I fell in love with Disney the first time my mom read Disney’s Sleeping Beauty to me.
I was only three years old, and the vibrant illustrations, the story of a princess tucked away in the woods by three quick-thinking fairies who each reminded me very much of my grandmother, the son of the king who battles evil and swiftly defeats it with the Sword of Truth, and a pretty princess in a gorgeous dress that changes from pink fabric to blue fabric at whim . . . was there anything better in all the world than this?
To this day, my Disney experiences still have me asking myself, “Is there anything better in all the world than this?”
Among the more than one million words in the English language, the word hate is one of the most powerful, and because it often conveys a message far stronger than what most of us mean, it’s one that many try to exclude from their vocabulary, this writer included. Add to that the fact that hatred lays waste to those who derive pleasure from spreading it, and hate is a word without which we’d all undoubtedly be kinder, better, and more compassionate members of society. That extends to the Disney Kingdom of Fandom as well. Let me explain.
My Dad has always had an impressive way with words.
Many moons ago, when I was still young enough for my mother to tell others my age in months rather than in years, my dad penned a letter to me that included his thoughts and feelings about my upcoming third birthday, as well as his wishes and prayers for my future, despite knowing that it would be years before I understood the word future, let alone beginning the task of navigating it. I was turning three. Dad was 25. And for the sake of posterity, he also included in the letter then-current prices of a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas, a loaf of bread, and a ticket at the box office.
At the time, because I couldn’t yet read, the words in that letter held little meaning to me. But that gesture would serve as the first of many lessons from my dad about the importance of choosing my words wisely, the importance of using my words to uplift and not to tear down, and the importance of writing down my positive thoughts and the good that happened in the everyday as over time, all of those practices would serve, if I remained committed to them, to add value to my life and to the lives of others–two things that poorly-chosen, unkind, and negative words and sentiments could never do.
Hatred Takes Hold
I’m certainly not the first person to have been granted the blessing of such guidance from a young age. But within our society today, there exists an atmosphere, a culture, and a consciousness of hatred.
Instead of being disappointed by a performance review at work and first taking an inventory of ourselves to identify areas in need of a tune-up, we hate the supervisor who penned the review. When the person on the highway in the vehicle in front of us changes lanes quickly, and we’re forced to tap the brakes, instead of extending the benefit of the doubt to him or first wondering whether the driver’s lack of concentration was in response to a dire personal situation, we hate him for cutting us off.
(Some of us even use hand signals to add emphasis to our messages of hate, just in case the initial message was unclear.)
In our day-to-day interactions with the world around us, when we identify differences of opinions, political party affiliations, musical styles, or choices in entertainment, rather than celebrating “different strokes for different folks,” we hate others because they don’t see things as we do, and we’re often incensed that others don’t align their views with ours.
And the reward we hand out to them is hate.
Hate Culture Surrounds the Disney Universe
Such is the current culture surrounding The Walt Disney Company as many who take issue with any decision made by the company immediately go into “hate mode,” spewing hatred, calling for hatred, and spreading hatred from every mountaintop social media platform for which they can quickly create a username and password.
They take to the comments section beneath online posts and proudly wear their disapproval of Disney like a banner, beckoning others to join their cause. They even attempt to justify that hatred so as to calm their consciences and create the illusion of activism.
Hate in the name of love, in the name of inclusion, in the name of equality, or in the name of representation, by the way, is still hate.
And I’m so weary of all of it–the unkindness, the anger, the meanness, supposedly in the name of some greater message. I’m sick of the masses wearing hatred as part of their daily arsenal. It’s disgusting in any arena, whether public or private, and it’s undeniably sickening among those who claim to be current or former fans of Disney. But before you assume that this post is merely a plea for the whole world to join hands and sing “Kum-ba-ya” around a shrine to Mickey Mouse or Bob Iger, let’s walk through this just a bit further, shall we?
Disney’s Changing Identity and Ideals
Whether you’re a person who identifies as a Disney superfan and has photos of Walt framed throughout your house, or a person whose daily life includes an anti-Disney mantra and a swearing-off of anything owned by the mega-entertainment super-giant, there’s no denying that Disney has long been the undefeated champion in family entertainment in the United States and around the world.
The company, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, has always been in the driver’s seat as Disney is the company credited with setting the world of family entertainment into motion.
But as the years have gone by, Disney’s ideas about–and approaches to–family entertainment have evolved. Some of the changes, like the birth of Disney’s first-ever streaming service, have been largely well-received as positive changes, while other changes, such as the inclusion of topics and themes within Disney’s films that many find objectionable or questionable, haven’t always been as palatable to fans.
And that disapproval, that difference of opinion, that difference in preference is okay. Or at least it should be okay. But it isn’t.
As a society, we’ve taken leave of our senses, our manners, our tact and diplomacy, and our responsibilities as human beings and traded decency for hatred in the name of furthering our personal agendas.
Yes, we have. We have adopted the mindset that we can only be civil and kind toward those who see eye to eye with us 100% of the time on 100% of the issues. All others deserve hatred, rage, slander, and zero consideration. We also live by the mindset that tells us that those who see things differently automatically loathe us and dream of our demise, all the while operating under that assumption instead of the facts. Such a mindset breeds baseless hatred and senseless animosity, and it’s disgusting.
I am sick and tired of the hatred for Disney and for Disney fans. I’m disgusted by the hatred Disney fans award to those who have cut ties with Disney–and the hatred from those who have cut ties with Disney toward those who have chosen to remain in the Disney camp.
