Woke Disney Should Wake Up

Disney
Image: Wikipedia Commons, by Coolcaesar

Disney needs to focus on its core mission of providing wholesome entertainment that reflects traditional middle class family values.  Disney, get back to work, not back to woke! I have to say that adults can do what they want, but I don’t understand the unhealthy leftist fascination with sex and sexualizing children.  The theme parks talk about a show with guests, not customers.  I am sorry, but someone who is obviously a man in a dress as the server in Tony’s ruined the show for me.  I also don’t like visible tattoos breaking the immersion of the show. I think Disney is making a huge mistake, and I hope they pay for it with major financial and reputation losses.  Maybe that will teach them not to bite the hand that feeds them while pandering to the loud but small woke mob.

Woke Disney Should Wake Up

John R. “Buck” Surdu

In the past week, Woke Disney has made the news a few times. The current CEO specifically pledged upon taking office to divorce Disney from politics and focus on the core business of making magic. Like a lot of CEOs and boards of woke corporations — can anyone point to a major US corporation that isn’t woke? — Bob Chapek caved to the very vocal, very small minority of employees from the toxic and perpetual victim class by announcing opposition to the mis-labeled “don’t say gay” bill. A few months ago, training materials surfaced that showed that Disney was forcing their employees to endure forced CRT-based racist hate indoctrination. Last week leaked video surfaced that showed that Disney has a (no longer hidden) agenda to indoctrinate our children with gender identity lies and LGBTQ+ nonsense. This was further reported by the Washington Examiner and here. The outrage against Disney has been vocal but most probably ineffective and short lived. Americans, it seems, have the attention span of Dory in Finding Nemo. Disney needs to focus on its core mission of providing wholesome entertainment that reflects traditional middle class family values.  Disney, get back to work, not back to woke!

First, let’s put to rest the lies about the supposed “don’t say gay” bill. The word “gay” doesn’t appear once in the Parental Rights in Education Act. As reported by National Review,

“Florida House approves bill prohibiting schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in K–3 classrooms. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is the moniker partisan Democrats have given the Florida bill. It is intentionally misleading. The legislation, which never mentions the word “gay” anywhere, does, as CNN notes, prohibit public-school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, “or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” That’s a lot different from what ‘Don’t Say Gay’ implies.

When Disney first started making noise about the law, it was clear they hadn’t read it. This is the same situation that the “Jim Crow 2.0” voting law faced in Georgia. The liar in chief, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Woka Cola, and other virtue signaling woke boards opposed the false moniker that Democrat activists gave the law without ever reading the real language. (By the way, Biden’s lies about the Georgia law were so egregious that even Washington Pravda gave him four Pinnochios.) Governor DeSantis sent a courier with a copy of the Parental Rights in Education Act to Disney so that they could read the actual language. They didn’t bother. Why let facts get in the way of a compelling lie? When Chapek publicly denounced the law and pledged to spend shareholder profits to fight against it, DeSantis’ response was predictable: he was not going to let a woke California boardroom interfere with parent’s rights in Florida.

Large corporations should eschew politics. Small business owners, like the DeBary Diner, can be political, because they probably have a good idea of the political leanings of their customer base. Large corporations risk alienating large swaths of their customers when they engage in political crusades and preaching. Disney, and most other large US businesses who have succumbed to wokeness should focus on their core business and shareholder value. Different managers and executives when speaking for themselves can have whatever opinion they want, but the company itself should stay scrupulously apolitical.

I have trouble understanding the Left’s unhealthy and deranged preoccupation with sex and sexualizing children. It’s a fetish. Other than to destroy the American family even more so than years of affirmative action have done, there seems to be no rationality. But perhaps the blatant desire to destroy the American family and traditional middle class family values is rationality enough. When are Americans going to stand up and call the left the abhorrent, deranged, perverted, psychopathic, serial child abusers that they are? If a teacher needs a law to tell him not to proselytize to a third grader about sex, sexual orientation, deranged behavior, gender identity nonsense, and similar topics, he does not belong in a classroom! The Left and Democrats are becoming the party of sexual predators.

