The Top Ten Worst Controversies of Chapek’s Tenure

Bye, Felicia!

Bob Chapek was appointed CEO in April of 2020.  While his predecessor, Robert Iger, stuck around until December of 2021, Chapek was pretty much the head honcho and the premier decision-maker.  Despite a vote in June earlier this year by the board of directors to keep him on for three more years, the company stunned the hell out of everyone when on November 20th, they announced that Chapek had been fired, and effective immediately, Iger was called back in to take over for the next two years.  Chapek’s reign as Disney’s chief operating officer lasted 31 months, 8 of them solo.  This rivals Ron Miller for shortest tenure as CEO when his ran from March of 1983 to September of 1984 for a total of 18 months…and he was Walt’s son-in-law! So what the fudge happened?

There’s no easy answer to this, sadly.  But it helps to have some context.  Michael Eisner was Disney’s CEO immediately following Miller, when the company was on the cusp of being greenmailed out of existence by Saul Steinberg.  It was more or less still functioning as the company Walt ran, making cartoons, live action films, and theme parks.  But Eisner modernized it into the 90’s, initiating the “Disney Decade”.  In 1994, between CFO Frank Wells’ death and the failures of Disney’s America and Euro Disneyland, Eisner lost his appetite for big, expensive projects, and resorted to micromanaging and panicked cost-cutting measures, all of which caused public perception of the company to go into a tailspin.  Much like Richard Nixon, Eisner thought it better to exit on his own terms, rather than waiting to be ousted by his peers, and resigned in September of 2005.

Formerly an executive for ABC, Iger worked his way up the corporate ladder after Disney bought the station in 1995.  Just five years later, he was promoted to COO, effectively making him second only to Eisner.  Once he was made CEO upon Eisner’s resignation, he showed shareholders and fans his resolve to the company’s integrity by repairing the strained relations with Pixar, negotiating the return of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and terminating the oft-maligned parade of direct-to-video sequels.  Though his 15 years in charge were not without failures, he seemed to understand the necessary role artistry played in a media company.  But more than anything, Iger learned under Eisner’s tutelage the importance of modernization, growth, and expansion.  As a result, he brought Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox under the Disney umbrella with increasingly mixed reactions among the public.

By contrast, Chapek started at Disney’s home entertainment division in 1993, worked his way through consumer products, and was made executive of the parks and resorts by 2015.  These three branches tend to function more on branding and marketing rather than artistic creativity.  By the time he was in charge of the theme parks, the cry of “Stop making every ride based on an I.P.!” was already a well-trod tune.  But it became clear Chapek’s credo of “If it’s based on one of our franchises, people will buy it!” was the fiscally safe bet, and as long as profits continued to rise, the board of directors would keep him on. 

In February of 2020, Iger announced his retirement for the end of 2021, and Chapek was elected onto the board in April.  And since then, a multitude of headlines brought greater and greater scrutiny onto the organization, which is most likely why Chapek got ejected from his role so suddenly.

Now, before I start, let me make something transparently clear: many of these issues may not have been Chapek’s fault, at least directly.  Many of these issues were products of Iger’s era that didn’t get completed until after he left, or were the result of another executive like Parks and Resorts head, Josh D’Amaro.  Credit at the Walt Disney Company tends to be typically murky between CEO’s assimilating praise and ire from consumers and their desire to suppress individuals to avoid paying them more (a phenomenon that sadly goes back even to Walt’s day).  Still, Chapek was the boss of bosses, and he had the power to mitigate any issues that came up.  It was his house to keep in order, and his failure to do so led him here.

I listed 16 controversies (Let that number really sink in…16!  In two years!!!) I felt could be attributed to Chapek himself, or at least situations he could have prevented and thus, I polled them on two Facebook groups so I didn’t have to rely purely in my gut on which were the worst.  And since this is a top ten list only, I should at least let you folks know what I had as the 6 honorable mentions that didn’t make it.

The Scarlett Johansson lawsuit.  The MCU film Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, was set to be released theatrically in early 2020, but the pandemic delayed its release.  Chapek, focused on the future of digital entertainment, opted instead to release it on Disney+.  Johansson’s contract promised her her salary plus a bonus in ticket sales, but being on the streaming service meant no ticket sales, which cost her tens of millions in lost revenue.  When she announced her intent to sue, the studio released a public statement declaring she showed “callous disregard” for the effects of COVID and announced her $20 million salary in a transparent attempt to publicly shame her.  Both parties eventually settled.

The Premier Access fee on Disney+. Desperate to recoup for lost ticket sales during the pandemic, the company began releasing its tentpole films onto the streaming service, and starting with 2020’s Mulan remake, charging viewers (already paying $8 a month for Disney entertainment) the Premier Access fee of $30.  The fee would drop off after the movie spent 3 months of being on the service, but this fee left a bad taste since Mulan already had numerous political controversies surrounding it and failed critically.  Cruella, Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, and Raya and the Last Dragon all indulged the Premier Access fee, but was retired pretty quickly.

D23 2022’s underwhelming rollout.  D23 tends to be a great cornucopia of announcements for upcoming movies, shows, and attractions, but for this past year’s convention, the news was pretty light: unusual for one commemorating the company’s 100th year anniversary.  But what got a lot of people curious was theme park chairman Josh D’Amaro and Co-executive for Disney Animation Jennifer Lee took valuable stage time speculating two hypothetical ideas as a sort of litmus test for audiences rather than concrete announcements. 

Closing Blue Sky Studios. Blue Sky was an animation branch belonging to 21st Century Fox, responsible for Spies in Disguise, Ferdinand, Rio, Robots, Horton Hears a Who!, The Peanuts Movie, and most notably, the Ice Age franchise.  In April of 2021, the studio was shuttered, given only a two-month heads up, and its staff of 450 were laid off.  The rights of the previous movies went to Disney, and to really twist the knife, Disney contracted a Canadian studio to make a Disney+ exclusive spinoff from Ice Age, The Adventures of Buck Wild.

Refusing to release Pixar films theatrically.  The COVID pandemic forced Disney to make some tough calls, even if they don’t make much sense. Raya was released simultaneously into theaters the same day as it was on Disney+, while Encanto had a month-long engagement in cinemas before leaping over. But Pixar’s Soul, Luca, and Turning Red were all dropped exclusively onto the streaming service. Just twenty years ago, Pixar was considered their only saving grace during their second dark age, and now being cast aside without being seen on the big screens. On top of that, none of them came with the Premier Access charge, leading to many speculating if Disney was intentionally devaluing them. Even Pixar’s heads and its artists were mostly in the dark over Disney’s intentions. A Pixar film eluded theater screens until Lightyear in June of 2022.

Ending Magical Express. In 2005, Disney contracted the bus company Mears to provide complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World and its cruise lines. This spared visitors from driving in a strange city, renting a car, and paying for expensive taxis. Plus, it had the added benefit of ensuring guests couldn’t leave and spend money elsewhere…but guests seemed to enjoy the free, hassle-less amenity. But due the strained budget of the pandemic, the decision was made to axe the service, ending January 10th, 2022.

With all those out of the way, let’s get into the ten controversies as voted on by a jury of my peers!

10. Walt Disney World’s lackluster 50th anniversary celebration

Disney has been infatuated with anniversary celebrations since Disneyland’s 35th in 1990.  It creates an urgency in travelers to relish this limited-time fête and especially indulge in time-stamped souvenirs.  Plus it adds a sense of gravitas: its increasing age instills a feeling of resilience, reliability, and with it, nostalgia.  When Disneyland, their oldest park, turned 50 in 2005, they splurged by redecorating all five castles at all their resorts around the world and added – or at least copy/pasted – and renovated several attractions, including opening the brand new Hong Kong Disneyland and cruise lines shifting to service the west coast for awhile.  It was a big honkin’ deal for the Happiest Homecoming on Earth.  So when WDW hit their golden anniversary on October 1st of 2021, what happened?

Two new fireworks shows, a new ride at Epcot themed to Ratatouille, the daytime kite show at Animal Kingdom that became Tiktok fodder (And not for good reasons), and 50 small golden statues of random Disney characters interspersed throughout the parks.

Now, let’s be fair: Disney had a LOT more planned.  Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Journey of Water, Epcot’s Future World overhaul, the PLAY pavilion, the Galactic Starcruiser hotel, and the Tron-themed roller coaster were all scheduled to be ready to go by then, but the pandemic shutdown really delayed most of these projects, though with the PLAY pavilion getting shelved completely. Still, like for Disneyland’s 50th, the event is set to last for 18 months, ending March of 2023, and they’re gunning to get these open by then, so they can seem as though they were here for the celebration.  But others, like Epcot’s ambitious overhaul, is getting repeatedly culled in quality to the point where we may be getting 50% of what we were initially promised, and even then, not in time for the end of the celebration.

The moral of the story: Never bite off more than you can chew.  We understand even a three-month shutdown of the parks caused work to stall, as even construction workers shouldn’t be exposed to viral pandemics.  But even if they hadn’t, it’s unlikely they would have completed all their projects by October 1st.  Disney’s had this recurring issue of announcing grandiose plans and its final result often being a pale imitation, even if the plans don’t include groundbreaking technology for some time now, and it’s getting sad.  Because at the end of the day, it means budget is the be-all, end-all on theme park attractions.  They never seem to consider coughing up a few hundred thousand more might give that new ride or show enough of a boost to pay off in dividends years down the road.

Kitetails was especially disappointing, as making durable, functioning kites is not a recent, hi-tech phenomenon.  Even an extra month of test runs would have allowed them to find ways to build sturdier, less accident-prone kites. 

9. The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel

Ever since the buyout of Lucasfilm in 2012, Iger and Kathleen Kennedy sought to take advantage of the highly, highly lucrative Star Wars franchise and run full tilt with it.  Despite the infamous toxic fandom, fans have proven time and again that the franchise is hardcore ride or die for them.

Because of this, the initial plans announced for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge included a land so interactive, so intuitive, that your exploits would follow you between experiences.  The specific example cited was depending on how successful you and your crew navigated Smuggler’s Run, would affect how cast and characters in the area would regard you.  Despite its hefty promises, the crowds, particularly in Anaheim, were alarmingly thin.  And more importantly, those interactive perks were noticeably absent.  But this was in 2019 and before Chapek was promoted, so let’s skip ahead.

Disney had also announced a new deluxe hotel themed to A Galaxy Far, Far Away where unlike the hotels built in the past five decades, the place would be so immersive, you’d might not even see Mickey Mouse himself or hear his name for your entire stay.  Surprisingly, they kept to this promise, and in 2021, the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel started accepting reservations.  Unlike a stay at the Grand Floridian or All-Star Music Resorts, you buy a wholesale, pre-set 2-day package so you and your guests could LARP every minute of every day until it was time to go home. However, concerns began in August of 2021 when the resort’s prices were announced, and that just two adults alone would cost nearly five grand.  A literally astronomical sum, even for Disney.  That December, a trailer dropped and things went from bad to worse.

The low-quality footage showed a hotel that looked more like a knock-off of a Star Wars thing than the genuine article, many griped. Its amenities were not shown.  The light saber training looked meager.  The costumes and makeup looked cheap.  It was such a trainwreck that about a week later, Disney pulled the trailer after witnessing a colossal amount of cancelations (Of course, no one at Disney released any statistics…but lots of curious Star Wars fans saw a lot of openings for reservations crop up.  Coincidence?  Unlikely.)

The moral of the story: You should get what you pay for.  The idea of an experimental cosplay hotel experience is not without merit.  Like, at all.  And while no one expected it to be cheap in a park that charges you $250 to build your own fricking light saber, $5,000 was just north of bonkers.  But even that didn’t deter fans, as clearly there were plenty who expected Disney to deliver on their renowned quality experience.  How could they not at five grand?

From what I understand, since the hotel opened in March of 2022, it seems to be a mixed bag.  The Google Reviews show enough 1-star reviews to bring its score down to a 4.1 out of 5, and it’s hard to get a true bead onto whether or not the overall guest experience follows.  But first impressions matter, and setting the price restrictively high along with the confusingly underwhelming trailer caused real issues.

8. The hiring freeze and layoffs

In a move that came mere days before Chapek’s firing, Disney saw a dismal sign: their stock price hit a 52-week low and lost over a billion dollars from the streaming service, their quarterly report claimed.  Chapek soon released a memo claiming the company was to initiate a hiring freeze in some departments and lay off others.

The memo outlined several suggestions to limit cost expenditure, such as limiting business travel and advance approval for in-person meetings.  In addition, Chapek set up a “taskforce” between his CFO (Christine McCarthy, who once was reported as wanting to raise food prices at the parks and shrink the portions as well as guest’s waistlines. Seriously) and General Counsel to seek out and find costs that could be cut to make the company more streamlined.  But far and away, the hiring freeze and layoffs was the most alarming news.

The moral of the story: Maybe don’t screw over the little guy when things get tough.  Sadly, this is a pathetically common game in corporate capitalism: protect the executives and their bonuses at all costs, and when things get dicey, just fire all the peons who are barely making enough to live.  Not only did Chapek initiate this foolhardy taskforce with literally the top financial position at the company (basically “Do your job, but with more ruthlessness!”), but since his start, he brought on board Kareem Daniels as the head of Disney Media and Entertainment Division.  It was essentially his job to mediate all creative decisions from a fiscal perspective.  And the man currently has a net worth of $5 million.

Let me rephrase it this way: the company who was started by a guy whose credo was basically “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this” was now being run by a handful of highly paid money guys whose jobs were to determine where money was being spent and where to cut costs, who think the minimum wage workers are where it’s at.  No wonder Iger fired Kareem the day after Chapek was ousted.

Good thing Chapek never implemented some stupid blue check system.  That would’ve been dumb.

7. The reservation system

One of the best things I loved about going to Walt Disney World was having the freedom of choice.  If things got too crowded at Magic Kingdom, just park hop over the Animal Kingdom.  Want to see Fantasmic! after your day at Epcot?  Go for it.  Want dinner at Be Our Guest after you spent all day on Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster?  You do you.  But when Walt Disney World reopened after its closure for the pandemic in July of 2020, they also rolled out a new reservation system.  What this meant was now days, even weeks ahead of time, when you buy your park tickets, you also have to determine which park you want to go to on what day.  Disney’s official explanation was that it was meant to reduce crowds and avoid filling parks to capacity.

See, Disney got bit by the reservation bug a long time ago, knowing what to predict and when to predict it, as chaos and unpredictabilities are unwelcome in the financial world.  They knew numerous guests liked to plan their trips ahead of time, but this mentality left out the subset of guests that preferred to wing it, and before Chapek moved in, Disney was already demanding not just hotel or dining reservations, but also fastpass reservations, too.  But now to plan a trip on a macro scale seemed excessive.

While it’s not a bad idea to exert some parameters to determine how your business is going to run, it took some control away from guests.  It gave Disney a clearer idea of how much food and merchandise to order for upcoming times, which means no more running out of inventory.  It seemed to be just that much more dystopian.

The moral of the story: You can only control your customers so much.  Sure, it sucks when the park fills to capacity before you have a chance to get there, or your favorite entrée is out of stock, or there are no more Fastpasses to be dispersed, but the planning ahead aspect takes away some of the impulsivity and makes contingency planning that much more difficult.

Besides, this kind of “big brothering” is what causes some to retreat to their log cabins and live off the grid.  And Disney using it to pre-determine how guests will spend their  vacations to this degree is a mite too restrictive.

6. Rushing to reopen the parks during the pandemic

Bob started just as COVID was starting to become a big deal in the U.S.  Before long, hundreds were dying from this virus that seemed to target the elderly and the poor.  The then-president, one Donald Trump, made it no secret he not only thought was the virus was no big deal, but that it might even have been a plot by democrats to hinder his presidency.  Before long, right-wing pundits and the republican voter base ran with the idea that the virus was a hoax, the vaccine was dangerous, and the economic shutdown was far worse than a high death toll.  Disneyland and Walt Disney World both closed in March of 2020, but Florida reopened a measly three months later, while California wouldn’t reopen until April of 2021.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, believed in the seriousness of the virus, and kept numerous businesses closed to ensure a minimal death count, which made him wildly unpopular with Chapek and D’Amaro, since the company was losing money hand over fist now that the Happiest Place on Earth was empty.  Meanwhile, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, made it no secret his contempt for the safety restrictions, and only after three months, WDW reopened its gates, despite gathering still-absurdly high case counts.  Never mind all these cast members were straight-up furloughed, and Florida’s unemployment system was intentionally rigged to fail around this time.

The moral of the story: It’s bad business to let your customers die to service capitalism.  The parks reopened eventually with several safety restrictions, but no amount of guidelines could thwart the spread of a highly-contagious virus when tens of thousands of guests converge in a 100 acre theme park.  If Disney were a mom-and-pop establishment where even a week off threatens their livelihood, I might have had a touch more sympathy, but they routinely rake in billions annually. 

Even now, as I write this. we’re still not completely out of the woods, and Disney could have worked harder at taking the knee just to keep people alive.  After all, dead people make lousy repeat customers.

5. Canceling annual passes

When the parks shut down, the big question that lingered was what was to be done about guest’s annual passes. There was more or less a mutual understanding between Disney and guests that if you opted for an annual pass, you could visit any time you wanted (blackout dates notwithstanding), so if you had an annual pass when the pandemic hit, Disney certainly did right by offering refunds, but in July of 2020, Disney outright canceled the sale of all annual passes.  Annual passholders couldn’t even renew their current passes under this lockdown.  14 months later, Disney reinstated selling passes, but two months later, in November, they stopped yet again for all but the lowest-tiered passes.  And whole year later, as I write this, the most news announced was the price increase, but not when they’ll go back on sale again.

The moral of the story: Loyalty goes both ways.  One thing I learned working at Walt Disney World is that their primary demographic is the once-in-a-lifetimers.  While annual passholders have cash to spare with frequent trips to the parks and the pass costs in and of themselves, the people who come once or twice in their lives will drop so much more money for merchandise and food.  The irony of a loyalty program like this shows Disney can only extend so much of their respect to its guests, and especially its repeat visitors who bought a pass assuring they’ll return again and again.  I worry perks like special merchandise may soon not be enough to retain these guests who have essentially pledged eternal loyalty to the theme parks.

4. Saying adults don’t like animation

In October of 2022, Chapek said this in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:

“I always say that when our fans and our audiences put their kids to bed at night after watching Pinocchio or Dumbo or Little Mermaid, they’re probably not going to tune into another animated movie. They want something for them.”

Look, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  Yes, adult fans and audiences will undoubtedly want to tune into other Disney products like a Marvel limited series or the latest Star Wars spinoff, maybe even a National Geographic special…but Disney FANS will HAPPILY put on any one of the 60+ animated films because being a Disney fan means you love Disney productions!  If you retain the idea that cartoons are for kids, you show a callous disregard for the artistic integrity of animation and what it has to offer!

If Bob scoffed at the ludicrousness of Star Wars or Simpsons or even ESPN, fans would be offended, but Disney was started on the foundation of animated films, which begs the question: if you are so dismissive of adults who like Little Mermaid, do you respect them at all as consumers?

The moral of the story: Know your freaking audience.  Are there adults who just want to watch something that isn’t a cartoon after the kids go to bed?  Of course!  But a core aspect of Disney’s business is how well adults are drawn to it, either because they’re nostalgic for the stuff they watched they were kids themselves or the themes and jokes are intended for mature audiences.  Yeah, it’s great to expand beyond making cartoons, but man, with that mindset, why are you CEO of a company known for making cartoons?

3. Disney Genie

If you want to know the full story behind Disney’s ticket book system, the single rider lines, the Fastpass, the Maxpass, and the eventual Disney Genie program, Defunctland did a magnificent documentary video on how the bane of Disney’s existence – the long lines at the theme parks – became an uncontrollable monster in its own right: one that cannot be slain or befriended.  Disney has tried multiple times to make a system to appease everyone, but as the crowds continue to grow, any hope of managing lines has dwindled dramatically.

At D23 in 2019, Chapek himself announced the arrival of Disney Genie, an app that dramatically complicated the theme park experience by – you guessed it – directing guests to pre-plan everything from dining and attraction times to character meet-and-greets. However, now guests that wanted to jump the lines at Space Mountain or Tower of Terror now had to pay $15 per person per day for Disney Genie+. Not only does this system remove a guest’s ability to jump a line through the “lightning lanes” at the same attraction more than once, but even that wasn’t the end of the price-gouging microtransactions. For the most in-demand attractions, you had to individually request them for a nominal fee per person per ride.

Perhaps I’m a touch spoiled by my pre-Chapek days as a WDW cast member, untethered by park admission or limited time on Florida, but I loved the freedom to wander around, grabbing a Fastpass when I only felt like it, not having to plan an itinerary. It used to be minor bits of advice like “When kids are in school, the parks will be quieter”, or “Go left at Pirates of the Caribbean, because most people go right” were enough to add that much more magic to your visit, and had the added benefit of making you feel clever. Kind of like knowing the lore of a certain Marvel character, while watching movie as a n00b is fun, understanding the detailed backstory just makes it rewarding. Instead, not only is it important for getting your money’s worth, it’s required, all the while forcing you to spend even more.

The moral of the story: There has GOT to be a better way of managing this system. In the aforementioned Defunctland video, host Kevin Perjurer outsourced a data experiment whether no Fastpasses, paper Fastpasses, or Disney Genie+ were the best ways to maximize guest experiences. Through this very elaborate algorithm, the results ultimately showed the paper Fastpasses were the best way to deal with the chaos, and I don’t find this surprising. Pricing out lower-incone guests should NEVER be the solution to deal with crowd control. Instead, if dense crowds are the problem, then build more rides! Increase rider capacity! Expand park capacity! Add that fifth park, since you got so much room to spare!

So many amenities and perks have straight-up vanished in these two short years and it’s such a stop-gap response to a much bigger problem. After all, focusing squarely in raising prices and cutting costs while blatantly ignoring the creative angle is essentially what doomed Eisner. And those who ignore history, et cetera, et cetera.

2. Layoffs while giving himself a raise

The round of layoffs and hiring freeze he warned of this past month wasn’t the only time he looked to getting rid of staff to solve the company’s financial woes. Much of the equity performers were terminated outright and cast members all over the parks were completely furloughed when the parks closed. To a point, it makes sense. Something drastic needed to be done to keep them solvent. From what I understand, when things started to get tough, Iger – still on the board at the time – decided to forego his salary and pushed to wait until the CARES Act went through. Chapek – who just cut his in half – wanted to start layoffs right away. Thank goodness Iger won out.

Still, reports in 2021 showed both men boosted their pay, with Chapek literally doubling his from $14 million to more than $32 million, and according to this article, Chapek and the board were chomping at the bit to start reclaiming their stock options and other financial goodies despite, you know, the company losing money like crazy.

The moral of the story: Do I really need to explain? A responder to my poll informed me that Chapek didn’t have the power to raise his own pay, and that this was a decision by the board, and if it’s true…fine, but the point isn’t negated. Chapek wasn’t exactly insisting on cutting executive pay or fighting for cast member’s jobs when things got tight. Again, this kind of American capitalism will defend its higher-ups till the bitter end or until too much money is lost, whichever comes first. Not sure what changed their minds between June’s vote to keep him on and November, but man, he must’ve made some enemies.

Chapek feeling the pinch and the third shift custodial cast member getting laid off are two wildly disparate scenarios so wildly incomparable it’s hard to put into words. And yet Iger at one point thought this greedy nimrod was a worthy successor to the Walt Disney Company.

1. The “Don’t Say Gay” debacle

And at last, we come to arguably the most obvious and most prolific of all the controversies, the one most transparently was the company acting in poor stead, and the one most clearly on Chapek and Chapek alone.

Now, I’ve talked about this over and over and over, and chances are you’re only here because you’ve read all my other articles about this kerfuffle. But let’s recap: the Parental Rights in Education bill was a bill in Florida that defined only grades 4 and up could recieve any classroom discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity deemed arbitrarily “appropriate”, and allowed parents to sue schools for any reason. Labeled the Don’t Say Gay bill, cast members in Florida and all over the U.S. begged Disney – the biggest employer and political contributer in the state – to do something. Instead, they stayed silent until a week after gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law, and Chapek’s response drew ire from DeSantis and his voter base, all calling Disney “woke” and “groomers”. Even then, Chapek just mumbled some half-hearted excuse about how the company was helping all LGBT+ people by representing them in movies, then stopped all political funding.

The cessation of donations pissed off DeSantis so much he put forth a concerted effort to revoke the 50+ year contract Disney had with the state to build pretty much whatever they wanted, which was a naked act of petty retaliation and will charge over $1 billion to Floridians with barely any pushback from Chapek. All the while, the beleaguered Chapek showed his true colors as a staunch conservative who employed thousands of LGBT+ staff, and tried so hard to appear politically neutral that neither the left nor the right bought what he was selling.

The moral of the story: Practice what you preach. One thing that upsets me most about American politics is that of the two parties, I can either put myself behind the one that’s clearly full of hateful, judgemental, spiteful rhetoric focused on taking us backward…or I can opt for the party that talks a good game, but does little to nothing to change things for the better. I can either hate Disney if they stuck to the conservative values of anti-LGBT+ anything but appreciate the honesty, or I can get the wishy-washy, fence-straddling “apolitical ” company that refuses to take a stance, and tries to have it both ways and look completely disingenuous in the process.

The disingenuous aspect was not the worst strategy over the past decades, as it allowed Disney to appease both sides of the aisle for awhile. But as the rights of the LGBT+ community became increasingly polarized, the refusal to commit caused the left to believe Disney would happily sacrifice them to the slaughter if given half the chance, and the right to believe the company was a bunch socialist groomers or whatever buzzword they adopt is.

This was by far the winner in both polls, and certainly the biggest PR disaster since AT LEAST since the Disney’s America ordeal. And yet, just three months later, The board of directors still voted to keep Chapek on three more years. How bad were things behind the scenes in the final five months?!

The future is…something.

I kind of admit to this conspiracy theory I have no evidence for…so indulge me. What if Chapek was just a patsy?

Like I said earlier, many of these issues started under Iger. And he handed the gig to Chapek just as the pandemic was getting serious. What if the company was worried its upcoming ideas were not going to be seen in a great light, so they quickly ushered in a fall guy who acted the cluelessly greedy jerkwad, got all the blame for everything, recieved nothing but a sullied reputation, and by bringing Iger back, would make them look great again? After all, their stock prices shot up the day Iger returned. Again, I have no proof of any of this aside from basic apophenia, but I can’t help but wonder…

Anyway, where do we go from here? I doubt much will change. I don’t see Fastpass or Magical Express returning. Prices won’t go down: they never have, never will. I heard maintenance suffered at the parks under Chapek, so maybe we can see that turn around. Iger openly announced his desire to focus back on creativity and the front-line cast members, so only time will tell. Beyond that, I don’t think anything significant is in the works, but I genuinely hope I’m wrong. I really do. Iger has two short years to pick a better replacement than his last choice, and let’s hope he learned his lesson.

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The Black Cauldron (1985)

At Disney’s Animation branch, the period from 1968 through…ooh, let’s say 1988 is called many names.  Some, like me, call it the Dark Age because it was definitively characterized by box office bombs and mediocre successes, with the occasional hit like 1973’s Robin Hood keeping things afloat.  Others are more optimistic, calling it the Bronze Age (In line with calling 1937-1942 the Golden Age and 1950-1967 the Silver Age), implying the underlying quality of the animated features, but acknowledging the lesser luster than the previous eras had.  But I think there’s something to be said about calling it the “What Would Walt Have Done” Era.

See, the thing you have to remember is Walt learned very early on the lesson in owning everything he produced.  Losing Oswald to Universal was pretty much the most defining moment in said lesson.  He almost lost Mickey to Pat Powers not long after.  Charlie Chaplin, his idol, echoed the advice when Walt finally met him.  Bob Thomas even theorized in his biography An American Original that part of Walt’s rationale in renaming the studio after himself might have been a power move to prevent diluting the brand name with multiple names.

“Hey, fellas! Ever heard of this L. Ron Hubbard guy?”

On top of that, Walt was super unpredictable.  The man is defined historically as often barging into his studio and announcing new crackpot ideas that made his staff question his sanity…and yet he’d more often than not be in the right.  Even his closest associates, his brother, and his wife never even had an inkling what could set his imagination on fire.  And more often than not, they were based on Walt’s mentality of “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?”, whether or not there was any practical sense from a fiscal perspective.

