The idea of giving Disney the boot is not a new one.
The Walt Disney Company has been the object of passionate boycotts for years now. And while many groups and individuals have valid reasons behind their decisions to #boycottDisney, the success of those boycotts can be difficult to measure. Then again, it can be crystal clear that some of those boycotts have failed miserably.
If the goal of those individuals and groups is to refrain from blessing Disney with their respective financial support, those goals are easily met. But if the goal of a Disney boycott is to somehow make a dent in the company’s revenue by canceling a trip to the parks, canceling a Disney+ subscription, and pledging not to watch Disney films, that goal is far more difficult.
In fact, it’s quite possible the Disney boycotters’ mission has failed.
In 1995, a civil rights group called for a Disney boycott that included boycotting Disney Parks, Disney merchandise, and the Disney Channel after the release of a film titled Priest from Miramax, which Disney acquired in the nineties.
In the mid-1990s, an organization that advocates for the values and morals in family entertainment and focuses on the influences of media on families initiated a boycott against Disney in a clash over those moral values. The call for a boycott of Disney came in 1996 when the organization reportedly “criticized the entertainment conglomerate for what the AFA described as a decline in moral and family values from the days of founder Walt Disney.”
Other organizations and groups, such as the Concerned Women of America, also called for boycotts of the Disney brand, citing a decrease in family values, among other things.
Nine years later, AFA President Tim Wildmon called for an end to the boycott, saying that the organization felt they had “made their point,” as, according to Wildmon, at that point in time, it was becoming “harder than ever before to find ‘evidence of new missteps by Disney.'”
But in recent months, talk of boycotting the Mouse has returned.
Much of that talk about canceling Disney stems from consumers’ distaste for The Walt Disney Company’s involvement in education legislation in the State of Florida. Dubbed with a misleading nickname by those who opposed the bill–the “Don’t Say Gay” bill–Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the spring.
No part of the new legislation prohibits the use of the word gay. The misnomer itself is, ladies and gentlemen, a piece of propaganda.
But immediately following the bill’s passing, The Walt Disney Company issued a statement, not only taking a firm stance of opposition to Florida’s new law, but also chastising Florida’s lawmakers for passing such a law, and even promising to assist in having the law repealed.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” the statement reads. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”
Some have called for a boycott of the Disney brand–or have chosen to boycott the brand–because of the company’s opposition to the Florida law, and some have chosen to cancel the Mouse because of Disney’s “woke agenda.”
In response to Disney’s stance against the piece of Florida legislation, journalist Gerard Baker said in a post for The Wall Street Journal, that “the larger problem Disney’s dutiful obeisance to the noisy extremists represents is the way in which those who seek to control our culture are redefining a central element of democratic pluralism—what it means to be an open and tolerant society.”
Once again, many of those who have chosen to boycott Disney have done so for valid reasons–reasons that are important to them and to their families. It’s their right; it’s their choice, and this writer won’t stand against it because I can respect the reasoning of those who want to make the best choices for their children. Many boycotters simply don’t want to support a company whose values don’t align with their own, and that is 100% understandable.
I get it. I’m a mom too.
But those who are boycotting simply to “stick it to Disney,” and “hit them where it hurts” are largely running a fool’s errand. The yearly operating budget for The Walt Disney Company should be the first clue that a boycott–even a relatively widespread boycott–would most likely have a less-than-noticeable effect on the company.
According to Finbox, The Walt Disney Company’s most recent annual operating expenses were $70.941 billion. That’s $70,941,000,000. Keep in mind the company’s profits have skyrocketed. Profits. If Disney’s expenses exceed $70 billion, well, you do the math. Let’s just say it would take some kind of boycotting to make Disney hurt.
Per The Walt Disney Company’s earnings call for the third quarter of the fiscal year 2022, which was held on Wednesday afternoon, Disney+ continues to be a popular choice among consumers, but there are nowhere near 4 billion subscribers–whether domestically, internationally, or combined.
Again, this writer can appreciate a boycott that is carried out by a person or people or groups who feel strongly about their cause, so long as it isn’t infringing on the rights of others. But it’s easy to see why if a Disney boycotter’s goal is to “sock it to Disney,” the sheer size of the Disney empire has already set them up for a downfall.
Others, however, have taken even further steps–printing and publishing claims about Disney that many say are without merit, such as a site called DropDisney.com, which encourages the general public to boycott Disney, end their Disney+ subscriptions, and sign a pledge, promising to have no more to do with anything from the Disney brand.
The site goes so far as to make claims about Disney hating its patrons:
“Disney’s hateful, disgusting indoctrination campaign goes far beyond anything I’ve seen before. We all need to act now, to make an example out of them, and to warn other child-focused companies not to mess with our kids. Last year, I obtained whistleblower documents that unmasked Disney’s secret critical race theory training program—and it was horrifying. Amid this flood of race-baiting nonsense, Disney insisted that employees commit to ‘raising race-consciousness in children’ starting at six months old because even babies are racist.”
DropDisney.com includes links to the Disney+ website where subscribers can cancel their subscriptions, as well as a tab that links to an online pledge that visitors to the site can sign digitally, attesting to the fact that they intend to stave off paying even “a dime for any more subscriptions, vacations, merchandise, or entertainment that bears the Disney name or logo.”
The site was reportedly created by investigative journalist Christopher Rufo who claims to have “exposed dozens of corporations and government agencies for pushing woke ideology on their employees.”
On Wednesday, during Disney’s third-quarter earnings call, the undeniable figures were there–in black and white–for all to see. And the truth is when compared to the same timeframe in 2021, Disney’s revenue from its Parks, Experiences, and Products division saw an increase of 70%. That division of The Walt Disney Company encompasses all the Disney-branded things that are the targets of most Disney boycotts: Disney Parks vacations, Disney merchandise, and other experiences offered by the House of Mouse.
It would appear that those boycotters who endeavored to make Disney cry “uncle!” have failed. Indeed. They have failed miserably. For all the shouting and sidelining of Disney, somebody, somewhere, somehow keeps spending the big bucks–and it’s created a wealth (pardon the pun) of revenue for the company.
And at the end of the day, (there’s a great big, beautiful tomorrow), and there’s also the truth: the fact that the Disney brand is simply too big, too far-reaching, and too lucrative for the boycott of a few to result in the financial ruin of Walt’s beloved company.
But therein lies yet another truth to which this writer is devoted (and one to which Disney Company execs would do well to pay closer attention): The Walt Disney Company is Walt Disney’s company–the one he dreamed up, built up, funded, and grew. The one for which he suffered many disappointments, many heartaches, and, more than once, near-bankruptcy.
To intentionally take stances that directly contradict the values set forth by an entity’s founder, by an entity’s leadership, is ludicrous. It’s arrogant. It’s prideful. It’s distasteful. And it’s irritating to no end. Get back to Walt’s roots, Mr. Chapek. Get back to what made this company the enterprise that it is today. You, for one, surely benefit from Walt’s genius–and from his dedication to things that mattered most–not squabbling over things that ultimately alienate your base of fans.
You enjoy the life you enjoy because of Mr. Disney’s devotion and dedication. Surely you’ve heard warnings against looking a gift horse in the mouth–as well as against forgetting the place from which you came. It is not the Bob Chapek Company, after all.
In any other case, Mr. Chapek, not only have the boycotters failed in their endeavors, but you also have failed in every endeavor–and on a magnificent level, too.