After going to war on behalf of the LGBTQ community with the state of Florida over the Parental Rights in Education bill, Disney is bending the knee to Middle Eastern bans on LGBTQ content on their streaming services.
Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear was a massive bomb at the box office, losing the company over $100 million dollars after calculating marketing, production and end costs. As Disney shifts to move its film to Disney+ in hopes of boosting streaming numbers, the film will not be available in Middle Eastern countries following Disney’s decision to frontload a lesbian couple in the movie’s marketing.
The film joins a growing list of Disney-backed films such as Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, West Side Story, and Eternals that have been banned in Middle Eastern countries due to the display of LGBTQ characters within the films. In a move to prevent the media giant from being banned from the region outright, Disney confirms that Disney+ will indeed align with local censorship rules.
“Content offerings differ across our many Disney+ markets, based upon a number of factors. Content available should align with local regulatory requirements,” a Disney representative told THR in a statement, while also stressing that the platform offers parental controls to allow families to determine what their family members watch.
Disney+ will simply not release some of their biggest films in the last couple of years in order to avoid angering foreign audiences. The decision to avoid upsetting the Middle East based on their views towards LGBTQ content is a major shift from how Disney took on Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida earlier this year.
Lightyear’s same-sex kiss was initially cut from the film entirely, until it was reinstated in protest of Republicans and Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill that bans the teaching of sexuality and transgenderism to children between kindergarten through third grade.
When the film was banned in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, and Indonesia before its release, actor and star of the film Chris Evans said that anyone who has a problem with the same-sex kiss is an “idiot” who will “die off like the dinosaurs.”
“The real truth is those people are idiots. There are always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs.” Evans said in an interview with Reuters.
“I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.” he added. Evans continued his frustration with those upset about the scene, citing that it bothers him that same-sex relationships are still a problem in the first place.
“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion. The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is, that representation across the board is how we make films.”
Evans’s comments, which were published the week of the film’s release, led to a backlash that saw moviegoers avoid the film with their children. Families opted to see Minions: The Rise of Gru which has grossed $757 million dollars globally as of this writing – over $530 million dollars more than Lightyear drew in theaters despite being released two weeks after Lightyear.
Journalist Christopher F. Rufo has worked to expose the company’s internal agenda, which includes producing more LGBTQ content aimed specifically at children, and donating to organizations that promote LGBTQ curriculums in elementary schools. An agenda, it should be noted, that is in direct conflict with the beliefs of the middle eastern region.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the fallout of Disney’s war with DeSantis over the parental rights bill caused the Florida Senate to pass legislation ending the tax and governing exemptions afforded to the company-owned Reedy Creek Improvement District, upon which the Walt Disney World Resort sits.
What are your thoughts on Disney removing content to keep their streaming service operational in the Middle East?