"Morally Responsible" mutual fund firm blasts WalMart for displaying Cosmo
August 15, 2002 2:53 PM   Subscribe

"Morally Responsible" mutual fund firm blasts WalMart for displaying Cosmo
The Timothy Plan is launching a national campaign to get WalMart to take "soft-core pornography" like Cosmopolitan off its checkout shelves, or wrap them in opaque covers like Playboy. The group alleges that Cosmo and magazines like it are part of a "slippery slope. It's the initiation to hard core pornography, child molestation, bestiality and worse."
posted by me3dia (28 comments total)
Shades of Taliban.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:57 PM on August 15, 2002

More from the press release:
There is a parallel, [President Arthur] Ally claims, in Wal-Mart's "profit-at-any-cost" attitude regarding Cosmopolitan magazine and the subtle theme of declining corporate moral and ethical values that seems to be creeping into big business today.
What kind of crack are they smoking? I can't say I don't agree that corporate morals have declined a bit, but I don't think Cosmo is a culprit.
posted by me3dia at 3:00 PM on August 15, 2002

That's how I got started--first a little Cosmo and now I'm a raging deviant.
posted by nacho7 at 3:02 PM on August 15, 2002

If you are concerned with the moral issues (abortion, pornography, anti-family entertainment, non-married lifestyles, alcohol, tobacco and gambling)

I am very concerned with moral issues when it comes to investing. Like decieving stockholders a la Enron and WorldCom, racism like Texaco, enviornmental destruction like Monsanto, and raging greed like countless other corporations I could mention.

The Timothy Plan seems silent on these moral issues strangely.
posted by jonmc at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2002

I started to realize that Cosmo was evil right around when they advocated women fake cleavage via duct-tape. Now look at where we are. Women openly using padded bras. Talk about a slippery slope. The link to declining corporate morals is obvious. If boobs can be padded then so can financial statements! Shrinkwrap the Cosmo and unwrap the Playboy. At least then we could see that there is no duct-tape deceit! Transparency and Openness is the solution.
posted by srboisvert at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2002

Um, this is WalMart, the chain that won't sell recordings that require parental advisories? They're already riding in the right-wing handbasket. Seems an odd target.

Oddly, this fund will not invest in manufacturers of alcohol or tobacco, but sees no problem with investing in companies that sell them, such as...WalMart (through Sam's Clubs).
posted by chino at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2002

I'd say this firm shouldn't invest in anything to do with National Geographic or anything advertised in the Sears catalogue either, especially if it's on the pages near the junior-miss underwear section.

They're gateways, you know.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:11 PM on August 15, 2002

Sure, their criteria are stupid, but I admire their willingness to abstain (or at least make a significant effort to abstain) from profitable investments because of moral qualms.

Still, I can't help but find it strange that people care more about alleged soft-core porn then their communities being bled white by a ravenous corporate behemoth. Go figure.
posted by amery at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2002

The link is obvious - Cosmo's readership of 17 - 35 year old females are clearly the biggest consumers of hardcore pornography the group most likely to be involved in bestiality and child molestation.
posted by Summer at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2002

I dressed as a Cosmo victim for Halloween once. Too tight bustier, overly blushed cheekbones, and gel-sculpted hair. I may mock the rag, but I certainly don't want it to be forced out of my sacred mega chain stores. The sexual deviance continuum they're suggesting is absurd and troubling. If the Timothy Plan folks equate looking at women popping out of their clothes with goat play, I'm not sure where their minds are.
posted by dannajanet at 3:16 PM on August 15, 2002

The group alleges that Cosmo and magazines like it are part of a "slippery slope. It's the initiation to hard core pornography, child molestation, bestiality and worse

Yeah, and groups like that are part of a slippery slope promoting the squelching of free speech, discrimination, book burning, and worse.

I do find it interesting, though, that Artie isn't "crusading" against Maxim, Stuff, FHM, etc. Maybe he wants to get his kicks but deny his wife hers...hypocrisy in action no doubt.
posted by PeteyStock at 3:24 PM on August 15, 2002

I can't say that I agree with the entire agenda of the group, but I do see their point on this matter.

"My request was not that Wal-Mart
stop selling such magazines -- this is not about censorship -- but simply to
remove them from areas where every man, woman and child that goes through your
stores will have them staring them in the face."