Back when Woke Disney was lionized in In Search of Excellence for their exemplary employee training, the theme parks were considered a “show” with “guests,” not customers.  I visit Disney parks to forget how much the real-world sucks for a couple of hours. I want to see the show that reinforces traditional middle class family values for which I am nostalgic, not to have some woke cast member’s sexual predilections shoved in my face! The utilidors were built under the Magic Kingdom so that someone who worked in Frontierland wouldn’t break the immersion of the show in Tomorrowland, for instance. Today physically male “cast members” are allowed to opt to wear female costumes. Tattoos with non-Disney sentiments are on display. Piercings are okay now. I am sorry, but someone who is obviously a man in a dress as the server in Tony’s Restaurant on Main Street USA ruined the show for me.  Disney has become overcome with chasing the dollar to the point that they encourage gangs of drunkards to come and get wasted at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Disney parks are no longer appropriate for traditional families with young children.

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Chapek’s political and social brainwashing agendas are not sitting well with many Disney employees, shareholders, and customers. This, among other issues, has led to a falling out between Bob Iger, the former Disney CEO, and Bob Chapek, the current CEO. As reported on CNBC,

This month, Chapek’s public acknowledgement that he let Disney employees down by not fighting harder against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation has been another reminder to Iger loyalists that Disney’s brand may be at risk with Chapek at the helm. Weeks before, Iger took a public stance against the legislation.

The messy execution has angered Disney employees. Deadline reported it spoke with several longtime Disney employees who said Chapek’s handling of the situation led to “the worst week they’ve ever had working at the company.” Several Disney employees have called Iger in recent weeks to express their disappointment in Chapek, according to two people familiar with the matter. Chapek met with creative leaders at Disney earlier this month to hear their concerns about his response to the bill, CNBC previously reported.

At least one major Disney shareholder blasted the company for its use of shareholder dollars for clearly political crusades.

Speaking with Fox News, shareholder Rob Keating said Disney should return to creating excellent stories — and stay far away from politics.

“Here’s a suggestion for Disney CEO Bob Chapek: Get back to business, that is, excellence in storytelling, and stop wasting shareholders’ money on political crusades that have nothing to do with Disney’s business,” Keating said. “We all have the right to have our voices heard on issues, but not on the shareholders’ dime.”

In a corresponding essay, Keating observed that Disney “managed to get itself in a political mess largely of its own making over an issue that has nothing to do with its business.”

“All of this gets back to a fundamental point: Company executives who use company resources, that is, shareholder resources, to engage in politics, including so-called corporate social responsibility adventures, are, in effect, guilty of stealing from the company’s owners,” Keating wrote.

The Daily Wire reported that recent developments at Disney are the “last straw,” and that parents are revolting against Disney’s blatant and unrepentant wokeness. (It is clear that Disney and educators consider parents revolting (adjective), but now they are revolting (verb).)

“Chris Rufo released several videos purportedly from a recent ‘all-hands’ Zoom staff meeting in which a Disney executive producer discussed implementing her ‘not-at-all secret gay agenda’ in a children’s show.

“Many of the parents who spoke with The Daily Wire cited these videos from Rufo as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“‘We’ve all known for years that Disney is left wing, but many of us somewhat tolerated it bc [sic] their product gives our children joy,’ Kurt Buchert, a Florida father of four children under eight, said in an email.

“’But that Zoom call we all heard this week is utterly insane…a group of woke gay activists talking about an agenda to foist on our children about trans and LGBT ideology,’ he said. ‘It’s blatant child abuse and grooming. Way over the line.’

“Like other parents who spoke with The Daily Wire, Buchert plans to take his family and his business to other theme… ‘We have gone to Busch Gardens, Legoland and Universal Studios instead,’ Buchert said. ‘Lego and Universal/NBC are somewhat ‘woke’ as well, but Disney is out of control.'”

