8,000+ People Sign Petition Demanding Disney to Allow Spider-Man Etching on Child’s Tombstone

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
July 8, 2019UK
8,000+ People Sign Petition Demanding Disney to Allow Spider-Man Etching on Child’s Tombstone
Jones family visit to Disneyland (L) and Lloyd Jones kisses his now deceased son Ollie Jones (R). (Courtesy of Lloyd Jones/Facebook)

More than 8,000 people have supported a father’s plea for an American media and entertainment group to allow a fictional superhero to be added to his child’s tombstone.

An online petition to Walt Disney’s Marvel Entertainment has collected at least 8,100 signatures for a Spider-Man graphic to be etched onto a headstone for Ollie Jones, 4, who lived in at Maidstone, Kent in southeast England and died in the year 2018—two years after being diagnosed with leukodystrophy.

“Little Ollie Jones absolutely adored Spider-Man,” a friend of the family Michael Farrow wrote on the community petition site Avaaz. “He would love a headstone with his hero on it [but] Disney have refused [so] please sign to try and get this changed to allow not only little Ollie Jones but other children to have their heroes on their headstone.”

The child’s father Lloyd Jones tried to ask Maidstone Borough Council to add the artwork to the headstone, but council said it does not own the rights to Spider-Man and the rights holder Disney refused.

“Sadly, these types of stones have to adhere to copyright and, while we understand this is a very emotional time for the family, we have made contact with Marvel to ensure the family are complying with their terms and conditions,” a Maidstone Borough Council spokesperson told Metro.

Lloyd’s brother, Jason, also wrote to Walt Disney personally to seek permission to add Spider-Man to Ollie’s headstone because “we can’t move on until we have his headstone done,” he told Metro.

The U.S.-based multinational responded by defending its decision, explaining that it wishes to maintain the “innocence” and “magic” of Spider-Man and the rest of its characters.

“We have striven to preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy,” a spokesperson from the Walt Disney Company’s permissions department wrote to the family according to Metro. “For that reason, we follow a policy that began with Walt Disney himself that does not permit the use of characters on headstones, cemetery, or other memorial markers or funeral urns.

“Although we cannot grant the family’s request, we would be pleased to commemorate your nephew with a hand-inked, hand-painted, personalized cel that recognises his love for Spider-Man,” the spokesperson said. “[It] will read: For your ——- (nephew’s name), Thank you for letting us share in the magic of your life. Your friends at the Walt Disney Company.”

However, the father was not impressed with Disney’s response.

“Well that’s lovely Disney have outright refused to allow Ollie his Spider-Man grave,” Lloyd said on Facebook. “They don’t want to be associated with death, so kids only matter to Disney when they are alive and spending money with them.”

The grieving father last year organized a Spider-Man themed funeral for Ollie, including a horse driven carriage covered in red and blue balloons according to Metro. He later took Ollie to Disneyland to meet with Spider-Man in-person.

“They was okay when he was buying their toys and when he was visiting their [Disney]land, spending his short life there, his last birthday there and his limited money there,” Lloyd said on Facebook.

Lloyd cannot understand why Disney seemed to be distancing Spider-Man from death as some of the company’s fictional characters have died in movies.

“That makes no sense to me—characters die in their films all the time,” Lloyd said. “I think this is all about money … they don’t care.”

The father said he appreciated the time people had taken to sign the online petition and hopes it will encourage Disney to reconsider.

“Help me try [to] change Disney’s mind about letting me do a Spider-Man grave for my Ollie,” Lloyd said on Facebook. “[Disney] earn[s] a massive profit from all your products—a massive massive amount of your custom is children—and the biggest amount of them children will make it to adulthood and they wont want Spider man graves, [so] can’t you give one thing back without profit to the most unfortunate tiny selection of your main custom[er] base?”

The Avaaz petition has inspired supporters to launch another online petition, which Lloyd has confirmed to not be the official petition.

“Just seen this on Google—God knows who started it but thank you who ever it was,” he said on Facebook. “Though I cannot sign it two petitions better than one I suppose.”

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