So when Walt died that cold, bitter December morn, a board of frankly unimaginative directors used to working under Walt’s iron grip of “Because I said so” praxis were now forced to make their own decisions, and hoped not to screw it up.  They were now tasked to make these choices.  So pressed for success AND completely unsure where they should go next left them asking “What would Walt have done?” Ad nauseam.  This question nagged everyone there after The Jungle Book‘s astounding posthumous success all the way until The Little Mermaid in 1989 (I consider Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 the true start of the Renaissance Era, but that’s just me.)

The Dark Age (1970-1988)

The films of this era are ones many are familiar with, to be sure.  Many are cherished favorites from childhood.  But to compare them to Cinderella, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, or Fantasia is like comparing a Jackson Pollock painting to a Rembrandt.  The films of the “What Would Walt Have Done?” Era include The AristoCats, Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company.  And while each have their own stories to tell, I want to look at The Black Cauldron, often considered the worst failure at Disney’s animation branch due its bloated budget, its haphazard production, its horrific imagery, and of course, its dismal box office performance.

Sheath your sword and stay still for this cinematic sensation stuffed with sorcery, suspense, and salacious surprises!

The plot: In the far-off land of Prydain, Taran (Grant Bardsley) is an assistant pig keeper to Dallben (Freddie Jones), and he discovers said pig, Hen Wen, is actually a clairvoyant one.  A demonic ruler named the Horned King (John Hurt) is seeking the titular Black Cauldron so he may raise an army of undead soldiers, and suspects Hen Wen’s oraculous powers could help him find it.  Dallben sends Taran and Hen Wen off to hide until the threat passes.

It doesn’t take long for Taran to lose Hen Wen, as the pig does get captured by the Horned King’s gwythaints.  A boy convinced he will one day be a great warrior, Taran tries to rescue Hen, but gets imprisoned for his troubles.  During his escape, he makes friends with princess Eilonwy (Susan Sheridan) and bard Fflewddur Fflam (Nigel Hawthorne), and finds an enchanted sword, which makes short work of most every obstacle that comes their way.  Knowing the Horned King will stop at nothing to obtain the cauldron, our fellowship, plus a puckish furball named Gurgi (John Byner), task themselves to make sure the ghoulish monarch will never get his skeletal hands on it.

How’s the writing?: If we’re basing the writing of the movie purely on the final product, it’s a mess.  If we’re judging it as a product it aspired to be, as something that was well-intentioned and probably pretty comprehensive?  It’s still a mess.  Just in a different way.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s start at the beginning…

The Chronicles of Prydain is a 5-book series written by Lloyd Alexander. To hear some Disney historians tell it, it was selected in response to a poll taken where teenagers were found to be the absolute least likely to attend a Disney movie in theaters, even producer Don Hahn brought this up in the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty.  As such, the basic idea was to make a Disney cartoon but for older audiences, so we’re already not off to a great start.  Second was at any given time, from the start of its production in 1971 to its summer 1985 release, the film had anywhere from one to four directors, and IMDB credits no fewer than 20 writers.  This was largely due to then-CEO Ron Miller’s raging uncertainty over how to approach the film, made even worse by everyone’s varied interpretations and opinions.  Scenes were added and dropped regularly as staff came and went, and director Richard Rich even admitted they wanted to condense all of Alexander’s five books into one movie.  Add in further complications like lead animator of the project Don Bluth’s rebellion against Miller and his subsequent resignation from the studio and you can see why it seemed like the studio couldn’t figure which way was up on the movie.

In 1984, Miller resigned himself and Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, and Jeffrey Katzenberg moved in as studio executives.  Confused and horrified at the train wreck the movie was shaping up to be, Katzenberg sought to trim about 12 minutes off the movie.  This enraged the animation staff, because that meant hours upon hours of tedious work literally thrown out.  The final result was a disorganized mess that could be attributed to any one of these previous issues, with lots of unanswered questions.

1. Rules of a magical world aside, how does it work exactly that a King’s inherent evil nature gets mixed in with molten iron and you get a cauldron that resurrects zombie viking warriors?  This might have been better if they didn’t give us this backstory at all.

Taran and his delusions of grandeur.

2. What’s Taran’s deal in becoming a great warrior?  I get that kids dream of being invincible heroes all the time, but he seems sold on this idea not that he should be a warrior, but is one and Dallben won’t let him.  We see no relationship with him to the war and heroics in general, be they his idolization of any figure or inspiration from reading great stories, just that he waves a stick at geese and a goat and he should be allowed to fight in a war.

3. What is his and Dallben’s relationship?  I’d ask where his parents are, but it’s a Disney movie, so that’s already a loaded question.

4. Speaking of the war, who’s fighting and for what?  All we’re given in terms of factions is the Horned King, where his goons act more like undisciplined thugs than true soldiers, and by wanting his undead army to go out to conquer.  Like he were a rising rebellion, despite his royal title.  It’s very confusing.

5. When Taran sneaks into the Horned King’s castle, we get a jump-scare of a guard dog finding him.  The guard himself grumbles about the dog “barking at nothing”, missing the TWELVE-YEAR-OLD BOY STANDING FEET AWAY.  What’s more, Taran then bumps a door that very clearly wasn’t behind him seconds ago.

6.  Taran, you really think the Horned King gives a flying hoo-ha that you “promised” not to reveal Hen Wen’s secret?  Not to mention, you seemed rather eager to blurt it out to the cute blonde that broke into your cell.  Oh, and Hen Wen was clearly clairvoyant, meaning she could see events happening elsewhere in visions.  This is very different from saying she could “tell the future”.

7. Why was the water used in Hen Wen’s vision scalding hot when that clearly wasn’t the case moments ago? Hen literally had her face in it seconds prior.

8. How did Eilonwy get into Taran’s cell without a single tool or a single smudge of dirt on her?

9. Eilonwy’s glowing bauble makes itself known pretty quickly, even showing signs of a personality.  However, after it hides in the witch’s cottage, it is never seen or heard from again.  A cut scene shows the bauble was actually one of the fair folk, which still doesn’t explain why it hangs out with Eilonwy, why the Horned King thought it would lead him to the cauldron, why it’s incognito, and why it disappears from the movie after the characters leave the fair foks’ cavern.

10. There might have been a deleted scene showing why a tomb is in the dungeon of the Horned King’s castle, and why such a powerful weapon is buried with him.  Who was that guy?  And why was Taran so cavalier about his grave robbing?

11. Fflewddur Fflam is an endearing character, but provides nothing to the group, not even experience and insight as the eldest.  When Katzenberg did his extensive editing, most of his lines and scenes were reduced to almost nothing.

12. There are clearly LOTS of fair folk in the caverns, so why is Doli the only one responsible for repairs, keeping track of where the cauldron was last seen, escorting the heroes to Morva, and just hiding or disappearing when things get tight?

13. King Eidilig asks Fflewddur if all the “killing  and burning” was still happening, referring to the unspecified war.  However, in what we do see in the Prydain countryside, not only is it pretty sparsely populated, but it still looks fairly pristine and un-burned.  And to think Mulan had the huevos to pull this off, but not this PG-rated film that tried so hard to be mature.

14. Fflewddur offers his harp, Gurgi offers an applecore, and Taran offers his sword to the witches in exchange for the cauldron.  Why didn’t the princess – key word being PRINCESS – offer anything?  Paltry as their offerings were, at least they tried!

15. When our heroes get their hands on the cauldron, the witches immediately mock them for thinking they could destroy it, when they had it in their possession for all of a few seconds.  A storybook had a scene in which it showed Taran and the gang did everything from pounding it with rocks and sticks to try to break it before the witches butted in. 

16. Why does the Horned King refer to Eilonwy as a scullery maid?  Assuming he’s not being derisive, is there something she hadn’t told Taran or Fflewddur?  In fact, why is not a single word uttered about her kingdom, or her parents, or their army coming to rescue her? Wait, is THAT why you didn’t offer anything to the witches? You aren’t really a princess?!

17. The witches made it pretty clear that jumping into the cauldron to stop its sorcery was both a sacrifice and a one-way trip.  So what exactly was Taran’s plan when he tried to see if Gurgi could be rescued?  In fact, since the witches reversed Gurgi’s death after only the mildest of protestations, were they lying about it being impossible, or was their magic just that powerful?

18. It was abundantly clear the Horned King ceased to exist on a molecular level getting sucked into the cauldron.  How on Earth did Creeper get ahold of his horns?

You see?  Having a rotating roster of directors and writers, headed by a wishy-washy executive, all trying to cram 5 source materials into 90 minutes, and butchered by a guy who had no idea how animation worked, it’s actually kind of a miracle it saw the light of day.  It has one other major problem, but I’ll address that later on.  This thing wasn’t dead on arrival, it actually held a lot of promise, even after all its production issues.

Does it give the feels?: Possibly.  Your mileage may vary.  It can get emotional in the right places if you get invested in Taran, Eilonwy, Fflewddur, and even Gurgi.  Even if you find them annoying, they’re still up against a demonic monster with far more power than they can handle, and that’s enough to make you worry for them.  Taran himself may be kind of a braggadacious twerp, but thankfully, there’s a lot of scenes showing just how in over his head he is, particularly given his inflated self-confidence when he has the sword. And thank goodness Eilonwy calls him out on his sexist bullcrap after the castle escape.

Gurgi often gets cited as one of the most annoying characters in the Disney canon and it’s not unfounded: between his Gollum voice, his cowardice, and his obnoxious, greedy impulses, Gurgi has earned that title for many.  At the film’s climax, it’s Gurgi who sacrifices himself to stop the cauldron-borne horde.  It does feel sad, especially when the witches return him seemingly dead.  I disagree, as I think Gurgi’s arc doesn’t really add up, and the death fakeout is pretty cheap, if you ask me.  If it works for you, great, but it didn’t do much for me.

Who makes it worth it?: The Horned King is the most edgelord of the Disney villains, but it freaking works.

In terms of substance, he has almost nothing new to offer.  His personality is the typical vengeful, cold, cruel anger and very little else.    In his first scene, he monologues to himself about his desire for power and that’s pretty much it.  He speaks in a perpetual growl, provided by John Hurt. Most importantly, none of this is pretentiousness. He clearly has the means to back up his threats. He looks legitimately terrifying. His soldiers may be thuggish brutes, but they’re still, loyal, nasty, and dangerous. Even when given a comedic sycophant like Creeper, who could have severely undercut the scenes’ tense moments, you can feel just how genuinely terrified he is.

It’s no surprise Disney thought they were onto something by making him the premiere big bad in Tokyo Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour over the Queen, Maleficent, even Chernabog.

Best quality provided: Here’s where things get tricky. I don’t think this movie is that bad. It has glaring flaws, to be sure, but this movie is FAR from beyond saving. Because there are a lot of really cool elements to it that could have made this movie awesome. Honestly, if Disney announced tomorrow they were going to reboot the movie into their canon of questionable live action remakes, I would not object to it at all. It has good parts to it. So what’s wrong with learning from its mistakes, and trying again?

Actually, it doesn’t even need to be that much of a reinvention. In this article I wrote a few months back, I suggested Disney reboot the franchise with a sequel series, exploring how Taran, Eilonwy, Fflewddur, and Gurgi could struggle to maintain peace in Prydain in the wake of the Horned King’s demise. Perhaps the war hadn’t quite ended, but the various fiefdoms fought in a power vacuum. Not only could this explain the ambiguous war mentioned in the movie, but give us all the other answers. Like, what if Eilonwy really WAS a scullery maid? Perhaps why Fflewddur was captured by the Horned King’s men in the first place? But above all, explore Taran’s now-complicated view on heroism. As I mentioned, Taran was pretty insufferable at first, obsessed with being a warrior. Thankfully, when given the chance to reclaim his sword at the end, he turns it down, admitting that Gurgi was the hero, not him. It’s not hard to imagine word spreading far and wide about how he supposedly defeated the Horned King and heralded as a hero everywhere he would go. And despite how weary and disillusioned he became, how old habits die hard, and as he and his friends are appointed as peacekeepers in tentative peacetime, Taran might yearn for the much-less-complicated role as warrior hero, to the point where he pines to wield the sword again, a temptation that alarms his friends.

Maybe all the lords and ladies in the area are scrounging for any and all magic creatures trying get a leg up on each other, putting the Fair Folk, the witches, Dallben and Hen Wen, and even Eilonwy’s bauble in peril. Maybe add a subplot of Creeper trying to start his own following, but his short-sightedness causes him to insult and alienate his followers before he can get a chance to back up his threats. Lather, rinse, repeat. And of course, what if there’s a chance the Horned King might return?

See? There is great potential to improve upon this movie without having to do all that much. Just the information missing and some deeper character development and you might have something really worth getting into.

What could have been improved: Most everyone would agree the disjointed narrative, the plot inconsistencies, and annoying characters are the biggest issues. However, I’m not sure I agree. No, as far as I’m concerned, the biggest problem was how hard they tried to make this movie so DARK, and EDGY, and MATURE…and it wound up being so much more juvenile as a result.

Disney movies have always had the stigma of being “for kids”, even when Walt was alive. This was exacerbated during the Dark Age, when the people in charge of the company knew so little about creative decisions, they, too, made this mistake. Most of the animated and live action movies leading up to Black Cauldron were often safe, predictable comedies because those were sure to make money. But because they failed to really challenge audiences, anyone who wasn’t a kid or a nostalgic adult was turned off by the latest Disney releases, hence the aforementioned poll results. Ironically, within a decade, Disney found their stride again, making musical fairy tales once again, and won over all audiences. And they didn’t need to try that hard.

Ask any person off the street the hallmarks of a Disney film. You might hear things like princesses, cute talking animals, fairies, musical numbers, magic, simple morals, being for kids, that kind of thing. But in The Black Cauldron, you’ll find a princess, a talking animal, fairies, magic, and a moral about what it means to be a hero. But to earn its PG rating, they added all of this…

Say nothing of this bit of nightmare fuel thankfully trimmed out of the final cut…

Leon Thomas did a great video as part of his retrospective on the DCEU here that dives into the difference between “adult” themes versus “mature” themes (Watch the whole series if you can, it’s great. Long, but great.), and it feels applicable here. While Disney would never, ever get away with sexual themes or swearing in their animated output, I can’t help but feel that some executive had that extremely rudimentary checklist, and woefully misunderstood what teens wanted so badly he basically said, “Well, it’s one of our animated cartoons, so we got the obligatory princess and cute, furry sidekick…eh, just add some gore and boobs and that should be fine.”

Like I said, movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mulan never needed to try too hard to be both for kids AND be mature enough for adults. And yet, what’s most baffling is after the Renaissance of the nineties, they did this again! Both Atlantis: the Lost Empire and Treasure Planet tried to buck the “cutesy talking animal musical cartoon” trend and both tanked at the box office. Thank ambivalent deity almighty they figured it out, releasing sinilarly unconventional titles like Zootopia and Big Hero 6.

Verdict: The Black Cauldron is undoubtedly a mixed blessing. I like it enough for repeat viewings, hot mess that it is. It’s by no means an unsung masterpiece, but it ought not to be ignored, either. Whether that Disney+ sequel series I pitched gets greenlit, or the remake is approved, or even if Sora, Donald, and Goofy finally land in Prydain, it deserves some exposure. At least, more than just “their first PG-rated animated cartoon and it lost to The Care Bears Movie“. And if you think I’m exaggerating, note The Great Mouse Detective is often cited as their first animated film to use computers, when that distinction goes – yep – to The Black Cauldron.

Anyhoo, four enchanted swords out of ten. Worth at least one watch-through. Even if the issues are too egregious for you, I’m relatively certain you’ll find something worth discovering.

Great Beelin’.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

The barriers between the real and the animated have never been more blurred.  It’s no surprise, of course.  We have been fanfictioning ourselves with fictional characters and settings since the epic of Gilgamesh.  And since humans could draw, wanting to bring drawn figures and humans together has endured.  It’s hardly surprising when animation, as a practice, developed as the art of moving pictures, some of the very first jaw dropping spectacles involved Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur in 1914, where McCay would stand on stage and seem to interact directly with his pet sauropod.

Gertie was last seen on the set of Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

Before Max Fleischer created Popeye cartoons, Betty Boop and Bimbo, he made several shorts where a clown named Koko would spring to life and cavort with his animator going as far back as 1918 in a series called, fittingly, Out of the Inkwell.

Koko would later move to Derry, Maine and was never seen again.

Even Walt got in on this trend starting in 1923, when little Virginia Davis dreamt of hanging out with several animal friends until a band of lions chased her in 1923’s Alice’s Wonderland.

Fun fact: this was Roger’s breakout role, seen here alongside his old partner, the Trix Rabbit

As animation grew more and more sophisticated, it became easier to blend the two together, from Song of the South to Anchors Aweigh, Mary Poppins to The Phantom Tollbooth, Pete’s Dragon to The Incredible Mr. Limpet.  By the time the 21st century rolled around, computer generated imagery allowed that fantasy to become even more vivid, allowing Rocky and Bullwinkle and Scooby-Doo to team up with human co-stars, say nothing of using CGI to make humans look even more fantastic, like in Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture phase.

But who are we kidding?  Mary Poppins was enchanting.  Space Jam was cool.  Cool World was bold.  Enchanted was endearing.  Song of the South was…a thing.  But through it all, only one stands head and shoulders above them all, even with its bizarrely short time in Disney’s spotlight.

In 1981, author Gary K. Wolf published Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, a murder mystery where the comic strip star was killed in his home, and his stunt doppelgänger begs hardboiled detective Eddie Valiant to hunt down who killed him.  However, in the hands of Wolf, Jeffrey Price, and Peter S. Seaman, and under the tutelage of Back to the Future‘s Robert Zemeckis, the decision was made to not use comic strip cartoons and gimmicks, but instead use the ‘toons from Hollywood animated films from the 1940’s, when animation was at the peak of their artistry, and complete with every anvil, every stick of TNT, every pie, every gimmick ever sold. And it revolutionized so much more than just the art of mixing live action film techniques and animation.

P-p-p-please place your posterior precisely apropos to your personal preferences and plunge into this pernicious picadillo of a project!

The story: Cynical private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has been hired by animation studio head R. K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to take some pictures of Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) having an intimate affair with rival animation mogul Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye).  The news that Jessica has been cheating on her husband, Maroon’s animated superstar Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer), sends the bunny into a frenzy, and Eddie leaving a mess, but with money in his pocket.

However, the next morning, Eddie is stunned to find Acme dead from a safe dropped on his head, and a mysterious figure known only as Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) seems hell-bent on tracking down suspect number one, Roger, and administering his concoction, the Dip, a liquid capable of actually killing ‘toons.  Valiant starts realizing events don’t seem to be adding up, coupled with Roger breaking into his office, begging for Valiant to take his case and find who murdered Acme and why Doom wants him dead.

Valiant may hate ‘toons, but even he needs to know what’s going on, who’s responsible for Acme’s murder, and why.

How’s the writing?: There’s a variety of reasons why this works as well as it does.  First and foremost, it’s a solid mystery.  The clues are there, the connections make sense, and everyone is doing what they believe is right, whether by choice or not.  The stakes makes sense.  The questions make sense.  It’s a good story.

Second, the use of the animated characters are displayed believably.  The use of copyrighted characters from Mickey Mouse to Bugs Bunny to Woody Woodpecker to Betty Boop sell an established world.  Controversial opinion: I’m not upset with brands used in media.  Oh, I don’t want GMC sexily gracing the screen or characters sighing with life-affirming relief after sipping a Coke.  But I am of the mindset where characters drinking Diet Soda Cola with their McDaniel’s meal is FAR more distracting to me.  And by using the established, real world characters, it feels real, like it does actually exist.  Add on top of that, the masterful effects work of shadows and lighting, as though Roger’s in the same movie theater with Eddie or sobbing in a darkened alley.  You accept there’s an L.A. suburb here where ‘toons live and thrive, and Yosemite Sam could come careening over the horizon, howling about his burnin’ biscuits.

Third, this move was meta and self-aware in ways animation really hadn’t been before.  Wolf’s novel contained cheeky homages to gimmicks in comic strips, but, like I said, while the movie used classic cartoon tropes, they also used the grounding techniques rarely seen outside the film noir genre.  Roger gets put out of commission and abducted…after being hit with a frying pan.  He and Valiant get cuffed together…but they can only get free when Roger can slip out when it’s funny.  There’s a high stakes car chase…but one is a ‘toon cab with autonomy capable of doing all sorts of shenanigans.  These elements of action, mystery, and cartoony goodness blend together seamlessly for a rollicking, spectacular adventure.

Does it give the feels?: By merit of it being a fully fleshed-out world with real characters, our emotions are certainly wrapped up in the dilemma.  We might have laughed at Roger’s over-the-top reaction when he finds out about Jessica playing Patty Cake with Acme, but it’s incredibly sobering seeing how heartbroken he is crying in an alley.  Valiant’s self-loathing is profoundly cutting.  Knowing Doom created a mixture that can kill ‘toons establishes real stakes.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the one moment that united all of us: the death of the red shoe.  This adorable little guy makes the deadly mistake of nuzzling up to Doom affectionately, only for Doom to pick him up, and demonstrate to Valiant just how effective the Dip is.  He seems to relish in torturing the poor thing, slowly sinking him in, its fear and agony transparently vivid…until the shoe is silent, Doom turns with a glove covered in blood-red paint, even his henchman, Smartass, snickers, “That’s one dead shoe, eh boss?”  This scene is just one of many, many great ones on display, but had this not been part of the film, we might not have felt nearly as concerned for Roger as we did.

Who makes it worth it?: Bob Hoskins knew exactly what he was doing, and it shows.  Acting against rubber dolls and often an empty void while Charles Fleischer is standing five feet to your right, dressed like a bunny, sputtering a silly voice while you have to maintain eye contact, AND treat the scenario as deathly serious as any high-stakes drama…yeah, he went hard, and he sold it.

Having to act against non-human co-stars is a tricky balance.  Watch something like Muppet Treasure Island and see how Kevin Bishop (as Jim Hawkins) works off the Muppets with a straightforward sincerity, compared to Tim Curry (as Long John Silver) who matches their hammy mania.  By contrast, the townsfolk in Pete’s Dragon seem to forget it’s the dragon that’s the cartoon, not them.  The humans need to both ground the film in an acceptable reality AND make it seem plausible that a rabbit with the elasticity of rubber is squirming inside their trench coat believably.  While each human did a fantastic job working off their animated co-stars, Hoskins nailed it.

I mean…he had to do an intensely morose monologue about how his brother was killed by a ‘toon who dropped a piano on his head with a straight face!

Best quality provided: I already demonstrated the film’s best quality as that of the great characters telling a great story in a fantastically designed world. And I think those are just elements born out of arguably the best asset a movie could have. You know what I’m talking about, it’s also mom’s secret ingredient in her homemade apple pie: love.

Honest to gods, I’m not vying for saccharine points here. I mean this movie never once in its entire runtime feels like a cashgrab. It’s established in a setting where not only is it immediately recognizable and romanticized, but the perfect era when theatrical animation was in its prime. It was written and directed by men who clearly had deep, deep appreciation for those vintage cartoons. Richard Williams created a world of animated characters that were just as much homages as they were unique creations. The animation team was astute enough to recognize the fragile balance being broken had they brought in computers to tackle the shading and lighting. The masterful uses of puppeerting, robotics, blue screen, and more to further tie the real world and the ‘toon world together. And the fact on its face, it’s a straitlaced murder mystery, just one with ‘toons!

However, I think what sells the love best is the crossover aspect. This was one of Mel Blanc’s last projects and the last time he voiced any of his beloved Warner Brothers characters. Among other legacy voice actors in the cast included Pat Buttram, June Foray, and Mae Questel. The movie also was a who’s who of up and coming voice talents like Joe Alaskey, April Winchell, Tony Anselmo, Wayne Allwine, Nancy Cartwright, Jim Cummings, Russi Taylor, and Corey Burton. I was surprised to find out the very month I was born, legendary Warner Brothers animator Chuck Jones worked with Williams for the Donald/Daffy dueling pianos sequence. (This interview here shows Jones didn’t like the resulting scene or the final movie…but I digress)

There was something special in seeing all these wonderful, recognizable faces from our childhoods up on the big screen. And ironically, while the studios involved all want/need their own Roger Rabbit movie or franchise, what they forget is they need a great story first, and if you’re dead set on recapturing that lightning in a bottle magic it had…you guys need to work together.

Aside from Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue and this year’s Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers movie, studios are so averse to the idea of cooperation that many movies since then…

Scoob (2020)
Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Bonkers (1993)
Animaniacs (2020 – current)
Space Jam 2: A New Legacy (2021)
The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

…think if they cram in all of their own properties, we would be fooled into thinking we were gonna get another Roger Rabbit! And without the love and cooperation exhibited in the movie, it just doesn’t work like that. We may never see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny together again, sadly. But it was great while it lasted.

What could have been improved: Uh…heh heh, what do you want me to say?

Well, what about all the unfortunate circumstances that forced this movie to really begin and end with just itself, with no way to develop into a franchise?

First was the fact this movie was a cooperative venture between Disney and Spielberg’s production company, Amblin. As such, both Spielberg and the Walt Disney Company both have to come to some agreement before a single scene is shot. Not long after the movie premiered, Disney begun developing a prequel that went into Roger’s origins, from a simple farm rabbit to fighting Nazis to meeting his own father…Bugs Bunny. Spielberg wasn’t on board, considering he’d just gotten off directing Schindler’s List and really wasn’t in the headspace to make jokes about the Third Reich. Ever since, Disney has tried multiple times to get a sequel project started, and every time, it goes nowhere.

Disney might’ve pushed harder to come to terms with Steven had the Animation Renaissance of the nineties not happened immediately afterward. Since Walt’s death in 1966, the company’s animation division was on life support and it cratered in 1985 with The Black Cauldron. While The Great Mouse Detective did well, Roger Rabbit was a critical and commercial juggernaut the likes of which Disney hadn’t really seen since Davy Crockett. Just 17 months later, The Little Mermaid hit theaters, and it, too, did total gangbusters at the box office. Within the next five years, Disney raked it in by every metric possible with the releases of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. By that point, there was no need to worry about capitalizing on Roger Rabbit; not as long as they had to negotiate with an outsider. And definitely not while they had four of their own, much-higher-grossing films they didn’t have to split profits on.

Before long, Roger’s prominence dimmed pretty quickly. While his movie birthed Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland, complete with his very own dark ride, he was used to great effect thematically for the early years of Disney-MGM Studios. He was even set to get his own land there. But again, Roger’s time in the spotlight was finite. Roger Rabbit’s Hollywood was never built. Not even the in-development ride based on Tummy Trouble.

Speaking of, there were three short cartoons released: Tummy Trouble, Trail Mix-up, and Roller Coaster Rabbit. They basically gave the infant Florida studio something to do while they honed their skills. A fourth short, Hare in my Soup, was canceled midway through production. And these shorts didn’t so much expand Roger’s world so much as give us an idea what his R. K. Maroon cartoons were like, (mostly) free of cameos and live action elements.

Every attempt to reinvigorate his career was a non-starter. Though despite all this, one gets the feeling that both parties had a bit of a soft spot for it. As if to try to make it on their own, without the other, both studios tried to make their own animated TV series using the template: animated stars, used to starring in their own movies, forced to be out in the “real” world with “real” people. Disney didn’t do so hot, trying too hard to copy the movie’s buddy comedy and mystery elements in Bonkers. Spielberg, on the other hand, fresh off the success of Tiny Toon Adventures, seemed to find a winning formula in the creation of Animaniacs. Still, I would argue Gary K. Wolf, the book’s original author, is the true winner. Most authors never get to see their works adapted, much less to that great a success. Despite a messy royalties lawsuit, Gary has wholeheartedly embraced the cinematic reimagining and used it in this three sequel novels, essentially retconning his own work. Basically the complete opposite of what happened with Pamela Travers.

Verdict: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is nothing short of a masterpiece. Everything about it clicks and it’s no wonder it became the pop culture powerhouse it was. The world is much better off with it around. Will we get another one? Hard to say. As late as 2013, Wolf said he was working on another prequel to submit to Disney, but if we’re looking at their track record when it comes to Roger, I’m not terribly optimistic. But on the other hand, I don’t know how many people expected a sequel to Hocus Pocus three decades later.

Who says you have to give up your stuffed toys by a certain age?