Since Wal-Mart has already expressed an interest in making its stores "family friendly" with the whole parental advisory route, they seem a natural choice to implement the procedures suggested. I'm sure many parents would prefer to teach their children about sex and such in a healthy manner, as opposed to the commercialized conceptions of beauty, fidelity, and relationships. Why not put them in the bags? It's be a nice gesture, and i wouldn't mind not having to be bombarded with lewd innuendo every time I want to make a purchase. Not that I actually shop at Walmart.
posted by redsparkler at 3:31 PM on August 15, 2002

"I dressed as a Cosmo victim for Halloween once. Too tight bustier, overly blushed cheekbones, and gel-sculpted hair. I may mock the rag, but I certainly don't want it to be forced out of my sacred mega chain stores...."

Yeah DannaJanet, I mean where would we get our ideas for next Halloween?

..Okay. The one-liner was funny in my head. Never mind.

If there's a problem with moral decline in this society, The Timothy Plan wants to put a bandaid on it. Hide the depravity so we can pretend it doesn't exist. Fundamentalist Christians call it keeping temptation at bay. I call it stupid. Cuz dat's whut it iz. Metaphorically, it's like this:

A guy goes into a hospital with a severed limb and the doctors fix the hangnail on his other limb. Why? Cuz they know how to fix a hangnail. They're flummoxed when they look at the severed limb so they just pretend it's not there. A less exagerrated metaphor would be a patient who has symptoms which lead to some unknown disease which the doctors haven't figured out, so they treat the symptoms of the disease rather than the cause, cuz they honestly don't know what causes it and don't have the money or resources to figure it out.

Why do some people embrace pornography while others shun it? Why do some people enjoy life directly while others consider that wallowing in muck? I honestly don't know. Why are clothes even necessary?

Seems the human psyche is designed to create more problems for itself than it resolves. We worry about minutiae. Whether or not a five year old sees a scantily clad lady seems to be the least of our problems, yet so many insist on rallying around worthless causes. But then again, I'm always rallying around the support local music and independent film banner and people say I'm following a worthless cause. I dunno. Ecclesiastes was right. Life is useless. It's like chasing the wind. But so long as nobody farts in my wind I'm gonna keep chasing.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:33 PM on August 15, 2002

Interesting article about socially responsible investing that quotes the Timothy Plan president: "The Bible says none are righteous, and that extends to companies. But there is a difference between being passively righteous and pursuing an unholy agenda." Btw, their criteria also excludes companies with domestic partner benefits.

Here's Yahoo's comparison of one Timothy Plan fund against performance of other funds in its category. Its best performance, the 3-year measure, puts it 66th out of 184 funds. This year, it's 137th out of 268. Here's Morningstar's take on Timothy's "Aggressive Growth A" and Conservative Growth A" plans. Of the rest, only the two "Fixed Income" plans seem to be doing well. A more fair comparison, of course, would balance those charts with overall performances of a wide range of funds. Anyone have a good link for that?

Btw, nice post, me3dia. This is a textbook way of making a front page news post -- an interesting news story link and a link or two for context.
posted by mediareport at 3:54 PM on August 15, 2002

After I have stood in the checkout of my local supermarket paging through a Cosmo, I always have the strangest urge to run home and do a strip tease for my cat.

I guess now I know why.....
posted by Windigo at 4:01 PM on August 15, 2002

In his initial letter to Scott, Ally challenged the chief executive to "go into any of your stores, publicly introduce yourself as the president of Wal-Mart, get on the speaker system and read aloud to your store's customers all
the words on the cover of any issue of Cosmopolitan magazine."

Actually, this is pretty funny, and points out a hypocrisy that is really there. Of course, I think the implication is that Wal-Mart should just go ahead and sell music with explicit lyrics. And, of course, Ally cuts his own credibility down considerably by referring to Cosmo as soft-core pornography. The poor guy needs to get out more (or stay in more, maybe).

A mutual fund has every right to not invest in a company if they find what they do morally objectionable. But how likely is Wal-Mart to care? Do they really need this investment money?
posted by bingo at 4:19 PM on August 15, 2002

the randalls grocery store i frequent in austin sometimes has a cardboard randalls sign over the cosmos in the checkout line (sort of like playboy and penthouse are covered at the local qwiki-mart)

and since it's covered up, i just have to look! and i'm so disappointed to not find complete nudity.

i always thought it was management thinking a cover was particularly racy. now i wonder if it is the manager, the store, or its parent's policy -- or if they've bowed to the pressure of this group.
posted by birdherder at 4:23 PM on August 15, 2002

Labeling Cosmo in this way is crazy. But honestly, if there was an anti-Cosmo demonstration on one sidewalk, and a pro-Cosmo demonstration on the opposite one, and I approached, I'd keep on walking. Cosmo belongs to the culture of the nulle.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:23 PM on August 15, 2002

I just bought it for the perfume strip! I didn't know there was all that goat-fucking in there! Now I'm a deviant!
posted by slipperywhenwet at 6:29 PM on August 15, 2002

Cosmo doesn't even count as soft-core porn and had been irrelevant to anyone with a brain, for quite awhile. Like that was a news flash.

