The beloved greetings card giant, Hallmark Cards, particularly the one based in Kansas City, designed a darling miniature holiday sweater for its own Keepsake Collection. Selecting lyrics from the popular Christmas carol, Deck the Halls – Hallmark altered a word that has sparked media fire. Now Hallmark Cards is under attack, over the choice between two words: fun versus gay.
The holiday ornament received tongue-lashing reviews over the lyrics on the sweater reading, “Don we now our fun apparel,” rather than the original “Don we now our gay apparel.” Hallmark has not disclosed the sources of discontent, but, allegedly, a member of a gay rights organization in Kansas City roused that Hallmark insulted the gay community by removing the word gay and replacing it with the word fun -on what is Hallmark’s Keepsake Collection, suggesting bigotry against the gay community.
Mixed messages however have come from the community ambassador of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City, Mitch Levine. Levine suggests willful provocation and a measure of ignored commonsense. On the one hand, Levine said, “The whole thing seems silly to us. No one was offended by that in the song and the change was not necessary.” One the other he “wishes so much attention was given to more serious affronts to gays and lesbians, such as homophobic lyrics in some new songs.”
First, when referencing his words “the change was not necessary,” Levine is not the proprietor of Hallmark Cards to decide what is or is not necessary on Hallmark’s products and ornamental keepsakes. Levine said, “The whole thing seems silly to us.” If that is so, then why not leave the matter alone instead of commenting on the semantic?
Further commenting on the semantic, the word gay alludes to multiple meanings which encompass festive and merry, as pointed out by a Hallmark representative. The word also alludes to bright or happy as defined by dictionaries which direct to the word “fun” and thus lends support to this argument that Hallmark Cards is under attack for no good reason.
Hallmark, rightly defending its product, added to this question of the word gay, “Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation.”
Well, how sad is that; having to create products under fear! And how sad, that Hallmark Cards is under attack, over removing “gay” from the precious holiday sweater. When the very ambassador of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, Mitch Levine himself correlated that, “no one was offended by that in the song.”
No one was offended by the word gay in the song because everyone understood that it caroled of festivity and merriment. “Fun” as emphasized Hallmark Cards on its holiday sweater and meant nothing derogatory toward this group that acknowledges the more serious affronts are truly the homophobic verses in some of today’s insulting music.
Hallmark, gracious as ever, has proved inculpable of directly intending to offend anyone. In response to the negative reviews, Hallmark promptly tweeted:
We’ve been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we’re sorry to have caused so much concern. We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products, and in hindsight we realize we shouldn’t have changed the lyrics on the ornament.
Sad bow-down, Hallmark. When as rightful owner of the Keepsake ornament, and a clear conscience – Hallmark could have simply stood by its first stance. The word gay has meant festive or merry since the 1800’s and the word “fun” inspires merriment. Hallmark could have clearly stated they did not regret having changed the lyrics on the ornament to appease anyone with a chip on his or her shoulder, who themselves now distorted the principle meanings of the word gay.
As far as Hallmark’s credible intentions are concerned, Hallmark stated, “The trend of wearing festively decorated Christmas sweaters to parties is all about fun, and this ornament is intended to play into that, so the planning team decided to say what we meant: ‘fun.’ That’s the spirit we intended and the spirit in which we hope ornament buyers will take it.”
True, that today the word gay has multiple meanings, but the problem is not Hallmark’s when the fault-finders seem unable to decipher that not everything, written or spoken is about him or her or one group or another. The fault-finders have placed good old, Hallmark Cards under attack, by twisted reason.
Therefore, buy the 2013 Keepsake miniture sweater ornament from Hallmark Cards, and sing along to “Deck the Halls” for the holidays.
By Christina L. Ibbotson