In the meantime, watch the original film. Share it with a new generation. I give it ten missing wills of Marvin Acme out of ten. And while we wait for that follow-up, why not head over to Mr. Wolf’s website and get yourself a copy of the book that started it all, and maybe snag one of those sequel books I mentioned?

P-p-p-please?

Mickey’s House of Villains (2002)

Let’s return to that well of disappointment that is the early aughts series, Disney Channel’s House of Mouse.

Yes, I’m aware that out of all the titles missing from Disney+, this one often sits in most fans’ top ten. I get it, I do. But if you haven’t read my review of its Christmas counterpart, here it is in a nutshell: the show’s premise was cosmically god-tier. But the show’s cripplingly small budget led to recycling Mickey MouseWorks cartoons into taking up over half the show’s runtime, repetitive bumper animation, and overly-simple plots so as to not overwhelm the kids (admittedly, obviously the show’s targeted demographic) when switching back and forth between the show and the cartoons. Gods, what I wouldn’t give to see this show rebooted with the cartoons expunged, and nice CGI animation so everyone from the Pixar characters to the casts of Frozen, Tangled, Encanto, Chicken Li…er, Dinosaur, and Big Hero 6 can all sit down alongside the three Caballeros, Winnie the Pooh, Robin Hood, Roger Rabbit, Professor Owl, Clopin, Goliath, Princess Giselle, Phineas and Ferb, Br’er Fox, Ursula, Gus Gremlin, the Gummi Bears, Figment, Jack Skellington, Orange Bird, Milo Thatch, Gurgi, Jumba Jookiba, Willie Fadiddlehoffer, Frollo, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Doc McStuffins, Julius the Cat, Baby Weems, Wayne and Lanny, and LOOK ARE WE DOING THIS OR WHAT, DISNEY?! YOU ARE THE STREAMING SERVICE, I AM THE AUDIENCE! I OUTRANK YOU!

Ahem.

In Micheal Eisner’s tradition of “Upsell, synergize, and don’t spend more than $20 bucks, tops”, also led to this show getting a Halloween special as well as a Christmas one. So keep creaking those crypt doors and quaking those tombstones for this creepy cartoon full of cads, criminals, and corruptions!

The plot: As All Hallow’s Eve settles on Main Street, and everyone gets ready for a spooktacular night, a handful of Disney’s worst – Cruella DeVil (Susanne Blakeslee), Captain Hook (Corey Burton), Ursula (Pat Carroll), and Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) – are sick of another lame Halloween night. However, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) encourages they all wait until midnight. Upon the fateful hour, they, plus several more baddies, spring into action, kicking Mickey (Wayne Allwine) and friends to the curb, and locking the heroes in the kitchen. Can the house be reclaimed by the forces of good?

How’s the writing?: If you could imagine a story where Mickey goes toe-to-toe with the worst of the worst of his rogues gallery…crossing blades with Hook, deflecting Maleficent’s dragonfire, steering a jagged bow at Ursula, kicking Hans of the Southern Isles in the junk…that’d be pretty sweet, right?

Yeah, nothing like that happens.

Once you take out the cartoon shorts, it’s even lamer than you think. The villains hype up their upcoming plot, and when they do take over, it’s just kind of an underwhelming coup, made no better by the fact they’re doing the exact same thing Mickey was doing before, only with spookier Halloween decor and Jafar is the host instead of Mickey. Even the final battle uses baseball as their fighting technique, ending with a deus ex machina that reverts everything back to normal in seconds.

The part you want so badly – seeing all the villains – is mostly wasted on the takeover itself, in the movie’s supposed showstopper number, “It’s Our House Now”, where all the villains you came to see are relegated to one-liners or single lyrics, like Hades, Si and Am, Kaa, the Queen of Hearts, and even freaking Maleficent. Others like Gaston, Prince John, Banzai, the Big Bad Wolf, and Stromboli have blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances in the background. But Scar? Frollo? The Wicked Queen? Shere Khan? Lady Tremaine and her daughters? Madame Medusa? The Horned King? Ratigan? Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear? Shan-Yu? McLeach? Shenzi and Ed? Nowhere to be seen. Strangely, much of the background chorus seems to be compromised of Captain Hook’s crew and the Fates from Hercules (Who, despite their grotesque appearances, were mostly neutral in the evil/good dichotomy.)

It’s like that one Disneyland commercial from years ago when they were so excited to take over the park for Halloween that they…ride the rides. You know in your heart of hearts it’s a kid’s movie, but at the same time…THESE GUYS ARE VILLAINS. YOU KNOW, BAD GUYS?? THEY STEAL. THEY KIDNAP. THEY LIE. THEY MURDER. Let them be villains! Even when kids vow to become president and keep everything the same, the first thing they do is write laws to serve their own wants! Jafar – the guy who used Genie’s magic to make Agrabah his own fiefdom – just changes the tablecloths and calls it a day.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. House of Mouse: I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

Does it give the feels?: What would you seriously expect in a movie like this? It’s hard to get caught up in a non-serialized show is going to revert to the status quo by the end. Even ignoring that, it’s Mickey Mouse. He cannot, for all intents and purposes, lose.

At most, I smiled watching Trick or Treat (1952), Lonesome Ghosts (1937), and Donald Duck and the Gorilla (1944). All three are great vintage shorts that go perfect with Halloween. All that’s missing is The Skeleton Dance and The Mad Doctor.

Who makes it worth it?: There’s no real outstanding performances here. Mickey is Mickey, Jafar is Jafar, and everyone is just kind of…there. I did like that Donald started an arc about not being able to scare anyone in his devil costume after Goofy called him a bunny. But after trying scare the Beast, of all people, the subplot is dropped entirely without resolution. Almost as if a third and final scene of him scaring the baddies out of the club was planned for the climax, but got cut at the last second.

Best quality provided: This is going to sound odd and kind of pathetic, but in all honesty, the best thing this movie gave us was its teaser trailer.

No, really. At a minute long, the trailer played about half the song “It’s Our House Now”, but to spliced-in clips of the villains from their original source materials, their individual lines semi-synced to the lyrics. It still kept a stringent focus on Ursula, Hook, Jafar, Cruella, and Hades, and threw a bunch more in to tease us with. Interestingly, only one villain – The Rescuers‘ Madame Medusa – appeared in the trailer (twice, in fact!) That was not in the movie, so you can hardly call false advertising for not pulling up clips of Scar or the Queen.

Not only was the song their best asset and they clearly knew it (Even if it wasn’t that catchy or…good, really.), it showcased these characters in their classic appearances, full of life and given shading to emphasize their dimensionality. In the final cut in the movie, the colors are flat. The backgrounds are sparse, and it felt like a weekend rush job than what could have been spectacular with just a teeny bit more effort.

What could have been improved: I don’t want to sound like a grumpy curmudgeon, but let’s be honest: A lot. I’m 100% sure the writers and directors were given lots of notes to reduce the animation budget by every means necessary and take every tooth out to avoid scaring the kiddies, so I can’t be that upset. Because I’m sure if you let these guys go, we could have gotten something as wild and beautiful as…well, Fantasmic! If you had to keep the cartoons, fine, but why keep the trite stuff like Mickey’s Mechanical House or Dance of the Goofys, neither of which were scary or Halloweeny in any way.

If you want to do the plot of taking over the club, why not have them use it to pool their powers and unleash chaos upon the world? If you wanted to keep it kid-friendly, how about the villains hold Mickey and friends hostage, and as the kid characters (Huey, Dewey, and Louie, April, May, and June, Morty and Ferdy, and Millie and Melody) stop by for trick-or-treating, see what happened, and have them thwart the baddies with nothing but their wits and Halloween candy, vis-à-vis Home Alone?

But the budget wouldn’t permit a stupid thing like “quality”. Observe:

It’s bad enough Tick Tock the Croc isn’t a villain, or that Kaa’s hanging from rafters in a building meant to allow giants, dragons, Slavik demons, and the occasional flying elephant, or that this pink fog means “spooky” or something. No, what bothered me was this frozen pose Banzai seems stuck in. Where had I seen this before…?

Oh yeah, it’s from Banzai’s model sheet from during production of The Lion King! If this seems like a weird nerd flex, I’d like to point out that these sheets were not just the final authority on the look of a character, but the poses were frequently used in marketing as an image on consumer products. Next animated feature from Disney comes out, pick a character and just count how often you see the same exact image on birthday party decorations, children’s clothes, toys, and even adult graphic tees. It’s expedient to just make it the same for everything.

And here it is being used as “animation” in a movie.

Verdict: There is a stark difference between this and Snowed in: the song that inexplicably gets to me. Otherwise, both feature stories that make little sense with contrived plots, feature no true threat, reuses old clips to pad out runtime, clutters up the story with inane recent cartoons, plus a few vintage ones that return a few points back, and ultimately just leave me frustrated that such a concept was squandered so damn badly.

I never expected Kingdom Hearts. But I did expect more than this. This came out in the last few years of Eisner’s tenure when shirking the budget seemed to be his answer to everything. And sadly, we still bought it. We still rewarded him with our expendable income, as if to implicitly approve any product by Disney was acceptable, no matter how cheap or devoid of artistic integrity it actually was. Nowadays, Chapek seems to be backing the same ideal, not realizing sooner or later, it’s going to come crashing down in a blazing heap if he’s not careful. We trust Disney for quality, and we forget Walt hasn’t been around for some time. All I can do is hope that changes soon.

Anyway, two jack o’lanterns out of ten. I’m sure someone of YouTube has made a better use out of “It’s Our House Now” with their own choice of clips of the villains.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Piers Morgan Dunks on the “Wokies”: A Rebuttal

Pretentious, ain’t he?

I got to know the name Piers Morgan when my parents and I started watching the reality competition America’s Got Talent.  At the time, I had no idea who he was.  I truly thought he was just a gimmick.  After all, American Idol gained fame not just because of its singers, but also Simon Cowell’s acerbic commentary.  Morgan just seemed like AGT‘S version of Cowell, a cheap attempt to replicate its marketable shtick in having a British man berate and insult 99.9999% of the talent who tried to impress him.  For all I knew, it was just an act.

To this day, I still don’t know what Morgan does for a living, nor do I really want to take the time to Google it.  All I know is after AGT, he seemed to have a recurring presence in American and British talk shows, often with right-wing takes that seemed as though he just wanted to stir the pot.  Again, was he being honest?  Or was he just being a contrarian for the attention?  Hell, I still don’t know.

So imagine my surprise in trying to find other articles against Disney through a political perspective, I found this article from the Daily Mail.  Finally a glimpse into this guy’s soul and see what he really thinks about…the kiss in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Nnkay.  You do you.

The scene in question.

The coronavirus  pandemic has destroyed millions of lives, wrecked global economies, stolen our basic freedoms and left all of us feeling deeply deeply p*ssed off.

Just so you’re all aware, I’m not going to do my usual thing where I make either snarky jabs or my diatribes after every paragraph.  He does a lot of single-sentence paragraphs that aren’t really worth getting into apiece, so I’ll pop in before he essentially moves onto his next point.  But here I will address “stolen our basic freedoms”.

The structure implies he’s referring to this craptacular virus, but the virus itself didn’t steal freedoms, obviously.  The United Kingdom parliament did, so to speak.  Everyone on this planet has the right to be upset the virus has done so much damage, but it was governments around the world that had to make the tough choice whether to stay open and risk more death and destruction or close shop and kneecap the economy.  Me, I’d rather the economy take a dive just so humanity can exist for a little bit longer every time (I mean, I’ve already been through a few big recessions and I’m not even forty yet.  What do I care at this point?) So getting vaccinated, limiting going out in public, and wearing a mask is the freaking least I can do.  My freedoms haven’t been stolen anymore than being forced to wear pants at the grocery store or sneezing while covering my mouth at Macayo’s.

“Um, your sign speaks of shirt and shoes, but nothing about pants!  You’re stealing my freedom!  WHERE’S YOUR MANAGER?!”

I’m kinda surprised this entitled attitude lingers outside the U.S. I mean, our national identity hinges on anti-authority rebelliousness, collective responsibility be damned. After all, don’t you Brits have single-payer healthcare system and super-strict gun laws? We can’t even rationally discuss socialized medicine over here or conservatives, particularly those of the “party of personal responsibility”, will start screaming about how their taxes shouldn’t have to pay for others’ healthcare costs.

(Well, apart from Amazon’s billionaire boss Jeff Bezos who got massively richer as he sent us all the things that we weren’t able to go to stores to buy.)

…Yeah, that’s pretty much the long and short of it. Good thing he pays his staff decent wages, supports unionization, allows for accommodating and safe working conditions, and pays his fair share in federal taxes!

Wait…

And for the poor citizens of countries like India and Brazil, it has now evolved into a raging catastrophe of horrific proportions.

But for some people, Covid-19 has been of secondary importance.

(Sigh!) The right often thinks because we pick and choose what to fight about, we’re being disingenuous about our desire to fight for greater causes. Sure, human nature leads us to stress over not being able to afford a day at Disneyland when many people in America can’t even get money to eat, but let’s be honest, if we cared about all the woes of the world equally, we couldn’t…anything. There truly is no ethical consumption under capitalism, even if you only buy dolphin-safe tuna and Impossible burgers. Someone somewhere is being exploited, and we’re hamstrung by systems greater than us bent on shutting us up. If I sit still and consume nothing, that doesn’t help anything. If I join a Black Lives Matter chapter, if he won’t be upset I joined a supposed terrorist group, he will be because I’m not joining Greenpeace or working to cure cancer. It’s a no-win situation.

First-world problems aren’t only a matter of entitlement. Depression and trans rights may be primarily western issues, but they’re still important whether or not there are starving child soldiers in Africa or Uyghurs getting systemically erased in China. I need to choose where I can be most effective, and for me, that’s writing a blog like this. Also, I’m a husband and father who needs two, sometimes three jobs to ensure my family has a roof over their heads and food on the table, so even if I wanted to take action on immediate issues I might be able to actually do something about, like those anti-Trump rallies from five years ago or helping workers unionize, I still need to fit those in between my job, my family, and general self-care to maintain my sanity. So go ahead and scoff derisively, Mr. Morgan. You can’t shame me for writing blogs about trans rights while climate change is slowly killing us all and your job is to go on TV and tell millenials and Gen Z to shut up.

And to top it off…you really don’t think we’re also exhausted from dealing with COVID 24/7? If half the nimrods around the world actually bothered to get vaccinated or wear a mask, the pandemic might have been over with months earlier!

The lunatic woke brigade, seemingly oblivious to what’s happening in the real world, have spent the past 15 months continuing to bleat about any ‘micro-aggression’ that upsets them, and as we know, that means pretty much everything – from chess being ‘racist’ (white always starts) to fat-free frozen yoghurt triggering eating disorder distress (thank you, Demi ‘dimwit’ Lovato).

Yes, I know it’s about Demi, but I think Gayle sums up my feelings for Piers.

One big thing that annoys me about those on the right-wing end of the political spectrum is their disdain for intellectualism. Not just against higher education, but genuine intellectual curiosity has no place in their circles. Oh sure, they’ll find “research” on how the COVID vaccine makes you magnetic, but the moment you mention peer-reviewed studies from renowned, politically-neutral sources saying otherwise, you’ll be labeled a shill for Big Brother real, real quick. (I’ve watched a lot of Vaush and Hunter Avallone debates on YouTube where this happens alarmingly frequently) but on the left, when we have nothing better to do, especially, say, if we’re locked inside for months on end and we’ve emptied out the queues in Netfix, Hulu, and Disney+, we start asking questions. And I don’t mean the bad-faith deflective tactic meant to ward off criticism, I mean actually asking why things are the way we are. Where do certain idioms come from? Why did certain animals evolve one way and not another? Why do certain traditions exist? Does my religion make sense? Conservatives are the first to tell you to shut up and do something productive, and some lefties will certainly lord over others with their insider information, but I love being able to think outside the box and asking these kinds of inquiries and googling them on my phone.

For example, I looked up these two examples he cited (And why yes, I AM far more interested in these than finding out what Piers Morgan does for a living!), and the chess question was kind of interesting. While there’s no concrete evidence that was specifically the intention that “the white man goes first” in a racial sense, both Johann Löwenthal and Willheim Steintz dictated this practice with nary a reason, and the phrasing is…sus, to say the least. (“The right of first move must be determined by lot. The player must always play with the white men.” and ” In all international and public Chess matches and tournaments, however, it is the rule for the first player to have the white men.”)

With Ms. Lovato, on the other hand, she walked into a L.A. frozen yogurt shop in 2021 and felt incredibly uncomfortable with all the sugar-free, fat-free etc. treats that it basically triggered her eating disorder issues, and used her Instagram to demand an apology and that The Bigg Chill “do better”. Also, she suffers from bipolar disorder, so that might explain a thing or two. While I don’t condone her actions on social media, she has every right to be upset when old demons flare up, like a gunshot victim jumping in terror when a car backfires. She just needed to reassess her coping mechanism and recognize that weaponizing her social media influence might not have been the best way to go about it.

And before anyone says something trite like “Well, he’s not mad that people are asking questions, he’s annoyed that they’re being whiny little b*tches about it”, I say he’s literally offended that people are offended, and writing about being offended online, so who’s REALLY wasting others’ time here?

Today though, we’ve reached the absolute nadir of mind-numbingly stupid wokery, an achievement for which the bar is staggeringly low.

Extreme illiberal liberals have sparked a furore which even by their standards is so absurd, so pathetic, so indescribably dumb that I can barely believe it’s real.

But it IS real, which is ironic because it’s about something that isn’t.

Long-winded, huh?

The latest target of their whiny self-righteous ire is Disney’s newly revamped Snow White’s Enchanted Wish ride at the theme park in Anaheim, California, which has just reopened after 400 days.

Changes to the ride, which was originally called Snow White’s Scary Adventure and has existed in various forms since 1955 without offending anyone, include new audio and visual technology, laser projections, and a state-of-the-art animation system.

“Without offending anyone”…ugh. As if offense has a statute of limitations or a shelf life. Jonathon Vanboskerck made this same claim, too, and it’s no smarter-sounding in a British accent. Just because something has been around for awhile does not make it above reproach, condemnation, deconstruction, or criticism. For crying out loud, human sacrifice used to be the norm in some cultures. If you were around to hear the first suggestion to not wantonly murder someone for greater harvest yields, would you have similarly told them to shut up because no one ever complained about it before?

“Larry here never complained!”

As a civilization, we’re meant to constantly reassess and reinvent how we do things for the betterment and advancement of society. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways, but the end goal is to be better than we were before. And if we grow in the wrong direction, well, we just keep trying another way, because the one direction we can’t go is backwards.

Disney said visitors would be ‘absolutely blown away by this dazzling attraction and such a sweet storyline.’

However, it now ends with the famous scene from the smash hit movie of the iconic ‘true love’s kiss’ between the Prince and Snow White as she sleeps.

And it’s this addition to the ride that has sent the wokies out of their minds because they say the Prince didn’t get consent before kissing Snow White and is therefore a sickening sexual predator whose actions will encourage others to commit similar acts of depravity.

I won’t pretend I’m above name calling or personal attacks if I have reason to suspect these authors are being cruel, or willfully dishonest, or they weaponize their ignorance into hate speech. I’ll call a spade a spade. But if you’ve read my other articles, you’d see I’m trying like hell to understand where these folks are coming from. I spent a good chunk of this one trying to break down and analyze the average conservative mindset, and this one dissecting why they hate Disney now. I can’t agree with them. I can barely even say I get it. But for the love of all deities above, I’m trying. Almost none of the authors on my rebuttals are willing to meet me halfway. Who’s whiny now, huh?

By calling us “wokies”, he’s clearly trying to infantilize and demean us. It’s pure, primal, tribalist thinking, and that’s pretty dumb for a guy who touts himself like some sort of highbrow thinker.

Now, for the matter at hand…I think these, er, “wokies” have, at the very least, a point. The word choice seems pretty snarkily skewed to avoid any attempt at understanding where they’re coming from, that much is obvious. My take is a bit nuanced, and I’ll get into how and why in a second. It’s much easier to rebut his gripes point by point, and much more fun watching him hang himself on his own mental gymnastics.

At this stage, I think it would be useful to remind ourselves exactly what actually happens in the movie:

1. A beautiful, orphaned princess, Snow White, lives with her evil stepmother, the wicked Queen, who is insanely jealous of her beauty. She meets and falls in love with a handsome Prince. 

2. The wicked Queen creates a poisoned apple that will put whoever eats it into the ‘Sleeping Death’ and tricks her stepdaughter into eating it by saying it will make all her dreams come true (Snow White wishes for a reunion with her Prince so they can marry and live in a castle happy ever after). She falls into a deathlike sleep.

3. The spell can only be broken by ‘love’s first kiss,’ but the Queen presumes Snow White will be pronounced dead and buried before any such kiss can be administered. 

4. The devastated seven dwarves are so upset on finding Snow White ‘dead’ that they cannot bring themselves to bury her, and instead place her in a glass coffin in a clearing in the woods.

5. A year later, the Prince learns of Snow White’s fate and visits what he believes to be her dead body. And he gently kisses her, believing he is saying a final farewell to his beloved.

6. The kiss breaks the spell and awakens her from her trance, and to the delight of the dwarves, they depart to live happily ever after in his castle.  

Worst. Recap. Ever. 0 out of 10.

Oh man, there was such a point to that, you betcha. Very point, much purpose. It was so pointy.

There’s not a single part of this delightful, charming and uplifting tale that couldn’t warm even the stoniest of hearts.

Ah…so this story elicits an emotional response, huh? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy? Almost as if the characters feel as real to you as you or me, huh?

Yes, I have a point to make. Patience, please.

The bad guys lose – the wicked Queen dies – and the good guys win.

Self-evidently, none of the Prince’s behavior could be remotely described as ‘problematic’ because he saved his sweetheart’s life.

Hmm…is that really true, though? If I saw a woman, say, blindly stepping into traffic, and I grabbed her and yanked her back to the sidewalk moments before a blue sedan renders her a battered heap, and I…well, saved her because I grabbed her by the butt, should she be more concerned about not being dead? Sure. Does this mean I won’t apologize feverishly when I realize where my hands were? Oh heck no. Does she at least deserve to have mixed feelings about the ordeal? Of course she does. Even if it turned out we were star-crossed lovers made to compliment each other, I could have handled that better. If she shouted “hey, hands off, assh*le!” WHILE being rescued, there’s something to be said about time, place, and priorities. Just because you save a person’s life and even have the best of intentions in doing so, that doesn’t mean you are blameless of any indiscretion during said rescue.

This is what I meant by my take being nuanced. I get both sides of the debate. But Piersy boy here won’t have any of it. All he cares about are his own feelings. Remember a little bit ago, he called a singer a “dimwit” because her suffering from bulimia and bipolar disorder makes her a target for scrutiny. He’s a classy man, that Mr. Morgan.

But the wokies have hearts of Graphene – a hexagonal carbon lattice that is the world’s strongest and most impregnable material – towards anyone that doesn’t conform to their intransigently intolerant joyless view of life.

If it’s all right with you, Piersy, I’m gonna…not take a lecture about empathy from – again – a guy who calls women afflicted with a handful of mental disorders a dimwit after being in an emotionally-charged position.

On top of that, good gravy, are you aloof. I mean, congrats, you know what graphene is. I might have had an inkling of respect for you if you left it at us having hearts of graphene, or even if you simply referred to it as one of the world’s strongest materials…fine. I get it. But to go out of your way to explain it scientifically means you do not trust your audience to understand through context or imagery. It’s condescending as hell, not to mention hypocritical considering you’re about to eviscerate the “wokies” for not getting context.

I hope you step on a LEGO brick in the middle of the night.

So, naturally, they find the whole thing incredibly offensive and believe the Prince to be a malevolent sexual deviant because he didn’t ask Snow White for consent – something that may not have struck his mind given that HE THOUGHT SHE WAS DEAD.

In the most textual, literal sense, you’re not wrong. Of course you can’t ask for consent when someone is dead. We get that. However, it’s merely the symptom of a greater problem at work here. For hundreds of years, patriarchy has been the name of the game in western civilization. Men have always been designated as the heroes to save the fair damsel from the clutches of evil. Stories imply we are the main characters in our own lives, so tales of heroism and valiance are more than just entertainment; they’re meant to inspire us to also fight monsters, resist temptations, make the right choices, and seek out belonging in home and hearth with a fair bride. And not just any fair bride. No, but the most beautiful, the rarest prize of all, a princess, likely a virgin, and certainly someone who could raise your economic status immediately. We men are subliminally taught we deserve the most beautiful, the most valuable virgin because we are instructed to be ambitious.

“So I get your father’s blessing, a big bank account, to have sex with you whenever, your eternal gratitude, and you get me. Deal?”

As time wore on, as these stories perpetuated, the idea that men deserve such a prize never went away. Women were always instructed to accept whatever man found her attractive, as it was an honor to simply be seen, let alone loved. They were taught docility, submission, obedience, and loyalty. Men were taught to conquer, take, vanquish, reap, and claim.

Only within the past 100 years have we begun to deconstruct this mindset. We aren’t slaying mammoths or dragons or foreign hordes anymore. Women can do much more than cook, clean, and pop out children. They’re under no obligation to look pretty for a fella. They can fight just as well as men. But the tales of Snow White and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty…they’re still around. What’s more, they’ve diversified, but stuck to the same formula. Mickey Mouse saving Minnie from Pete. Popeye saving Olive Oyl from Bluto. Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Even as adults, we still watch rom coms where a man and woman meet, the woman can’t stand him, but through his obnoxious persistence, he endears himself to her and wins her heart. When instead, we should be teaching young men that if a woman says no…let the chase end there. You tried, you got shot down. Move on and try again with someone else.

On an individual basis, it does not matter whether or not she’s dead, because so many stories feature the stamp of approval that men can use any means necessary to claim a girl he likes, so prevalent that it’s not even the only fairy tale to endorse this behavior! Right, Aurora?

Bit of a trend, innit?

Now, individual anecdotes are not great at debunking logic as a whole, but, uh…ever heard of a guy named Josh Duggar?

Ew.

As a quick refresher, Duggar was one of the titular kids on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting reality show, and in 2015, reports were leaked that way back in 2002, he used to molest his sisters while they slept. According to their religion, the Duggars did not let their kids watch TV, and as a sexual predator, Josh would have done something like this no matter what. Do these invalidate my claim about the harm the kiss in Snow White perpetuates? Actually, I argue the opposite. The Family Research Council, the Duggar’s church, did everything they could to keep the scandal quiet, while his father Jim Bob was a state representative and while the show was on the air. And they did so successfully for 13 years, keeping Josh out of jail and trying to reform him through church counseling, which, of course, did absolutely nothing. The Duggars are raised in a society where they think men have the right to sexually dominate women however they see fit, maybe not non-consensually while asleep, but in his mother’s case, expected to give birth over and over until her body can’t take anymore. The fact his sisters are supposed to just accept all this is revoltingly cruel.

As long as boys and men are still taught that they are owed a sexy lady if they lay claim to her, we’re still going to have this problem.

This crucial fact cuts no ice with the wokies.

In a review of Disneyland’s revamped Snow White ride, posted at the weekend, two female journalists on SFGate, digital arm of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, expressed their outrage at the Prince’s conduct.

Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine were appalled by ‘a kiss he gives to her without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening.’

Then they fumed: ‘Haven’t we already agreed that consent in early Disney movies is a major issue? That teaching kids that kissing, when it hasn’t been established if both parties are willing to engage, is not OK? It’s hard to understand why the Disneyland of 2021 would choose to add a scene with such old-fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman.’

Their ridiculous load of virtue-signalling guff soon went viral on social media, with many other wokies rushing to praise them for calling out the Prince’s abusive conduct.

So…wait. Are you mad that they’re mad over what you’ve decreed is a frivolous issue, or are you mad that you think they’re doing this for social media brownie points? I guess it could be both, but I doubt it. Most of the time when I hear conservatives in debates, they’ll flail and gish gallop, more concerned about quantity of talking points over quality.

Let me break this part down for you, Piers, since you can’t seem to pretend understanding while you’re busy boiling over with rage: if a man is truly, honestly, 112% head-over-heels in love, and he sees the object of his desire sound asleep…does he have the right to kiss her? Yes, WE KNOW the prince and princess are meant to be. That part is irrelevant. Because a lovesick fool can convince himself she does love him, or she doesn’t know it yet. No guy thinks he’s Gaston, to borrow another Disney fairy tale, every guy thinks he’s the prince. And every girl thinks most all guys are frogs they REALLY don’t want to kiss. That’s why consent matters. It’s literally the difference between a beautiful moment and a sexual assault.

