Disney responded twice to the false reactions to Florida’s parents’ bill and now needs a white knight for a rescue.
Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek is having a tough week. For reasons that make little sense, his company became the target of media scolds regarding the recent law passed in the Florida legislature. Chapek issued a corporate memo on the matter late on Monday, and the reaction was not a pleasant one. Members of the press and select employees declared the memo to be boilerplate and evasive on the matter. As a result, Chapek issued a second comment, on Wednesday, taking verbal opposition with the bill, and stating how the company contacted Governor Ron DeSantis over the issue.
The ongoing hysteria surrounding the bill’s passage in the Florida legislature has not ebbed. Certain entertainment figures, social media members, and especially the press have all been in a full-scale assault on HR 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill. This has been wildly mischaracterized by opponents as anti-gay legislation, and the journalism sector has been entirely content to repeat the lie in calling this the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
This outright fraudulent narrative has been rampantly repeated, despite the journalists knowing full well that neither the word “gay,” nor any reference to “LGBTQ” appears anywhere in the text of the bill. The focus of the bill is on parents being more involved with school matters, and the section creating this hysteria concerns only what is deemed to be age-appropriate lesson content for the youngest of students, and the issue is to be placed with the parents on how to address the topic. The lone reference of this in the bill forbids any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.
To give an example of how mischaracterized this has been, if a first-grade boy were to state that he likes other boys, and the teacher were to tell him that he is supposed to only like girls, that teacher would be in violation of the law. How is that anti-gay?! Based on the language of the legislation this could just as well be dubbed the “Don’t Say Hetero Bill,” which would also be inaccurate, but qualifies under the same misbegotten standard of the media today.
Disney, and specifically Chapek, have fallen prey to the emotional hype, and he has not actually studied the bill he now opposes. And this misfire on his part is starting to backfire. For one, the very thing he is opposing is something his company subsists on – content levels for age groups. The Motion Picture Association of America places ratings on films based on the content contained therein and assesses ratings based on what is considered appropriate for age groups.
Exactly what this law is trying to establish for classrooms. Take a look at Bob Chapek’s own streaming service, and you see his company lays out these very standards for its entertainment offerings. Funny how content can be tailored and categorized based on age groups and what is declared proper when it comes to entertainment choices — but doing so in schools is somehow improper? Note the second rating on Disney’s chart, following All ages appropriate, recommends Parental Guidance – the very thing the Florida law is looking to establish!
The @WaltDisneyCo CEO Bob Chapek opposes content standards in classrooms for the youngest students.
Why is it acceptable for his company to set those same standards on @DisneyPlus streaming options, and recommend parental guidance, but NOT in schools?https://t.co/MSOZFMWvUe pic.twitter.com/g9cQio34fO
— Brad Slager – Digging into the CPAC 12-pack (@MartiniShark) March 10, 2022
And now comes word that the Disney and the Chapek hypocrisy deepens on this matter. While the Florida bill does not single out same-sex content to be removed, this is apparently something that does take place within Bob’s own company. Variety has reported that a letter sent out by “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies” stipulates that they have routinely been instructed to remove content from their titles that portrayed images or plot points of gay affection.
We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.
The distinction here is important – it is not Pixar dictating these alterations; it was from the parent company, Disney. This reality makes Bob Chapek’s lecturing all the more impossible to absorb. He opposes age-based lesson standards in schools but not with his company’s product, and he rails against non-existent silencing of gay content in a law while his company engages in that very practice.
Bob, you were much better off on Sunday, when you had made no comments on this law by that point. Now you will need a writing team to come up with a plot that can extricate yourself from this self-created turmoil.