“I wish Disney would stay out of politics and stick to what they do best.”
A multitude of Disney fans across the country has shared similar sentiments. As Disney has become the primary source of opposition to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, many are pleading that the entertainment giant, The Walt Disney Company, keep its name out of public affairs. The same individuals who take this stance also have attributed many of Disney’s recent film failures and perceived low Park attendance to the company’s “woke” agenda. With some evidence that Disney has no problem being a high voice of influence in socio-political issues and hot-button topics, traditionalists have loudly called for Bob Iger, Disney’s returning CEO, to get back to the basic of what Disney does best, entertainment.
Bob Iger’s Interview with CNBC
In a recent interview with CNBC, Bob Iger, who recently extended his tenure for two more years after replacing Bob Chapek as Disney’s chief executive officer, sat down with David Faber of ‘Squawk Box.’ As Disney’s fight with Ron DeSantis over the governor’s signing of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act has been a heavy-hitting story, Faber wasted little time bringing up the seeming feud between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Referencing a recent support rally outside the gates at Walt Disney World, Iger was quick to disrupt any idea that he would not address the heated debate around Disney versus DeSantis. Instead, he condemned the actions of the neo-Nazi protest calling them “horrifying.”
However, in the same sentence, Iger added that he did not want The Walt Disney Company drawn into a “culture war.” He also reinforced his desire to avoid any further conflict when asked about Disney’s First Amendment case against DeSantis that was filed in April.
“The last thing I want is for the company to be drawn into any culture wars. I’m not sure that was handled very well.”
Reading Between the Lines
As The Walt Disney Company has seen shares down, accompanied by the lowest holiday attendance to Walt Disney World in ten years, as well as multiple failing box office projects; Iger understands the internal issues. He recently noted that Disney would cut back on its overly saturated Marvel content. Iger also understands that the company’s outspoken approach to social issues may be part of the problem. However, Iger was clear that he is not concerned about Disney, specifically Walt Disney World’s worth in the long run, and that he feels strongly that the company has a First Amendment right to voice its views and opinions, or as some would call it, remains “woke.”
“The product has value.” Iger when discussing the worth of Walt Disney World who recently experienced notable attendance decrease.
However, Bob Iger’s repetition regarding Disney’s involvement in a culture war is significant. Iger, being the company’s leader (again), is aware of the clear lines drawn in the sand by Disney. As Walt Disney World is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world yet sits in one of most prominent conservative strongholds in the United States, Iger remains careful about their approach to media and entertainment. Intensifying a divide between conservative-thinking families who haven’t boycotted Disney and liberal-based ideology is bad for business. Not only would this continue a downward trend in demand for Disney vacations, but the tension would boil over into the Parks themselves. We’ve potentially already see this with increased violence and adherence for rules.
Change May Be Coming
Some would call a shift from boisterous opposition of state legislation, which has led to an escalation in lawsuits, cowardice, while others would call the opposite pandering. Either way, with his fear or worry regarding Disney being drawn into future cultural combat, Iger is unwilling to pick an individual side without considering the other. His fears are warranted as the company becomes more expensive while cost-of-living continues rising. As more and more people can’t afford to visit Walt Disney World, future engagment in an all-out war with Florida’s governor would not serve the best interest of the entertainment company. It’s best to step back, reevaluate, and get back to the basics. Iger’s continued emphasis on avoiding unnecessary conflict with the state of Florida and shedding their “woke” first approach could be a step in that direction for Disney.