Will market forces be enough to dissuade Disney’s family un-friendly political and social crusades? What I think of as Disney’s traditional base is up in arms. The Washington Examiner reported:

Nearly seven of 10 Americans, upset with Disney’s embrace of alternative gender promotion, no longer want to do “business” with Mickey Mouse and instead will seek out “family friendly alternatives,” according to a new survey shared with Secrets.

The latest data said that 68.2% of voters are now “less likely to do business with Disney.” Of those, 57.2% are “much less likely” to buy from the entertainment giant known for its kid-friendly parks and movies.

What’s more, 69% said that they are likely to “support family-friendly alternatives to Disney.”

The survey from Convention of States Action, in partnership with The Trafalgar Group, also found that concerns about the firm’s plan to create related content are bipartisan, with 48.2% of Democrats also saying they are less likely to “do business” with Disney.

The Libertarian in me says, “Yes, let market forces correct this blunder.” Yet, for a global company as large as Disney whose largest shareholders are asset management banks, will market forces be enough?  Will they even notice that families are seeking other entertainment than Disney?  Still, that is the tool we as deplorables have in our toolbox: abandoning Disney as long as they have abandoned us to pursue their crusades.

After Gina Carrano was fired for the temerity of being a conservative, I cancelled my Disney Plus subscription. I miss access to the Star Wars content, like Boba Fett, and some of the “Vault Disney” content, but I’ll live just fine without them. My boycott of Disney will probably have exactly zero impact on the company, but I have worked hard for my money. The government forcibly extracts enough of my income to support Leftist crap. I refuse to willingly give my money to Woke Disney, Amazon.com, Woka-Cola, Delta Airlines, or others if there are alternatives. Many of these companies offer military discounts to veterans, which I see as them disingenuously pandering to veterans while disrespecting all we believe.

Apparently, Disney employees know better than the millionaire CEO of Disney that they are destroying their brand and customer loyalty with their woke political virtue signaling. Fox news reported that many “cast members” claim the “silent majority” of cast members oppose the company’s stand against the Parental Rights in Education Act, citing leaked examples from an internal company message board. Breitbart reported cast member Jose Castillo saying,

“I think they’re… [Disney’s] statement says this about the bill that Ron DeSantis passed. They said, ‘Our goal as a company is for the law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts.’ And in the left, they talk about democracy after this election. And so what about our democracy right now? You know, the people of Florida, a lot of Disney cast members voted for our state legislature. These are duly elected members of Florida, House of Representatives in the Florida Senate who passed this bill, sent it to the governor. And thank God, our governor has the backbone to stand up to companies like mine, Disney, and pass this bill and stand with the people of Florida, stand with the parents, and protect our children… There’s a lot of people that are disappointed in Disney.”

Castillo asserted that Disney is making a huge miscalculation by picking sides in a political issue that will ultimately hurt the company’s image. I think their brand is irreparably damaged unless they fire everyone in top ten layers of management, stop pandering to the vocal woke mob within their company, and work hard to regain the trust they have lost with parents and families. And hiring a Clinton operative to try to spin their public relations is not the right answer.

It took a lot of work over many years to make me this angry and disgusted with Disney. We took our honeymoon at Disney. We brought out kids to Disney when they were still in diapers, both on the Left Coast and in Florida. I wrote two papers on Disney training techniques while working on my MBA. We had a house full of Disney movies, comics, toys, and collectibles. That is now mostly gone. I maintain my collection of vintage Donald and Mickey comics and the older films, but it will be a cold day in a VERY warm place before I pay to see another Disney movie. Most of the collectibles are gone. The few vintage items we have left are relegated to the toilet room where Disney’s last few CEOs and board of directors have taken the company. The fond, nostalgic memories of the Disney show on Sunday nights, Davey Crocket, classic animation, and happy days with my kids in the parks are all tainted.

