, copasetic and controversial):

  • Last year: Copasetic films made $60 bazillion; Controversial made $45 bazillion
  • This year: Copasetic films made $40 bazillion; Controversial made $45 bazillion

You can see that Goofy lost 20 bazillion dollars on their copasetic films – the films Watchgroup regularly attended before the boycott (the controversial films weren’t affected – see number 1 above). The exec in the annual meeting will look at this chart, and think: “Hmmmm. Copasetic movies are losing money. Controversial films, however, are staying steady.”

Any exec worth his salary would draw the proper conclusion: Goofy Movies has to start making more controversy films if they are going to stay in the black.


3) And finally, when we tell the producers of entertainment to dismiss us, they are likely to dismiss us.

Dean Batali wrote a great essay on how Christians (and anybody else!) should respond to what’s on television or at the Cineplex (read his essay in BEHIND THE SCREEN: HOLLYWOOD INSIDERS ON FAITH, FILM AND CULTURE). In it, he wisely points out that letters opening with variants of “You have made me so mad that I’m never going to watch your show anymore…” have just become irrelevant. If the writer isn’t going to watch the show anymore, then there is nothing that the producer can do about it. So why cater to the guy that won’t watch the show? Instead, the producer will focus on the guy that is staying with the show, and maybe finding new viewers that are not like the letter writer.

Seriously, how can we expect Hollywood to start producing the kind of things we like if all we tell them is what we don’t like?

But that is a topic for Part Three.

Just my thoughts,


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