I thought this was pretty cool. As reported in several blogs, the latest JCPenney catalog contains a picture of a woman and her partner, wearing wedding rings, with their children and grandma.
Predictably, it's drawing protests and calls to action to complain at the individual store level. It's been a while, but I think I'll buy something at JCP this weekend.
The thing I like most about this picture is how regular it is. Nothing about it is political, and it doesn't advocate for anything other than buying JCP's clothes. It's just regular people wearing regular clothes sold by a regular store that, with Sears, has been one of the places "regular" Americans shop for 100+ years. I think this picture makes a very powerful statement just by being a typical catalog page.
Of course, this otherwise mundane catalog picture is now being attacked by One Million Moms, the same group that went after JCP for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. It's actually kind of hard for me to tell what specific objection this group is making. Are they intimating that gay people shouldn't have access to clothes, or that families that look like this page don't exist and so shouldn't be portrayed in a catalog? Their objection seems to focus on whether JCP has maintained the "neutrality" that they expect from it:
JC Penney has laid low in the month of April by airing two different commercials that portrayed them as remaining neutral in the cultural war. Even though JCP seemed to have changed their approach, their May catalog shows they are making a strong effort otherwise.The group goes on to suggest that action is needed at the local level, using direct interaction with local store managers, with the implication that if JCP doesn't move back to the desired "neutral" position, they will lose their business. Per this group, "If they want our business, then we will not be ignored!"
I think that kind of challenge needs a commensurate response, at the same local level. It's been a very long time since I've shopped at JCP but I'll drop by my local one this weekend and buy something. If I have the chance to speak with a manager I'll let him or her know why I'm shopping there. It will be a little difficult to wrap my mind around the concept of JCP being a cool store, but I might be able to make it a habbit.