Bob Iger may be back at the helm of The Walt Disney Company, but if anyone thought his return would see the company shift away from divisive identity politics, they would be sadly mistaken.
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In a stunning turn of events, last week The Walt Disney Company announced that effective immediately, former CEO Bob Iger would be back in his old role, replacing sitting CEO Bob Chapek.
“The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period,” announced the Disney board’s current chairman, Susan Arnold, in a statement provided to the media on November 20th. “We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.”
With his return, everyone from the company’s employees to its critics alike have been eager to know Iger’s plans for Disney’s creative direction, particularly in regards to its production of woke content.
And during an internal Q&A held between himself and Disney employees on November 28th, the CEO would confirm that diversity, inclusion, and LGBTQ content are here to stay.
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Iger would address the topic in reply to a number of questions submitted to him by his employees.
As seen in video obtained by independent journalist Christopher F. Rufo, the CEO would offer his first thoughts on the subject after being asked whether or not Disney will “stay out of making political statements” under his tenure.
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained video from returning Disney CEO Bob Iger's first town hall with employees, in which he signals that he will work to "quiet things down" politically and move toward neutrality in the culture war.https://t.co/ZBGdHhxFVS pic.twitter.com/ZbMCZN4MlG
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
“I think there’s a misperception here about what politics is,” answered Iger. “I think that some of the subjects that have proven to be ‘controversial’ as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and I don’t necessarily believe they are.”
“I don’t think that when you are telling stories and attempting to be a good citizen of the world, that that’s political,” he affirmed. “It’s just not how I view it.”
“Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy?” he then asked rhetorically of the crowd. “Of course not, it can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company.”
“And to the extent that I can work to quiet things down, I’m going to do that,” added Iger. “But I think it’s important to put in perspective what some of these subjects are and not just simply brand them as political.”
Later, when asked for his “stance on the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ situation”, the CEO would explain, “Well, first of all, our LGBTQ employees are very important to us and we care deeply about them.”
“That is a given,” he declared. “Secondly, this company has been telling stories for a hundred years, and those stories have had a meaningful, positive impact on the world. And one of the reasons that they’ve had a meaningful, positive impact is one of our core values is inclusion, acceptance, and tolerance. And we can’t lose that. We just can’t lose that.”
In response to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, Iger said Disney would still promote “inclusion,” but suggested that the company must strike a “delicate balance” and “listen to [its] audience” and “have respect for the people that [it’s] serving.” This is a retreat. pic.twitter.com/bZBnQdm616
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
“I think about Black Panther and the impact that had on the world, or a film like Coco,” Iger continued. “I could go on and on. How we actually change the world for the good must continue.”
“When you tell stories, there’s a delicate balance,” he said. “You’re talking to an audience, but it’s also important to listen. It’s important to have respect for the people that you’re serving and not have disdain for them.”
To this end, he then admitted, “that said, we’re not going to make everyone happy all the time, and we’re not going to try to.
“We’re certainly not going to lessen our core values in order to make everyone happy all the time,” he then assured his employees. “So, it’s complicated, and there’s a balance.”
“At one point,” the CEO recalled. “I said, ‘We do what we believe is right’, and then someone criticized me, ‘Who are you to say what’s right?'”
“When you’re in a job like mine, or you are responsible for storytelling, you get paid to have a sense for what is right,” concluded Chapek. “Not everybody will agree with you, that’s just not the way the world is these days, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to do the right thing.”
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Though Iger seems confident in betting Disney’s future on woke content, the company’s recent box office returns should give him ample reason to pause.
Earlier this year, after heavily marketing the film based on its inclusion of a lesbian relationship, Lightyear bombed at the box office only drawing $226 million dollars on a production budget of $200 million dollars – an estimated loss of well over $100 million for the House of Mouse.
The company’s latest animated film, Strange World, released ahead of Thanksgiving only to bomb at the box office with a domestic take of only $18.6 million at the domestic box office.
With a reported production budget of between $135 million and $180 million, meaning the film has to make between $335 million and $450 million to break even.
Despite a string of poorly performing woke projects from the Disney brand, Iger’s statement makes it very clear that they won’t stop pushing diversity and inclusion anytime soon – even if costs them over nine figures each time they try.
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