By the by, I read their article. Notice how they spent most of the article praising the ride. The technical aspects you yourself praised. Literally out of their ten paragraphs, they spent only one and a half addressing the controversy.

But the truth is that by gallantly and tenderly kissing his love goodbye –something that grieving people do to their deceased loves ones every minute of every day all around the world – the Prince saved her life. Then they got married and lived happily ever after.

Again, the specific scenario in the fairy tale and/or Disney cartoon is irrelevant in this discussion. If the general portrayal of power dynamics in romantic relationships were more equally balanced in cinema overall, we might not be having this conversation. But we have eons of these tales of men claiming women as prizes with no regard for their preferences and desires.

Like, listen to this, Piersy ol’ chap…I’m not liberal, I’m a leftist (yes, there’s a difference), and despite my Antifa-cheering, BLM-supporting, gun-hating, immigrant-loving, anti-capitalist, LGBT+-accepting, pro-choice advocating, Medicare-for-all-stumping, SJW ways…my favorite Disney movie remains 1946’s Song of the South: arguably THE most racist movie they ever made. Are the depictions of race problematic? Most certainly, yes. It’s pretty much the antithesis to everything I stand for politically. And yet…I could watch Br’er Rabbit outwit Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear all day. But I’m not going to be upset if I get called on it, because I know what’s in my heart, what I stand for, and where its problems lie. I won’t get defensive about it and I’ll agree it has problems. Even my wife made me swear to not show it to our daughter. So I just have to take my lumps and try to take joy in the parts I do like and discard the racist crap. And I hope what good values the movie does have, however few there are, it can get reevaluated and retooled for future generations, or at the very least, used as a teaching tool on how far we’ve come.

As a teenager, I spent FAR too much time trying to rationalize why I liked it and how I could deflect criticism by saying things like “Well, it takes place AFTER the Civil War, so they’re not slaves!” Or “Well, movies are art and art is subjective!” Or even the classic “Well, it was the forties…” Truth is, none of that matters. It still hinges on using outdated stereotypes, exaggerated ebonics, subservience to white folks, and general misguided condescension to convey its depictions of black Americans in the Reconstruction era…through the lenses of a bunch of middle-class white dudes some 70 years after the fact. It’s just one of the many, many, many other movies made in Hollywood that depict black people as backward, slow-witted, and lazy, and no amount of “well, actually…”-ing can mitigate that.

Oh, and there’s another rather important point to consider: none of this is real. It was an animated film, a cartoon.

Snow White didn’t exist, and nor did the Prince, the wicked Queen, or any of the Seven Dwarves.

No.

I mean, obviously, he’s correct in that Snowy, Prince What’s-his-face, Jumpy, Biggo-Ego, Flabby and all the rest are fictional constructs of imaginary proportions. That’s not in dispute. Claiming it doesn’t matter because they are not real is just as irrelevant as the specifications of the individual movie.

See, recall earlier he said the movie was “delightful”, “charming” , and “uplifting”. The story has affected him in a positive way, even as a grown man as devoid of empathy as he turned out. But, see, if we’re going by your own logic, I have some bad news: Snow White and the prince aren’t real. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I don’t know how you’re getting so inspired by a bunch of lined drawings flickering on a screen at 24 frames a second, but you shouldn’t. Because they don’t exist, therefore, you are foolish for being emotionally invested.

If my point wasn’t clear, let me rephrase it. Animation is equally as valid a medium as a live-action film, a novel, a show on Broadway, a comic book, or even a doodle in a notebook, because in fiction, every character is not real, and the stories they tell are meant to evoke truths and ideas about the human condition. And a key part on that is because of audience investment. If the story has an outcome where we are meant to care about what happens to them, like in the tale of Snow White and its 1937 adaptation, then a key component is eliciting an emotional response.

What’s even funnier is by posing as Mr. Big Brain patronizing us “wokies” about it being a cartoon…yeah. Duh. That’s why we’re not upset at the prince. We’re upset that real human beings are obliviously reinforcing an archaic practice of claiming a pretty girl without consent is something they should probably stop glamorizing.

So, there’s nothing sinister about any of this, unless your mind is so utterly twisted by the demented desire to be offended by absolutely everything that you’ve taken leave of your senses.

‘I’m sorry, this is what’s wrong with the world,’ tweeted New York Rangers star Matt Traynor. ‘Snow White, a fictional character getting brought back to life by a kiss by her future husband. Y’all taking things too far and ruining the gullible by making them believe this is what to flip out about instead of REAL issues…’

Exactly.

You know…we’ve been gabbing on and on about Snow and the prince…you know who we haven’t brought up yet? The seven dwarfs.

I must ask: why don’t they have real names? Who names their child Dopey, Grumpy, or Sneezy? If the dwarfs aren’t related, why do they all live together? They are all bald and six of them have white beards…they have to be at least in their sixties, so why is a 14-year-old girl their surrogate mother? You might think I’m overthinking and nitpicking a simple fairy tale, but my greater point is they are not human. Between their silly names, their silly bulbous noses, their silly antics, and their silly songs, the only time we take them seriously is during Snow White’s wake. In real life, dwarves exist. Look at Warwick Davis. Martin Klebba. Verne Troyer. Jason “Wee Man ” Acuña. Jyoti Kisange Amge. Danny Woodburn. Most of these guys leaned into doing comedy because, as dwarves, their physique inspired comedic gags the average actor in Hollywood can’t pull off.

In 2006’s Elf, author Miles Finch was implied to be an imposing presence before we even saw him. When a dwarf walked in, the joke, of course, was that a man who invoked so much fear was so short. Then Buddy called him an elf, and he proceeded to soundly beat down the 6’3″ human. This easily could have been the highlight of this actor’s career, but in 2011, he reappeared on a little show on HBO called Game of Thrones. As Tyrion Lannister, Peter Dinklage became one of the show’s highest-profile stars. Now, even after the show’s infamously disastrous final seasons, Dinklage is a household name, so respected for his acting chops that his physical stature barely registers. That’s an honor most every dwarf would kill for, and now he stars in high-profile movies and roles where a character’s height is a non-issue.

“That’s really ableist of you, lady.”

Compare that to say…William Huntley, for example. Who’s he, you ask? In 2007’s Enchanted, when Amy Adams is stumbling around Times Square for the first time, her gown almost swallows Mr. Huntley. He snaps curtly at Adams, who thinks he’s Grumpy. He disappears into the crowd after less than ten seconds of screentime. What’s his real name? He wore a nice suit: where does he work? What is his family like? We’ll never know, because he existed solely as a punchline.

In a just world, Dinklage and Huntley would be able to get roles just as easily as any other actor, with only their talent separating them.  But we’ve been conditioned to see dwarves for so long as short clowns, it has real world consequences.  You could make the argument the Disney movie shows the dwarfs in a sympathetic, even dramatic light, but it makes no difference because the primary impact they leave is that of comedy and whether you want to admit it or not, that influences how people interact with dwarfs in real life.

And that, Mr. Matt Traynor, Mr. Piers Morgan, is why we are so concerned about media depictions.  This has a cascading effect that has to start somewhere.  Because basic human empathy starts with not influencing the masses with portrayals of less-than-ideal ideas.  For every Josh Duggar out there, there’s roughly ten guys who are “just trying to be romantic” when kissing an unconscious woman, not understanding that’s actually really f*cking creepy.  I mean, they already have a hard time understanding consent as it is, right, Meg?

Who can argue?

My question for the wailing wokies is this: given that the ONLY way for Snow White to come out of her ‘sleeping death’ is to receive a ‘true love’s kiss’, and given that the Prince is her only true love, and given that he thinks she’d dead….if he hadn’t kissed her when he did, then she would never have come out of her sleeping death.

In other words, she would remain effectively dead.

So, the logical conclusion of the woke campaign to stop the Prince kissing her is that they would prefer for Snow White to be dead, and that seems a highly ‘problematic’ place for these supposed feminist warriors to find themselves.

I refuse to let this happen.

…You really don’t have, like, a single brain cell trying to get started up there, do you?

For starters, the whole reason we’re even talking about this because the ride, not necessarily the movie.  And the key difference is that the kiss scene…was ADDED ON.

The original ride in 1955 ended (spoilers) when the witch would try to topple a boulder onto riders, but instead, guests rolled into a darkened hallway where all they’d hear was her terrified wail as she fell off the cliff before reaching the unload area.  The revamp in 1983 changed the darkened hallway to an open-air denouement scene with a storybook that read “…And they lived happily ever after.”  Not a smooch to be seen.  The new version now brings to life the kiss, meaning this is new, a conscious decision added in the post-#Metoo era.  At least Walt and his team had little reason to consider the patriarchal ramifications in the thirties.  Nowadays, you can’t escape it, and it’s because we want fortune 500 companies like Disney to carefully consider these things before doing them.  Adding the kiss scene more than likely was just them oblivious to potential controversies more than anything, but now it just looks thoughtless and inconsiderate.

Now, I’ve talked about problematic scenes in Disney movies before.  I’m not going to show my infant daughter Song of the South, but I want her to witness the mostly-wholesome beauty in Peter Pan, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and The AristoCats.  Those movies, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, are mostly perfectly fine, save for the jive-talking crows, the Neverland injuns, MORE kissing of unconscious women, and racial stereotypes in feline form.  I, as her father, just need to talk to her about those scenes: how the jokes hinge on cultural difference, how they are borne out of ignorance and callousness, and how they were “okay” decades ago but not anymore.  I grew up learning a lot of bad ideas I’ve spent over twenty years trying to unlearn.  It’s my job as a responsible and mature human being to be considerate and learn to be decent to others.  And it’d help if I wasn’t influenced by jokes in cartoons made by white people who were afraid to drink from the same water fountains as black people.

I stand with the chivalrous Prince and won’t let the wokies kill Snow White.

Piersy, old bean…Snow White isn’t real.  We know that.  You even accused us of thinking she was.  I know you’re trying to be dramatic here, but it just makes you look hypocritical.

And my message to these murderous imbeciles is a simple one:

Can you just shut the f**k up?

Seriously.

You’re pathetic & exhausting, and nobody in the real world agrees with you – about anything.

It’s not as though he made it a secret for his disdain for the left, but it’s still kind of shocking to hear it so directly.  Especially since all we’re asking is for guys like you to demonstrate some freaking form of empathy.

I send this advice with a non-consensual kiss in the hope it saves you from an otherwise slow, agonising woke death. Mwah. 

Oh, aren’t you charming?  And by “charming”, I mean Condescending, Arrogant, Patronizing, Conceited, Haughty, Aloof and Dopey.

************************

It really baffles me that there are people whose personal belief is when coming across others who think differently, their gut reaction isn’t to empathize or to listen, but to chortle with disdain and counter with “Shut up, no, it isn’t”.  Even if we on the left are wrong about something, these kinds of conversations should be had, because surface-level analytics don’t lead us anywhere.  For people like Piers, that’s a good thing.  It’s a status quo he doesn’t want challenged.  Not only would it shake the idea that he may not be as deserving of his high ranking in society as he might believe, but it might expose him to the systemic privileges he benefits from that he may have never considered, and that is one abrasive pill to choke down.

The kisses in Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have been seen as unequivocally romantic, but boys and men in today’s world aren’t terribly perceptive on such matters.  There’s a multitude of toxic behaviors guys engage in, thinking they’re being smooth, suave, sexy, and romantic, when really, they’re being weird and/or creepy.  Kissing a sleeping woman can indeed be romantic, but it’s highly, highly conditional, especially if the woman doesn’t know the guy.  And remember: we live in a world where FAR too many men think taking photos of their junk and sending it to an unsuspecting woman is “sexy”.  Or threatening her for talking to other guys is being “protective”.  And that ANY controlling and abusive behavior is “romantic”, and that’s been perpetuated by even movies for adults, like the Twilight series, and the 50 Shades of Grey series.

Women deserve to live in a world where we men aren’t overstepping boundaries just because we think we’re play-acting as Prince Charming when they don’t feel the same way.  My daughter deserves that world.  My wife deserves that world.  And we can’t keep teaching boys that this act is inherently and intrinsically romantic.  That’s why it felt so callous that after sixty years of being a beloved attraction, suddenly this scene was tacked on, amid a world where we’re trying to be better than we were before. It’d be like if Dumbo the Flying Elephant was remodeled to add the crows. Yes, I like “When I See and Elephant Fly” as much as the next guy, but I need to be a touch more sensitive to the black population that has no desire to see a character named Jim Crow. It’s a step backwards, is all I’m saying.

Screw you, Piers “Dimwit” Morgan.

D23 Always Disappoints

You used to be cool, man…

On September ninth, tenth, and eleventh of 2022, the Anaheim Convention Center was busting at the seams with starry-eyed fans once again.  For the seventh time since it was first announced in 2009, the D23 Expo rocked the Disneyverse, with fans like me who didn’t go, to cling to their phones, jonesing for another hit of that sweet, sweet announcement of breaking news of whatever new thing Disney was making and building.  And every year, we feel unfulfilled. 

D23 was founded that same year as a membership for exclusive Disney goodies, for an annual fee, of course.  The ’23’ represents the company’s founding year, 1923.  In addition to the membership, the company holds its own convention every two years and features celebrity panels, special performances, and new project announcements.  Unlike Comic-Con, which was founded independently and would later attract the companies it celebrated to market their latest projects, The D23 Expo was manufactured from the top down by Bob Iger, and became a Mecca for Disney fans and stans since day one.  While throughout the year, trailers for new movies and blog announcements for new rides keep Disney trending, the Expo gets the hype train started early, allowing basically a bigwig of some caliber to show two or three pieces of concept art on an massive stage and they’ll vaguely allude to some brand-new experience that’s super-expensive, super-interactive and fun for the whole family, coming soon!  And with that, the audience goes nuts and Twitter is ablaze with everyone rushing to be the first to tell the world about the next new thing.

And every year, comes some degree of disappointment for everyone.

Is this fan entitlement?

Pretty sure this is how they see us when asking about Journey into Imagination.

Yes and no.  Obviously, this is a key example of “first-world problems”.  No one needs anything from Disney per se, not while we deal with climate change, inflation, viral pandemics, starvation, fascism, political oligarchy, and war.  Heck, as long as these problems persist, I’ll always welcome a chance to dive headlong into my escapism just to maintain my sanity.

Yes, it is fan entitlement because we, the fans, are demanding that Disney give us the stuff we want, whether it’s possible they can or not.  Disney, like most corporations, set up the precedent many decades ago that we, the customer, are always right.  As a business practice, it’s best to assure us they have our best interests at heart, that they’ll take care of us, and they’ll give us what we want.  However, this does breed and foster that dangerous mindset that we deserve what we ask for.  Even YouTube stars get inundated with fans demanding more, and they have far fewer resources than Disney!

On the other hand, Disney, like a lot of other corporations, assure us they are the best, and that is shown to be demonstrably true.  They have made stunningly animated blockbusters and fully immersive attractions that constantly outpace their rivals.  Walt himself set forth that precedent from day one, and it’s paid off in droves.  So it’s no surprise that our expectations are higher than they would be than if we were at SeaWorld, Cedar Fair, or even Universal Studios.  We’d be overjoyed if we were served a Marie Callendar’s pie from a second-rate diner, but if I pay good money to a 5-star restaurant, you better believe I’ll expect the pie to be freshly baked less than a half hour ago.  We may be demanding a lot from Disney, but they set us up to expect a lot in the first place.  And should we continue to patronize them if they release work that is sub-par, even by their elevated standards?  I’d argue that’s not really fan entitlement anymore.

So why.  Why does Disney frustrate me year after year? Why can’t I just be happy when they announce a new character meet-and-greet, a new ride, a new casting roster of the next Marvel movie, et cetera?  Well, let me explain…

There’s maybe a 60% chance we’ll get what we’re sold

The first thing you’ll be taught in any business class is “Underpromise, overdeliver”.  You want your customers to have lowered expectations so when you deliver, they’ll be surprised and delighted.  Often times when Disney first announces a new ride or movie, it’s LONG before all the details are ironed out.  In fact, Disney has lengthy history of loudly boasting about new projects to the public, but for one reason or another, the final product often is still missing chunks of what was detailed.  Among them include…

Hmm.

1. Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland promised a huge expansion of the enchanted realm based on the worlds of Dumbo, Ariel, Belle, Snow White…and Aurora and Tinker Bell. Initial concept art showed both the good fairies’ cottage and Pixie Hollow were in the cards, but both were dropped before construction even started. Official statements claim this was an effort to make the land less geared directly to young girls, but who’s to say?

2. Disney was so sure Animal Kingdom would open with Beastly Kingdomme that it dropped numerous hints in TV commercials, McDonald’s Happy Meals, the “Unicorn” parking lot section, even in the park’s official logo itself.  However, the animal’s upkeep budget ballooned so much they were forced to turn the area set aside for it into Camp Minnie-Mickey, which later became Pandora: World of Avatar in 2017.

3. Disney’s America had a pretty well-detailed plan ready as an American history-themed resort.  However, its planned site in Haymarket, Virginia, near the Civil War Manassass battle field was contested by locals, which resulted in a highly publicized legal battle and the eventual cancellation before a single shovelful of dirt was overturned.

4. Eisner was so eager to expand his newly-established Disney Regional Entertainment branch with the virtual reality-based arcade DisneyQuest that plans were announced to rapidly expand to Chicago and Philadelphia.  The Chicago one at least opened and ran for about a year, but the lackluster response caused the Philadelphia site to halt construction barely after the big hole was dug for the foundation.

5. At 2019’s D23, plans were announced to finally build a ride based on Mary Poppins to open at the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot.  However, a certain viral pandemic has caused the proposal to be delayed indefinitely, if not altogether dropped from future plans.

6.  Disneyland’s Rocket Rods, Magic Kingdom’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and River Country were all closed for various reasons and Disney assured the public they were totally gonna reopen them again soon.  All three turned out to be closed forever instead.

7.  Star Wars’ Galaxy’s Edge was promised to add numerous interactive elements that would be part of a greater narrative that would follow you between rides, character interactions, and shopping experiences. One specific example cited was depending on the success you and your party had on Smuggler’s Run, would result in how characters interacted with you.  These elements were never installed, but they were a primary focus for Walt Disney World’s Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel, where only the guests with the deepest pockets could afford such a luxury.

There’s more, but you get the idea, right?  Sometimes their ambition is so great and they’re so eager to impress the public they’ll promise the moon, stars, planets, and sun, but in about 5 years, we’ll get the moon, then the stars 2 years after that, and a screen-based dark ride with facsimiles of the planets instead, maybe.  And no sun at all.

It reveals Disney’s talk, rarely their walk

Who needs a bunch of stiff pirates when we have this? BE IMPRESSED, DAMN YOU!!

What’s most annoying is that it perfectly exemplifies the axiom of talk being cheap.  Ultimately, it unravels our faith in the company who used to give us Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Jungle Cruise.  Well, they’ll still promise they’ll build the next Pirates of Haunted Mansion, but we’ll be lucky if we get another screen-based dark ride.

Disney loves boasting about how each new generation of rides is going to feature state-of-the-art technology.  That some new piece of digital wizardry is going to revolutionize how we experience rides.  While us Disnerds might really go nuts over this new, subtle boost in immersion, the average Disney guest may not be able to tell the difference.  What they do know is the difference between Pirates and, say, Na’avi River Journey – two rides built five decades apart – is one has 126 limited-motion animatronics and the other one has one really good one, and all the HD CGI and fiber optics technology can only dazzle so much.

Disney doesn’t need a massive budget for cutting edge robotics, per se.  For as detailed and articulated as the shaman’s face is on Na’avi River Journey, I’m much more impressed with the rear projection-mapping used on the dwarf’s faces in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  We love the Haunted Mansion for its clever use of vintage magician parlor tricks to create ghostly apparitions that cost them a few bucks here and there.

They can brag about what new gizmos they’ve developed in the past 5 years, but as ungrateful as it sounds, we don’t care.  Will the ride actually be immersive?  Will it tell a good story?  Will it temporarily is distract us from the impending credit card bill next month?  That’s all we really want.

The timeline is always in flux

In August of 1954, ground broke for the first time in Anaheim.  A whole eleven months later, ABC televised the opening of Disneyland: a whole theme park with a lengthy list of rides that blew away the average American.  Now, of course, the park wasn’t complete, most of the rides broke after a short period of time, and a gas leak shut down Fantasyland, but let me remind you a whole theme park was built in less than a one calendar year.  Nowadays, we’re lucky if a single ride will go from announcement to opening in less than 5 years.

The Tron coaster, for example, was announced at the 2017 D23 in July, expected to open in time for WDW’s 50th in October of 2021.  Ground broke in 2018.  Work stopped due to the pandemic, and resumed after the park opened, and only in this year’s D23 did they give the tentative opening as “Spring 2023”.  I would have argued that the COVID shutdown would have been a perfect time to renovate, touch up, fix, and perfect the resort without guest interference, but what do I know?

No one wants a ride opening too soon, full of bugs and glitches that result in more downtime to repair.  And no one can expect the obstacles that may come during construction.  But it seems to be an old song to expect a ride “Summer 2023”, but the work walls don’t come down until that fall, almost December.

Price conveniently never seems to come up

“It doesn’t matter. You’ll buy it anyway.”

Of course when you’re pitching something new and cool to the public, you want to downplay, if not outright neglect the downsides.  That’s fine, but Disney proper is on a warpath when it comes to fees and charges to guests.  Forget just raising ticket prices every year. Magical Express, the free shuttle service from the airport to Disney?  Terminated.  Fastpass?  Now a fee-based service.  Annual passes?  Gone.  All that’s left to charge for are the napkins and condiments at the restaurants and the buttons at guest relations.

Disney Genie was announced at D23 2019, too, and Chapek was enthralled to tell us about how we can now make reservations for all our favorite rides…but he left out the part where this cutting-edge app would charge several fees to make it function the way he made it sound.  Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel was first announced in 2017’s D23, and embellished upon at D23 in 2019, but didn’t open til March earlier this year.  Oh, and its prices were not made known until last August, where thousands of cash-strapped Star Wars fans were absolutely crestfallen to realize it cost $5k to to do an official Star Wars cosplay for two nights.

Yeah, we love the razzle and dazzle of an executive onstage showing us the latest projects in the pipeline, but their latest tactic of charging guests up the wazoo for literally anything puts a damper on things.

What you want is almost never what they announce next

“Guys, it’s been, like, 16 years…”

Every Disney fan has a laundry list of requests for Disney Imagineering. Rocket Rods still sits empty and decrepit. Journey Into Imagination remains a shell of its former self. Expedition: Everest’s Yeti hasn’t been in “A” mode since 2006. The original Discovery Island (Not the Animal Kingdom central hub) is still left to rot away. Tarzan’s Treehouse in Disneyland closed suddenly and rumors suggested an Encanto retheme, but again, nothing concrete has come out. And we fans are waiting on baited breath for when Disney says they’re FINALLY going to do something about these and…yep, you guessed it…they never do.

Like most fans, I, too, have such a list, like doing alternate storylines to Mickey’s Philharmagic or changing the Tomorrowland Speedway into a Sugar Rush/Hero’s Duty hybrid, or making a wholesale river adventure based off The Jungle Book. Are there ANY sort of precedents for these ideas to move forward? No. So I understand these kinds of ideas aren’t on their radar. But the ones in the previous paragraph are frequent complaints online and at guest relations to the point where retired legendary imagineers Tony Baxter and Joe Rohde vowed to fix their pet projects, but clearly even the bean counters just refuse to let it happen. As cool as brand-new ride announcements are, I would think just as many Disney fans would just be happy to see the peoplemover at Anaheim’s Tomorrowland run once more and DreamFinder return to Epcot.

What’s worse is when – as I cited before – they’ll announce various projects, and refuse to really follow up with it. The Play Pavilion was yet-another idea set to take over the old Wonders of Life building at Epcot, but still remains a seemingly abandoned project that received no follow-up at this year’s convention. Little had been said about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure beyond the 2020 concept art reveal and its name, and in this year’s convention, a scale model was on display with clear alterations from the one and only painting, with zero elaboration. Not even a set date on when Splash Mountain on either coast is to close.

The “Phases” trap

When disney announces that a new land or section is going to develop “in phases”, it’s their way of trying appease the public’s thirst for new stuff by giving them bits at a time until the whole thing’s ready to go. Not a bad idea, but it is extremely frustrating that they rarely open up more than two attractions at a time.

At least Disney-MGM Studios opened quickly in 1989 to beat Universal Studios to the punch. But Animal Kingdom opened with only four rides, and promised Beastly Kingdomme was totally coming in the vaguely specified “phase two” that never happened, as I mentioned before.

New Fantasyland started construction in 2010, with Mickey’s Toontown Fair closing last in 2011, but was the first to reopen as Storybook Circus the following year. Later in 2012, the Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid sections opened, with its last installment being Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in 2014. The original plan was to have it all open by 2012, but again, timelines tend to be tricky. I call this a trap because more often than not, it just seems like a convenient way to weasel out of not fulfilling their plans or delaying them to appease the budget-runners.

What disappointed me this year

Okay.

I don’t really care about anything Star Wars related, so I don’t care about the Mandolorian or Grogu as meet-and-greets.  I’m not going to Disneyland in the near future, so I’m less interested in meeting Professor Hulk in his Endgame quantum suit than I’m curious as to what this means about developing other large characters in the future.  I’m intrigued about the revitalized Avengers E-ticket, but again, I’m not going to California for some time.  Because WDW was my home for the better part of a decade, I’ll always be more curious about what’s going on there.  And there were two announcements in particular that concerned many of us.  The reason why is because some concept art was displayed, but the context from Josh D’Amaro and Jennifer Lee was squarely in the “What if we thought about doing THIS?”, as if this were a litmus test to see if D23 attendees would like what they heard.  Definitely not a bad way to determine if they should go ahead with certain projects, but it does also neglect the casual fans who might not be as knowledgeable about various Disney I.P ‘s.  But the main issue (Aside from filling valuable panel time by just theorizing instead of announcing anything in stone) is that there’s no guarantee any of this will happen, and they wasted time getting venue attendees’ hopes up for nothing.

The Zootopia/Moana retheme of Dinoland U.S.A.

So would Pua walk upright if he wandered too far?

As Dinoland U.S.A has been systematically been getting dismantled the past few years, people began asking what would replace its empty sections now. You guys know me, I’m “Bye Felicia”-ing Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama like a jilted ex, but I still had hoped for a sensible replacement like a South America re-theme or even Australia to coincide with its Africa and Asia lands. Instead, they floated the idea of a joint Zootopia-Moana land, with concept art showing Moana’s boat in the nearby waterway and a Moana-themed spinner, with nothing showing anything related to Zootopia but some skyscrapers in the background.

First, the removal of the dinosaur theming seems a bit drastic. The park was meant to open with a great trifecta of animals that are, animals that were, and animals that never were. The lack of Beastly Kingdomme left quite a lopsided void that couldn’t be filled with a yeti and the Na’avi, but the theme of Dinoland was “Extinction is Forever”, meaning how we must care for our planet or all we love about it will disappear forever. Moana might be an interesting gateway to presenting Oceania and its wondrous natural ecosystem and biome, but with a spinner as its weenie, it warrants concern. Unless a spinner has historical value like Dumbo or Astro Orbiter, most folks don’t want another off-the-shelf carnival ride that costs what Disney finds between the couch cushions. And isn’t this kind of redundant with Epcot’s addition of the Moana-themed play area?

I had always hoped Zootopia would make its way to Animal Kingdom, but I thought it’d set up shop replacing Rafiki’s Planet Watch. You know, separated from the rest of the park so all the anthropomorphized animals don’t clash with the realistic mammals nearby. Hell, you can only get there by train, and Judy literally rode a train into the city, so it works. However, DAK was more about people’s relationship with nature, which means Nick and Judy belong there just as much as Robin Hood and Chicken Little do, and it definitely does not adhere to the primary theming. Worse, its setting is mutually exclusive to Montonui and its surrounding area to the point where it raises questions about how these areas would work together. And finally, what would this mean for Dinosaur?

The Coco/Encanto/Villains land expansion

Welcome to Mexi-Colom-ark Kingdom!

