Language is prone to evolving over time, which makes for many older movies and books now evoking unintentional giggles. It’s rarely more apparent than in instances where the word “gay” is involved, which can be problematic with contemporary merchandise.
Thus, when Hallmark decided to put out a new ornament, sweater-shaped with one of the lyrics from “Deck the Halls,” the company tried to sidestep a potential problem with a certain line; rather than simply use words from elsewhere in the song (no, that would make too much sense) the company changed it to “Don we now our FUN apparel!”
Predictably, there was consumer outcry at the assumed homophobia; Hallmark quickly responded by issuing…a press release, that’s pretty much only missing the typical “we’re sorry if you were offended” non-apology. It reads:
Hallmark created this year’s Holiday Sweater ornament in the spirit of fun. When the lyrics to “Deck the Halls” were translated from Gaelic and published in English back in the 1800s, the word “gay” meant festive or merry. Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation.
The trend of wearing festively decorated Christmas sweaters to parties is all about fun, and this ornament is intended to play into that, so the planning team decided to say what we meant: “fun.” That’s the spirit we intended and the spirit in which we hope ornament buyers will take it.
Unintentional or not, the seeming corporate homophobia is a disappointment to see from Hallmark. According to GLAAD, Hallmark has had “coming out” cards since 2007, and began its same-sex marriage/commitment line in 2008.
The new “Keepsake Ornament,” reminiscent of traditional ugly Christmas sweaters, is still available on Hallmark’s website despite the controversy, where it’s described with “gaudy can be good! Hang up this flashy sweater to make your tree’s outfit complete. With its catchy phrase, Don we now our FUN apparel! everyone will be in on the joke.”
I can figure out what you were trying to say, Hallmark, but from here, it’s a little hard to laugh.
Slightly more amusing is a line in its description that’s perhaps a little more accurate than they intended: a note that the ornament is “dated.”