Did Disney Just Unwoken?
Newly reinstalled CEO Bob Iger made some important comments about the company’s direction. However…
Disney didn’t fear the Right or even just the Middle like it feared the Left — until recently. That’s one takeaway from newly reinstalled CEO Bob Iger’s remarks to employees.
Asked by an employee about Florida’s parental rights law that opponents falsely smeared as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Iger signaled a significant shift for Disney. While he promised to continue promoting “inclusion,” he also suggested a little bit of … humility: “When you tell stories, there’s a delicate balance. You’re talking to an audience, but it’s also important to listen to an audience. It’s important to have respect for the people you are serving, that you are trying to reach, and not have disdain for them.”
Who knew that good business practice is to avoid deliberately angering half the country? Especially the families with kids who watch Disney movies and go to Disney parks.
“Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not,” Iger continued. “It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I’m going to do that.”
By “negative impact,” of course, he means losing money. Disney’s stock dropped significantly in recent months, which is one of the key reasons Iger was brought back last week to replace his successor and now predecessor Bob Chapek. The company watched as its new woke cartoon, “Strange World,” totally bombed at the box office over Thanksgiving weekend (along with the rest of Hollywood). The film could lose $100 million, and that follows the terrible performance of the likewise woke “Lightyear” earlier this year. Disney+ is raising prices to offset a $1.5 billion loss in the fourth quarter alone.
It’s also not clear how much money Disney lost after its battle with Florida over the aforementioned law and then the company’s special tax status in the state, but there’s no question that Iger is learning a lesson from all this.
“I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle,” Iger said of the Florida fiasco. “The state of Florida has been important to us for a long time. And we have been very important to the state of Florida. That is something I’m extremely mindful of and will articulate if I get the chance.”
Conservative cultural commentator Christopher Rufo puts Iger’s comments and plans in the “win” column. “The conservative strategy was to damage Disney’s brand, make the company pay a political price, and force the company to declare neutrality,” he wrote. “So far, it appears that strategy is working.”
Maybe. We hate being type cast as Debbie Downer, but there’s always a “but.” Yes, Disney learned a lesson. Yes, Iger said some good things. But will he and the company’s brain trust abandon their woke project entirely? Don’t count on that magic spell lasting past midnight.
For one thing, Iger was key to starting the company down the woke road when he took over in 2005. He’s hardly the only one responsible for this radical leftward shift, either. From the front office to the production studio to the cast members at parks, Disney is full of left-wing activists and gender-confused individuals who would rather recruit kids to their cause than make agenda-free entertainment. Mothers and fathers who still want to teach traditional values to their young children are going to take a back seat to the groomer agenda at Disney, even if Iger wants to “quiet things down” a bit.
Iger even said so. First, he rejected the idea that even though some subjects “have been branded political,” the company should stay out of those areas. He also explained what that means: “One of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion and acceptance and tolerance, and we can’t lose that. We’re not going to make everyone happy all the time, and we’re not going to try to.” He added, “We’re certainly not going to lessen our core values in order to make everyone happy all the time.”
Translation: It’s still going to be a Woke World after all.
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