March 10, 2010 I bought and watched Academy Award nominee Food Inc. last night, the riveting documentary on corporate pressures leaning hard on farmers that’s nothing short of mafia-style thuggery for compliance and adherence to industrial machinations.
Looks to me like we’ve got a similar scenario with Disney strong-arming the powers that be to silence and oust tiny but mighty advocacy group CCFC from their decade long lease at Harvard-affiliated children’s mental health center JBCC…Quel surprise.
Today’s New York Times reveals a scenario that’s akin to the Disney Mouse House springing onto the scene like the giant Hippety Hopper Aussie kanga from the old Looney Tunes cartoon: Boing, Boing, Squash. Splat. Gee, sorry there mate, you got in the way…The sudden clamp down and forced exodus of CCFC from its Harvard-HQ/JBCC allies is beyond chilling.
When a corporation can take a swat at what they no doubt perceive to be a troublesome gnat, using legal firepower and intimidation tactics that not only usurp free speech, but send out a warning signal flare to the rest of us with small and mighty voices to beware of large industrial sized wallops, it’s a dangerous threat to childrens’ advocacy.
Disney’s got some serious ‘splainin’ to do, coming on the heels of CCFC’s successful FTC scrutiny asking Disney to tell the truth about BabyEinstein false edu-claims implying brain advancement and language learning skills (UCR study, Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital, and more proved the edu-claims unfounded) entitling consumers to refund coupons and prompting corporate baby media reps to launch inflammatory rhetoric claiming they were “under attack by propaganda groups.”
It’s a sad day for democracy in action, but for some of us, it’s a cue to turn up the heat even higher at the risk of being singed.
Note to Disney: watchdogs are meant to bark and warn, not be muzzled, beaten to submission through abuse and control.
So with that, I crack open my donation wallet to support CCFC and take what little pittance there is to say ‘power to the people, right on.’
“It’s really chilling, that any corporation, and particularly one marketing itself as child friendly, would lean on a children’s center,” said Dr. Linn, a psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School. “And it’s heartbreaking that a children’s center would cave in.”
I’ll say. As to where they’ll land and how they’ll rise from the ashes of this needlessly volatile flamethrower from Disney?
NYT reports, “The campaign, which has a paid staff of two and a budget of about $250,000, has just moved into new quarters in Boston at Third Sector New England, a group that helps support nonprofit organizations.”
As many of you know, I write about CCFC’s efforts often, and screen their excellent documentary “Consuming Kids” on a regular basis for both youth AND parent media literacy so wish them well with renewed enthusiasm.
My goddaughter Lara, 12, is a HUGE Disney fan, using the theme park like a playground living so close to same in the Orange County environs.
She’d no doubt love to hear what Disney has to say in response, up close and personal, as she’ll be reporting at the event for Shaping Youth. Plus, Lara offers distinctly ‘friendly fire’ as opposed to my strong kids’ advocacy bias…which remains in full undying, unflinching, unfettered support of CCFC in this hogwash of a pig farm/Food Inc. style muddy street fight.
Questions? Want to set up a time? DM me on Twitter: @ShapingYouth or leave a comment here on the blog, or email Amy at ShapingYouth dot org.
Promise I’ll be fair. But I’ll admit, I’m furious about this. NOT OKAY, Disney. NOT okay corporate precedent peeps…Remember, the David and Goliath story?
Slingshots and reverb can strike back at any time with full force. Even by little guys like me.
Related Posts on the Baby Media Controversy via CCFC:
Text from CCFC Newsletter, How YOU CAN HELP!
After ten incredibly successful years, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has been forced to leave Judge Baker Children’s Center (JBCC), a Harvard-affiliated children’s mental health center in Boston. CCFC now has a wonderful new home at Third Sector New England, an organization devoted to promoting a more just and democratic society.
We’re pleased to have landed in such a great place. But we feel that it is important for you to know why JBCC severed our affiliation at a time when our work on behalf of children and families was being heralded worldwide.
As described in today’s New York Times, last fall’s successful campaign to get Disney to offer refunds on Baby Einstein videos came at a price. At the height of the media flurry about the refunds, representatives from Disney contacted JBCC, and our relationship with the Center was changed irrevocably. We were pressured to stop talking to the press about Baby Einstein.
Questions were raised about whether CCFC’s mission was appropriate for a JBCC program. Finally, in January, we were told that we had to leave – quickly. And, for our remaining time under JBCC’s auspices, we were forbidden from conducting any advocacy aimed at a specific corporation or product. You may have noticed that you haven’t heard from us in a while.
It is chilling that any corporation, particularly one marketing itself as family friendly, would lean on a children’s mental health center. We have great admiration for the Center’s staff, and the work they do for children. At the same time, we are deeply saddened that the institution ceded its ground and stopped supporting CCFC and our efforts to challenge powerful interests in order to protect children and support parents.
The sudden loss of the home where we flourished was a tremendous blow. Our move was unexpected and expensive.
We know that Disney – and Nickelodeon, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Scholastic and all of the companies whose profits are threatened when we stand up for children – would love to see CCFC go away. But we are more determined than ever to continue our important work.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Spread the word about CCFC and its unbending commitment to children.
- Share this story with friends, colleagues and family. Blog about it, tweet about it.
- We’re so grateful for the support you’ve already given. Please consider making a special donation to CCFC to help us through this costly transition.
Your tax-deductible donation will ensure that the voices of people like you, who care about children more than the bottom line, will continue to be heard.
Thanks for all you do for children…”
For the first time in three years I’ll be unable to attend the CCFC Summit 2010 coming up April 8-10, as I’ll be ‘unplugged’ on Catalina Island for spring break R&R w/some of our teen tribe.
Please consider attending and live blogging or tweeting the event, titled “Market values, human values and the lives of children” as it’s always got the latest and greatest studies, advocacy and academic indicators of how we can best ‘raise the bar’ to shift toward positive content and digest healthier media as part of our consumption patterns!
Meanwhile, again, let’s all help CCFC to keep their vital voice heard loud and clear.
Our next screening & Q&A discussion of CCFC’s Consuming Kids will take place Tues. April 20, 2010, 6:30-8:30pm Thornhill Elementary School-Montclair 5880 Thornhill Dr. Oakland. PLEASE RSVP HERE ON BRAVE NEW THEATERS FOR HEADCOUNT!!!
Questions? Local contact? Donna Tate: bstill4kidz at yahoo dot com Trailer below: