Outrage as picture of Elton John's baby is covered with shield by U.S. supermarket to 'protect children'By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:04 AM on 27th January 2011
It is a family photo of two obviously delighted parents and their sleeping newborn son, full of typically cheesy smiles.
But a U.S. supermarket has deemed a magazine cover showing Elton John, his husband and baby Zachary offensive, covering it with a 'family shield' to protect children - the same shield used to cover pornography.
The move has sparked outrage amongst civil rights groups, with representatives from GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) investigating.
Protective shield: Elton John and his newborn son were deemed too offensive for young shoppers at a grocery store in Arkansas, U.S.
Proud fathers: But photos of Elton John and partner David Furnish 'offended' shoppers in the U.S.
Local resident Jennifer Huddleston took a photo of the shield and posted it on Plixi.
'This was taken at my local grocery store,' she wrote. 'I was shocked and horrified.
'They are saying they need to keep children from seeing it, because it is a gay family.'
The picture immediately sparked controversy across the blogosphere.
But a company spokesperson defended the shield, saying Harps bosses reacted in response to 'several' customer complaints at that particular store.
He insisted the move was 'in no way our opinion on this issue', adding, 'we do not have an opinion on this issue.'
But others were quick to complain about the shield, with many urging a boycott of the chain.
Even international news outlets carried the story.
Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail wrote: 'Heaven forbid your seven-year-old, while waiting in line with you at the grocery store checkout, be exposed to the gays.'
And British paper the Sun wrote: 'Either Elton's baby is in some way offensive or there's some serious homophobia going on here.'
Elton and the Gnomeshttp://1019litefm.radio.com/2011/01/26/elton-and-the-gnomes/
BEVERLY HILLS, California – Sometimes a news conference can take a most unlikely turn.
On the other hand, perhaps you need someone like Elton John to make it happen.
Which is why, only minutes into a session with a room full of journalists, Sir Elton is calling on Americans to stop hating each other.
You see, he has this new movie called Gnomeo & Juliet arriving Feb. 11. It’s an animated frolic that draws on Shakespeare to spin a contemporary tale about a destructive feud between blue garden gnomes and red garden gnomes – and it’s all played out against a soundtrack of classic tunes by John and longtime lyricist partner, Bernie Taupin.
When John first discussed the project more than a decade ago, he didn’t see it as a metaphor for the political and ideological tensions poisoning American society today. “If we’d have had the foresight to do that, I would have said we’re f—ing geniuses,” he laughs.
But now, given the political furor surrounding the recent shootings in Arizona, he finds the movie timely.
“It just so happens that it’s coming out three weeks after the President made his speech in Tucson . . . which was a very poignant moment in American history. . . . I do feel that there is a message in the film – like we spend so much hating each other because our parents tell us that’s what we have to do. I grew up conservative because my mom was a conservative, and when I finally realized what conservatives were, I changed my mind immediately!”
The new film focuses on the forbidden love between Gnomeo (James McAvoy), star gardener of the Blue Gnomes, and Juliet (Emily Blunt) the beautiful but fiery daughter of the Red Gnome leader.
“I think this is a storyline saying that we should get on if we’re Protestant or Catholic, or Muslims or Jews, if we’re Democrats or Republicans, ” John says.
For him, America has become a place of dangerous rhetoric.
“As I grow older, it saddens me to see a country that I love so much having so much of a gulf between people. They don’t meet in the middle and talk and put their differences aside.”
John, 63, feels so passionately about all this that he’s prepared to bring it down to a personal level this morning. In addition to chatting about Gnomeo & Juliet, he also wants to discuss the state of society – which, to him, also means his own sexuality, his long-term relationship with Canadian producer David Furnish, and the joys of parenthood.
He cites one illuminating example of people coming together. John is advocating for the repeal of California’s controversial Proposition Eight, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. The other night, he played a Proposition Eight concert in the presence of “two great lawyers who are fighting for this same-sex relationship in California. One of them is a staunch Republican and one is a staunch Democrat, yet they met and they both think this is the right thing to do. That is what life is all about. It’s not about hatred. “
He wants Gnomeo & Juliet to entertain, but he also wants its message to be heard: “I think, at the end of the film, when they’ve destroyed both their gardens, they actually say, `Enough! This is ridiculous! Let’s get on with our lives. Let’s be friends.”‘
It was former Disney boss Dick Cook who suggested a film with a background score drawing on the classic Elton John-Bernie Taupin back catalogue, with the odd new song thrown in for good measure.
Among the new songs the dynamic duo created was Hello, Hello – the love-at- first-sight number marking the moment when Gnomeo meets Juliet. This one is sung by John and Lady Gaga.
“The lady Gaga duet came about really by me tying her down and hitting her over the head and saying, `Will you do this song with me?’ John declares.
Well, not really. The two are pals, and Gaga was a house visitor last year when the two were working on an AIDS benefit. “We just mentioned the film, and she said, ‘I’d love to do it.”‘
Because Lady Gaga was on such a hectic touring schedule, the two had to record their tracks separately – “but she added so much of her own magic to the song and gave it new life. Obviously, it was a duet, and I was looking for someone to sing it with, and because she’s one of my new best friends and I love her to death, it was nice that she was able to do it and it worked out brilliantly.”
John’s own favourite song in the film is Love Builds a Garden, about the redeeming power of love over hate. But in addition, the soundtrack is chock full of vintage material from the past, including a new take on Crocodile Rock featuring Nelly Furtado, as well as such established classics as Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Bennie and the Jets; and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, which John sees as terrific background music for the film’s great lawn-mower race.
“Even though it’s all our back catalogue plus a couple of new songs, it doesn’t feel like it’s overbearing or an ‘Elton John movie.’ I’m glad it’s turned out like that, because I didn’t want it to be just bang, bang, bang, all catalogue stuff.”