Josh and Jennifer also giddily teased about what laid beyond the spires of Big Thunder Mountain, indicating another expansion of Magic Kingdom, which is, frankly, always a welcome idea, being both the smallest and most popular of the four parks. They hinted at the city of Santa Cecilia, the home of Miguel Rivera and his family from 2017’s Coco, as well as the Encanto, and the opportunity for guests to explore Casita. And then a hell of a curve ball came when Josh referred to an area left for the villains that electrified the audience.

So question number one: is this still considered Frontierland, or a new world entirely with three disparate themes crammed together? At least with Mexico bordering Arizona and New Mexico, you can draw a thematic line to include Mexico, but most of us expected Coco to come to Walt Disney World by replacing Epcot’s Gran Fiesta Tour. Encanto seems a stretch, as yes, it’s also Latin America in Colombia, but that’s really the only connection. At this point, why not just go for broke and throw in The Three Caballeros, Up, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Zorro and call the land something like La tierra de nuestros amigos de habla español or something if this was just some diversity virtue signaling. cynical? Absolutely, but what better explanation is there?

But then the villains section really frustrates me, though. Not only does it have nothing to do with the other two (What, are Ernesto de la Cruz and Abuela Madrigal going to welcome guests there?), but a villains-only land has been the source of much online gossip for years now. Disney has tinkered with villain-themed rides, but there has been a lot of online gossip about a villain-themed whole park. From what I’ve found, this hasn’t had much basis in reality, but it does get one wondering just how much could be based off that premise. Which, to me, begs the question of how big these three sections are going to be, and if I’m acting in bad faith, does this mean they’re going to be three separate lands rather than one big mishmash? None of it makes much sense, the fact it was treated as cheeky speculation, and it seems driven to bait the hardcore fans makes me very suspicious as to what is being planned, if anything at all.

Guys…Epic Universe is still happening.

They may have closed Jaws, but I’m hearing the theme loud and clear right now.

A few meet-and-greet announcements, some coy “what if”-ing, and little else is bad enough when Disney still can’t finish the Tron coaster or fix the yeti. But Disney cannot forget it has another problem on the horizon: Epic Universe.

Announced in 2019, Universal Orlando announced their plans for a third park, named Epic Universe. You can tell Universal has been watching Disney closely and taking notes, as the only things announced was the general speculation of the themed lands (Classic Universal movie monsters, Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon, and another Wizarding World expansion) and only in January of this year, after they, too, closed briefly for the pandemic, referred to an opening date of summer 2025. Using their lower profile to their advantage, they seem to know just how much to reveal and how much to keep close to the vest.

This might not normally be cause for concern, but ever since the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter section opened in 2010, Universal has been jockeying for Disney’s cushy spot at the top of the theme park hierarchy, and most critics and fans agree the playing field is leveling out, as Universal’s game has stepped considerably. And they’ve stayed relatively consistent in their determination to rival Disney where their market share is encroaching on them pretty steadily. Now with a third theme park on the way, and Universal tickets significantly cheaper than Disney, guests may be seeking a trip to Orlando for Universal instead of Disney, and still get the same quality experience. And when Disney’s response is as lackluster as what we’ve seen, that’s not good.

Disney may not like it, but they forget competition is what made them the big dogs of the industry to begin with. Warner Brothers forced Disney’s animation output to be greater in artistic integrity. Don Bluth’s animation forced Disney out of their post-Walt haze and fueled the Renaissance of the nineties. Disneyland was built to out-perform all the tacky carnivals and dirty amusement parks of the time. That’s why it’s so disheartening that instead of committing to a solid plan focusing on expansions to ease crowds, fixing current attractions, and maintaining perks, they instead seek to gouge over-budgeted visitors, leave rides in disrepair, decelerate growth, toss a few gimmicks like Pandora or Figment returning for meet-and-greets our way, and of course, play guessing games with hopeful fans. This is not a recipe for success, and it begs the question if they know how much they’re trouble in with Universal and how cocky they are. If they do, are they just panicking and revealing they have no plan? Who knows? Either way, it’s not a good look.

Disney needs to step up its game. Yes, they’ve been on top for decades, but even the Roman Empire falls one day, and right now the message is clear: do better. Invest time and money in the guest experience. Take a financial dive now, even lower ticket prices for the first time ever and earn the public’s faith. Reinstate the free perks that were yanked away so roughly. Walt knew better than anyone that if you spent $100 million dollars on a high-quality experience, you’ll get dividends back a hundred times over many years later because even casual fans and once-in-a-lifetime attendees can sniff out disingenuousness. And until something changes, Universal is going to beat Disney at their own game, and they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

Black Ariel is Part of Your World whether you like it or not

Please go die in a fire.

Well, it’s…a day of the week on the internet, which means a bunch of people are really, really mad about something. But when it’s conservative pundits screaming in outrage, I take a bit of schaudenfreude in it not just because the things they scream about are moronic, but because they’re in a blind rage over a net positive of something and think kicking and screaming like bratty toddlers is somehow a more valid career than literally anything they criticize the left for (basket-weaving, baristas, flipping burgers, etc.) This time, it was the D23 release of the teaser trailer for 2023’s The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey as the eponymous princess. And what caused the internet to go nuttier than Arkham Asylum on Pecan Pie Day? Well, you see…Ariel is black now.

And the arguments they use to justify their hate? Well, it gets even dumber. See, they can’t be mad that she’s black. Oh no. That would mean they’re racist and being racist is bad. So their reasons have to be somehow justified. And yet, for all their demonization for the left on behaving on feelings more than facts, they sure seem to rely on some pretty tepid and emotion-based arguments just to rationalize why the Atlantican princess shouldn’t ever be any skin color other than…well, snow white. Of course, their rationales don’t have a leg to stand on, not even fins that don’t get them too far.

The “virtue signaling” rationale

Most conservatives recoil in horror that diversity exists and that people of other races should enjoy the same things us white people do. While we progressives are chomping at the bit for any scraps of representation, however meager, conservative pundits will claim Disney’s just doing these grandstanding gestures for no other reason than just to pander to us gullible lefties. That it means nothing but just surface-level gimmickry for optics. And to that I say…

Yeah, probably!

I’m absolutely sure director Rob Marshall has the best of intentions and we can hear Bailey absolutely has the pipes for it. But who are we fooling? The only way this movie sees the light of day is by the approval of Disney’s board of directors, and these crusty old white guys think racism ended in the sixties and Black Lives Matter is just a convenient marketing gimmick. They’ve demonstrated time and again, particularly with gay and trans people, that if they put on a show announcing how progressive they are because a Pixar character says “my girlfriend” or Josh Gad dances with a guy, that’s all that’s needed to demonstrate how they “understand” representation.

“Samantha?”

That’s because they know if they barrel forward with sincerity in representation, they’d know A) it’d take FAR more effort than advertising The Proud Family, Black Panther, and The Princess and the Frog on Disney+, or adding an inclusivity key, and B) they’d lose a massive chunk of their audience. Granted, it takes such a minuscule amount of effort in some cases…but if whole theaters can boycott a film over a few frames, imagine if they made their own Watermelon Woman-type movie?

And as we saw with the “Don’t Say Gay” debacle, Disney proper has decided full commitment to the right or the left is not in their best interest, which telegraphs to the public that when they make a movie starring a black character, even with the writers and directors fully invested in the sincerity of their cause, it’s little more than an optics game to the higher ups. But you know what? I’d rather have a movie that slaps a black person on it like how Six Flags slaps a DC superhero logo on a roller coaster and calls it a themed ride than another movie full of boring old honkies like me like 90% of Hollywood’s general output.

The “that’s the way it’s always been” rationale

Conservatives tend to fall back on their reasoning that things should not, as a rule, progress. You’d rarely get them to admit that we should still have slavery, or that we need a monarchy again, or that we should still rely on leeches in modern medicinal practices. However, they will fight tooth and nail on any sort of advancement because the bible says so, the Constitution says so, nature usually says so, or some vague “That’s the way it’s always been” proclamation, as if trying to make things better for all is foolhardy or illogical. But even if you’re not progressive, you can see this makes no sense.

Nevermind they have a preconceived idea of when things were “perfect”, which is a moving goalpost over time, but we shouldn’t try to change anything ever? Or at the very least, we shouldn’t try something different or new, period?

So Ariel in 1989 was white. So what? What does that matter? Jodi Benson probably doesn’t want to play Ariel in live action, as much as she clearly loves the character, same with her live model, Sheri Stoner. Despite being a Danish fairy tale, composer Howard Ashman proposed an English crab named Clarence be remade into Sebastian, complete with a Jamaican accent, primarily so they could infuse more calypso/reggae influence into the music (It just dawned on me a realistic-looking Sebastian is going to probably look like a horror of Blumhouse-ian proportions) Mermaids are mythically based off manatees, so it’s not as though they’re really jonesing for real-world accuracy here.

The remakes as a whole do tend to inspire a “”Not MY” response among both sides of the political spectrum. We don’t like seeing our favorite things retooled, even if they’re not meant for us anymore. Look at all the Star Wars discourse, even as far back as 1999’s The Phantom Menace. We grew up on The Jungle Book and The Lion King and Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin…and these movies are perfect just the way they are to us. But of course, objectively, they’re not. And it’s almost repulsive to think our kids will grow up watching 2017’s Beauty and the Beast and fall in love with tuneless Emma Watson and Baphomet Beast. Or at the very least, be forced to clarify every time we bring up how much we love the 1991 cartoon. And if the anti-woke crowd were about that, I’d have a bit more sincere compassion for that. But instead, it’s not over anything substantial (even though we know nothing beyond casting at this point), but over an actress’ skin color.

The “scientific” rationale

The scientific analysis rationale is, by far, the worst reason to hate on Ariel being black I’ve ever heard, and for a guy who debunks crazy articles from a litany of unhinged sociopaths and nutcases, I feel it’s beneath even me to bother acknowledging it. It’s such a disingenuous and bad faith reaction because it doesn’t have a leg to stand on. So much so I can’t even bother to make a joke off that idiom right now.

If we want to go down this rabbit hole, here’s why the argument makes no sense. 1) mermaids aren’t real. Not just as a product of fiction by writers, but literally, a figment of the imagination of a bunch of horny sailors who confused THESE…

Mmm…that’s hot.

…with sexy, topless, singing women with fish tails. So please, spare me. If mermaids are “supposed” to look like pretty females, I think the skin pigmentation is the least of these discrepancies.

2) Mermaids are not real. In other words, how do we know aliens from far-off galaxies aren’t purple? Or blue? Or taupe? It’s fantasy. They can be as black or Asian or Hispanic or Arabian or whatever and it wouldn’t matter. The story is not beholden or contingent upon Ariel’s race, especially since her father is being played by Javier Bardem! Hell, they’re protesting scientific accuracy over a mermaid’s skin color rather than the mere existence of mermaids! How is that not hypocritical?

3) I might – MIGHT – have had some respect for this talking point if with every live action remake, these same idiots came out and protested most if not all of the “scientific inaccuracies”. Did Ben Shapiro complain that The Lion King, with its hyperrealism, had the animals talk, but lions do not have the vocal cords to produce human speech, much less english in sub-saharan Africa? Did Matt Walsh claim Mulan was ruined by the existence of a mysterious witch who transformed into a phoenix at will? Did a Facebook group crop up that claimed the magic in Maleficent and Aladdin “doesn’t work like that”? Of course not.

4) Suspension of disbelief. Of course movies will try to sell us fantastic circumstances that can make or break a movie’s effectiveness. I can be made to believe a baby elephant can fly in 1941’s Dumbo, but because of the realistic rendering of the baby elephant in the 2019 movie, I have trouble believing he’s aerodynamic enough to lift himself off the ground and soar over the circus grounds, much less with people riding on his back.

Huh. Point made.

I saw the above Twitter post and I totally believe it. Suspension of disbelief requires a tangential amount of sense, so this alone is enough for me to accept this on a “scientific” level, the same way I accept a radioactive spider can give a teenager superpowers. So to take Matt Walsh even remotely seriously and expect Ariel to be skeletal and translucent is (Scrolls through a thesaurus)…dumb. Very, very dumb.

There’s a pattern here.

Let me share this meme with all of you reading this:

Things that make ya go “hmm…”

Also, John Wayne played Genghis Khan. Mickey Rooney played an Asian guy. Ben Kingsley played Mohandas K. Gandhi. John Rhys-Davies played an Egyptian man. The list goes on. The fact is, white actors playing characters of color has been kind of the default for Hollywood for decades, even excluding the shameful vaudeville practice of blackface. And it’s super telling that when these casting choices happen, they couldn’t care less. But the moment the tables turn, they lose it. And it’s at this point where if I were to lend any credence to Bailey’s casting as an isolated incident, it vanishes because…

In 2015, John Boyega, Kathleen Kennedy, and George Lucas were eviscerated when in the first trailer for The Force Awakens, Boyega appears as Finn, a storm trooper.

When rumors popped up about Idris Elba as the new James Bond replacing Daniel Craig, that got a ton of backlash, too.

While praised for his performance as Black Panther‘s Killmonger, Michael B. Jordan has been attacked frequently being cast as Johnny Storm in Josh Trank’s Fant4stic and as Superman, though recently it was shown he might appear as an alternate version named Val-Zod.

While we on the left are pretty frustrated over so much casting of white people over POC for so many roles, it’s nice to see when POC’s are reinterpreted in a wholly new way, especially when, well…

Just look at those faces.

The next generation gets something to look up to that we never got.

The bad faith in this argument truly reared it ugly head when several reactionaries suggested Black Panther be made a white guy.

It’s just…such a cope.

I feel like I’d be insulting all your intelligences if I had to spell out why this is dumb with a capital D, but let me at least try to speak to the idiots who think this is equitable in any way. We do not live in a vacuum where history does not exist. Black people historically have been denied generational wealth and suffered redlining, which is why they can’t just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” while us white kids have far more avenues to success. You yourself, my fellow white “friend”, may not be personally responsible for anything discriminatory or flat-out racist, but historically speaking, black folks have every reason to be suspicious and wary of white people, especially when crap like this still happens. Rock n’ roll is acknowledged today as largely pioneered by Chuck Berry, among others, but you’d be forgiven if popular culture influenced you to think of Elvis Presley instead. And as I demonstrated earlier, ethnic characters getting whitewashed is practically a Hollywood tradition. So this tone-deaf reactionary take ignores a historical precedent meant – intentionally or not – to devalue black people and their contributions to the world at large. So to further perpetuate this tradition by taking a character that embodies pride in being black as a king of an uncolonized African nation and a superhero to boot…yeah, that’s a touch disanalogous, wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s talk about that Facebook group…

Ho. Ly. Crap.

This…this was just offensive in SO many ways. For starters, what does being Christian have to do with Ariel being black? Where in the Bible does God or Jesus denounce the, er – for lack of a better phrase – “blackwashing” of a cartoon from a corporation based on a 1837 Danish book based on the horned-up imaginations of sailors who thought sea cows were sexy fish-women? Did I miss that in my first communion classes?

Next, as pointed out on a Tiktok, their only rule is “No racism…but keep it to a happy medium”. I implore the admins, what the hell does that even mean? I get that – again – actual racists don’t see themselves as racist because “racism” is bad, and they’re not bad, just realistic…but ambiguous deity almighty, so many of its members are completely oblivious. There are LOTS of screencaps you can find of just some of the appalling memes and statements made, and I’ll show you guys just one. I’d rather not for the sake of good taste, but it can’t be overstated what fresh idiocy they find “humorous”.

No, I won’t block his name out.

Like…holy f*cking sh*t. This is 2022. If you ever get in an argument with a conservative and they claim “racism is over”, just direct them to this page. As a private group, its “About” section even says “The real little Mermaid is white. We cannot change what we have all known and grown up to as children”. Like…freaking what “real” little mermaid? The cartoon? The book illustrations? The manatees? And so what if you’ve been watching the same cartoon back when it supposedly had a penis on the VHS case? Is Disney not allowed to remake the story how they see fit? Are they going to erase the cartoon from existence, like they’ve done with all the others, which – oh yeah – they haven’t done that at all either. These folks do not own Ariel anymore than I own the White House, and to imply that the company who made an animated film near and dear to their hearts, has somehow no right to remake it with new casting choices based on the worst demonstrations of “I’m not racist, but…” I have ever seen…it’s shocking. Embarrassing. Abhorrent. Repugnant. And a multitude of other words no thesaurus could encapsulate.

I want to apologize for my aggressive tone. I mean, I want to, but I feel like I can’t. I really do want to, though, because you, dear reader, don’t deserve that. But the fact is I’m very angry. And you should be, too. For all our efforts to try to eradicate racist ideals from the discourse, and however hard conservatives try to gaslight us into thinking that racism doesn’t exist anymore, we still have to deal with this. This is how racism endures: as “jokes” and outdated stereotypes that influence the next impressionable generation. And by gods, I will make sure my daughter does not grow up in a world where this is seen as acceptable, let alone commonplace. So screw these guys and the seahorse they rode in on.

And Ms. Bailey, if you happen to come across this article, I want you to know you have friends and fans waiting for you. Eff the “1.5 million dislikes in two days!!!” headlines and just focus on the little girls who will now see a black woman as a princess mermaid. We know you worked your fins off for this role and you deserve much, much better. Even if we don’t think the movie comes out as well as we hope, know it’s not about you. It never was. Even as a black woman who’s had to deal with all sorts of crap that I’m sure you’ve endured, I know it’s easy to get bogged down and taking this personally. But we’re proud of you. And I can’t wait to see you inspire all the bright young women out there who are sick of swimmin’ and ready to stand.

Such poor, unfortunate souls, indeed.

Disney is out of touch with me, I mean America. Yeah, that’s it: a rebuttal

Let’s play college professor: “Define your terms”!

I have truly enjoyed finding so many crazy articles online of people ranting about how evil and corrupt and satanic Disney is, but it seems all good times must come to an end. Oh, people will still scream into the void whether Lightyear has a lesbian kiss or that Turning Red supposedly promotes promiscuity, masturbation, lying to parents, and demonism till the end of time, but the main reason I started doing rebuttals was over the HB 1557 law debacle, which was clickbaity and attention-grabbing throughout the first half of the year. Lately, the conversations have really died down. I can’t seem to find nearly as many crazy op-eds of people declaring Disney to be Satan incarnate as I used to. This article alone came out four months ago in April, so boy, am I behind.

Still, I’m down to square off against someone who wants to raise some flimsy arguments and scoff arrogantly because a gay character DARES to show up in a Disney film. This article was posted in Newsweek, but was penned by a guest writer, Jonathon Tobin, who’s an editor-in-chief of JNS.org, aka Jewish News Syndicate.

There is no joke I can make here that wouldn’t come off as incredibly tone-deaf.

I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a spiritual man. And I know little about the jewish faith. But I’m open to learning new things about religion, especially how they tie into media and politics. But the relationship between the right and Judaism fascinates me. On one hand, anti-semitism runs deep in right-wing circles, and most of the time when someone rants about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket because everyone’s just so MEAN to Donald Trump, they usually gripe about George Soros, or how so many evil people from Goldman and Sachs or the Rothschilds are running things, or Bernie Sanders is ruining everything, or how Jews run the world, or – of course – how Hillary Clinton and Tom Hanks are chugging baby blood by the gallon…which is based on the anti-semitic myth of bloodletting. Neo-Nazis are renowned for hating Jews, and often side with the GOP, remember “Jews will not replace us!”? On the other hand…the GOP is usually the one who keeps hoping we return to “Judeo-Christian values”, indicating the unison of Judaism and Christianity. The Republican’s ride or die has always been Isreal, championing the Zionist decree of Isreal in hopes of ushering in Jesus’ second coming. Even one of the GOP’s biggest cheerleaders is the smarmily smirking, chipmunk-chattering Ben Shapiro. Obviously, religion shouldn’t dictate politics or vice versa, but color me skeptical for reading a pro-Republican article by the editor-in-chief of a Jewish publication writing for a magazine whose audience is largely Gentile. On top of that, Disney got a lot of flak for some time considering longtime Disney chairmen and CEO Michael Eisner and successor Bob Iger were both Jewish, a identifier that earned them ire for many white supremacists and anti-semitics for decades.

So what does Mr. Tobin have to say about Disney, the Don’t Say Gay law, and bipartisan politics? Well, read on…

Conservatives are once again shooting themselves in the foot and handing the Left an easy victory. In their confrontation with the Disney company over its opposition to an education bill that liberals mislabeled “don’t say gay,” Republicans are playing into their opponents’ hands by picking the wrong side of a culture war that’s already been decided against them.

Yeah, about handing us lefties an “easy victory” by them “shooting themselves in the foot”…we kinda learned our lesson back in 2016.

Up until that point in time, politicians had to play tactical vernacular parkour when addressing sensitive issues. Anything slightly revealing was seen as a gaffe and those few words could sink an entire campaign and flush millions of dollars down the proverbial drain. Even George W. Bush had to espouse platitudes of empathy and understanding to non-terrorist muslims even when most of the country saw red upon hearing the word “Islam”. But then came ol’ Donny Trump (if I may borrow Kipling’s simile here) “reckless as a wounded elephant”, slurring and babbling about how Mexicans were ruining this country…but some were cool. No way, we said. Uh-uh. You cooked your own goose. It was over before it started. It wasn’t even slightly subtle. The display was so appalling and offensive and transparently against the rules that news outlets ran the clip over and over to milk it for all it was worth. When Trump didn’t do the tried-and-true bend-over-backwards apology tour to curry favor, and he kept saying more and more offensive things, he galvanized his base and signaled to resentful boomers all over the country that yeah, immigrants were the problem, and it was time to stop playing nice at the Thanksgiving table. Trump was interesting, and the news cycles played his ramblings ’round the clock, mass producing every clickbaity, inflammatory headline to capitalize on his outrageousness. Whether in spite of it all or because of it, Trump lost by 3 million votes, and coasted into the White House on Electoral College votes instead. Ever since then, several Republican politicians have tried the same tactic, from Lauren “Look how many guns I have!” Boebert to Marjorie Taylor “Jewish Space Laser” Greene to Ted “Trump said my dad’s the Zodiac killer and he’s my bestest friend!” Cruz to Joe “throw all the Mexicans in concentration camps” Arpaio to Kellyanne “Alternative facts” Conway, and many, many more. Now, because Trump broke civil discourse and reduced it into “stream-of-consciousness misanthropy”, there’s no repercussions anymore. It’s a scary time to spout crazy jabberwocky and news outlets try to validate it just as much as a researched thesis.

Second, as I stated in a previous article, “don’t say gay” was not hyperbole. Because the law was astoundingly vague with the barrier described simply as “appropriate” and allowing parents to sue schools, all a teacher has to do is talk to Jimmy about his two dads and the right triggered Karen will rain litigious hell upon the district. Literally uttering anything about gayness can result in legal action, so shove your patronizing “mislabeled”.

Lastly, yeah, they are picking the wrong side of history. Not because Hollywood said it’s cool or anything, but because we want a “live and let live” society, same as conservatives. Except conservative lawmakers constantly draft invasive laws to fascistically dictate that women’s reproductive rights mean less than those of men, gay people shouldn’t…anything, and Christianity should be the default of everything. “Party of small government”, my tuchus. But has that been decided against them? Probably only because White Supremacist Extraordinaire Tucker Carlson and Proven Perjurer Alex Jones rant about Critical Race Theory and white replacement theory instead of, you know, real issues.

Oh, and get used to him calling us the capital-L left. It’s gonna get annoying real, real quick.

Or so liberals think.

Ze plot! She thickens!

As one Politico writer put it, the very notion that the GOP would “demonize one of America’s most beloved and trusted corporations seems so quixotic on its face that it invites a simple question: not ‘Why would they do this?’ or even ‘Why would they think it could be done?’ but ‘Why would it even seem advantageous to try?'”

Ooh! Ooh! I know, I know! Can I answer that one? Please? Thank you. (Ahem…)

1.) Because the conservative voter base loves establishments, but specifically ones that don’t really change over time, if at all. The Bible was written almost 2,000 years ago and the rewrites and their authors are lost to time, so that establishes age-old truths that can’t be denied. The Constitution was written almost 250 years ago and hasn’t changed, so what’s written there can’t be denied. But Disney continues making movies and shows, and if they hope to have a prayer of surviving as a for-profit company, they need to adapt to the times as they evolve. So even though the Walt Disney Company turns 100 in October of 2023, it doesn’t present quite the same values as it did in Walt’s day. It is therefore evil and sinful and corrupted and must be burned at the stake.

2.) Republicans value strength, either as moral fortitude or physical strength. Because intellectualism is not valued as much (compared to common sense and conventional wisdom), the average Republican claims to be an advocate for the little guy, who often feels helpless against the system, and not hoity-toity, smarty-smart elites. Talk is cheap, after all, and action gets stuff done. To see a Republican politician take a swing at something as titanic and powerful as Disney is seen as an act of courage and grit. Like David and Goliath.

3.) In conjunction with number one, Disney is often geared toward children. Because of their massive influence, conservative parents were okay with Disney productions teaching kids general morals: sharing, compassion, honesty, et cetera. They understand childhood is highly malleable to a person’s psyche and want to instill nothing but traditional, typically biblically-based values, especially exclusion if not outright condemnation of LGBT+ folks and non-christians. Now here comes Disney waving the pride flag, and they’re terrified children might (shudder!) accept a gay or worse, (gasp!!) turn gay themselves! Heck, Disney taught in Pinocchio (1940) that obedience to parents was paramount, but movies like The Little Mermaid (1989), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Mulan (1998), Tangled (2010), Moana (2016), Encanto (2021), and Turning Red (2022) now teach kids that rebelling against parental figures might yield positive results!! Oh-ho-ho…

4) Despite being so beloved, Disney is seen as largely predatory. Theme park tickets are absurdly expensive, they own a significant chunk of all media, they hypnotize children into valuing their Elsa dolls more than traditional family activities, and are generally frivolous, yet omnipresent. You can live just fine without watching a single Disney movie, unlike big oil or big pharma, both of which you need to survive. The average lower-class voter already feels preyed upon and disenfranchised, and now a company peddling kitschy, unnecessary amusements at massive markups geared at impressionable kids is now trying to say being gay is okay? Oh HELL no!!

5) As I outlined in the introduction, a lot of far-right white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, QAnon supporters, and conspiracy theorists – who tend to align with Trump and extreme right-wing fascism – HATE that Disney was run by two highly successful and highly influential jewish men.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, THAT why it is advantageous to take the anti-Disney platform when running for Republican office.

On its face, this assessment of the dustup between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the company that operates “the happiest place on earth” seems accurate. That’s especially true if you believe that the culture wars over gay and transgender issues were already won by the LBGTQ lobby and its corporate allies years ago.

I remain absolutely mystified with conservatives who think Disney and other conglomerates are in cahoots with LGBT+ activists. I mean, what sense does that make? Most CEOs skew right anyway because Republicans lower taxes for companies and rich people, nullifies governmental regulations, vote down worker’s rights, and value the hierarchical status quo above all else. But let’s say you’re right, and all big companies are owned by us gross lefties (Sorry, “Lefties”)…what is the end game to arbitrarily push leftist causes through selling products and services? The real answer, as with most things, is money. As long as there’s a market willing to buy stuff, companies will jump in on it. So Disney selling pride merch every June isn’t a moral choice, it’s a fiscal one. If doing so didn’t return a profit, they wouldn’t do it, plain and simple.

To top it off, we haven’t “won”. Have strides been made? Yes. Are we better off than before? Yes. But are we at the summit? Nowhere near close. We’re still watching in real time lawmakers fighting tooth and nail to prevent the LGBT+ crowd from getting marriage licenses, wedding cakes, even the right to use the right fricking bathroom. Say nothing of the masses of holier-than-thou religious zealots who make their lives a living hell because they feel they have to.

Like, no one was here because they were bored.

That assumption is based on the way Hollywood helped normalize gay marriage in films and television shows, powering the push for the courts to ultimately mandate its acceptance everywhere in the country. That campaign illustrated the truth, enunciated by the late Andrew Breitbart, that politics was downstream of culture. Since the entertainment industry remains firmly in the grip of the Left, its leaders likely assume every policy shift they endorse will inevitably be made a permanent part of American culture.

I feel like this image should define my feelings over the whole article.