Walt Disney once said that he hoped we’d never lose sight of one thing–that everything “Disney” began with a mouse. But if we can’t graduate from a culture of hate, Walt’s once beautiful world will find its disastrous end at the hands of selflessness, hatred, and indignation.
What a horrible and tragic finale for what was created to be such a wonderful experience. If you’re not yet sick of this growing hate, it’s time to get on board.
Disney is NOT Without Fault
This writer understands that such a proclamation warrants clarification, so I’ll say loudly that The Walt Disney Company is not without fault. The company is partially responsible for the changing culture of approval and disapproval of Disney, its principles, its films, its political moves, etc., and there’s no denying that in recent years, Disney has found itself at the center of a growing number of polarizing controversies–many of its own making.
In March 2022, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek fought against making a blanket company statement against the State of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. It was perhaps the only good decision he made during his tenure as head of the company; after all, Disney had no justifiable reason for sticking Mickey’s nose into Florida’s politics–especially education politics that would have zero effect on the Burbank, California-based company. Most Cast Members were against Disney’s attempt at meddling in Florida politics.
Ultimately, Chapek caved to the pressure, by his own admission, taking a company-wide stance in direct opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature, calling into question the lawmakers’ judgment and jurisdiction. And the fallout continues today.
A fear of “under-representation” by a few at Disney has recently given way to an unnerving brand of exclusive inclusivity–inclusion that’s only reserved for a select few–which, by definition, is the opposite of inclusion, by the way.
That fear has also led to the infusion of forced agendas, ideology, and indoctrination into films that were originally created for the purposes of entertainment, as evidenced in Disney and PIXAR’s releases Turning Red, Lightyear, and Strange World, each of which debuted in 2022 and will forever remain in the history books under the heading, “Disney’s Box Office Bombs.”
In less than twelve months, Disney’s evolving ideas about family entertainment had cost the studios more than $300 million, and if you don’t understand that as a message from the masses about their disapproval of Disney’s so-called “woke ideology,” you need to look again. The consumer always speaks loudest with his dollar.
Disappointed, But Still in Love
I’m disappointed in some of Disney’s business and fiscal decisions, but I cannot bring myself to hate Disney. And I feel bad for those who are able to do so because they’re missing out on so much. There is a very definitive line–no, a vast chasm–between those who can’t stand Disney and those who consider themselves Disney superfans–a chasm not easily crossed.
It’s a wonderful, joyous, truly magical thing to enjoy Disney’s classic films, to find ourselves able to identify completely with a Disney film’s characters and message, and to lose ourselves and the cares of this world in the timeless storylines. It’s why Walt created Disneyland in the first place.
It’s equally as magical to visit Disneyland or Disney World and reconnect with a younger, less jaded version of ourselves–the version we barely recognize these days because of the stress of our everyday lives, the demands of others and those we place on ourselves, and the forced and rushed experiences of life as an adult on planet Earth.
And for the millions of fans around the world who’ve enjoyed those life-changing, new perspective-granting, transformative experiences over and over again, campaigning for Disney’s demise doesn’t come so easily, whether they agree with Disney’s current methodology and ideology or not–this writer included.
What on earth has given us the ignorant, asinine inclination that unless we agree 110% with others, we have to cut ties entirely? We don’t approach elections this way. I’ve yet to meet a single person who casts their ballot for a candidate with whom they agree wholeheartedly, eye-to-eye on every single issue. Not one. But they still vote–usually for the candidate whose ideals and values most closely align with their own.
And so it is with Disney.
Don’t misconstrue the message here. Those who have always felt hostile toward Disney, who’ve had a loathing for the company and its offerings, or who would rather have two root canals than endure a trip to Disney World can keep to their respective camps. No judgment here. If you can’t stand Disney and its films and its parks and its merch, and if the sight of Mickey’s ears or Walt’s trademark mustache gives you hives, no one’s pressuring you to conform. A reciprocal respect is expected, however, for those who enjoy a little Disney every day.
And if you’re new to the “I Hate Disney” school, this writer will go so far as to encourage you to look again. Make your own decisions. Have your own thoughts. Don’t rely on the mindless white noise chatter on social media to carve your opinions and viewpoints about Disney.
And if you do, don’t let your frustrations about a handful of Disney films or the company’s methodology or a perception of insatiable greed keep you from experiencing the things you love about Disney.
Summon that inner child, and reconnect with her as you remember your own personal Disney experiences. Regardless of Disney’s practices today, its current ideals, methodologies, and ideologies, those who’ve long loved Disney, those who seem to have fallen out of love with Disney, and everyone in between, carry with them the memories of days and years and seasons gone by during which a Disney film, an encounter with a favorite character at Disney World, or the wonder of nighttime fireworks gave them the first of many glimpses of the age-old “Disney magic.”
You remember, don’t you?
This is how we keep Walt Disney’s memory alive–by refusing to let the company’s current trends, implemented in an effort to boost revenue and garner the approval of shareholders and other vocal groups, sully the magic of the memories Disney has afforded us thus far. Have a little faith and trust in the timeless pixie dust that Walt embraced rather than missing opportunities to make even more memories.
All of my research, reading, writing, studying, and talking with others about the person and character of Walt Disney leads me to this irrefutable truth: our ability to remain in that childlike state of wonder, regardless of our age, is why Walt started his company 100 years ago in the first place. And it’s what he had hoped we’d hold fast to for the entirety of our lives. Of this, I am wholly convinced.
I’m exhausted by the hatred for Disney, for its magic, for the memories, for the celebrations, for the timeless wonder . . . and you should be too.