This much-honoured knight of the realm is dressed in his usual funereal black. The hair is uncombed. The familiar spectacles – round-framed and blue- tinted – are in place, although he confides he doesn’t really need them any more, now that he’s had laser surgery. He’s in a friendly mood – yet his command of the room is total.
Perhaps the notorious hissy fits, on which the tabloids have such a fixation, do continue to occur, but today’s image is of a serene and contented man and artist who’s full of entertaining revelations. For example:
* He doesn’t expect to perform at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. “I’m probably busking outside, but as far as I know, I don’t think so. It’ll probably be someone like Barry Manilow! Someone younger and more attractive!”
* No, he wasn’t bullied at school. “I can’t remember being bullied at school, ever. I was quite large in those days. Usually, if you’re going to be a bully, you pick on someone who is small. But no, I didn’t bully anybody, and I don’t remember being bullied. I went to a mixed school – not just a boy’s school, which I was very glad I went to.”
* How he really feels about gardens, the setting for the battles between the Reds and the Blues. “I grew up at my grandmother’s house and it was a beautiful garden, but I used to hate mowing the lawn and weeding, which is what you do when you’re a kid. I loathe gardening, but I love gardens.”
* His favourite funny scene in the movie sends up his own image – a flamboyant few seconds showing his grinning animated self pounding the ivories. “It’s very important, I think, if you’re British, to take the piss out of yourself. . . . Suddenly, there I am – Glam Gnome – the `Gnomosexual’ in the film.
John is committed to gay rights, but he’s matter-of-fact about his own sexuality these days. Asked about his “adventures in daddyland,” he sounds exactly like any parent of a lively infant. Zachary Levon Furnish-John arrived by surrogate birth on Christmas Day.
“It’s fantastic. I mean, I love the smell of nappies, diapers! Obviously, it’s been the most wonderful thing that’s probably ever happened to me after meeting David. The most surprising thing is that it’s been very relaxing, because this little soul that you’re feeding and you’re changing and that you’re telling bedroom stories to is a blank palette, a blank canvas, and all it needs is love and nurturing. It’s just the most wonderful feeling.”
Zachary is another example of how life has changed for him in the last 20 years. It’s a life no longer defined only by music.
“You know that you can give a certain quality of performance, but as I grow older, I’m much more content in my own skin, because when I come offstage now, I have a balance in my life. Until I found that in 1990, I didn’t. I came offstage and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Now I come home.
“I fly home every night after a show. I get back in my own bed. I have a wonderful partner. I have wonderful friends. I don’t take drugs any more. It’s a whole new world out there. I can remember words to the songs.”
At this point, reporters break into laughter.
“It’s great,” Sir Elton continues. It’s just sensational, what’s happened to me in the last few years. Truly, the older I get, I think I’m singing better live. . . . I really appreciate my performing so much better now as I get older than I did. I don’t take it for granted any more. I really relish it and love it.”
And the secret of a happy marriage?
“Communication,” John says promptly. “Talk to each other. Lady Antonia Fraser, who was married to Harold Pinter, said they never went to bed during an argument (and neither do David and I). Never go to bed when you’re angry with each other.’
By: Jaime Portman, Postmedia News
Store reverses decision to shield shoppers from Elton John's babyhttp://edition.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/celebrity.news.gossip/01/26/elton.john.covered.up/
January 27, 2011 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
(CNN) -- An Arkansas supermarket reversed its decision Wednesday to hide a magazine cover showing Elton John and his same-sex partner David Furnish holding their new baby.
The shield placed over the current issue of Us Weekly read "Family shield to protect young Harps shoppers."
The Arkansas-based grocery chain lets managers at its 65 stores decide when customers complain if the shield is needed, but it is usually for photos that are "sexually provocative or too revealing," Harps Food Stores President Kim Eskew said.
Complaints poured into the chain's headquarters this week after photos of the shielded magazine spread across internet blogs and news websites.
"When we began receiving complaints at our corporate office, we reviewed the magazine in question, removed the shield and are selling the magazine in all our locations today without any cover," Eskew said Wednesday. "Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores and this incident happened at just one of our 65 locations, which, when brought to our attention, we reversed."
Us Weekly West Coast Bureau Chief Melanie Bromley, who wrote the cover story, said the issue has been a good seller for her magazine.
"It's been very compelling for them and people have really felt the emotion with them (John and Furnish)," Bromley said. "So people have wanted to read about it and see the first pictures of little Zachary."
Bromley's seen no complaints from readers about having a gay couple with a baby on the magazine's cover.
"As far as I'm aware there was no negative feedback at all," she said. "I had not one e-mail of any negative message at all. The only kind of feedback I got was positive, that people are so happy for them."
People Magazine put another same-sex couple with their newborns on front of its January 10, 2011 issue. But the photo of Neil Patrick Harris and partner David Burtka with their twins was only a small image on the margin of the cover.
When People featured photos of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi when they married in 2008, it was one of the magazine's best-selling issues that year, a spokeswoman said.
CNN's JD Cargill and Brittany Kaplan contributed to this report.
Oh Lord. A Harps supermarket in Mountain View, Arkansas has placed a "family shield" over the Us Weekly cover of Elton John with his partner David Furnish and their new baby, to protect innocent children. From Mr. John's crazy glasses?
Update:Harps has issued a statement explaining why the decision was made to obscure the cover and reports that the shield has since been removed. The grocery chain's official statement is below. Click to expand. [via lalaland13]
Elton John Bernie Taupin signed book Five Years of Funhttp://cgi.ebay.com/Elton-John-Bernie-Taupin-signed-book-Five-Years-Fun-/140504366551
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