Well that’s…presumptuous. Again, let’s assume that all studio executives are big ol’ Marxists…you really think they sit around, tenting their fingers like C. Montgomery Burns, plotting to make kids gay and that all media stars be made black people or something? Add on top of that this weird theory that federal judges are going “Well, I was gonna pass a law making it legal to throw feces at gay people, but then I watched Brokeback Mountain, so…aw, gosh darnit! Gay marriage is legal now!”

Politics and culture aren’t dominos, idiot, with culture affecting politics and just stops right there. It’s cyclical. Societies existed LONG before cinema, and they based their motion pictures off the values society had at the time. Then as more storytellers come to Hollywood to tell their stories, their diverse perspectives influence society, and then as they get influenced by movies, studios take notice and work it into the next generation of films. And on and on and on. Storytellers have to pull their ideas from somewhere, and it’s the culture and politics that influence them to write stories that say something about the human condition. It’s not as if being gay or gay marriage never existed until some guy made a movie about it and suddenly the queers appeared out of thin air. What a load.

And while, yeah, Hollywood has historically been the domain of egalitarian writers who want to tell stories in hopes of creating a better world – as is the nature of storytelling – the studio executives are scared of making movies that could threaten the status quo. Take this example:

What movie do you think this was about, and what year? Time’s up. It was Hitch, which came out in 2005! Not something that came out in the sixties, seventies, or eighties, but as of the time this article came out, a movie not even old enough to vote. For crying out loud, William Shatner kissed Nichele Nichols on live TV in the freaking sixties and forty years later, this loathsome attitude prevailed!

Hence the belief that Florida Republicans are crazy to think they will succeed in stopping the indoctrination of young children to accept radical ideas about gender. If Hollywood, including heretofore family-friendly Disney, plans to promote gender ideology, it’s because it believes mainstream American culture will follow along even when it advocates for the use of life-altering medical treatments on minors, with or without their parents’ permission.

Yeah, well, Republicans seem to think movies, TV, and books featuring gay people will turn little Timmy into a homo and little Sally into a dyke, so stones and glass houses, Mr. Tobin. Stones and glass houses.

I promise you even the most egotistical, head-up-their-ass boardroom executive doesn’t think the Walt Disney Company can bend reality to its will and make everyone think being gay is cool. Sure, I concede your point that Disney wields a lot of power and influence, but it’s a company that values its public image almost as much their bottom line. This is the company so terrified of backlash, they won’t touch Song of the South with a 100-foot pole. So afraid of backlash, Chapek can’t decide whether the company should be for or against the Don’t Say Gay bill and straddles the fence so hard even the best surgeons can’t get all the splinters out of his rectum. A company so afraid of backlash that wouldn’t do more than lip service and mild implication that a character might not be straight to avoid China and some US theaters banning it and causing controversy.

Remember this?

See, companies, even ones as big as Disney, are not invulnerable. Public opinion can turn on a dime with the right scandal. SeaWorld, for example, was pretty well-loved and respected until Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and the resulting documentary Blackfish in 2013 now has SeaWorld on life support, even today, and on constant defense. Disney can fail. Their executives know it. Even if it pays off in the long run to spearhead progressive causes, the short-term is what keeps them up at night. I mean, any nimrod with a brain stem knows a few quality attractions at Disneyland register far better than dessert parties, dance parties, stage shows, a few meet-and-greets, and a couple new gift shops…but the siren call of some money today sings sweeter than boatloads of cash tomorrow, it seems.

My point is, if they could see into the future and accurately assess where the next cause goes and how they can capitalize on it, they would. And jumping into the wrong movement might have long-term negative consequences. They would go all-in on advocating for the gays today if they knew for certain that would be the outcome down the road, but as long as idiots like Mr. Tobin keep flailing like a toddler denied ice cream making headlines, they’re going to keep hedging their bets.

Now, even demographic groups that Democrats believed to be unshakably liberal are joining the backlash against woke doctrines about race and gender being imposed in the schools. When Disney, acting under the pressure exerted by both left-wing employees and liberal opinion leaders, chose to publicly oppose the Florida law, it started something it couldn’t finish.

Whom?

No, really. You’re doing such a fine job citing your sources so far (he says sarcastically), so tell me, by name and/or organization, who is breaking off from this league of whiny SJW’s such as myself? See, if you go to Tobin’s article online, you’ll find there are a lot of highlighted hyperlinks, but they’re all for a basic glossary so you can see definitions for Disney, Ron DeSantis, democrats, and Black Lives Matter.

If anyone, it’d be the centrist democrats like Nancy Pelosi or even Joe Biden. These powerful individuals spend a lot of time aggrandizing morally on the podium, but when time comes to confront the Republicans, they either concede or mumble some half-hearted objection and shrug when a vote in the House or Senate doesn’t go their way. If you think I’m exaggerating, look up how many times Joe praises the Republicans, even though they have been out for democratic blood since Obama’s administration, and when Bernie, AOC, or Ilhan Omar raise a stink to champion for the lower classes, watch how quickly Pelosi and and other centrist democrats tell them to sit down and shut up. Besides, they haven’t done that with fellow democrats Joe Manchin or Kirsten Sinema, who constantly side with Republicans in vote after vote.

And what is it that can’t be finished? The fight for human rights? I know Republicans are convinced gay and transgender people are trying to corrupt and groom children, but ignoring that obvious homophobic propaganda, all they want to do is live their lives in peace. That’s what this is really about. In fact, one of the most recognized taglines from Superman- specifically from the George Reeves series – is his “never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way”. This will never be finished because there is always a threat to those ideals. Similarly, the fight for human rights will also never end. I know he means that Disney doesn’t have what it takes to see this debate over Don’t Say Gay through, but it’s indicative of his mindset that he thinks fighting for such a cause is not worth pursuing.

But while Breitbart’s rule still holds, the Left and its corporate enablers, such as those running Disney, are fundamentally mistaken about their power to control public opinion.

Again, Disney might be able to sway, but no one, not even them, think they can control public opinion. Charles Foster Kane does not run Disney.

“Rosebud” was code for “Disney”! I knew it!

Disney, as one former writer for the network recently acknowledged, has long been involved in the sexualization of children, and it is not so powerful as to be able to mainstream ideas about race and gender that ordinary Americans reject as racist or too left-wing. And as it takes on a popular governor who is unafraid of such confrontations, it is about to find out that its influence may fall short. The GOP could inflict serious financial damage on a corporation dependent on state acquiescence in a sweetheart deal from which it has long profited.

Again, who the hell said this? When I wrote my rebuttal against Faria, he also referred to his super-biased poll talking about Disney pushing sexuality onto children. And again, I have to say, that just isn’t true! And even if this claim has some basis in fact, then please tell me which shows, which movies have this issue?

Again, it looks like we have yet another conservative who applauds “popular” governor DeSantis for eviscerating their Reedy Creek deal. Aside from the fact that he is implicitly in support of arbitrary penalization when a company acts of its own political volition, he remains blissfully unaware if not downright negligent of its near $2 billion in bond debt to be charged to Orange County residents.

See, if you recall, Disney decided to denounce the bill and pull all campaign donations for the time being. Apparently this was enough to trigger DeSantis over the edge and get him to retaliate. But what I don’t understand is even if this wasn’t transparent, petty vengeance, wouldn’t you want to penalize a company for wrongdoing by invoking a penalty tangential to the issue at hand? Like, fines – theoretically – fund efforts when public services have to clean up afterward, and prisons – again, theoretically – are meant to keep dangerous people away from society. But Disney didn’t even go so far as to break a single law here, just make a political stance, and now this “popular” governor wants to punish Disney? I fail to see the coherent train of logic here.

Of course. I’m talking to the political group that thinks if they buy a bunch of Keurig coffeemakers and Nike sneakers and destroy them on Tiktok, that’s somehow owning them.

“Haw haw! I spent $90 so I could show you I won’t buy your shoes anymore!”

Liberals may believe that supporting the right of parents to be involved in decisions regarding their children’s well-being and to limit discussion of gender and sexuality issues in classrooms is reactionary. But no matter how many times they call Florida’s HB1557 law “don’t say gay” and assume that will be enough to ensure its defeat, that doesn’t make it so. Nor does it change the fact that there is a huge difference between acceptance of adult gay couples and the attempt to normalize the idea of young children changing their gender, or allowing biological males to compete and dominate in women’s sports at the high school and college levels. Such things are not rooted in basic American values.

No caption necessary.

I’m starting to worry this chuckleduck either has a debilitating mental disorder, is a dishonest actor, or just might be flat-out stupid.

First of all, it is reactionary. The whole point of being a conservative is being content with how things are and sometimes were, and when we lefties come along and say, “hey, what if we tried X to improve things”, they flip out and try to shame us for daring to challenge the establishment.

Second, NO ONE thinks a quippy slogan is all it takes to change minds. It’s like when the Republicans tried so damn hard to smear the Affordable Care Act by calling it “Obamacare”. There might have been one or two senators or who hoped cramming Obama’s name to it might repulse a few voters, but I really doubt that was a serious strategy. That’s why there were also protests, petitions, and campaigns to try and stop HB 1557, however ineffective they ended up being.

Third, be that as it may that there is a difference between homosexual adults and kids learning about homosexuality and transgenderism, you are blatantly, if not intentionally missing the point. (Never mind Republicans seem to have a wildly burning desire to destroy all homosexuality everywhere, no matter the age) We’re not looking to teach kids about sex, anal beads, positions, genitalia, or prostitution. We just want teachers to have liberty to say gay and transgender people exist without fear of prosecution. To tell kids that two mommies and two daddies are fine and as legitimate as having one of each. To tell kids gender is a societal construct and it’s okay to do things seen as not traditionally masculine or feminine. Sexual and gender identities blossom long before adulthood, and we want to outfit kids with emotional toolkits so they don’t spend their teenage and early adult years flailing in confusion and misery. Hiding away this information doesn’t prevent your kids from becoming gay, it just keeps them ignorant, confused, and unable to get the help they’ll need when the time comes.

Fourth, I’ll admit I’m not as well-versed in the transgender athlete debate, but this I do know: I saw the same episode of “Futurama” you did and that’s not how it works. No boy says to their mom, “I wanna be a girl” and in thirty days, they’re crushing track and field records. First, the child in question must go through a lengthy psychological evaluation, which take months to ensure the legitimacy of the claim. After that, they might be put on puberty blockers, which are not only completely reversible, but prevent boys from developing muscle. HRT is used to break down a male’s testosterone so if they already started developing, their muscles will shrink. Do schools have policies in place to ensure transitioning students can still apply for sports as long as a certain timeline is in place? They might, but I doubt there’s many. Besides, the psych eval in step one would easily suss out the boys looking for an easy medal.

Finally, citing “American values” is as profound a statement as “the sky is a color”. It’s meaningless and means whatever you want it to mean. Even the founding fathers were pretty coy about it, citing our inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit if happiness”. If you mean that, then I’m sure transgender students want a LIFE of their own choosing, the LIBERTY to make said choices, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS by being in bodies and gender roles they’re comfortable with. If you’re referring to the inherent meritocracy in sports, America has not been a genuine meritocracy for a very, very long time, if ever. By invoking “American values”, you are not using an objective measure, just a gut feeling of what you think America ought to be. Because to me, “American values”, these days, is the same as “F*$# you, got mine”. I mean, why else are voters against a single-payer health system?

Moreover, the growing polarization of American political culture means that liberal confidence in Hollywood’s power to determine societal norms is also mistaken. In the last three years, the bifurcation of society has become almost complete, with Americans reading, viewing and listening to entirely different sets of press outlets and becoming isolated from each other on social media platforms.

Are you telling me there’s people out there who vilify news outlets because they don’t align with their political views?!?! Bollocks, I say!

Yeah, it’s almost as if it’s super annoying to live in a world where lies and misinformation are called “alternative facts” and uncomfortable truths are disregarded as “fake news”, and if you believe in a lie strong enough, you can just overthrow your federal government and some media outlets will simultaneously label you Antifa, undercover feds, tourists, and patriots who did nothing wrong all in the same breath. And despite every half-hearted attempt by democrats to incrementally nudge mild bills to improve a thing or two, a litany of red-faced pundits, politicians, and protestors will scream and call us Marxists, globalists, groomers, satanists, and pedophiles.

If you’re ever confused about why we push for progressive causes, it’s because our general rule of thumb is we want everyone to live the lives they want AS LONG AS it does not pose harm to others. Gun control? We want fewer people getting shot. Healthcare for all? People shouldn’t have to die because they can’t afford basic care. Wage increases? Lifting people out of poverty will mean fewer laws broken just so families can be fed. Normalizing sex work? Reducing rape crimes when more outlets are readily available, and if normal employment isn’t an option, workers should have the right to sell their bodies if they want to, AND unstigmatizing sex work could mean healthier work environments and no longer have to work for seedy pimps. LGBT+ acceptance? They just want to love who they love as long as it’s consensual. And like I said before, writers are storytellers that typically use their craft to demonstrate how the world can improve. And that’s why America is gradually becoming more progressive. To push for conservatism advocates exclusion and hostility toward difference. Ambiguous Diety Almighty forbid Hollywood goes back to the Hays code, where crime always had to condemned, religion couldn’t be mocked, and interracial relationships were forbidden.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, many Americans stopped listening to cultural or media outlets that call them racists because of their skin color or their adherence to equality instead of “equity.” The same is true of conservatives who are ignoring mainstream media that label them traitorous insurrectionists because they voted for Donald Trump or question the fairness of the 2020 presidential election.

I won’t pretend there isn’t a valid point buried in here about tuning out and rejecting criticism when you get inundated with this kind of negative feedback over and over. The option to turn to an echo chamber that validates your thoughts and feelings is alluring and tempting.

HOWEVER. Introspection is not an easy thing to do and not very lucrative in capitalism. Data, facts, and nuance are complicated, and opinions are easy. While the mainstream media is far from perfect, right wing outlets in particular like Fox, OAN, Infowars, Breitbart, and Daily Wire rarely cite sources and bank on fear and anger to get their viewers’ ids fired up. It doesn’t matter why Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow are calling you racist: all you know is you can’t possibly be racist because racism is bad and you’re not bad, do you look like a Klansman to me?

This happened. Recently.

And look, if you have serious concerns about an election, no one is saying you can’t, or that you shouldn’t ask questions. But they must be done in good faith, complete with a willingness to accept that your original assessment may be incorrect. And when over 60 court cases are lost, many of which done in Trump-appointed courts, when recount after recount, even by Trump-picked teams, turn up nothing, and all theories of wrongdoing are claims of a greater conspiracy at work, then maybe charging into the Capitol like it’s San Juan Hill isn’t the proper reaction.

DeSantis and the GOP are not trying to turn back the clock to the 1950s while the rest of the country has moved on. They are actually in tune with much of mainstream America, which is rejecting the Left’s demonization of those who think parents should be in charge of their kids’ education and that sex ed, including indoctrination about gender, isn’t appropriate for kindergarten students.

Bear in mind, this article was published over a month before word even leaked about Roe V Wade, therefore turning the clock back “only” to the seventies. So make of that what you will.

Let me ask you and any conservative reading this one simple question. Free of judgement, free of condescension, just simple, basic empathetic sincerity, coming from a place of genuine curiousity. My question is: what are you afraid of?

Yes. Well…

If the answer’s “I’m not afraid of anything!”, then I don’t think you’re being honest with yourself. If you said “I don’t want my child to learn about penises” or “I don’t want my kids to turn gay!”, then I can assure you that’s not what’s going to happen. But the reason I ask is because you’re advocating for ignorance. You are afraid your son or daughter will learn that transgenderism and non-heterosexuality exist. Then ask why it’s a bad thing. I mean, kids watch tons of heterosexual media, but its’s not the same as learning sexual intercourse. Are there things in this cruel, unjust universe I think children should be shielded from until an age my wife and I declare acceptable? Sure. But as long as it’s fact, I’m extremely flexible about where on the timeline those discussions fall. Because at the end of the day, my daughter is going to become an adult with autonomy one day, and I won’t be able to protect her. I’ve seen peers who grew up in environments where their parents hid the world from them, and upon entering the real world, didn’t know how to handle it. Like gun advocates demand the right to walk into the grocery store with a gun in their holster, I too need to give my girl the tools she will eventually need when she needs it, and there’s no better tool she can have than information.

This sort of comeuppance has been long in coming. But it will still shock the cultural Left to learn that there are limits on its power and that there are some things it can’t make Americans swallow, no matter how hard it tries through its programming and public advocacy. Backlashes against pop culture are also upstream of politics, and that wave of anger about wokeness could swamp not only Disney but its Democratic Party supporters this fall.

“Limits on its power”? Dude, we have no delusions of grandeur, I promise you! The deck has been stacked against every nonwhite, non-Christian, transgender, non-straight, poor person in history! Companies like Disney are only pretending to be our friends so they can get our money! If our causes weren’t so easy to capitalize on, they would tell us to piss off, like what so many Republicans and centrist Democrats have been doing for years!

I think about the early aughts, when I was a teenager, and right on the heels of 9/11 came the anti-politcally correct movement. This was the Toby Keith “Boot in your ass” era, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour era, the Dave Chappelle/Carlos Mencia/Dane Cook era. The “comedy doesn’t need to try to be funny, it just needs to be loud, offensive, in your face, and usually deeply homophobic” era. This was the time where Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and Seth MacFarlane cut their teeth, long before their primary hits started getting more mature, insightful, and introspective. Back then, a lot of our comedy came from resentment, anger, and hatred.

After the towers fell, we suddenly got very scared and very vulnerable. The average intellectual tried their damnedest to get people to understand that retaliation was not a goal in and of itself, that all muslims were not terrorists, and the United States was kinda responsible for literally putting weapons in Osama bin Laden’s hands back in 1979. But we didn’t want to listen. We didn’t care. Advocating for thought and patience felt like betrayal.

I forget.

To get an idea, listen to Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?”, a country song that went harder than Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”, if you can believe it. It’s a song that encourages you to get angry and stay angry. Keep the devastating 9/11 footage on TV so we remind those damn pacifists why we’re at war. And how dare you suggest we not get back at them. Do what they did to us but worse. Bomb them all to hell, collateral damage be damned, because those civilians were probably helping bin Laden anyway. Both the Iraq War and the War on Terror went on for years, and…what has been accomplished? Do you think Darryl Worley and his ilk really care about the stability of the Iraqi and Afghani governments? What did they want after the deaths of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? What was the end goal? And why were we still in those countries long after the deaths of both men? What was accomplished? And most importantly, are we any safer now than we were in 2001?

Our comedy worked the same way. Writers and directors were so hopped up on negative emotions that humor just needed thinly-veiled racism, characters getting high, characters acting gay or pretending to be another sex, or just wanton violence, usually a shot to the family jewels. Oh, we laughed, but try showing Harold and Kumar go to White Castle or Epic Movie or Team America: World Police or Without a Paddle to your kids today and I dare both of you try and not to cringe. Again, what was the end goal? Laughter, sure, but it came from a place of hostility, and thus, has aged like milk.

Anger does have purpose: primarily as a motivator. Clickbait was invented because rage causes us to see what’s going on and lets us fire off an angry comment on Twitter. But rage serves the heat of the moment and not much further. And Mr. Tobin leaves us with the final thought that him and all his readers (Whom he assumes sides with him, but I’ll get to that in a second) think sustaining this contempt and condemnation against progressivism will win out. But what are they fighting for and how will they know when they’ve won? Like us on the left, his fight against “the capital-L Left” isn’t won by the passing of a law that can (and hopefully) be repealed once DeSantis is out of office? After all, Republicans just claimed victory at the repeal of Roe V Wade, which took 50 years. He thinks anger alone – anger at Disney, anger at the democratic establishment – will devastate them before year’s end. Even though they’ve “won” by overturning Roe V Wade, and passing HB 1557, they also entered a fight they cannot win. So what is his plan? And if the plan is “sit back and wait for Disney and the Democratic Party to burn to the ground”, what does he suggest be done afterward?

*************************

What really bothers me about Mr. Tobin’s assertion is the very title of his article. It’s a common belief to think on political issues, not only are you correct on what you believe, but everyone else must believe the same and all contrarians must be an obnoxious minority. Politics is community-based, reinforced by the people you surround yourself with. It’s such an easy trap to fall into, and few are immune to this way of thinking. That’s why it pays to conduct research through objective polls and see if Disney really doesn’t get mainstream American ideals.

So I went to Pew Research and looked up a variety of partisan issues and see where Americans stand on them. And guess what? 63% of Americans overall favor access to abortions…

Similarly, 63% are generally in favor of a single-payer healthcare system…

53% in general support stricter gun control…

61% are in favor of gay marriage…

And 64% are in favor of protecting trans rights.

So I query, Mr. Tobin, is Disney really against mainstream values in America? Because it seems not only they aren’t by a decently-sized margin, but we’re getting more progressive as time goes on. Of course it isn’t because Disney forced us to drink the Kool-Aid, but a combined effort through protestors, victims, and allies demonstrating how their love hurts no one. Disney knows they aren’t all-powerful and they are cognizant of the fact if they make their movies and TV shows too “woke”, they fear we’ll wise up and rebel against them. After all, if we really were Marxists and socialists, we wouldn’t take too kindly to the highly capitalist mega conglomerate with its cultural imperialism, perpetuation of cultural and sexual stereotypes, shady business practices, and, lest we forget, its inability to truly commit to leftist causes beyond basic lip service. Yeah, we’re still gonna go see the next Marvel movie and save up for our next trip to Disneyland and renew our Disney+ subscription next month, but dammit, it’s because we’re stressed out. And Ambiguous Diety Almighty forbid that while Matt Gaetz is chasing his next underage skirt, Joe Manchin blocks yet another effort to stall climate change, Bezos and Musk still pay next to nothing in federal taxes, and Trump followers continue to ignore everything for Dear Leader, we, too, just want to unwind watching DuckTales reruns and Avengers: Endgame just to feel a fleeting inkling of joy.

Even if that love is sadly unrequited.

Disney Goes Woke and I Can’t Handle Change: a rebuttal

Yeah, THAT’S what this has been all about.

I simultaneously get stimulated and depressed with these articles I do rebuttals on.

Sometimes you read these blogs and op-eds and you feel exhaustion and ennui from all these folks who scream into the void with nonsensical arguments and that they feel like they’re the only sane ones in a world in a world gone mad.  Everyone feels that way. Everyone.  And often times it feels like the only way to deal with their backwards logic, general misunderstandings, or naked misanthropy either involves copious amounts of libations or a concrete wall with several targets inviting your cranium at maximum velocity.

At the same time, though, these people have very unique and, for lack of a better word, interesting things to say, either because they are insanely entertaining, morbidly fascinating, or in the case of Mr. Faria’s article, intellectually stimulating (in the sense that I had to do research on his “research” to find just how intellectually dishonest he was being to his readers).  I genuinely try to put myself in these folks’ headspaces and wonder where they’re coming from. With Mr. Vanboskerck, I could tell he was grumpy that Walt Disney World was changing to adapt to the times and that it wasn’t the same Walt Disney World he grew up with.  For all his respectable demeanor, Mr. Marcus was just upset about seeing a political candidate he didn’t like on his favorite show and felt victimized by association with the January 6th Insurrection clips.  Mr. Faria felt he had to cherry pick data just to stoke reactions.  The blog from Amothersrandomthoughts.com felt she needed only religious texts to justify all the various ways of saying “I’m not a zealot, I just want Disney to obey my religious texts, make sure my kids never see a gay person ever and why won’t they make a movie about me?”.  And Mrs. Hawkins…well, she might just need revisit some of her high school memories with a touch more self-awareness.  Point is, I like hearing what these people say, even if I completely disagree with them.

And for as nasty and vitriolic as they could be, most tried – key words being “most” and “tried” – to articulate their arguments with some semblance of dignity and respect.  Which is why I read this article from the Wall Street Journal, and this article, from Gerard Baker, has the tone of “frothing bulldog barking with bloodthirsty rage despite his chain and spiked collar throttling him with every snarl.”  It is nasty.  It is mean-spirited.  It is…well, read on.

If executives of the Walt Disney Co. are serious about tackling the endemic poison of cisgendered-white-patriarchal ideology in our wicked society, it’s high time they revisited their enormous back-catalog of works that have promoted this pernicious propaganda for too long.

See?  Right off the bat, he is on the offense.  He is rarin’ to go, dukes up, wild-eyed, and spitfire mad, like a drunkard at a Yankees game who got escorted out for being disorderly, and is now lurking at the exit, ready to throw down the guy who said the Mets are better.

See, we leftists are trying to coax Disney to recognize some things were okay in the past (Sometimes not even then), but not anymore.  It’s not easy for us to watch movies like Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, and The Love Bug, and come to realize some of these movies contain harmful stereotypes that we need to mitigate and discuss.  I don’t want to throw out Dumbo altogether, but when my daughter watches it when she’s older, I want to be able to explain how the roustabouts and the crows are not very positive characters depicting people of color.  A character literally named Jim Crow speaking in ebonics and a musical number – “Song of the Roustabouts” – where a bunch of dark-skinned manual laborers cheerfully sing about being illiterate and irresponsible with their money, those are not things I want my daughter ingesting, and thinking these are normal and okay.  I want her to understand how these jokes, even if done with no intentional ill will or racist intent, still relied on audiences to subconsciously understand the joke as “Ha ha lookit how poor and uncultured they are” and how this can foster as a racist mindset.  How absorbing this “joke” without understanding whom we are meant to laugh at can result in people genuinely thinking they are not racist because they are not in white hoods, but might clutch their wallet tighter as they see a black man walking toward them on the sidewalk.

You can’t even squint and pretend this isn’t uncomfortably racist.

And like that drunkard at Yankee Stadium, he’s not in the headspace to listen, but to lash out wildly and destroy – not beat up, not injure, not knock out, but destroy – the jerk who dared to say the Yankees aren’t as good as the Mets.  I can guarantee you almost no one wants Disney to do anything with their catalogue.  Just own up to them and do better than before.  Own up to what, exactly?  Well, the fact that straight, white, heterosexual Christians are not humanity’s default and outliers of those parameters are not punchlines or villains in and of themselves.  And by spoiling for a fight like this, he’s just making himself look like a complete ass.

It is not enough to start making movies that reflect and celebrate our modern sexual mores, as we have learned lately is their intent. They need to make urgent reparations for the pollution they have poured into the impressionable minds of young children over the first disgraceful century of the company’s existence.

Again, who is demanding this?  No, really.  Specifically who?  Names and sources, please.  What kind of “reparations” is he talking about?  Like, actual monetary checks to millenials? 

See, he’s not even bothering to make sense.  Sense and rationality isn’t the point here: it’s just blind rage and snide mockery.  If he’s ever displayed an attempt to put forth a good faith-based understanding why we feel the way we do, it isn’t here.  Watch enough Fox News, Daily Wire, and OAN and of course you’ll be convinced we’re bent on burning down establishments strictly for the sake of burning them down.

“Breaking news: Liberals say water is wet. Why do they hate dryness so much?”

I would recommend establishing a large team of young managers, recent graduates in critical gender theory from our most selective universities, all thoroughly trained in enforcement techniques used in corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs and dedicated to eliminating every noxious hint of gender rigidity from the company’s output.

Oh my. How on Earth did this get here?

I can’t even pretend to humor his bad faith vitriol here. 

By creating a strawman argument like this, it proves just how uninterested he is in a rational discussion about what we on the left are asking for.  And for what point, just some rambling of snobby buzzwords to make his political opponents sound like elitist bureaucrats who specialize in mind control?  This is butthurt reactionary stuff here, light on substance, high in calories.

The work will be arduous because the damage is vast. From “Lady and The Tramp” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “The Lion King,” the very titles of these repugnant efforts at juvenile indoctrination are throwbacks to an age of prejudice, stereotyping and the study of human biology.

See, he is not saying anything substantial here.  He is not really saying anything at all.  This is as coherent as a toddler’s tantrum, flailing madly with spastic rage.  And he can use as many intelligent-sounding words as he wants, but they do next to nothing to hide his seething, nonsensical ranting.

What damage, exactly?  Juvenile indoctrination into what?  What examples of prejudice, stereotyping, and human biology (Whatever that’s supposed to mean…) is he citing?  I won’t say 100% there isn’t any, but I’d be interested to know if he were even 1% serious.  All we are meant to tell is he has nothing to say beyond hollow screaming just to paint a strawman argument.  It makes no sense.

