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Home/Rod Dreher/Disney Drives Conservatives Into Closet

Disney Drives Conservatives Into Closet

From a Disney social media posting celebrating Pride Month. Mickey et alia join the Grand March of Progress -- and woe to Disney employees to prefer not to

You see the Daily Variety story the other day about how Pixar has restored a same-sex kiss to its upcoming film Lightyear after a gay employee group denounced its corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, for not taking a tougher line against the so-called Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The story says, in part:

The decision marks a possible major turning point for LGBTQ representation not just in Pixar films, but in feature animation in general, which has remained steadfastly circumspect about depicting same-sex affection in any meaningful light.

These disgruntled employees changed an entire industry that engineers the imaginations of children around the globe. And to be clear, “Don’t Say Gay” is a lie. The bill is called “The Parental Rights In Education Act,” and you can read its details here, in the primary document. 

The thing that has opponents so upset is that the bill forbids classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. That’s it. That’s what liberals are so angry about. So devoted are they to the cause of making little children sexually aware and undermining their psychological stability around sex that they are throwing a massive tantrum over a law that says teachers can’t introduce this stuff to children under the age of ten.

Within Disney, activist employees organized on company Slack channels a staged walkout this week to protest Disney brass, including CEO Bob Chapek, for supposedly not doing enough to fight the bill. The crybullies blame Disney leadership for making its LGBT employees feel, yes, “unsafe” by not fighting the bill.  Here, from their website, are their demands — which, if enacted, would make Disney even more of a woke-capitalist, culture-war behemoth.

Can you imagine what it’s like to work at Disney as a political, social, or religious conservative under the reign of this mob of tyrants? You don’t have to. Today a group of anonymous Disney employees have released the following “open letter” begging the company’s leadership to keep the company politically neutral. The letter points out that these slacktivists have created a hostile work environment for anyone who doesn’t go along with their demands. Here’s the open letter text (which a Disney employee leaked to me):

 

Disney Employees’ Open Letter in Favor of a Politically Neutral Disney

As employees of the Walt Disney Company, we believe in the dignity of all people. This is why we do what we do. We write stories. We make costumes. We act in parades. We run cruises. We stream movies. We make magic. We do this because our work contributes to a fountain of wonder that inspires joy, awe, and delight in guests and audiences of all ages. We are proud employees of the Walt Disney Company. We love our jobs because we get to share the wonder of life and human experience with millions of people worldwide.

However, over the last few years, one group of cast members has become invisible within the company. The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive. We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership.

The company’s evolving response to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida has left many of us wondering what place we have in a company actively promoting a political agenda so far removed from our own. TWDC leadership frequently communicates its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where cast members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and being their authentic selves at work. That is not our workplace experience.

Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support. We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them and grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them.

An internal poll within the company went out a few months ago asking us if we felt accepted in the company. Many of us didn’t complete it because the nature of the questions made us worry that the results of the poll could be used to target us for quietly holding a position that runs against the progressive orthodoxy that Disney seems to promote. TWDC has fostered an environment of fear that any employee who does not toe the line will be exposed and dismissed.

Much has been made of our internal efforts to Reimagine Tomorrow, but as much as diversity and inclusion are promoted, the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company. Left-leaning cast members are free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources. They call their fellow employees “bigots” and pressure TWDC to use corporate influence to further their left-wing legislative goals.

Meanwhile, those of us who don’t align with this vision keep our heads down and do our work without bringing our personal beliefs into the workplace. We’ve done this without complaint because we don’t want to rock the boat, but the boat is being rocked, and our leadership seems compelled to reward those who are rocking it.

Employees who want TWDC to make left-wing political statements are encouraged, while those of us who want the company to remain neutral can say so only in a whisper out of fear of professional retaliation. The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here. This politicization of our corporate culture is damaging morale and causing many of us to feel our days with TWDC might be numbered.

Furthermore, as this politicization makes its way into our content and public messaging, our more conservative customers will feel similarly unwanted. You can only preach at or vilify your audience for so long before they decide to spend their money elsewhere.

Working for The Walt Disney Company is a dream come true. We love being part of creating the magic that so many people around the world enjoy. Our storytelling is second to none. It resonates with people from all walks of life across the political spectrum. Our parks are the source of joy and inspiration that Walt hoped they would become. Every year, millions of guests escape an increasingly divided world to a place where they can relive fond memories of the past and savor the challenge and promise of the future. They do this alongside thousands of other guests that might not have anything in common with them other than a shared love of Disney.

The unique brand of family entertainment that Disney is known for is an objective good in this dark world. It brings people together and provides cultural touchpoints that even the worst enemies can unite over. At the height of COVID lockdowns in the Summer of 2020 when the country was fiercely divided over a range of issues, Hamilton provided us something to collectively celebrate. At the end of an incredibly contentious election year, The Mandalorian was there to soothe a weary nation with non-political entertainment we could all enjoy no matter who you voted for. When Disney takes sides in political debates, they deprive the world of a shared love we all have in common. TWDC is uniquely situated to provide experiences and entertainment that can bridge our national divide and bring us all together.

CEO, Bob Chapek had the right idea in his original statement that he has since walked back. In Chapek’s own words, “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.” Disney is far more important and impactful to the world by avoiding politics than it will ever be by embracing a political agenda. By focusing on entertainment that inspires us with stories of universal appeal, we are doing good in the world.

Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism. It’s so much bigger and more important than that. More than ever, the world needs things that we can unite around. That’s the most valuable role The Walt Disney Company could play in the world at this time. It’s a role we’ve played for nearly a century, and it would be a shame to throw all of that away in the face of left-wing political pressure. Please don’t let Disney become just another thing we divide over.

Why does Disney force its conservative employees into the closet, where they have to live in fear, for the sake of appeasing this woke mob that wants to sexualize children? Has Disney forgotten who and what it is supposed to serve? And what about you, Mom and Dad? Do you really want to support a company that treats its religious and politically conservative employees like this — and that empowers a woke internal mob to compel it to interfere in politics to disempower parents’ control over the sexual education of their children, and to turn popular art into culture-war propaganda?

I stand with the internally silenced and persecuted Disney employees, and with the Florida legislature that is not allowing woke capitalist bullies to tell parents to sit down and shut up and hand their children’s minds over to activist teachers. I hope you will too. Trying to stop activists and woke capitalists from queering little children through the schools is a fight worth having.

UPDATE: If you want to signal your support for the conservative Disney employees asking for a neutral workplace, click here to go to the open letter and “sign” it. 

UPDATE.2: So Woke Bob Chapek is going to appease Disney’s internal LGBT lobby by producing more Queer Mickey content for kids:

America’s ruling class are a bunch of sickos.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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