Crusader Donald Wildmon and his American Family Assn. are threatening to boycott Blockbuster Video, the nation’s largest vidstore chain, for carrying NC-17 movies, which AFA considers pornographic.
The Tupelo, Miss., group wrote to its supporters urging them to mail a preprinted postcard to Blockbuster chairman Wayne Huizenga that states, “I’m going to take my business to another videostore until you stop carrying NC-17.”
In his letter to supporters, Wildmon said AFA plans to mail about 1 million of the “Fight NC-17 Action Packets” to “Christians and concerned individuals,” at a cost of about $350,000.
A spokesman for Wildmon said no national effort is underway to picket the Blockbuster stores, but AFA’s 635 local chapters may choose to do so. Rallying to Blockbuster’s defense is the constitutional liberties group People for the American Way. Said Michael Hudson, v.p., “We are considering how we can blunt the Wildmon boycott by spreading the word to our membership and other like-minded organizations.”
Blockbuster officials had no comment on the Wildmon action. The 1,600-store chain never has carried X-rated films, and Blockbuster’s corporately owned stores (about 55% of the total) also did not carry such controversial releases as MCA/Universal’s “The Last Temptation Of Christ” or 2 Live Crew’s “Banned In The USA.”
Since the Motion Picture Assn. of America announced the NC-17 rating, some vidstores have found themselves in a dilemma, becoming vulnerable to anti-porn activists, even if they eschew hardcore films and stock only NC-17 titles.
The MPAA announced last September that the criteria for rating a film NC-17 is the same as it was for rating one X in the past. Wildmon’s group was quick to point that out in its recent missive, saying, “Don’t be fooled. It is still an X-rated film.”
Not so, responds Jack Valenti, MPAA prexy: “The rating system cannot make quality judgments, saying a film is non-serious or hardcore. All the NC-17 rating says is this is not a release for children. If you’re a vidstore owner and you’re [renting] an NC-17 film that’s suitable for adults, I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t make it available; you’re not saying everybody in the country has to see it.”
Valenti branded efforts like Wildmon’s as being “antagonistic to the First Amendment.”