The comic here is by political cartoonist Ben Garrison, a prominent right-wing commentator with a deeply unsettling love for Trump and his brand of fascism.  Much like Mr. Baker, he similarly compounds several leftist aspects and smooshes them all into a ball of…a thing, with little regard of how little sense it all makes.  The illuminati?  Black Lives Matter and the communist hammer and sickle on a ride?  A socialism carousel?  The “M” word? A train with mocking pronouns? The castle is labeled “Antifaland” and is on fire?  What is he trying to say?  Well, he’s trying to just show how horrible life would be under leftist rule at Disney in the most unhinged “slippery slope” fallacy I’ve seen since…well, Mr. Baker’s article here.  But it’s not supposed to make sense, it’s supposed to be a “shock and awe” attack to stir feelings of outrage and defiance and not think about it.

Perhaps the smart people in the company’s technology department might come up with some kind of digital book-burning exercise to expunge from the national consciousness every last one of those offensively binary “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.”

I never fail to be amused by how often the right screams about how the left is the chief pursuant of cancel culture, banning things left and right, but…

…they seem to have a super-selective memory.  At least the Dr. Seuss estate willfully withdrew those six books back in 2021.  We didn’t demand it. 

Again, no attempt to make a cogent point here.  That’s not his goal.  While I won’t say no one has ever made a complaint or even a legitimate complaint about non-binary gender representation in One Hundred and One Dalmatians or otherwise, he isn’t citing an argument or even who might have in the first place.  Again, this is a strawman fallacy: misrepresenting the opposition’s argument and arguing against that to make you look good.  And he can’t even pretend to make this sound like a real talking point.  The only ones who’d think this is factual depiction are fellow right-wing voters who only see liberals in Fox news coverage and at Thanksgiving.

Only then can they get on to remaking the classics: “Peter Pansexual,” the story of a child who never grew up but still entered into fulfilling open relationships with pirates, fairies and, yes, “lost boys”; “Dumbo, Preferred Pronoun: She,” the inspiring tale of the brave little elephant who, after transitioning, became the most successful circus act of all time, easily surpassing in aerial agility all the cisgendered females.

Peter’s pansexual? I thought that was Deadpool.

(To the tune of the Spider-Man cartoon theme) 🎵 Strawman, strawman, does whatever a scarecrow can!  Can he debate?  Listen, bud: he pulls arguments right out his bu-

Before admission to Disney World, every 5-year-old should be required to sit through a day-long induction program on the full rainbow of sexual and gender possibility. Then, duly re-educated and LGBTQIA2s+ accredited, interrogated to protect the public against any lingering vestige of prejudice, and carefully inspected for the removal of offensive items such as “princess” costumes, they will be permitted to proceed through the turnstiles into an ideologically compliant theme park that will really be the Happiest Place on Earth.

Hey…you think if I sent him a doctored-up pamphlet of Disneyland using these stills from Amazon Prime’s The Boys, what are the odds, would you guess, he’d think it was 100% real?

Wait, don’t answer. The answer’s yes.

(Editor’s note: Don’t actually do this, tempting as it may be. While it might be hilarious to see uncle Reggie flip out seeing this if you prank him with it, remember this is the demographic that will disperse pipe bombs, shoot up pizzerias, and storm federal buildings because of their fragile egos and loose grips on reality. It’s a horrible state of affairs that I have to say that, but…)

It’s easy to mock, but when a company whose products have entertained, enlivened and enriched the lives of billions of children and their parents decides it must take a stand against the Parental Rights in Education Bill, what does it expect? By joining in the campaign to distort the objective of Florida’s new law, defame the people behind it, and deprive parents of the right to determine whether their children as young as 5 should be taught about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom, Disney executives invite something much worse than ridicule. They risk placing themselves on the side of a small minority of unrepresentative ideologues who are trying to remake the relationship between children, their parents and their teachers.

Hey, look at that…it only took seven whole paragraphs for some sincerity to creep in. Gee whiz, I’m glad my time wasn’t wasted or anything.

As I outlined in my rebuttal to Mr. Faria, you don’t have to dig too deep to see what’s wrong with the bill. So let me ask you, Mr. Baker, who or what is the arbiter of “appropriate”, hmm? Where is the threshold? Can teachers acknowledge the mere existence of LGBT+ people, such as Jimmy’s two dads or their own same-sex S.O. in passing? If not, why, and if yes, then why is the law written so vaguely on that? What is the plan to ensure the law does not get abused? While the court of law will ultimately rule on a case-by-case if a defendant is guilty or innocent, they’re excruciatingly expensive, time consuming, and defamatory even when found innocent, so how do we make sure teachers can still make a living afterward? Also, teachers just need the freedom to say gay and trans people exist, which is a statement of fact. Why deny children this knowledge? What are parents in Florida so afraid of that they need to adere to this strict “check with me before you tell my child anything” mindset? Should politicians like DeSantis have the power penalize companies unilaterally when they break no laws, just denounce a bill and pull political funding? And how can we be sure this isn’t the beginning of the re-criminalization of LGBT+ individuals when A) the law made no addendum to ensure they won’t be targeted (and no, specification by omission doesn’t count), and B) criminalizing these people has had a very long, storied track record in the United States?

Even if DeSantis truly, honestly believes in the righteousness of this bill, he and the drafters of the bill are ultimately responsible for any and all fallout. Even if the bill doesn’t specify LGBT+ citizens, you do know the law can be bent to serve that purpose, like the Black Codes back in the 1800’s, when laws were written to prevent mild law-breaking, but even though race was never mentioned in them, the police didn’t seem to want to bother the white mild law-breakers for some reason. Hmm. Weird, that.

“Small minority”? “Remake the relationship”? Based on what? You really think that being allowed to state the fact that gay people exist is an issue that affects only a handful and teachers want to teach without having to ask if it’s okay to state facts are some leftist ploy? This article states 41% of Americans support teachers talking about gay issues with 44% against…but generally speaking, 80% of adults, parents and non-parents from both parties, trust their teachers to make the right calls. Other polls I Googled bragged that Democrats were mixed and Republicans were strongly against it. Oddly enough, this article cites the three previous polls I listed all omitted certain information about the bill that were less about the legislation than about people’s general feelings about sex education in schools.

So Mr. Baker cannot cite a poll and be guaranteed its results will side with him, and unfortunately, neither can I. But regardless, it’s clearly no small minority, nor is anyone looking to “remake” anything.

The larger problem Disney’s dutiful obeisance to the noisy extremists represents is the way in which those who seek to control our culture are redefining a central element of democratic pluralism—what it means to be an open and tolerant society.

I’m… huh? What are you talking about? The “noisy extremists” as you dismiss them are begging for a society that has long since primarily catered to white cis het Christians for pretty much the past few hundred years to share the spotlight. Only recently have the disenfranchised finally wriggled past the dominant class who kept telling them shut up and go away. And that’s why you might have heard the quote “To the privileged, equality feels like oppression.”

And here’s the thing about tolerance…logistically it cannot support everyone: there is one select group that it cannot allow, and that is the intolerant. Remember the Kim Davis ordeal?

Remember it? I wish I could forget it!

Back in 2015, Kim Davis was a Kentucky county clerk who denied marriage licenses to avoid approving them for any gay couples . While Kentucky allowed gay marriage, Davis stuck to her Apostolic Pentecostal Christian principles and refused to comply with the parameters of her job, even a federal order, which resulted in her being imprisoned, though she was released five days later. Her highly publicized case garnered vast swaths of attention, particularly from Christians who saw her as a heroine for refusing to compromise on her Bible teachings and was prosecuted for it. However, what they deftly avoided talking about was that she was still infringing on others’ rights, and using them to discriminate, and whether it was based on religious teachings or not was really a moot point. A Muslim working at a delicatessen not serving customers because the Quran forbids pork cannot be expected to keep his job. And really, we on the left couldn’t have cared less if she was Christian, Jewish, scientologist, or a pastahead; her rights do not trump the rights of others. And that’s what I mean that we cannot tolerate intolerance.

So when I see those on the right sneer “so much for the tolerant left!”, they seem to think it means we must allow everyone of all ideologies, period. But as philosopher Karl Popper writes in his book, The Open Society and its Enemies, when you allow intolerant people, they’ll weaponize that intolerance to destroy their targets. So we cannot advocate people with hateful and violent rhetoric to stay in a civilized society and allow them the potential to hurt others with it. Christians are welcome in society…we just can’t tolerate their vitriol against others their preachers say they must be against because that would harm others. Keep the traditions, the psalms, the hymns, the crosses, the holidays, just not the homophobia. Get the idea?

I am sure there is no shortage of bigots in this country and elsewhere with malevolent views about minorities, people who would deny basic human rights to people of a certain sexual orientation or those genuinely ambivalent about their gender identity. But most Americans aren’t like that. They are sympathetic to the particular challenges that these people face and they want them to be respected and loved and given opportunities available to everyone.

Okay. We’re on the same page here. I see nothing disagreeable here. Did Mr. Baker take his meds or switch with another writer, or…?

That used to be considered, in the normal use of language, tolerant. But the rules have changed. It’s not enough to be tolerant if you’re a citizen or a corporation: you need to be a participant in a campaign to reorient our culture—to expand the horizons of sexual awareness for every 5-year-old in the country and subscribe to the mandatory proposition that there is no such thing as biological sex.

…And you couldn’t maintain it, could you? (Sigh!) Dammit, you were giving me hope!

No one is “demanding” participation from you, Mr. Baker. No one is forcing you to wear a rainbow t-shirt in June, no one is forcing you to watch Roots in February, and no one is forcing you to attend protests and rallies you aren’t interested in. We demand it from Disney, but that’s because they are history’s biggest media conglomerate and they have the power to constructively shape our children’s worldviews that they’ll carry well into adulthood.

Show audiences two men holding hands because they love each other, we demand. Show a black American family treated with the same dignity and respect as their white co-stars. Show a transgender person who transitioned and treat the news with the same casualness of announcing that you’re switching majors at college. Because by not showing these kinds of diverse depictions early on, kids grow up and get shocked by these weird and unusual kinds of people they see, and turn to their parents, the generation who called gays and transgenders the F word, and get told they should stay away from them. That’s the issue.

We want to tell kids that people can love those of the same gender and even marry, not unlike how heterosexual romance is depicted. We want to tell kids sometimes a girl or boy can grow up and relate more to the other gender, and may identify as such. Like a lot of other bad faith actors, he mistakes gender and sex. Notice he says we want to teach kids “there’s no such thing as biological sex”. Wrong. Aside from the fact we have no interest in openly chatting about genitals with young children, sex refers to biology, gender refers to socially-constructed aspects such as clothing, roles, attitudes, hobbies, et cetera. We want to tell kids it’s okay for boys to cry and play with dolls and girls can wear pants and play with trucks. And if they take it even further by cutting their hair, changing their name, asking for the correct pronouns, and later, even get corrective surgery, they should be able to and we as a society should respect these decisions.

All we ask of you, Mr. Baker, as an individual, is if last year your coworker was named Justin, but now asks to be called Jenny and uses the ladies’ room now, and ESPECIALLY if he’s not harming anyone…suck it up and call her Jenny. No one’s even asking you to like it, just to not be an ass about it.

It’s the same with race. Even a decade ago we all knew what bigotry looked like. A white supremacist was someone who believed that race was the defining characteristic of humans and the determinant of their ability, and that white people were inherently superior. (I always found it self-refuting that the white people who articulated this view always seemed to be among the lowest forms of intelligent life on the planet.)

Again, there is zero disagreement here. However, “racist” conjures images of Klansmen and making shallow judgements based on race…and these folks don’t think they’re racist. Not just because racism = bad, but actually black people do X therefore it’s logical white people are smarter and more cultured. And they may not like it, but that qualifies as racist. That’s a fact, and I hear that facts don’t care about your feelings.

Like…the only valid thing he’s ever said.

Racism is not always screaming the N word. Racism is not always claiming white people are better than everyone else. It’s not even always lynching black folks or shooting at immigrants “because I hate ’em!”. Racism is far more nefarious in that it still bears effects even subconsciously. If a boss won’t hire someone because names on resumes like “Jamal” or “shaniqua” make him uncomfortable, that is racism. When you think of black or Hispanic folks and your first mental image is some kind of gang member, that is racism. Complimenting a black person using the word “articulate” is racism. When acted upon, they’re called microaggressions, and they reveal something about the person that is troubling, and it’s important we address it.

Think of it this way: of course you wouldn’t tolerate your child screaming curse words at you. You wouldn’t tolerate them talking rude to you. You wouldn’t put up with ANY disrespectful behavior. Now, if instead of retorting, what if when you told your son to clean up his room, he rolled his eyes before he went to go do it? This shows he doesn’t respect you and takes it out in a minor way despite all other appearances that he will do as you say. That’s why we call out racists when they dog whistle or let slip one of those microaggressions, because this behavior must be corrected.

But “bigotry” has been redefined. “White supremacy” is imputed to all white people, and only those who own up to it can begin the long journey toward eradicating it. In this now-dominant view, race is now indeed the defining characteristic of humans—the determinant of every individual’s moral condition.

Addressing race is not an all-or-nothing prospect. We need to talk about it in ways that are relevant, such as demographic statistics and sociological discussions. Bringing up race to draw attention to it, especially if it’s a means to belittle, condescend, or dismiss certain groups, is not okay. So no, being a white person does not make you a white supremacist unless you display behavior or words that reflect that.

So no, “bigotry” has not been redefined. We’ve just had to get better at sussing out racists as they realized they couldn’t say what they think anymore in polite company and have since tried to get across their meaning through euphemisms, implications, or just loaded language. In 1981, Lee Atwater, a Republican campaign consultant once said this in an interview:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N****r, n****r, n****r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****r”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.”

Well said, Sam.

Again, just because you aren’t screaming the N word doesn’t you’re not racist. It can mean either you’re casually racist (Someone who unwittingly carries racist attitudes and thoughts without consciously realizing it), dog whistling (Sounding completely innocuous to the average person, but racist folks will Know What You Mean, Wink!) Or just actually racist. It’s no different than listening to a person and trying to determine if they’re lying to you or spreading misinformation by being ignorant. And sometimes, yeah, some people can get zealous, but how is that any different from a person who calls everyone a liar?

So, instead of striving to be a tolerant society, we are now directed to become the very opposite. This intolerant place—where any risk of genuine intellectual diversity, independent thought or the rights of parents to instruct their children—evidently needs coercive policing by institutions wearing Mickey Mouse ears.

We can’t be a tolerant society if people with irrational resentment for another person’s existence due to something that can’t be changed is tolerated. You can decide one day to not be a racist and work at bettering yourself, and we’ll welcome you. By wanting that transgender woman or that Puerto Rican guy not be here because looking at them makes you uncomfortable is not welcome. While you can argue human nature makes it difficult to conduct rational discourse on most all topics (look at the Star Wars fandom, who’ll argue over just about anything), we absolutely should maintain intellectual diversity and independent thought. No one says we shouldn’t (Except fascists).

But say we talk about fixing the healthcare system. I say we should have universal healthcare. If you argue no, it’d be too expensive, or it shouldn’t be in the hands of the government, or anything like that, right or wrong, that’s fine. But if part of your argument hinges on you not wanting certain people bleeding the system dry and I have reason to suspect you mean poor black people and/or illegal immigrants, I’m going to call you out on it. If your reasons have nothing to do with race, I’ll be happy to talk and have a real conversation. See how easy that is?

But again, I am downright perplexed about “parental rights to instruct children”. As long as my daughter’s teachers are teaching her facts about the world and contextualizes beliefs and opinions as those, I don’t care. If you feel teachers need to exclude certain facts from their curriculum, then I argue you’re not advocating for parental rights, you’re advocating for keeping children ignorant. And that’s why I’m annoyed about this self-righteous attitude: if I went into a PTA meeting and demanded my children not be taught about fractions because I thought they would harm my child, you’d think I was nuts. But we already have parents demanding their kids not be taught about dinosaurs or that intelligent design should be discussed alongside evolution because of the Bible.

Lastly, remember above all else, Disney is a capitalist company. They may have moral qualms on a personal level, but their brand image and the money to be made is the top priorities. They’ve been watching and researching and counting pennies for decades now to see if their appeals to progressivism to paying off and it clearly is. Selling rainbow T-shirts every June and adding an inclusivity key to their now-five keys basics exerts no real effort, just a boost in PR and a few more dollars their way. And as a company bent on sticking around forever, they know they’ll have to adapt with the times, because Gen Z is even more open-minded and progressive than most of us millennials. In that, the market is cyclical: we influence Disney, so Disney influences us. And all the LGBT+ people and other marginalized groups have been around a lot longer than this “woke agenda” from Disney you and your contemporaries sneer at.

***************************

Jeez, this guy. Even as right-leaning a publication as this, I would have thought a paper with as much clout and name recognition as the Wall Street Journal would have at least tried to maintain an illusion of centrism. But Mr. Baker couldn’t even pretend to put on that facsimile and instead just ranted like a howler monkey with the utmost condescension and arrogance. I have 20 followers on a platform I don’t even get paid for, and I at least try to sound like a human being!

Mr. Baker, chill the hell out. Unless you yourself are an actual, genuine S.O.B. who doesn’t respect people’s pronouns and dismisses systemic racism, most on the left are going to be fine with you. You have shown you do have some grounded perspective in what it means to be a decent human being, but forgive me if I just think you are an easily-triggered, grade-A jerk given how you spent half your article strawmanning the left instead of making constructive arguments to support your case. I get your publication caters to conservatives, but man, you don’t hide it very well.

Disney hates Christians: a rebuttal

May Walt be with you, and also with you.

My parents divorced when I was very little.  My dad was Catholic, but my mom wasn’t particularly religious.  At my mom’s, where I lived predominantly, we celebrated Easter with chocolate and rabbits, and every Christmas we broke out the crèche.   With my dad, I was baptized, had a first communion, and went to mass frequently.  I had no real interest in being religious.  I rarely put much thought toward it growing up.  When I got to college, I went to a school where much of the student body was Mormon, and I got my first real exposure to just how seriously people took their faith.  I’ll spare you the individual anecdotes (This article is long enough as is, you might know what kinds of things I’m alluding to, I don’t want people to think I’m anti-Mormon, take your pick, really), but it showed me for the first time how people used their faith to define their lives in ways so strict I genuinely wondered how they enjoyed anything at all.

I can’t say when the switch officially flipped, but the more I listened to arguments between religion (particularly Christianity) versus atheism, the more atheism made sense to me.  In 2019, I married my wife, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, who shared with me some truly unsettling experiences where the cult-like atmosphere can lead to serious mental and emotional harm. In any case, like most atheists, I have no interest in hindering others if they want to practice their faith however they want so long as it’s not imposed on me, too.  Like the saying goes, don’t tell me I can’t have cake just because you’re on a diet.

I’ve always wanted to take a deep dive into Disney’s relationship with religion, but there’s so few examples overall there’s not much that can be said. But then I remembered the faction of Christians so consumed by Gospel, they think anything not explicitly stated in scripture is satanic.  And yeah, that includes Disney!

Oh, that?  Nah, that was when he heard Shrek won the first Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

So, without further ado, from the Amothersrandomthoughts.com blog, here’s Disney’s Woke Agenda and the Culture of War on Christians.  As with my other rebuttal articles, I’m reposting the whole thing verbatim as I strongly believe using only select bits could be seen as cherry-picking, even if I’m not intentionally doing so.

Disney has been a part of our lives (as a society) for decades. We view Disney as a family-friendly company and have watched Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Disney. We have also shared magical moments on rides such as “it’s a small world.” Walt believed that families should have a safe place to visit and share fun times with their families. But it appears that safe place is coming to an end for many with the adoption of Disney’s Woke agenda.

So Disney is no longer an echo chamber for you, is that what you mean?  Because Disney excelled by tapping into what the public wants.  Even Walt admitted he didn’t think his brand was any more cerebral than it needed to be, claiming “Don’t go for the avant garde stuff.  What is art, anyway?  It’s what people like…don’t be afraid to go commercial”.  Call this pandering, call this being a sellout, but the long and the short of it is it worked.  For the forty-odd years Walt ran his business, he stuck to that principle.  And as capitalism dictates, whatever the public wants most, you give it to them.  Not exactly a barometer for morality, I’ll give you, but to pretend Disney’s imposing some ethical stance on the public because they’re some liberal cabal bent on brainwashing our children, I think you’re giving them way too much credit.

I truly think the word “woke” is dead from its intended meaning, not unlike “triggered”.  It’s the kind of word with a specific purpose that ended up getting bastardized by conservatives that use it to patronize and vilify a very specific movement.  So I’ve made it my personal belief that anyone who uses “woke” in general is not an ally to leftist causes.

Lastly, imma put that bit about you enjoying It’s a Small World and put a pin in it.  Boop.  Pinned.  I’m gonna use it later.  Trust me.  Proceed.

Patience…

Walt Disney himself was involved in the advancement of many forward-thinking ideas, from the promotion of the space program pre-NASA era, the furthering of Alexander P. De Seversky Victory Through Air Power which promoted the Air Force which literally helped to win World War II, and he even helped with relationships between the US and other countries. However, Walt Disney never embraced anything that would erode family values. I don’t believe Disney needs to embrace Christianity. However, I don’t think they need to further an anti-Christian worldview, and from the latest movie releases and “leaked videos” from Disney, it appears that Disney’s woke agenda has declared a culture war on Christian families. I will detail what is happening, and how our family feels called to respond.

I’m not sure the net result of making Victory Through Air Power helping us win WWII should necessarily be considered a good thing, considering that long-range bombing was paired with nuclear bombs.  Just saying.

I’m also a bit irked about this “Disney doesn’t have to be pro-Christian, but don’t be anti-Christian, either”.  Like, what do you mean?  Disney has strove to be relatively secular for some time now.  Lots of Christians equate “secular” as “satanic/non-Christian”.  They take to mean that anything not explicitly ordained by God is, by default, unholy.  A lot of Christians will cite the lack of mention of things like medicine are enough to justify homeopathy over vaccinations.  Technically, motion pictures, animation, themed amusement, and churros aren’t mentioned in the Bible, either.  But I might be taking this in bad faith.  Maybe there are some things Disney has done that are explicitly outlined as bad in the Bible.  So please, enlighten us.

A couple of years ago, I looked my husband in the eye and said, “Disney is going down a path that we can’t follow.” We saw the writing on the wall. Nothing that has transpired over the last few years and culminating in the last month or so has surprised us. In fact, we are shocked it took them this long to put everything in place.

Was it when they released Disney Genie?  I bet it was when they released Disney Genie.

Yeah, THIS was evil. No doubt.

Quite frankly, the pandemic helped propel the Disney woke agenda. It gave Disney plenty of time to let go of long-time cast members, and replace them with younger more “forward-thinking employees.” The shake-up of staff and the introduction of cast members who don’t feel they have a voice in the company paved the way for what we are currently seeing.

Now, if you’ve read my earlier stuff, you’d recall I was a cast member at Walt Disney World from 2010-2018.  Yeah, it was before the pandemic, but I still have some friends working for the mouse.  I asked them if this happened.

Not a single one had any idea what the hell I was talking about. Not to mention I’m pretty sure openly firing someone on religious beliefs is illegal.

So, uh…source, please?

The Florida Legislature introduced a bill entitled, Parental Rights in Education Bill. This bill requires educators to notify student’s parents of specified information and prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” in older grades.

And as I explained in this article, that vague phrasing does little in making sure it does not get abused by fanatics.

Quickly, the LGBTQIA community labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” This helped fuel the fire to organize. Critics of the legislation called for Disney cast members to put pressure on Disney CEO Bob Chapek who was relatively silent about the bill.

It was called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it outlines that anything inappropriate regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are to not to be discussed in certain grades, but it fails to define where that boundary is.  And because it also allows parents to sue schools, that means a teacher can blurt out anything regarding a gay person, even something as benign as referring to Jimmy’s two dads, and bring litigation upon the district.  In other words, the law basically makes sure just uttering the word alone can have ramifications.  The quippy nickname was a way to get people to understand what was at stake, though in no way was it a hyperbole.

And hey, look at that!  A conservative voter who acknowledges that Disney didn’t jump on the pro-LGBT bandwagon right away!

Chapek waited until after the bill was already waiting for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign the bill before he acted. Chapek called DeSantis to urge him to not sign it. DeSantis wants to protect Florida’s parental rights. He wants to ensure that children can learn in a safe environment without indoctrination. I watched one press conference where Florida Governor Ron Desantis was taking questions from reporters (this was before the bill was signed). The reporter was asking about “The Don’t Say Gay Bill.” Desantis asked if he had read the bill. The reporter ignored the Governor and continued on with his question. DeSantis then shot back and told the reporter to read the bill.

I can’t pretend to know DeSantis’ mindset, but even if DeSantis truly, honestly believes in the righteousness of his cause, he needs to be aware of the repercussions and fallout of his actions.  As a politician, we look to him to find ways to make the law fair and just, and not potentially instigate chaos.  Again, if teachers can lose their jobs over mentioning Jimmy’s dads or schools keep getting sued over mentioning homosexuality, DeSantis will and should be held responsible for allowing the law to be abused due to its vague wording.

I don’t know which press conference she watched, or what question the reporter was asking, but it doesn’t matter here.  We need to know if DeSantis read the bill.  Does he understand what it entails, for good or for ill?  What does he say about the potential for abuse?  What is his plan should it get abused?  Who is the arbiter for “appropriate”?  Just telling me to “read the bill” is not an answer.  Even if I hadn’t, how he interprets it as governor is what’s actually important, not what I think of it.  I can think a law doesn’t apply to whatever crime I pull, but the police are still going to arrest and charge me.  So this clapback is not the “gotcha” you think it is.

While Bob Chapek doubled down and assured Disney employees that they were doing everything they could to stop this bill, Governor DeSantis signed the bill. Currently, Disney has a pretty sweet deal in Florida with the Reedy Creek Improvement Act which Florida has threatened to remove. If you are unsure of what the Reedy Creek Improvement District is, it basically gives Disney control over construction zoning, building codes, water, fire department, and more. If this act is appealed, Disney will have to get approval for new construction and would not be able to operate as they have in the past.

Yes.  And over $1 billion is going to be charged to local taxpayers

But really, why is this relevant? DeSantis was pretty cagey about calling it “retaliation” and told the public this was about rectifying the company from ripping off Floridians.  Without realizing it, you’ve admitted that when Disney does something you don’t like, they should be penalized.  Worse still, punish them in a way unrelated to the issue at hand, like taking away Xbox privileges due to bad grades.  Like how you punish a child.

In the last week of March 2022, Disney had an internal call with employees. Journalist Christopher F. Rufo leaked portions of that call on Twitter. One of the speakers was Disney Corporate President Karey Burke, “a mother of two queer children, one transgender child, and one pansexual child.” She committed to having more “gay characters” and “gay stories.” in their programming.

Okay, once again, Christopher Rufo should be not be cited for any reason whatsoever, because he makes a living as a professional pot-stirrer for conservative causes, even admitting he is intentionally causing the anti-CRT panic in the U.S.

It is completely impossible to overshare this.

And yeah, I talked about these supposed “leaked” videos where Karey Burke openly talked about that wanting to create more stories about non-cisgendered and non-heterosexual characters.  And she even admitted she wants to feature more stories about gay characters where they don’t have to talk about that aspect as much as though their orientation is not a sole aspect of their personality.  And also, do you have a problem with her children being transgender and pansexual? 

Additionally, Disney diversity and inclusion manager Vivian Ware talked about how the company has already eliminated the gender greetings such as ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls in the Disney theme parks openings. They now say, “dreamers of all ages.” Furthermore, there is training for cast members to make things magical for all which means your child will not be called princess or prince anymore.

I heard about this and all I thought was “Well, it’ll take some getting used to, but that’s kinda cool.”  And again, yeah, Disney is trying to reach out to everyone and make the experience great for all, and that includes non-binary or otherwise folks who have been neglected from this experience.  It’s no different than them adding wheelchair ramps or multi-lingual park maps.  And having been a cast member at Disney, I can guarantee you if little Tiffany rushes up to a greeter at Jungle Cruise, and she’s dressed to the nines in a royal dress, they’ll still call her such, especially if she calls herself a princess.  They just want to make sure not to assume one’s gender and risk upsetting them.  Not sure how that affects you.

Another speaker, Disney production coordinator Allen March, says his team is committed to exploring queer stories and promoting trans, bisexual, and gender-nonconforming characters.

