Went Woke, Going Broke: The Fall and Rise and Fall of Disney

News & Politics

I’m just old enough to have witnessed the fall of Disney — twice.

The first time Disney fell, it was a decade-long creative malaise, particularly in the studio’s once-revolutionary animation division. Walt’s death in 1966 “left things in disarray at the company,” which featured a revolving door of executives and creative talent.

The ’70s and ’80s saw the company trying to produce darker, more adult-oriented fare, but “by the late 1980s, after many of the era’s movies flopped, the company began shifting back to its roots.”

I don’t need to tell you that Disney’s roots were in family-friendly animation. The studio rediscovered that with 1989’s The Little Mermaid, which launched a corporate and creative renaissance.

Now we’re watching Disney fall again. This time, however, the blame isn’t the loss of the company’s visionary founder.

It’s suicide.

The latest sign that Disney is “an empire in collapse,” as the Critical Drinker (Will Jordan) put it in his latest video, is the “blatant anti-white propaganda” in this clip from The Proud Family on Disney+.

The show’s producer is Latoya Raveneau, who identifies as a “biromantic asexual.” Last year she admitted to pushing a “gay agenda” by “adding queerness” to children’s programming wherever she can.

“This Disney clip is pure critical race theory,” Florida New College trustee Christopher Rufo tweeted, “including the insane conspiracy theory that Lincoln did not free the slaves.” Disney+ showrunners were “super welcoming . . . to my not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” Raveneau said.

It’s a small step from adding queerness to adding anti-American agitprop, particularly since “queerness” is nothing but politically weaponized sexuality. Students of The Frankfurt School understand and approve.

Watching that clip, I get some small sense of what it must have felt like to be any reasonably knowledgeable Soviet citizen subjected to a daily barrage of state propaganda. Dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn summed up the USSR’s madness like so:

We know that they are lying, they know that they are lying, they even know that we know they are lying, we also know that they know we know they are lying too, they, of course, know that we certainly know they know we know they are lying too as well, but they are still lying.

Solzhenitsyn continued by saying, “In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category, but the pillar industry of this country.”

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A country built on a lie couldn’t last. How long can an entertainment company?

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. This story isn’t really about Disney’s growing role in the cultural rot attacking our children at school, on streaming services, or in butcher-shop “medical” clinics catering to teens with delusions of transness.

This is the story of a company that’s been falling for a lot longer than most people may realize.

Pixar brought a Disney-level magic to computer animation with a string of joy- and tear-inducing hits like Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. Disney, riding high on its animated follow-ups to The Little Mermaid, saw something of a kindrid spirit in the startup studio and acted as its distributor.

Disney finally bought Pixar in 2006. Since then, Pixar has produced more sequels and less quality. Pixar used to be a carat mark of quality filmmaking, but I barely even heard of Pixar’s last three movies — Luca, Turning Red, and Lightyear, apparently. Lightyear is memorable only because it was so woke and so boring that it’s one of Pixar’s few flops.

Disnified Pixar managed to take the beloved Toy Story franchise and wreck it — and that’s been the story of Disney for a decade or longer.

The Mouse bought Marvel in 2009, right after the success of Iron Man led to the powerhouse Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And yet, after the initial creative force that culminated with the Avengers mega-story arc ran out, so did Marvel. There hasn’t been a must-see MCU movie since Endgame in 2019.

They bought Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise in 2014, and I can’t even talk about that.

Disney’s in-house studio hasn’t produced much classic animation in years. Their live-action movies tend to be unimaginative (and often woke) remakes of their classic animation titles.

In other words, much of the growth at the Mouse House, dating back all the way to 2006, consists of buying up other studios’ intellectual property or rebooting their own.

And they’ve been busy squeezing the creative life out of all of them. The buzz-kill wokeness in productions like She-Hulk, The Proud Family, and The Last Jedi might be as much about a company desperately searching for any kind of cultural relevance as it is about politics.

Disney ran out of creative juice once more, in the mid-naughts. They tried to buy their way out of the jam, but as the declining value of Star Wars, the MCU, Pixar, and Disney itself all show, Walt’s magic is gone once more.

But woke is easy — certainly much easier than doing anything creative. Woke is predictable. Woke pleases loyal internet minions and all the right people at all the right Hollywood parties and award shows.

What woke doesn’t do is sell tickets or streaming services — that’s why Disney was one of the worst-performing stocks of 2022.

I’ve seen Disney fall and rise and fall again. Will they re-rediscover their roots in time to rise once more?

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