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Disney Role in Bush Documentary Sparks More Boycotts

Seven years after Southern Baptists put The Mouse on notice for moral missteps, some conservatives are calling for another Disney boycott—this time because the corporation is financing a controversial documentary by Michael Moore.

Miramax Films, a division of Disney, recently announced it will provide “bridge financing” for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Moore’s documentary “Fahrenheit 911,” which will investigate links between the Bush and bin Laden families, according to Hollywood trade publication Variety.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

Moore topped headlines after this year’s Oscar ceremony, when he took the stage for winning best documentary with “Bowling for Columbine,” a film about guns in America, which has grossed more than $40 million worldwide. 
“We like nonfiction, yet we live in fictitious times,” Moore said from the stage on Oscar night. “We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.”

Moore’s speech invited a cacophony of boos and applause, as well as a post-Oscar bidding battle for his next project—”Fahrenheit 911.” Icon Productions, headed by actor Mel Gibson, emerged the winner.  
However, the production company, which is currently working on a feature film chronicling Jesus Christ’s last hours, dropped its financing of the documentary, Variety reported in early May.

That’s when Miramax stepped in. 
“As quickly as the Bush bashers disappeared, they could return,” Variety reported, “and Miramax is betting Moore’s pic will have a captive audience when released to coincide with Bush’s re-election run in 2004.”

Such thinking has also stirred the pot of dissent, as evidenced by comments from Steve Wood, a columnist for GOPUSA. 
Wood, who characterized Moore as “a misguided buffoon,” wrote that the documentary “will be a political hatchet job, designed to hurt President Bush’s popularity leading up to the 2004 election.”

Wood suggested that Moore’s documentary amounted to a clever way around campaign finance reform legislation, which bans issue advertising 30 days before the election. 
Wood asked: “Will this movie be considered what it is—nothing more than a full-featured issue ad against President Bush during the 2004 election? And therefore, would the movie be banned from all theaters and any press coverage during those last 30 days?”

As for boycotts, Wood said: “There’s already talk of boycotts and vacation cancellations. And I’d have to say that we will certainly think twice now about spending our hard-earned money at Disney, knowing that it might be used to support someone like Michael Moore.” 
Other disgruntled commentators have joined Wood.

“Can Mickey’s people at least refrain from actively supporting an anti-family and/or anti-conservative agenda?” asked Tom Perrault, Weblog editor at CrossWalk.com. 
“While polls showed overwhelming support for the president’s war against Saddam Hussein’s evil regime,” wrote Perrault, “Moore has generally spoken in terms which indicate he would’ve gladly manned an Iraqi anti-aircraft gun had he been able to squeeze into the seat.”

“Thanks to Disney, Moore will have a bigger budget for his next political rant,” wrote Perrault.
 
And at Free Republic, a Web site for conservative grassroots organizing, users called for a boycott.
 
“Of course we must boycott Disney and Miramax,” wrote one forum participant, to which another participant responded: “Since I already boycott [D]isney, how do I double boycott them? 
Southern Baptists passed a resolution at their 1996 annual meeting threatening a boycott if Disney continued its “antiChristian and antifamily trend.” Believing its concerns were being ignored, the SBC launched its boycott in 1997.

Five years later, Baptist Center for Ethics Executive Director Robert Parham was asking what had happened to the boycott. Parham searched the convention’s news Web site and found its boycott coverage in steady decline. 
As for this latest boycott, a source close to Miramax told MSNBC.com, “We’ve weathered storms before.”
 
EthicsDaily.com reached a Miramax spokesman by phone in New York, but Miramax declined comment about the boycott.

Moore’s book, Stupid White Men, is currently No. 8 on the New York Times best-seller list.

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.