Weirdos of all stripes are journeying to California to “cancel” Disney for being too woke. That’s right: Disney, a corporation that featured a major gay character in a film for the first time last year, is too woke.
Hold the Line, a conservative church for young people and self-proclaimed “activist movement,” is holding a rally today at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California to protest the corporation pulling support for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In an interview on Fox & Friends, Hold the Line founder Sean Feucht said that he is sure that current Disney employees stand with him against the company’s so-called “woke agenda.” Feucht has previously held anti-masking rallies, the armed security team for which included January 6th insurrectionists.
“There’s been a lot of internal open letters that have been sent to the CEO of Disney that employees have signed. All of those things have been censored by the company” Feucht told Fox & Friends, without providing any source or evidence for either claim. “Most of these employees, I know a lot of them, are good, are Christians, they love America, and they just want to create safe content for children. They see that their company is being hijacked by woke crazy people that are trying to indoctrinate kids with this crazy sexualization.”
Characterizing the CEO of Disney and its corporate leadership as “woke” by any degree is profoundly confusing when you look at the way that Disney as a corporation behaves. Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, has been facing criticism for Disney’s previous support of politicians behind Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits educators from talking about homosexuality at all. Although Feucht says that Disney employees are on his side, other employees had also planned walkouts over Disney’s functional support of the bill in March, before the corporation changed its tune.
To be clear, Disney did not pull its support of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it actually believes in LGBT rights. Disney is an incredibly powerful financial instrument, not a person; it cannot have feelings or beliefs. The people that run Disney got enough bad press from its own workers, the studios it owns, and actors employed by those studios that it made a business decision to reverse course. On the whole, Disney is very conservative, and has always been so.
This is the company whose California parks did not allow same-sex dancing until it got sued over it in 1985. This is the company that keeps introducing its “first” gay character—conveniently, characters that do not have major roles nor many lines. This is the company whose executive Isaac Perlmutter once allegedly said that switching out Terrance Howard for Don Cheadle between the first and second Iron Man movies would be fine because black people “look the same.” Disney financially contributes to both major political parties in the states in which it operates; its political agenda is “whatever way the wind’s blowing.”
All of this is heading toward a very strange place, with conservative politicians like Lauren Boebert threatening to vote against Disney the next time it begs Congress to change copyright law so that it can retain ownership of Mickey Mouse—not exactly a traditional right-wing cause.
Fox News anchor Lauren Ingraham is even more specific. Last week, she said that Disney and Apple are leveraging their corporate power against homophobic laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bills and have thrown in with the “hard left,” and so need to be punished through the enforcement of anti-monopoly law—again, not exactly a traditional right-wing cause.
“When Republicans get back into power,” Ingraham said, “Apple and Disney need to understand one thing: everything will be on the table. Your copyright and trademark protection, your special status within certain states, and even your corporate structure itself. The antitrust division at Justice needs to begin the process of considering which American companies need to be broken up once and for all, for competition's sake, and ultimately for the good of the consumers who pay the bills.”
Watching conservatives claim that a conservative company has made a hard left turn is bewildering. But the degree to which they need these companies to enforce what has been the status quo regarding gender and sexuality is also very clear. The likes of Boebert and Ingraham would not, it’s fair to say, have any interest in antitrust laws or copyright reform if they couldn’t use it as leverage against Disney. Whether that interest will continue is to say the least unclear: The party’s current attempts to invoke antitrust law is being met with lukewarm reception, and the last time the GOP made noise about copyright reform in 2012, it changed its mind. One likely outcome of all this? Disney will continue to promote the status quo, the same way it always has, and bad-faith actors will take credit.