Disney Headlines for March 9th, 2022

I won’t sugarcoat it. The past week’s headlines have not proven kind to The Walt Disney Company.

We’ve got some genuinely uncomfortable topics to discuss in the latest batch of Disney Headlines.

The Walt Disney Company

The Don’t Say Gay Bill

Florida officials have recently earned the wrong kind of headlines for a proposed bill.

Nicknamed the Don’t Say Gay Bill, it includes the following language:

“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

buses

A co-author of the bill defines the terminology as children in kindergarten through third grade. All this makes me think of Helen Lovejoy:

Mickey Blog is apolitical as a rule. So, I’ll boycott any additional comments about the bill other than simply saying that I am strongly against it.

However, I don’t work for Disney, and I’m not a part of this conversation at all. Many of the people who are cast members feel a bit betrayed right now.

Image Credit: Disney

Word leaked late last week that Disney has contributed to the political campaigns of all the politicians who sponsored the bill. It’s like finding out Santa Claus isn’t real.

Disney has emphasized Inclusion as the Fifth Key. Now, reporters have proven that the company donated money to people trying to turn this bill into law.

Disney Inclusion

Suffice to say that the outcry has been significant.

The Disney Response

Cast members called on CEO Bob Chapek to denounce the bill.

Bob Chapek

Photo: Getty Images

Instead, Chapek posted a staff memo that included the following:

“I want to be crystal clear: I and the entire leadership team stand unequivocally in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.

And, we are committed to creating a more inclusive company — and world.

Disney

We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world.

Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there.

And because this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state, I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support .”

I’m not going to perform any analysis on that statement, instead letting it stand on its own.

However, I can recount the responses to this memo, all of which note that Chapek attempted to sidestep the issue.

Bob Chapek

Photo: CNBC

The CEO refused to denounce the memo or the politicians involved with its construction.

In the process, Disney risked its reputation as one of the most LBGTQ-friendly companies in the world.

Chapek defended his refusal to take a side by adding the following:

“As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds.

Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.

Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”

Rainbow Pride Collection

Even if Chapek believes that – and I suspect he might – it wasn’t an able demonstration of leadership during a significant controversy.

The Cast Member Response to the Response

In fact, the memo seemed to throw gas on the fire. Several Disney workers chimed in with their thoughts. Here is a voice actor from DuckTales:

https://twitter.com/BenjaminJS/status/1500559810709712896

Disney pride

Source: https://twitter.com/BenjaminJS

Dana Terrace, the creator of the beloved Disney+ series, The Owl House, also commented in a video.

I won’t post it since the tweet contains foul language, but you can find it at @danaterrace if you’re interested.

The Owl House

Notably, she uses the hashtag #DisneyDoBetter. That hashtag is quite popular today.

Meanwhile, at schools in Florida, students are walking out to show their disgust with the proposed bill.

I mention that because some of their parents work for Disney, a company that recently chose Lake Nona, Florida, as its new business hub.

Lake Nona

That seemed like a shaky decision when announced. Now, it’s looking problematic for new reasons.

Disney wants sweetheart political deals without taking political stances. How will that play out? Nobody knows.

Walt Disney Company

Image: Disney

However, the timing is brutal for Chapek himself. He’s hosting the annual shareholders meeting today, possibly before this article publishes.

As Deadline wryly noted, the last time Disney held one of these, the hot topic was a girl scout showing Raya and the Last Dragon without permission.

Raya and the Last Dragon

Photo: Disney

Now, former CEO Bob Iger is saying, “(This bill), if passed, will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.”

The old boss has taken a stand while the new one hasn’t. Perhaps director Judd Apatow sums up the situation best:

https://twitter.com/JuddApatow/status/1501222809434877956

Photo: https://twitter.com/JuddApatow

So, that’s where we’re at in this, the least fun batch of Disney Headlines ever. Speaking of which…

Disney Takes a Stance with Russia

You know what’s happening in Eastern Europe. Many corporations in Europe and North America have stopped providing business to Russia over these events.

Disney in Russia

Image: Encyclopedia Britannica

Disney recently became one of them. In fact, to Chapek’s credit, Disney was among the first wave of corporations to do the right thing in this situation.

The company cut off all movie releases in Russia, an emerging market for box office revenue.

Well, I should probably say “previously emerging” now that their economy has cratered. Everything about this situation is sad.

You know what, here’s a cute animal video before I continue:

Ok, I hope the palate cleanser helped. I’m genuinely sorry to add to your doomscrolling today.

Anyway, Disney has indicated that it will face some modest financial ramifications from this move.

Source: Disney

However, CFO Christine McCarthy recently spoke on the subject.

She indicates that between Russia and the Ukraine, Disney will lose about two percent of its standard revenue.

So, about one out of every 50 Disney dollars had come from that part of Eastern Europe.

But, Disney will willingly sacrifice that revenue to take a stand on this topic.

Walt Disney Company

Hopefully, I’ll get to say that again later this week.

If you’ve read this far, please know that I appreciate it. Here’s We Don’t Talk about Bruno to cheer you up:

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