While working on my MBA I remember Disney saying that managers are taught to lead more with carrots than sticks, because it is hard to show a happy face to customers/guests when you are getting yelled at backstage. The quality and service at Disney parks are a mere shadow of what they once were. This is not a Gen-Z entitlement perspective; we remember the quality that once characterized the Disney experience and feel that they just don’t care to give customers that quality anymore. The parks have stagnated. Disney’s effort to extract every last nickel from your day at the park (including now making you pay for Lightning Lane passes when FastPasses were free pre-COVID) and doubling the price of annual passes while halving the perks has made the experience stressful and frustrating. When I see a morose Disney employee, which is all too frequent these days, I think about the racist, political indoctrination the company forces them to endure. You are inherently evil because of your skin color; now go out there and be happy, you deplorable white supremacist!  We have been going to Disney as the experience has morphed, and I really feel sorry for a family visiting for the first time. The experience is confusing and stressful unless you have learned all the tricks over time — but at least it is obscenely expensive. And now you get woke, racist claptrap shoved in your face at the same time. A two-fer! Disney is not even allowed to say welcome to “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages.” Those are trigger words for the woke LGBTQ+ mob. Like most of the woke mob, Disney is okay with offending most of their customers to appease a small, vocal minority that wants to be more equal.

Since Woke Disney now sees itself less a place to create magic and foster traditional middle class family values and more as a woke PAC, the state of Florida is considering treating them like a PAC.  I think they should have to register as a lobbyist when the CEO says he is going to spend shareholder dollars to try to get the law repealed.  Some Florida congressmen are returning any campaign donations sent by Disney. In addition, the New York Post reported that “Florida Rep. Spencer Roach tweeted Wednesday that meetings have been convened to ‘discuss a repeal’ of the Reedy Creek Improvement District agreement that ‘allows Disney to act as its own government.’” I applaud this move. They no longer deserve to be treated special. Disney is not going to move their theme parks somewhere else because of losing this special status. In fact, during the ridiculous COVID fascism in blue states and the Federal Government, Disney elected to move some of its operations to the vilified Free State of Florida. Florida should stop rewarding bad behavior! Immediately. Now, I have no illusions that the Florida government will follow through on these threats, most politicians being without honor, but they should!

As a Libertarian at heart, I don’t think the government has any business choosing winners and losers, whether individual companies or whole industries. While I understand initial tax incentives to attract a business to an area, they should not be allowed to exist in perpetuity to the detriment of competing businesses. (Several large corporations have recently moved to the Knoxville, TN, area (e.g., Amazon and Smith and Wesson) without any local or state incentives to do so.). Universal Studios, Sea World, Legoland, and other attractions in the Orlando area do not receive the same perks and special treatment that Disney receives. Disney’s preferred status by default picks winners and losers within an industry. That should not be the government’s role. As Jose Castillo said, “As a ‘free market capitalist,’ the government giving special advantages to certain companies and individuals. It’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers.”

So why would Disney intentionally alienate its customer base of traditional families with traditional values? Because that’s not their base anymore! As opined by Daniel Greenfield,

Wokes are Disney’s base. [my emphasis]

In 1966, the idea that a single adult would spend more money on Disney merchandise than a family of four would have seemed ridiculous. In 2022, it’s just the new normal. If you doubt that, stop by a theme park and see how many of the adults with no children wearing every single piece of Disney merchandise on sale would love to lecture you about queer theory.

These are the people Disney caters to now. Not little girls who want to be princesses. That’s why its theme parks will no longer address little girls as princesses. That’s also why rides like Pirates of the Caribbean or Jungle Cruise are being revamped to be more politically correct. Disney’s new woke demographic is much pickier than even the pickiest child could be.

It’s also sexually creepy.

Disney’s new demographic are adults who have never properly grown up and on some level still think of themselves as children. That’s also the profile for the average child molester. And of the kind of adult who insists that schools force children to “explore their sexual identities.”

Healthy adults raise, protect and care for children. Deeply unhealthy ones erase the barriers between themselves and children in ways that can be merely immature or outright evil.

Disney is a messed-up company with a messed-up base. This is no secret to theme park employees who will, anonymously, spout about it at forums. 

