Disney’s debacle – Their marvelous struggle with wokeness

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Disney has found itself in a bad position in the public eye, a situation almost entirely of its own making. It is a mix of twisted diversity and inclusiveness, pandering to the woke mob, getting involved in politics, and forcing its customers to question its values.  Now it must cope with losing legislative control of its flagship facility, collapsing stock prices, and public backlash that may impact them for years.  

Sadly, it was all avoidable.  

It began when a handful of woke employees became indignant that Disney did not take a stand against the woefully misnamed, ‘Don’t say gay,’ bill that the state of Florida was considering.  The fact that this bill was aimed at ensuring discussions about sexuality with young children should reside with their parents, not teachers, was a purely political issue. Disney had no skin in that game. There were threats of a walkout of employees to force Disney to take a stand, but those fizzled quickly. No parks were shut down. Movie and TV production continued on. Only a tiny percentage of the LGBT supporters turned out against the company.  

Disney could have done nothing at that point. Instead, it gave in to a vocal woke minority. It took a very public stand against the Florida parent’s rights legislation. While this created the illusion that the company was all-inclusive – it upset a lot of parents who felt that the House of the Mouse was against them in the raising of their children.  

This was followed by a leaked company Zoom meeting call where it was learned that Disney had executives that had a specific gay and trans agenda. They were deliberately pushing this into their content. The fact that this was being done covertly, with intent, struck people around the country as devious and deceptive. Overnight, the phrase, “Groomers” emerged, linked to Disney like an albatross around its corporate neck.  

Disney made no apologies and offered no clarification to quell what was seen as moral manipulation on its part. This spurred Florida legislators to revoke its special district status, ending its complete monopoly on how it administered and ran its Florida holdings. Disney will be treated like every other company in the state. Their “Mouse Privilege” was ripped from them. 

The result was predictable. Disney’s stock value plummeted. It found itself in a public relations quagmire that may very well cost some of the senior leaders in that corporation their jobs. Given the damage they have done to the reputation of this company, such a move would be well-deserved. Shareholders find themselves angered on both sides of the fight. Disney betrayed the decades-old trust that its patrons had given taken for granted. Now that trust has been violated.

Disney’s mistakes were simple. First, they had adopted a secret woke agenda that was targeting children with social programming. Second, they reacted to a vocal minority, and in doing so set in motion events they no longer can control. By reacting to threats of protests, and by deciding that they had a role in setting the moral imperatives of their consumers; Disney found itself in a position where it couldn’t win.    

What should Disney have done differently? When the initial threats of protest were made, Disney should have stated that the politics in Florida were best addressed by the citizens of that state. They should have said, “We are an entertainment company, we produce fantastic content and experiences for our audiences and consumers, and politics has no place in what we create and how we deliver it.”  That simple sentence alone could have ended their nightmare. While the woke mob would have moaned, eventually that would have died off as they moved on to the next shiny object that seized their attention. 

At a higher level, Disney should have adhered to its corporation’s own mission statement.  “The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.” The moment they went beyond that, when they decided to play craftsman of societal issues and determine what was best for the moral center of the families they were serving; that was when they failed. The ramification of that failure will haunt them more than any mansion ride in their parks.   

Blaine L. Pardoe is the author of Blue Dawn: The most chilling “what-if” in history…the progressive overthrow of the United States. Pardoe is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author who lives in Virginia.  He is the author of numerous science fiction, military history, true crime, horror, and business leadership books.

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