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Bob Iger Defends Disney, Says People Don’t “Understand” What “Woke” Means

Bob Iger people Don't Understand Woke
Credit: Disney/CNBC News Report

Things have not been easy for Bob Iger since he returned as CEO of The Walt Disney Company in November 2022. Iger stepped down as CEO in February 2020, but remained with Disney as its Executive Chairman. Unfortunately, Iger’s successor, Bob Chapek, struggled with running the company almost from the get-go and was fired after less than three years. When Iger returned, he had to deal with a mountain of issues, including Disney+, the company’s struggling stock price, dissatisfied theme park guests, and more.

Bob iger villain Walt disney company ceo chief executive officer bob Chapek disney villain Robert iger Robert a iger chairman

Credit: Disney

Related: Elon Musk Vows to Fight Disney Over Inclusion Policies

One near-constant issue that Disney is dealing with is constantly being accused of being “woke”. The accusations really took flight after Disney’s fight with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis began in 2021. In recent years, Disney has been making a concerted effort to be more inclusive, in both its theme park cast members and its entertainment content.

Cast members were allowed to wear costumes (their uniform) that they felt the most comfortable in, regardless of their gender. On the entertainment side, Disney characters became more diverse, and different kinds of relationships were showcased more.

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Credit: Ashley Carter, Twitter

Related: Op-Ed: Disney Is Woke and It Should Stay That Way

Disney has been unable to escape the “woke” accusations coming from more conservative fans. With almost any change they make—like changing Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure—or any new movie and television show they make, someone accuses them of being “woke.” Near-constant comments tell Disney, “Go woke, go broke,” although it should be noted that the company is nowhere near close to broke.

splash mountain disney world

Credit: Disney Parks

In a new interview with CNBC, Bob Iger admits that while there may be a little bit of truth to the claims, he says that people use that word too easily and do not really understand what it means.

“Well, I think yes, I mean, I think the noise has sort of quieted down. I’ve been preaching this for a long time at the company before I left and since I came back that our number one goal is to entertain. I think, but the term woke is thrown around rather liberally. No, no pun intended in that regard. I think a lot of people don’t even understand really what it means. The bottom line is that infusing messaging as a sort of a number one priority in our films and TV shows is not what we’re up to. They need to be entertaining and look, we’re the Disney company can have a positive impact on the world whether it’s, you know, fostering acceptance and understanding of you know, people of all different types, great. But, generally speaking, we need to be entertainment, an entertainment first company and I’ve worked really hard to do that.”

Bob Iger called Extremist

Credit: Disney

According to Merriam-Webster, the term “woke” is defined as, “aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

When asked about how the company has fostered acceptance, Iger said that it is through the diverse content that they now create. Many Disney fans can now see themselves represented on screen.

“…returning to our roots, you know, making sure that everybody’s aligned on what our priorities are, you know, and understanding that look, we’re trying to reach a very, very diverse audience. And on one hand in order to do that, what you, the stories you tell have to really reflect the audience that you’re trying to reach, but that audience because they are so diverse, really, first and foremost, they want to be entertained and sometimes they can be turned off by certain things and we just have to be more sensitive to the interest of a broad audience. It’s not easy, you know, so that you can’t please everybody all the time.”

live-action little mermaid (halle bailey) in the water, watching the ship

Credit: Disney

Despite the accusations, Iger said that Disney will continue to move forward and do the thing that Disney has done for one hundred years, entertain people.

Disney plans to keep entertaining people by possibly creating a third theme park at Disneyland Resort, should DisneylandForward be approved. He said that there is also the possibility of a fifth theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. On the entertainment side, Disney has a lot of movies coming down the pike, including Inside Out 2, Mufasa: The Lion King, and live-action remakes of Snow White (1937), Lilo & Stitch (2002), Hercules (1997), and more.

Do you agree with Bob Iger that people throw the term “woke” around too much? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

One comment

  1. Yes absolutely. The word has lost all meaning.

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