Battleground movie theaters: Skeptical activism versus the anti-vaccine movement

It figures.

I’m gone for a couple of days, paying little attention to the blogosphere or the Internet, and something big has to happen.

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when in the context of asking how we should respond to the anti-vaccine movement I discussed a recent campaign by the anti-vaccine group SafeMinds to infiltrate theaters with its deceptive anti-vaccine public service announcement (PSA) over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend? Well, it turns out that two of the three biggest American anti-vaccine groups, SafeMinds and Generation Rescue, teamed up to try to raise money to get these PSAs shown in as many theaters as they can over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Well, Skepchick Elyse Anders found out which theaters were going to run the PSA and urged Skepchick readers to launch a campaign of letters, e-mails, and telephone calls urging the owners of these these theaters to reconsider. In fact, so successful has she been so far that a representative from the AMC Theatres chain has replied and stated that the SafeMinds videos will not be shown at any AMC theatre.

Damn. Yesterday morning and I missed the fun. Oh, well, better late than never. It also warms the cockles of my blinking light-filled Plexiglass heart to see that other skeptics are there to take up the slack when I’m not around. My inner circuits blink faster with pride at this skeptical activism. No doubt SafeMinds and Generation Rescue will shortly be whining about how we are “suppressing” their right to free speech. Never mind that we skeptics are simply excercising our First Amendment rights by organizing to show businesses that there is a price if they sell advertising to loons spreading a dangerous message not based in science.

At this point, I figure, though, that, even late, the best thing I can do now is to point you to Elyse’s post and point out her latest update:

Here is the list of theaters who will be airing this PSA (I will update when necessary):

****UPDATE: AMC has replied saying that they will not be airing this or any other vaccine ads.****

  • Empire 25 in New York City
  • Long Beach 26 in Long Beach, California (Not AMC. Get on it Long Beach! Don’t let this be viewed on your watch!)
  • River East 21 in Chicago, IL
  • Boston Common 19 in Boston
  • Phipps Plaza 14 in Atlanta
  • Tyson’s Corner 16 in McLean, VA
  • Northpark Center 15 in Dallas, TX
  • Rosedale 14 in Saint Paul, MN
  • Pavillions 15 in Denver, CO (Denver will not be airing the PSA.)

If any of these theaters is near you, you need to contact them. Let them know that you are displeased with their decision to air this commercial. We are calling for a boycott of all theaters showing this ad.

If you are not near any of these theaters, but know someone who is, please urge them to call, write and boycott.

And if your local theater does not think it should have to pull the ad, contact your local skeptics and organize. Get accurate vaccine informational materials together and hand them out to movie goers (off the premises). Contact your local media. Do something. Do something good. Do something to stop Age of Autism’s lies. Do something to stop your community from being threatened. Do something to save lives.

You have until Thursday.


I agree. Go. So does Podblack Cat.

Also remember this. These are not autism charities. They are anti-vaccine groups. Sullivan (remember Sullivan?) put it best in his post on this matter where he lays out what the real fundraising priorities are of these groups based on where they put their money. Sullivan notes that three people donated to the SafeMinds campaign at the $1,560 level, enough to show the PSA on 25 screens in New York or Los Angeles. He notes that many others donated at lower levels. Then he notes:

The Age of Autism had another fund-raiser recently. That story was met with skepticism even though it was, I have been told, supported by Andrew Wakefield himself. The fundraiser was for legal aide for an autism family. So far, about $1800: enough to put the PSA on a little more than 25 screens. None of the prominent “editors” of the Age of Autism blog came forward in support.

SafeMinds. Age of Autism. At least you know what their priorities are. Autism isn’t number 1, vaccines are.

Same as it ever was.

Hmmm. Maybe the nefarious Bonnie Offit really is working her magic.