[I strongly encourage you to read the whole Greenfield article.]

Okay, we accept that Disney is being run by child sexual predators, LGBTQ+ activists, Marxists, Leftist, Fascists, and racists. Making magic and supporting traditional families and traditional middle class family values is no longer a priority. What do we do about it? Here is what you can do as a parent and a citizen:

  • Boycott Disney parks. Stay away in droves. Don’t visit, buy their merchandise, or buy their food. In some sense, this is a bit like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. We will be denying ourselves the residual (and perhaps vestigial) enjoyment remaining in the parks. I think, however, that the short-term pain is worthwhile if this forces Disney to reconsider its repugnant positions.
  • Cancel Disney+, stop going to see their movies, and stop purchasing their DVDs and CDs.
  • If you currently have an annual pass, go to Disney but don’t spend any money.  Disney claims they don’t make any money from annual pass holders.  Take a slot at a park that might be filled by someone else who would spend money (there is limited attendance at each park).  Then when your annual passes are up for renewal, get a pass for some other attraction instead.  Or use the money saved on annual passes for a family of four to pay off your mortgage.
  • Write to the board of directors at Woke Disney and let them know what you did and why you did it.
  • Work through your legislators to take away all the unfair special tax breaks that Disney enjoys in Florida. They are not going to move Woke Disney World out of the state, but perhaps the millions of dollars in losses will wake them up.
  • Finally, and this is the big one, start a shareholder revolt and oust the top five layers of management at Woke Disney. It was a shareholder revolt that ousted Michael Eisner. It can be done again. Instead of signing away your proxies, if you are a shareholder, vote. Vote against wokeness. Vote against the status quo. Vote against incumbents. Here’s a hint. If candidates tell you their preferred pronouns, don’t vote for them.

Such an approach creates the risk of a martyring effect on Disney, as several previous Leftist boycotts of Chik-fil-A have done. Will the outrage by those seeking wholesome family entertainment merely encourage the woke to support Disney in even greater numbers? Will the self-proclaimed victim classes who seem to run the nation these days be emboldened by this backlash? The LGBTQ+ community still represents a ridiculously small percentage of the population compared to the influence they seem to have. There are more of us than there are of them. Only time will tell, but I think it is worth attempting.

I think Disney (and Disney’s asset management puppet masters) is making a huge mistake, and I hope they pay for it with major financial and reputation losses.  Disney didn’t built its reputation overnight, but it did destroy it overnight.  It will take a really long time to earn it back.  Daily Wire and others are prepared to pick up the mantle of traditional family entertainment. The only way to teach Disney not to bite the hand that feeds them while pandering to the loud but small woke mob, is to hurt their bottom line.  It took a lot of work to make me this angry at Disney. The graphs of declining quality and rising wokeness in my mind have crossed each other. Wokeness outweighs quality. Goodbye, Woke Disney. Maybe in ten or twenty years you may be able to lure my wallet back, but I am doubtful.

 

8 thoughts on “Woke Disney Should Wake Up”

  1. “kid-friendly” is a couple of words that needs a lot of scrutiny given when using. Disney has been drifting towards ideas that I think are less than kid friendly, except by their design. Kids are those who should never be used to political means, nor should they be allowed to let their childhood go to waste.
    There used to be a time when kids could be kids, and not puppets of ideologues and homosexuals.
    My solution was to walk away from this Disney World nonsense, back in the late eighties, when our child was born. The park was already showing signs of their leftism back then. Never been back.

    I might accidentally make a purchase from someone I don’t realize who holds views I disagree with, but when I find out, it’s over. I don’t understand why more people don’t have that attitude. Maybe some think it is just passe to hold that attitude, but it’s been the way people dealt with things they didn’t like, longer than the trend of just griping about their views and continuing to frequent those businesses. Just walk away. It catches on, and businesses eventually get the message, or they no longer remain businesses.