Cool.  There’s barely been any, especially from Disney.  And it is important to see these from them, as by far the biggest media conglomerate in history.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the so-called “gay agenda” is basically “Hey, what if your gay kids grew up not hating themselves?” So when kids start getting an inkling that they’re not on the path to the heteronormative life as was promised, they can have the emotional toolkit to work with it rather than conceal it.

“Conceal, don’t feel”?  Hmm.  Sounds familiar.

Disney’s activism partner Nadine Smith of Quality Florida told LGBTQ employees that Gov. Desantis wants to erase you, criminalize your existence and take your kids.

Even if that’s hyperbole, governments wanting to eradicate certain out-groups (Especially those on the LGBT+ spectrum!) has a pretty solid track record in human history.  And because the law is vague enough to allow MAGAmomLovesJesus Karen to sue over mere mention of Jimmy’s dads, and no addendum to the law preventing harm to LGBT+ families, it doesn’t sound like protecting their rights is DeSantis’ highest priority.  And given that there were anti-gay laws in the U.S. and even today most gay couples can’t even adopt, why doesn’t that sound like a possibility?

Obviously, those at Disney companies believe they are providing for the safety of LGBTQ individuals, but it does appear Disney’s woke agenda is an all-out assault on the traditional family.

Lady, ever heard the phrase “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”?  No one is stopping you from raising your children your way.  No one wants to stop you from marrying your straight spouse.  No one is outlawing you by your orientation and forbidding you to mention you have a husband at home.  All LGBT+ people want is the right to figuratively sit at the same table as you, enjoy the same rights you do, and not have to worry some random law is going to make your very existence even more verboten.  This does not affect you.  Why this constitutes an “assault” just means you’re playing a victim when no one is after your rights.

Moreover, rights are not like slices of pie, where the more your neighbor gets, the less you get.  Rights are not a finite resource.  By making productions about gay couples, that doesn’t mean your rights as a straight, married wife and mother are hindered.  Make sense?

Why would Disney push so hard to try to indoctrinate young children? Disney executives have said their programming will represent racial minorities, progressive employees, and the LBGTQIA community.

This is a thing that is bad, somehow.

You do realize Disney, for all its power, can’t make your kids gay, right?  You do know that’s not how it works, right?  No more than they can make your kids black, Hispanic, or Asian, right?

But really, the answer is a lot simpler than you think. Kids growing up outside the cis, het, white, Christian norm, particularly in the west, have watched countless hours of media where if they are not outright excluded from depiction, they are shown as villains, punchlines, worthy of scorn, or at best, pitiable wretches to be saved. Children absorb messages like this readily. After all, over eight decades later and we still herald Dumbo as a masterpiece due to its message about ostracization based on the arbitrary standards of society. We all (should) understand deriding others for being different isn’t okay, and the idea of even just feeling like an outcast is something we all can relate to. So now, Disney’s storytellers want to make stories that let young kids who are different in sexuality and orientation (even if they don’t know they are yet) that it’s okay to be that way, and hopefully teach cis and het kids that it’s not okay to bully them for it. It’s a push for compassion, empathy, kindness, acceptance, and understanding. That’s all it is.

“Indoctrination” is certainly an intentionally polarizing term here.  As if talking about gay people existing is some form of brainwashing.  Of course, as an atheist, I would say telling your kids to do what their parents say or an unfalsifiable, omnipotent, omniscient deity, who watches every action and every thought of every person on Earth will send them to hell is more harmful to their psyche.

Oh yeah, wasn’t this article supposed to be about how Disney is conducting a war on Christians?

While I will agree that Walt Disney was a family man, most of the Disney movies were devoid of any “religious themes under his watch.” Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs did show Snow White praying before bed to “God.” It could be argued that this was the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible, but today people watching it would probably just assume that it was the Christian God that was implied. But apart from that movies and shows depicting Christians were far and few between.

Even as an atheist, I’m fine with this.

Ah!  Here we are!

Uh…was it necessary for them to discern the Judeo-Christian God versus the Christian God?  If not, why bring this up at all?

Now, yeah.  Walt was not really concerned about putting religion in his movies more than necessary.  Bob Thomas embellishes this in Walt’s biography, saying “Walt considered himself religious, but he never went to church”, and that, unlike Cecille B. DeMille, he wasn’t interested in putting religion in his movies.  At most, you can cite Fantasia‘s use of “Ave Maria”, which was meant to balance out “Night on Bald Mountain”.

Here’s the way I look at the push for secularism in society: imagine if you dispersed drawing stationery to a bunch of kids, some kids may love the stylized decorations on the paper, but others may not.  So instead, you provide a completely blank sheet of paper so kids can do with it what they will.  If they want to doodle the stationery’s design, they can, but those who don’t want to aren’t hampered by other’s desires.

However, Walt Disney did represent family values. Granted most of his movies had one or more parents dying, but being kind to one another, good versus evil, and good triumphing were themes in many movies. Most times there were consequences for bad behavior or for doing the wrong things.

I will say this about the “dead parent” trend in Disney movies: it’s a trend because it works.

I DIDN’T SAY IT WASN’T TRAUMA-INDUCING!

See, aside from automatic sympathy points for our protagonist, most of Disney’s most beloved tales are coming-of-age stories.  In real life, kids go from being dependent on their parents to themselves/a significant other, as how life generally works.  But good stories need genuine conflict and high emotional stakes.  What’s more gripping than a child in the wake of a dead parent and watching their progress as they grow and mature?  On top of that, regardless of their status in life, every kid can grow up feeling broken and disadvantaged, and seeing Bambi, Dumbo, Tarzan, Simba, Lilo, and Wart master their own fates is a source of inspiration.  It may be an overused trope, but it’s an overused trope that works for what it sets out to do.

When Disney started to make movies portraying the villain or evil as a likable character, that was a defining moment in how Disney made movies. No longer was Maleficient that evil character she portrayed. She was simply misunderstood. Additionally, instead of remaining neutral in a spiritual sense, they began to throw in other religious systems.

I appreciate the studio making stories where the bad guys are not as evil as we thought.  I may not like Maleficent, but I respect its intent.  See, movies like these teach yet another important lesson: people are not black and white and they may do bad things without having to be bad people. 

I get Christians are conditioned that way, though…evil is evil, good is good, and never the twain shall meet. They see morality as objective.  And thus, the idea that a person is complicated is a tough pill to swallow.  But trying to look at issues through multiple lenses is a critical skill in maturity.  Granted, some just can’t be rehabilitated: I haven’t seen Emily Blunt’s Cruella and I don’t intend to, but I fail to see how you can give the rehab treatment to the woman who was willing to kill puppies for a friggin’ coat.

“No, see, it’s okay because a dalmatian killed my mother.”

In the past several decades Disney movies have portrayed a wide range of belief systems from Mulan praying to the ancestors, Pocahontas worship of nature, Moana, and other movies and shorts hinting at or outright showing the worship of other religions. It has only been in the last few years that Disney movies have just smacked you in the face with religious culture. In Turning Red, the rituals and praying to ancestors were a central theme of the movie.

Disney movies often treat foreign cultures like LEGO sets: it’s often inspired because of a few cool, unique pieces that’d look cool.  No, mom, of course I don’t “need” another LEGO set, but this one comes with a skeleton, a set of tools, and an alligator!  Look at Mulan: “Oh cool, dragons, cool scenery, unique culture, stylish fashion…what story can we make out of these cool things?” But what I don’t understand is why you think seeing how Mulan, Moana, and Pocahontas engage in their spirituality is upsetting. Artistically and thematically speaking, they’re interesting. It’s actually kind of neat to see, especially since it’s a defining aspect of their cultures. Plus, no other religion makes it their agenda to convert others in the name of religious dogma. Which brings me to my next point…

The thing she forgets is Christianity has a lot going against it.  For one, it’s so commonplace in American society it’s not terribly interesting as opposed to seeing how other cultures pray, like I pointed out.  Second, Christianity is also exceptionally divisive.  Ignoring the multiple sects that can’t seem to agree on what the same scripture says (Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Presbyterians, Jehovah’s witnesses, Lutherans, etc.) There are lots of positive aspects to it, and I recognize that even as an atheist.  But Christianity has often been associated with Westboro Baptist Church pickets, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, hateful rhetoric, church scandals, the sale of indulgences, xenophobia, prosperity gospel, stealing traditions from previous faiths, homophobia, justifying colonialism and slavery, subjugation of women, forced conversion, and general tribalism.  Even putting a general, non-denominational representation of Christianity would earn the scorn of many preachers for not getting things 100% right.  I can’t say for certain, but I’m relatively sure using traditional, often pre-colonial beliefs are more about honoring a culture and heritage that doesn’t come with the baggage of being as divisive as Chritianity.  Plus, at least Christians have Pureflix, and representation of other religions have how many of their own depictions?

Of course this doesn’t represent all Christianity, but…

Imagine Turning Red, but Mei (the main character) is a Christian. A priest is called in, and they perform an exorcism. No sane parent would say they want their young child watching that. However, because it is a religion that many are not familiar with, a shaman, and “exorcising” a giant red panda and not a “demon,” most parents see little harm in having a young child watching that movie.

Ah jeez, even MORE anti-Turning Red discourse…First of all, the movie was directed by Domee Shi, who is of Chinese descent.  This means she can portray this mystical practice in the tone of her choice, with as many creative liberties as she wants.

Second, Christianity, like I said earlier, is diverse and often very strict, particularly in evangelical and fundamentalist circles.  Any representation of Christianity would earn the scorn of someone.  Even doing a bland, general depiction would annoy, even anger the more devout sects.  Plus, doing a G-rated version of an exorcism would anger many, shouting that demons are not cute and that there is nothing light-hearted or fun about demons. 

Third, the red panda was not a destructive monster, just an inconvenient spirit whose purpose is simply cumbersome in the modern world.  I’m guessing Shi does not view casting out the panda as quite as serious a task as an exorcism.  You see priests screaming verses while a innocent young one convulses and shouts vitriol.  In Turning Red, it’s a dramatic ritual, but the ceremony is more about putting away something not necessary anymore, like putting one’s Barbie dolls into the Goodwill box.

Disney has never made a movie that I could say, “that is me, on the screen.” There has never been a movie that features a brown-haired, green-eyed Slovak girl growing up in the Midwest, eating pierogies, haluski, and halupki, and who has big hips. There has not been a Disney princess who looks like me. The closest character that represents me is Winnie the Pooh.

Okay.  Disney has made 60 (As of Encanto) animated features, hundreds of live action movies, about 50 animated series, even MORE live action shows, once you count the ones on its partially owned networks (ABC, ESPN, History Channel, etc.) And all the Muppet, Marvel, and Lucasfilm entries… not a single one has a character you relate to?

I mean, they’re mostly straight white people, anyway.  My question is how specific do you want that to be?  The diet?  The hair?  The eye color? The body shape?  The locale?  What stories could be told with those specifications?  It sounds to me like you’re mad they haven’t made an exact copy of you.  Granted, the body image thing they’re working on, but what if this character had blue eyes?  Or red hair?  Or preferred microwave pizza?  Or was of Czech descent?  Like I said, there are countless white women in Disney of varying sizes, hair colors, and eye colors, so the fact you want to hone in on this hyper-specific depiction does not seem to be an argument in good faith.

Most black Disney fans only wanted a black character who wasn’t, at the very least, a criminal or thug, and were generally pretty pleased getting a princess (Tiana) and a superhero (Black Panther).  None of them asked for a black character from Houston who likes tacos, has a degree in marketing, and lives in a three-bedroom apartment.  See the difference?

You know why you haven’t heard a whole lot of white people complain that there’s not a lot of proper representation of them?  Like I pointed out earlier, there are millions of white characters of varying degrees, but other ethnicities?  Enough to count on one hand, really.  So again, I query if you’re asking this in good faith.

There have been so few movies starring people of other races and orientations and their experiences in dealing with prejudice.  So when Disney finally makes a movie showcasing these struggles, it’s everything to them.  Christian viewers have been the predominant audience for so long there was no real need to dig into that aspect, as everyone assumed most every Disney character was white, hetero, and Christian.  All these folks are asking is to share the screen after years of Hays code restrictions.

Notice any anti-Christian sentiment here?  Me neither.

There is no audience for a Christian girl who prays, wants to do the right thing, and works at her dad’s gas station. However, I have never said I need to see a movie about my life or anyone who looks like me, but I keep hearing from everyone else that “representation matters.” And because Disney believes representation only matters for some groups, they have left me and so many others in the dust as a Christian.

So if I understand you correctly…you’re a hypocrite. No, no, don’t scoff. Let me elaborate: in these supposed pre-woke times you’re carrying on about, you were content. You were happy as a clam to show most every Disney movie to your kids because you were relatively certain most every character was straight, cisgendered, and Christian. You enjoyed this status quo. This was your comfort zone. What gripes you had with Mickey were relatively minor. But now that there’s a lesbian monster in Onward, a belief system that isn’t yours in Turning Red, a trans woman in a Baymax! Short, and a princess movie whose theme about being true to one’s self turned out to be surprisingly celebrated in LGBT+circles…and now you’re not just claiming Disney is intentionally doing this just to spite Christians, but now you claim Disney never represented you. That’s bad enough. But it’s not as though Disney just gave up on depicting straight cis characters. A majority of Disney characters will always be cisgendered and straight because the world will always be in that majority. The percentage went from 100% down to 95%, tops, and you’re upset you have to share. See the hypocrisy?

I will argue to the ends of the Earth that the most “Christian” movie Disney has ever made is Pinocchio.  As I covered in that review, the story centers on a child blessed supernaturally with autonomy and free will, but is promised with a far greater reward (becoming a real boy) should he exhibit moral choices.  He is given directions by his father (to go to school and come back home), but gets distracted by temptations and is penalized for his poor choices.  He is forgiven and literally set free upon promising to do better, and suffers at least one more tumble from grace before risking his life to save Jonah from the whale…er, Geppetto.  Jiminy is basically a guardian angel (Actually, his name is seriously a euphamism for Jesus Christ. Look at the initials.), and the Blue Fairy could be seen as a stand-in for God.  You don’t sense anything Christian about that premise at all? 

It’s all like…right there.

Or better yet, how about 2005’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on a book explicitly made with C. S. Lewis’ Christian faith interwoven in, complete with Liam Neeson Aslan as an allegory for Jesus?  Say nothing about The Hunchback of Notre Dame which was about…oh yeah, accepting others. Also, did you know Disney adapted the biblical story of Noah’s ark…on three separate occasions? And Johnny Appleseed, a segment from 1948’s Melody Time where the main character sings “The Lord is Good to Me” and gets urged by his guardian angel to take on his fruit-themed, transcontinental quest!

(Author’s note: it’s been six months since I posted this article, and only NOW do I remember I wrote a review way back in 2018 for So Dear to My Heart, a movie where my biggest issue was the third act over how blasphemous Jeremiah’s anger toward God was and its resolution I never understood. I think this movie may very well be much more her speed, and in fact, find that highly relatable Disney character she’s been looking for in Granny Kincaid. Too bad I doubt it’s coming to Disney+ soon.)

I’m getting super annoyed about your whining about you being somehow “left out” of this drive to include more diverse representation.  They haven’t made any real explicit movies about straight white Christians because that’s been the assumed default for decades.  Even if most every Disney character were some form of agnostic since the twenties, had you been railing the company before this “Woke” movement started?  It’s like how no one really complained about white musicians needing their own televised venue until BET started and suddenly there was the bad faith demand of “Why can’t white people have their own music station?”.  Or when Pride parades started becoming a thing, and all the straights suddenly complained they deserved straight parades.

Tell you what.  You be part of a system that hasn’t dominated the planet for two millenia and see what true ostracization and oppression feels like, then tell me how great it is Pinocchio gets you on a spiritual level.  And yes, I promise you your Christian persecution complex doesn’t count.

In an artic[l]e from March 2022, an “anonymous group of Disney employees is urging the Mouse House to keep its business “politically neutral” – despite mounting pressure from activists who have blasted the company’s muted initial response to a Florida bill that would ban teaching on matters of sexual orientation and gender identity until after the third grade.” Read the entire letter here!

I did read the letter.  And it was complete B.S.  In the words of the Mad Hatter, “I shall elucidate.”

I absolutely understand the need to not be harassed for most any reason.  We all need a workplace where we feel secure and free from retribution.  But here’s the issue: they’re asking that we tolerate their intolerance.  They want the freedom to not be as welcoming to those who don’t share their ideals.  I’m not sure what it is they’re asking for specifically, though.  I mean, they’re welcome to pray anywhere.  They’re welcome to talk about their faith with others who are willing to listen.  As progressives, all we ask is the notions to exclude others on the basis of race, creed, nationality, gender, orientation, and yes, religion, be not tolerated.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”  This quote is from Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel.  An actually oppressed person.  He’s watched actual civilians stay silent and neutral when the Gestapo sent him and his family to the concentration camps.  The civilians did not fight back nor did they help the Nazis, which only allowed the Nazis to keep doing their thing.  To ask Disney to not speak out on behalf of those who have been oppressed is asking, by default, to let the oppressors right on through.

The article goes on to state, “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,” the letter said. “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.”

Then maybe you should take a good, long look in the mirror and ask if a religion is making you shun, condemn, or otherwise ignore those different than you is really worth adhering to.

Literally.  The song is called “God Help the Outcasts”.

Furthermore, as a blogger who has created Disney content, I have seen how Disney quietly removes and disassociates themselves from bloggers and content creators. Anyone with an opinion that differs from the Disney woke agenda is pushed aside. Additionally, they have hired content creators that speak the gay agenda. This is far more than ensuring the safety of the LGBTQ community. It is an intentional elimination of anyone with political and/or social thoughts that line up with traditional gender roles or the values of Christian parents.

Are you consciously aware of the fact you are tribalizing Christians versus the LGBT+ community? You know people can be gay AND Christian, right? Or transgender AND Christian, right? They aren’t mutually exclusive, you know that?

Look, I’m a Disney blogger too. And I clearly support LGBT+ rights. But even with my seven-year tenure at WDW, wanna know how many offers I’ve gotten? Zilch. Even if I got 100k subscribers tomorrow, they still wouldn’t because I’ve had many things to say about how they’ve done things over the years and called them out on it. Even if I was offered a contract where I had to never say a bad word about them again, I’d have a hard time stomaching that.

Moreover, you know why they’re trying so hard, right? It’s not because of some valiant, noble attempt to be altruistic. Despite the chuckling of right-wingers jeering “Go woke, go broke”…that just isn’t the case. Disney, like all big corporations, is very, very fiscally conservative. They do not do anything unless they feel 100% certain they’re gonna see a return on their investment. I guarantee you enough market research on their end to find the LGBT+ community, their allies, and people who don’t care outweigh the zealots who demand boycotts. That’s why we hate “virtue signaling” as much as conservatives, because it’s one thing to sell rainbow-themed merch every June and add an inclusivity key, but another to actually do something risky, like putting out a movie about a lesbian princess that would probably lose a lot of money between boycotts in America and China, their biggest market, would ban it completely.

People have taken to social media and Twitter to share their views. Many are calling for a boycott of Disney and all their brands, which is extensive. Proponents of the boycott include both those who are against the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” and those who are for protecting parental rights and family values.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about boycotts, they’re a lot like sins. I don’t like Hobby Lobby, but I’ll go there once in a while if they have something I need. I’ll hate myself for a while, but I’ll forgive myself. You can unsubscribe from Disney+ and never go to the parks, but Disney is everywhere and someone’s gonna buy your daughter a Disney book or doll or stuffed toy.

How extensive is this list, by the way? In 2021, Disney raked in a total of $67.4 billion with a b. So tell me, if five thousand outraged parents unsubscribed from Disney+, and assuming everyone uses the monthly charge of $8 instead the $80 annual bundle, coming out to $96 a year, five thousand monthly subscriptions, that’s only $480k. If you do the math, that is 0.0007% of that annual income. So…I’m not sure you’re as effective as you think you are.

Boo hoo.

Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Boreing of the Daily Wire announced they are launching Daily Wire Kids. Boreing also launched Jeremy’s razors after Harry’s Razors pulled out of advertising on the Daily Wire.

The Daily Wire is not exactly a reputable source. It’s the home to Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens, who frequently spout off unfounded claims with no sources backing them up. It’s no secret these people make a living fearmongering and whipping conservatives into frenzies over cancel culture talking points, but almost never real issues. These are the people that want you writing to your senators over Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss, Minnie’s pantsuit, the green M&M’s sneakers, Gillette commercials, alternate race casting choices in movies, litterboxes in schools, and CRT.

And they call us the “triggered snowflakes”.

As a family, one of the things you can do is vote with your dollars. Purchase from companies that are promoting Christian family values. See movies in the theater that helps encourage family values. Purchase movies on DVD such as American Underdog that center around God and family.

Fine. I am 100% okay with that. You do you. Even though boycotting Disney with your comparatively meager means is borderline futile. Even though Disney movies still promote other Christian beliefs like empathy, compassion, courage in the face of adversity, humility, family, honesty, and love.

And speaking from personal experience, don’t be shocked when your kids grow up and enter this world without the tools to engage with others different from them, and might even turn from the faith. I’m not trying to be mean, I mean I know a few friends who grew up in conservative environments, especially those who discovered they weren’t straight or cisgendered, and the emotional trauma lasts.

Raise your voice and be heard. Disney, like many universities, lives in an echo chamber, and they have surrounded themselves with like-minded individuals. They are far removed from the traditional family culture.

Oh, DISNEY lives in the echo chamber??? And honestly, I’m so over this idea that universities are somehow this cabal of evil liberals trying to bastardize your kids. Somehow the idea that higher learning leads to progressive thoughts might mean something as opposed to staying at home, in YOUR echo chamber, where you refuse to let your kids know that some dudes love other dudes?

I just got done telling you they’ve been exhibiting straight cisgendered white people for decades with slight nods to Christianity and you were FINE with it until all these other people started getting recognized.

Speaking of, now I’m unpinning that bit from the opening paragraph. How they enjoy riding It’s A Small World.

See? Toldja I’d bring it back.

What is the ride about? It was made in the early sixties as a “prayer for peace” (co-composer Richard Sherman’s words, not mine) right after the Cuban Missile Crisis and everyone thought a nuclear holocaust was tomorrow. It was a recognition that as diverse and multi-faceted as this planet is, we all live on this one tiny planet and we need to recognize we’re all in this together. Who cares what people in Ecuador, Japan, Laos, Italy, Macedonia, Uzbekistan, Canada, Mozambique, New Zealand, Iran, Portugal, Argentina, El Salvador, Martinique, and Denmark do as long as we try to get along? And most relative to your point…have you ever noticed there isn’t a North America room? And (At least in WDW, without the Disney characters), there are only two uniquely American dolls in the final room: a cowboy and a Native American. Why aren’t you mad there aren’t MORE American kids in the ride, and no North American room, to boot?

Be aware that most TV shows and news programming are designed to sway you to think one way or the other. I attended a conference where one of the main speakers was a journalist who had lived in NYC for years. Because his own family did not embrace a liberal agenda, he referred to them as country bumpkins and said they were backward. He also went on to say that “we need to change Midwest thinking.”

Yeah, because news outlets are driven by corporate profits and TV shows are made by artists, and artistry is known to to be full of people who dream of a better world, i.e., leftists.

And obviously I can’t debunk a source that doesn’t tell me who this speaker was or where, but let’s assume this is 100% true: why do you think he said that? Do you think there might have been a grain of truth to it? The human race has not grown and expanded and developed based on the preference to stay in one place with one mindset, but we meet others. We exchange ideas. We grow. We evolve. We explore. We learn. And when you move to New York where your boss in Indian, your best friend is Korean, your landlady is from Guatamala, your neighbor is gay, your bodega owner is Muslim, and your Uber driver is trans, you grow immune to these differences and realize it’s not a bad thing. Then you look back at your midwest upbringing where everyone is white, straight (supposedly), Christian, and fiercely against change and diversity, you might ask some deep questions. At least I hope you would. Human nature is not meant to stagnate.

I WILL sing the song if that’s what it takes.

We were labeled extremists when we began to homeschool years ago. However, I consider homeschooling one of the best things we did for our family. While not everyone can homeschool, it has become easier and easier to work from home and teach your children.

You can’t call Disney an echo chamber and pull your kids into an even tinier bubble to shield them from diversity and not call THAT an echo chamber. If you’re so afraid your kids will learn about gay people and other religions that you’d yank them out of the real world and feed them a strict diet of religious doctrine, then yeah, you’re an extremist.

I genuinely worry about these children that grow up in these kinds of households. My Catholic ex grew up in a religious household and went to public school, but when she moved to Disney, she was blindsided by so many people of different faiths, nationalities, races, and orientations. She did not have the emotional tools to handle it, and as an adult, she shouldn’t have been put in that position. Just what was she supposed to do? Keep hiding from the world?

Truth be told, though, my wife and I have talked about homeschooling my daughter when she comes of age. Not that we have anything against the curriculum, really. We just are scared crapless that the same conservatives who praise God also tend to praise the second amendment and think her dying in a school shooting is just collateral for a “free” society.

In addition to homeschooling, we discuss current events. But we also have taught our children to think critically. One critical look at many headlines will convince you that truth is not being told. This is true of both the liberal and the conservative news channels.

Honestly, I applaud that approach. But, uh…do you teach that same critical thinking skill on their Bible teachings? From what I’ve often witnessed, religious kids are usually taught WHAT to think, not so much as HOW to think. Like I said, I had an ex who wanted to discuss her faith with me, but often ran into a roadblock when she couldn’t answer my questions, which made me see all she did was parrot what her parents told her and nothing further.

But I will quote Stephen Colbert by saying, “It is a well known fact that reality has liberal bias”.

We love Walt Disney World and many Disney movies. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to all that is going on. We know some families are called to boycott, while other families will respond differently. Read Our Families Response to Disney HERE!

I did read your letter. It was exactly what I expected: one big appeal to the Bible over and over. Disney does this, but the Bible says that. Kids should serve God. Here are some scriptures. If she had a single study that proved Disney’s supposed “Woke agenda” was detrimental to child psychology, I might have considered her arguments, but her one and only argument is Bible (Worse, she doesn’t even cite WHICH Bible, so I have no idea which denomination she wants Disney to kowtow to.), thus if you’re not Christian, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It’d be like if you kept telling me broccoli is green, but I kept saying “Professor Sparkles the invisible unicorn says they’re blue”. You can’t disprove the existence of Professor Sparkles, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in him or not. As long as I cling to this one unfalsifiable belief, you can’t dissuade my mindset, even if it’s objectively true.

And as I said at the start, how on Earth do you enjoy your life if it’s defined purely by what your deity says not to do? I’m not even talking about sins, I mean exploring, asking questions, learning, creating, meeting new people, trying new things, appreciating what little time I have on this Earth because there’s no way of knowing I’ll see my grandparents again when I die, and literally anything else I could do and not be forced to be grateful to an unfalsifiable God no one can prove or disprove exists?

Ma’am, I have no business imposing my (lack of) religious ideals on you any more than you do to me, even if your Holy Book says you must try to convert others. And I support what you want to do, but I fear you’re not making informed choices. Is condemning the LGBT+ community something an all-loving God would approve of? Is he really going to be upset you’re watching Disney movies and seeing gay people existing? And what if one of your children discovers they’re gay? What are you going to do when they’re 25 and cannot interact with a world so vast, diverse, and multicultural? Want them to just stay in the Midwest, eating Pierogies, going to church and never, ever meet anyone new they can’t convert? I would think as long as you’re a halfway decent person who tries to make life a better place for everyone, God’s going to be cool with you.

Does he look like a bigot to you?

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It’s so odd to think something as wholesome as Disney earns such pearl-clutching. And don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I think Disney does wrong and I certainly object to. But on the basis of “Because my interpretation of the Bible says so”? How limiting. How boring. How insufferable.

Look, this scary, scary “Woke agenda” is coming, whether you like it or not. The world is getting smaller every day as we continue learning about each other in faster and more interpersonal ways, and if you look at all the options before you and you still choose to live a life of seclusion, you do you. But kids will still grow up and ask questions. If they realize they’re not straight or cisgender, they’ll feel different and worry their parents and God will hate them forever when they realize they’re not meant to live the heteronormative life and I don’t want that for anyone. Not your kids, not White Supremacist Extraordinaire Tucker Carlson’s, not even Alex Jones’. So spare me this diatribe and prepare your kids for the day they meet a non-Christian or gay person they won’t be able to convert.