After the Florida Family Association claimed that General Mills pulled their ads from the ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars because it has lesbian characters, many people wrote in to demand an explanation. And, thanks to your efforts, they’ve now issued a clarification. In a statement on their blog, General Mills claims that the Florida Family Association misrepresented their decision, and that this had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of any characters. Instead, they say that this was due to audience demographics and other elements of the show such as stalking and student-teacher relationships.
There are still a number of things about the situation that don’t quite add up. While General Mills claims that they told the FFA they do not sponsor this show, the original email from their consumer services director did confirm that their ads were aired during the program, and that they had now informed ABC Family that they would no longer be a sponsor. Additionally, the FFA’s form letters to General Mills only mention the presence of lesbian characters, and nothing about any other aspects of the show. Indeed, this was only pointed out after General Mills’ decision received wider attention from readers who noticed that while lesbians were apparently objectionable, statutory rape was not. General Mills now claims that their original response to the FFA was simply misinterpreted.
So, did they just fail to explain themselves sufficiently the first time? Had they already removed their ads from the show? Or did they only do so once it was brought to their attention by the FFA? Did they do this for the reasons they claim, or was it really because of the lesbian characters, with the other reasons only being cited afterwards once it became a problem? Or was the FFA just twisting this to serve their own purposes?
At this point, it’s nearly impossible to determine what really happened here, and it seems unlikely that any further information will come to light. In any case, I’m glad that we were all able to draw attention to this issue, and successfully pressure them to explain themselves. That alone is a very encouraging result.