    Reply
    • I agree, Mark. I have been avoiding as many outfits as I can that have demonstrated they want to be PACs and lobby groups instead of businesses. I have found placed to purchase those things I once got on Amazon. Once in a while there is not choice, but for the most part, even if I have to pay a few pennies more, I avoid Amazon after they deplatformed Rumble.

      I hope that Musk successfully takes over Twitter. I argued over a year ago that Trump should his money to do something similar. Starting his own platform was a dumb idea. He should have started buying a controlling interest in Facebook and Communist News Network.

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      • My list of companies I will not do business with grows every day. I dropped Facebook a while back, never gave that Bluebird the time of day, and Amazon only gives fast service, but higher prices, overall. Then there is Google.

        I should go back to fishing or hunting, where you can breathe without all the politics infecting every waking moment.
        I wasn’t a fan of Elon Musk, but that guy pleasantly surprises me, each and every day. What bothers me most, about his attempt at purchasing the Bluebird, is not the purchase, but the platform itself. We keep getting farther away from face to face social interaction, and the farther we go, the worse society gets. People are replaced by logos, memes and acronyms, and lose their personal identity. I kind of wish he would just let it drop, and die. Twitter has been losing money for years, and market value is only going to get propped up temporarily. I would just as soon those shareholders who are doing the poison pill thing, right now, lose their shirts when the company goes bankrupt. I think Elon is the real deal. I have a great deal of admiration for him. As Matt Walsh says, he is an “African American”, who happens to be the world’s wealthiest man.
        That’s my version of a Great Reset.

        Reply
      • Trump should his money to do something similar. Starting his own platform was a dumb idea. He should have started buying a controlling interest in Facebook and Communist News Network.

        Buck,

        You should revisit that…it would be timely now that Musk is showing the way.

        Regards,

        Mike

        Reply
  2. We are taking some of your points to heart. We’ve already canceled Disney+. We are down in Orlando this week for our 40th anniversary and have season passes to Disney, so we’ll go, but not spend a nickel in the parks. We will not renew our Disney annual passes.

    Unfortunately, the concept of shareholder value and fiduciary duty are virtually dead. Liberal courts will not uphold them and woke managers say shareholders do better with social agendas. Time will tell. When I brought these concepts up in a doctoral program, they were met with cold silence. Education is just as culpable, if not more so than corporations.

    I’d raise your shareholder agenda item up a few notches. Libertarians and conservatives need to buy Disney stock and vote as block. This is especially true for high wealth individuals and private companies that are not woke. Disney can be taken over and the rewards are worth it. They own ESPN, ABC, a majority share in Hulu, just to name a few assets. Unwoke Disney and you unwoke all these other assets. Image in an ABC that reports the news fairly.

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  3. It’s just easier to me to just walk away, than to try to organize a block of like-minded people to try to sway a board vote. Less costly and more efficient if more would do it. I don’t mean strict use of boycotting, but I do mean not wasting time on something not worth the money. That’s an individual thing, something we, as Americans could aspire to do more of.
    Compare it to political campaigns that are successful, and those that aren’t. The successful national campaigns aren’t won that often, on just one item of contention. Instead, there are a lot of problems with one candidate to the point that you have to have some northern leftist comedian complaining about his own type. If this administration had only Afghanistan as its embarrassment, it might already have been forgotten. There are too many things to remember come election day, this time, though, and Afghanistan is remembered because of all the rest.

    Doing my part means not engaging in commerce with a business. I’m just not in a large enough circle to attract anyone to engage in a board room battle. Perhaps on a more local and smaller scale, though.
    The other problem is that something like that might not even come to a board meeting. Many of these types of decisions come from the bureaucratic or middle management level, in government and private business. I wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe that answers why I’m not a politician or a billionaire. Money is something I can keep from them, at least my money. The rest is up to everyone else.

    Fiduciary duty used to mean something. Shareholder value used to, also. Nowadays, a few still value what those words used to mean, but not nearly enough. If capitalism were still alive, if it ever was in the USA, they would still have value. I agree with you. Go after the educators. They had their role in that.

    Reply

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