The children’s entertainment giant Walt Disney is starting to resemble a radical leftist pressure group instead of a media company producing cartoons and films, and running amusement parks.
The woke culture permeating Disney traces its roots back to the leadership of Bob Iger, who ran Disney from 2005 to 2020. However, the company’s top leadership has ceded further ground to a small group of radical leftist gender-activists within the company, which could have a dramatic effect on the company’s bottom line.
The company’s current CEO, Bob Chapek, appears to have been very ill-advised when he attempted to remedy Disney’s rapidly falling share price — it has plummeted from $190 a year ago to some $137 now — by trying to jump on the global LGBTQ ideology bandwagon. The approach the company chose to regain their sinking popularity was attacking Florida’s Parental Rights in Education (PRE) bill championed by the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis.
Chapek, reacting to a vocal protest of a small group of Disney employees, decided to make a public stand against the PRE bill. The company issued a statement stating that “Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.”
Chapek also pledged millions of dollars in donations for LGBTQ-rights lobby groups, and the Disney CEO inadvertently confirmed what many have accused him of in previous years, that Disney was engaged in clandestine political activism.
“We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” he said.
Chapek went as far as calling Governor DeSantis on the phone, expressing his “disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and transgender kids and families.”
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Governor DeSantis’ reaction was, however, fairly non-equivocal when he said, “This state is governed by the interests of the people of the state of Florida. It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives. They do not run this state. They do not control this state.” DeSantis needs to tread carefully though, he cannot afford to allow the dispute to escalate further, as Disney is Florida’s largest employer. But he spoke for many when he pointed out that “if this was such an affront, why weren’t they speaking up at the outset?”
In the meantime, it has transpired that Chapek is not the only Disney executive pushing for gender propaganda in films aimed for kids. Leaked video of Disney executives has confirmed what many believed was a woke agenda promoted by the executive class running the company, with Disney corporate president Karey Burke saying in an a video call that, “as the mother [of] one transgender child and one pansexual child,” she supported having “many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories” and wanted at least 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities.
The company’s production coordinator Allen March proposed “exploring queer stories” and promoting “trans,” “bisexual,” and “gender non-conforming” characters.
Last, but not least, diversity and inclusion manager Vivian Ware had bragged about the company eliminating all mentions of “ladies,” “gentlemen,” “boys,” and “girls” in Disney theme parks.
Critics have highlighted that while in the U.S. the company is virtue-signalling by engaging in pro-LGBTQ activism, Disney is actually expanding its products and operations internationally in regions where homosexuality is banned by law. It has been reported that the Disney+ subscription channel will be expanded in ten new countries, among them Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen – all of which punish homosexuality with lengthy prison sentences.
It is also undisputable that the company conducts business with the Chinese Communist Party, including the opening of a large theme park in Shanghai, while being silent about the systemic human rights abuses that Chinese authorities are responsible for.
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The new law that prohibits Florida teachers from instructing very young students — those in kindergarten through third grade — about gender identity and sexual orientation, does have its detractors, but has also won the support of many local, influential groups and individuals across the nation. Some of these have called for ridding households of all Disney products. A Tennessee father has opined that “Disney doesn’t seem to understand that parents have so many options now. Ultimately, I think they’re going to lose on this wokeness gamble.”
Some of Disney shareholders are also warning its leadership of engaging in contentious political issues. One of them, Ray Keating, the editor of DisneyBizJournal.com, has remarked that when companies dive into politics, it rarely ends well.
“Here’s a suggestion for Disney CEO Bob Chapek: Get back to business, that is, excellence in storytelling, and stop wasting shareholder’s money on political crusades that have nothing to do with Disney’s business,.” he said.