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Recently news broke of a yearly event at Universal Studios that, this year, has been perceived to have a partisan slant. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure at Universal Studios contains a 3 minute segment in the live 40 minute performance that takes on the heated presidential race. The event was first reported by by Marla Knowles, who attended the show and was upset that the company would insert itself into politics in a Halloween show meant for amusement.
In the show, a black man was dressed up in a suit and sunglasses looking all cool and singing a rap about how he was the first black president. He makes references to gay rights, women’s contraception, killing Osama bin Laden, supporting Big Bird and the like. All the while, the crowd was getting pumped up and cheering the entire time. The black man’s “opponent” was a white man talking like a “nerd” and looking all disheveled as he stumbled out saying that he lied in the debate, that he shoves grannies off the cliff. “Oh, I didn’t know that women could vote,” he even said at one point.
Ms. Knowles describes herself as “an active volunteer campaigning for the Republican ticket,” and payed $180 to see the show. The skit she referenced is a rap battle between the presidential candidates that seems to be akin to the Epic Rap Battles of History that are widely popular online. She writes that she spoke with someone from Universal after the performance, however, the representative brushed off her concerns saying the show was a review of the past year’s events and the political aspect was just an “undertone.” The production is shown in Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood, with each location having their own version. The show is clearly meant for an adult audience (it borders on pornographic) and a long warning is given at the start to explain that the comedy show will be pushing the envelope.
Tom Schroder, Vice President of Public Relations with Universal Studios, spoke with RedState about Knowles’ concerns and took very serious the idea that Universal Studios was perceived to be playing politics. Schroder explained that the show, on it’s 22nd year, has always had a focus on poking fun at pop culture and skits include everyone from the presidential candidates to Snooki. He went on to say that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure is only one part of a large Halloween event, “Halloween Horror Nights,” and the company has no intention of making any political statements. They also adjust the content of the show as they see fit in both Orlando and Hollywood throughout the season. Schroder also emphasized the importance of customer satisfaction to Universal Studios. He stated the company is more than willing to discuss any displeasure a guest may have and will do as much as it can to remedy the situation to the guest’s satisfaction.
As conservatives, we strongly support the freedom of private companies to run their businesses without interference. Just as we are entitled to our opinions on what makes for good comedy and what doesn’t, Universal Studios is entitled to theirs. While some have suggested a boycott of the company, it would be unwise to punish every employee of a major company over a 3 minute segment that is similar to Saturday Night Live’s all too frequent “humor”. While trying to take down a company may be a popular liberal tactic, see Chik-fil-a, we must continue to rise above the strong-arming we fight against. As for Knowles’ unfortunate conversation with the employee at Universal Studios, the heart of a company is found in those who have much invested in it. To know truly what a company believes, one must go a bit further up the food chain. As a free market society, having the right to avoid companies and organizations that we don’t care for and to voice our concerns publicly are great freedoms we have access to in America. Unlike other companies that choose to alienate a large portion of the population, Universal Studios has rightly made efforts to address the situation and should be credited for their responsibility.