Disney broke the deal — with me, with you, with tens of millions of parents. I may not be cancelling my Disney+ subscription (yet), but I’m one of the company’s hundreds of millions of subscribers who feels betrayed by its “woke” embrace.
It’s a shame. Star Wars came out the year I was born, and it’s been an indelible part of my life. And it’s now a part of my children’s lives. I grew up on Marvel comics before the movie franchise made comic books “cool,” and I don’t want to miss out on the mindless fun that Disney brings to live action — not yet, at least.
Whereas YouTube is more difficult to police, Disney’s entire business model has focused on plenty of curated content for quality family time, but also plenty of parental outsourcing. That virtual safe space is difficult for parents to replace, and I know way too many of the songs from “Moana” and “Encanto” to give it all up. For now.
But Disney broke the deal. Hundreds of millions of subscribers give Disney eyeballs and clicks, and we pay for the privilege — in the billions of dollars. We turn our kids into Disney viewers and consumers for a wide range of reasons. Ultimately, it’s because we’ve grown to trust Disney with our kids. We want to believe, “Hey, it’s Disney, they’re a wholesome company.” And that is the deal: We trust Disney. They make loads of cash, and we get quality, uncontroversial content for our kids. That has always been the deal.
Until Disney broke the deal, content was not political. But streaming and politicking have become synonymous in too many cases. “Toy Story” has gone “queer.” “Raya” may be next. The normalization of “body-positivity” (read: obesity) is in, along with “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “racist infrastructure,” and other un-American terminology. One Disney executive even wants 50% of the company’s characters to be homosexual or “underrepresented.”
Parents could once allow Disney to entertain children without worry. Now, parents have to pre-screen new Disney releases for left-wing talking points, defeating the benefit of the bargain. When the company peddles an ideology that is unapologetically anti-American
Disney may consider its liberal agenda good business, but catering to left-wing sociology majors and “triggered” high-schoolers alienates most consumers. Blatant propagandizing will only further alienate the company’s target audience. The overwhelming majority of Americans — who love their country and their freedoms — simply turn to Disney for wholesome programming. They just want Disney to honor the deal.
At the end of the day, I don’t know a single human being who actually believes that blatantly racist 1930s-era “black face” should be available, I get it: “The Ducktators” is controversial for a reason. What was culturally acceptable once is patently offensive now. Times change. But I also don’t know a single person (though they clearly exist) who wants Mickey Mouse to promote pansexualism to kids or Iron Man to burn an American flag. The perpetually offended residing in Disney’s corporate offices may seek to impose their will on everyone else, but the rest of us — most of us — just want the deal to be honored.
Whether it comes back to bite Disney this year or a decade from now, forsaking the deal is bad business. And the bleeding won’t stop soon. Netflix’s recent subscriber (and stock market) losses are warning signs for other streamers. In the streaming world, loyalty is not unconditional. Turn your backs on consumers, and consumers will follow suit. Tweak content for the worse, and that content won’t be consumed.
The longer Disney fails to honor our decades-old deal, the more subscribers the company will lose. New challengers, such as Truth Social or The Daily Wire, will emerge and grab ever-increasing market share. They’re banking on us trusting them to honor the deal.
In the meantime, good-faith Americans can applaud Disney critics who are willing to stand up to a company radicalizing by the day. Elected officials like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are fighting the good fight and honoring the deal.
The “art of the deal” is just sticking to it. Reward those who do and punish those who don’t.
Dan Backer is a veteran campaign counsel, having served more than 100 candidates, PACs, and political organizations. He serves as of-counsel for Chalmers & Adams, a political law and litigation firm.