When You Care Enough to Send the Very Worst

Last weekend I went shopping at a Hallmark store to buy a birthday card for my youngest son.   I had a hard time finding one appropriate. The “son” cards fell into two categories: for little boys and for grown men.   Hardly anything fitting a child between 8 and 20.

What I had no trouble in finding, however, were raunchy cards which have taken over a sizeable portion of the shelf space.

One card showed a young boy discovering his mother’s tattoo near her rear end. Another one said “wishing you a birthday full of knockers, jugs, and hooters.”

Then there was a card with a drawing of excrement on the front with a saying inside not suitable for a family newspaper.

By the way, all of these tasteless cards were displayed at a child’s eye level with nothing to shield the front of them.

Years ago, there were alternative card shops whose specialty were risqué greeting cards. Never did I think I’d see those products in a Hallmark store.

In the press release for the re-launch of this Shoebox line, the company freely admits that “the entire collection has been updated with . . . language reflected in today’s world” and

“reflects how people today talk, text, tweet and post.”

If the litmus test is “language that reflects today’s world” then why not just delete any level of decency and publish cards with f-bombs and drugs?

On their website, Hallmark states “that our products and services must enrich people’s lives” and that we “are committed to . . . high standards of ethics and integrity.”

How do these repulsive cards follow those guidelines?

I contacted Hallmark to see how they can justify offering such an off-color line of cards and still uphold their company’s core values so explicitly expressed on their website.

Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Steve Doyal told me that “our goal is to appeal to a wide range of people who want to connect with one another through laughter.” It appears that Hallmark is hiding behind the “humor” rationale to explain away the crass words and images that appears on several of their cards today.

Some of the high school sophomores I teach to laugh at immature jokes that are not suitable for young kids. But they are 15-year-olds.   So when companies create sophomoric material, ignoring that there are impressionable children among us, it boggles the mind.

Anyone who wishes to provide feedback on these vulgar products can comment on Hallmark’s website. Curiously, when I submitted a comment mentioning a card with multiple uses of the f-word that is slang for flatulence, the following error message appeared: “We’re sorry, but we have encountered the following issue(s): your text contains inappropriate language.”

Exactly my point.

According to company spokesperson Jaci Twidwell, Hallmark does have taste guidelines, yet strives to provide a “wide breadth of products” to their consumer base.

Even if one allows it is in good taste to print a greeting card depicting excrement, why not at the very least instruct your merchants to display these cards in some way so children don’t see them?

So in order to sell more cards, the standard has to be lowered, the content edgy.

The company’s long-standing slogan “when you care enough to send the very best” seems to have been forgotten.

I wonder what Hallmark CEO Donald J. Hall, Jr.’s grandfather and company founder J.C. Hall would think of this new line of greeting cards. His reaction might be so objectionable that it would fit right in among the other Shoebox offerings.

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