So they are the gateway to hardcore porn? Much like Walmart is the gateway to stupidity. I swear to god my IQ drops the second I walk in.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:36 PM on August 15, 2002

Invest in who you want. If you don't like a company, don't invest in them. It's that simple. Trying to change WalMart's behavior to suite your personal agenda is conceited and arrogant. Why do people always have to be convinced that their was is THE way. Did everyone forget that this (the US) is supposed to be a land of Freedom?

And why object to a couple magazines by the check-out lines? Has anyone seen the in-store displays? When I see the billboard size pictures of twelve year old girls dressed in tight shorts, half shirts and professionally applied makeup, I wonder exactly whom they are trying to target with those ads.
posted by cheineking at 7:40 PM on August 15, 2002

I actually admire these guys' consistency. If you're opposed to porn to begin with, it makes a certain amount of sense to be opposed to the nearly-naked pics on Cosmo. What surprises me is that the feminist anti-porn movement never tried to do anything like this. Every time I read Catharine MacKinnon ranting about the objectification of women, I thought of Cosmo more than Playboy. I could never figure out why women-as-object with clothes on was any better than women-as-object with clothes off. But for some reason, they took that position, and Playboy (which at least tried to proclaim its respect for women and give to feminist causes) lost ground to publications like Maxim, which really do seem to treat women with disrespect. But at least the women are wearing clothes now. Yay Catharine.

So why aren't they targeting Stuff, Maxim etc? My guess would be that Wal-Mart probably doesn't stock those to begin with. I wouldn't know though; I've never been inside a Wal-Mart.

On preview: well, good point about the display ads, cheineking. OK, maybe these people are as dumb as everyone seems to be saying. Never mind.
posted by ramakrishna at 7:46 PM on August 15, 2002

After I have stood in the checkout of my local supermarket paging through a Cosmo, I always have the strangest urge to run home and do a strip tease for my cat.

Buys cat suit and bus ticket.
posted by jonmc at 9:42 PM on August 15, 2002

It is indeed a slippery slope. Due to some high school journalism courses and various other times when I've needed to cut out pictures of stuff I started reading it. First just Cosmo, Seventeen and maybe YM. I'd pass it off by doing the quizzes and messing around with female friends about it. Then I moved on to the harder stuff. Teen People, Cosmo Girl... even the British mags: UK Cosmo, Sugar, 19... with no end in site. Standing around at the bookstore worried that someone might notice the massive stack of pure trash I'm sneaking back to my seat, trying to cover it up as the guise of getting it for my girlfriend. I guess I just have to admit it, I'm a sick addict for vapid women's magazines and there's nothing I can do.

If it's all about porn though, shouldn't it be a sticky slope?
posted by Belgand at 10:58 PM on August 15, 2002

a) wal-mart can choose whatever products they wish to sell to their customers based on whatever criteria they choose

b) private individuals can choose to shop there or not depending on their own beliefs

c) this group seems to be doing little more than exercising their right to criticize the policies of a corporation they happen to disagree with

d) this is a non-story
posted by zoopraxiscope at 5:05 AM on August 16, 2002

Fretting about scantily-clad women on magazine covers is a little ridiculous, and certainly trivial. However, you begin to wonder why rags devoted to women would be so blatantly targeting the eyes (and libidos) of men...

Our society is strange in its competing Victorian shame of sexuality and its childish fascination for porn, swimsuit editions, Victoria's Secret catalogs, Cosmo covers, etc. Over in Europe, nudity isn't the societal "problem" it is here. A friend who stayed with a family as an exchange student remarked how women would change right in front of him. There was nothing sexual about it- just a casual change of clothes. While I do not claim that Europeans have all the answers, they do seem to have a healthier attitude towards these things.
posted by drstrangelove at 6:38 AM on August 16, 2002

"If it's all about porn though, shouldn't it be a sticky slope?"
LOL! Quote of the week! Thanks, Belgand!
posted by whuppy at 10:38 AM on August 16, 2002

Over in Europe, nudity isn't the societal "problem" it is here.

Yeah, I heard an American director explain it this way: The Americans offended by sex and the Europeans are offended by violence.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:24 PM on August 16, 2002

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