DEPUTY & OPINION EDITOR
The Walt Disney Company loves to brand its theme parks, and to an extent the brand as a whole, as “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
This sentiment is largely true for the tens of millions of families that enjoy the company’s movies, parks and merchandise every year, and for decades the company fostered an almost pointedly apolitical, family friendly brand.
But in the last few years, leftist talking points about race and gender have crept into Disney’s programming, and the company itself has even spoken out about political causes. While it may seem that this represents yet another example of a powerful institution being overrun by a tide of left-wing activists, something far more insidious, and consequential for America’s youth, is behind Disney’s change in company strategy.
Disney vehemently condemned Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which was recently signed into law by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law prevents teachers and school administrators from discussingRsexuality and gender identity with children in kindergarten through third grade.
“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,” Disney said in a statement from late March. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
When one of the largest and most powerful companies on the planet makes the repeal of a democratically-passed law a “goal as a company,” beware.
In the midst of Disney’s denunciation of Florida’s education bill, apparently leaked videos of internal staff meetings at the company revealed that the leadership at Disney has implemented a coordinated campaign to expose young children to the same radical gender ideology the bill tries to keep away from kids.
Vivian Ware, Disney’s Diversity and Inclusion manager, announced in one of the meetings that staff at theme parks will no longer say “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen” when addressing crowds. They will be required to say “Hello, everyone,” or “Hello, friends” in order to seem more inclusive.
An executive producer at the company, Latoya Raveneau, bragged about injecting “queerness” into children’s programming and remarked that the rest of leadership at Disney were well aware of her “not-at-all-secret gay agenda.”
Corporate president Karey Burke noted that the company had been specifically targeting Millennials and Gen Zers with “inclusion content” on one of its subsidiary channels, Freeform, for years, while CEO Bob Chapek promised to create a taskforce to ensure that more LGBT content reaches children.
Disney isn’t pushing radical gender ideology onto children to satiate its employees’ sick sexual desires or even to brainwash kids into becoming Democratic Party cadres. The only thing Disney cares about is making money, whether that means cooperating with a government that is committing genocide or using child labor to create products for children. As it turns out, there’s a potentially massive profit to be made from indoctrinating kids with critical race theory and gender ideology.
The Walt Disney Company may well represent the most successful marketing entity in the history of modern capitalism. Everything that Disney produces, from its toy lines to its movies to the positioning of trash cans at Disney World, is meticulously designed to maintain the company’s squeaky clean, family-friendly image while also appealing to as many customers as possible. It’s absolutely crazy how much thought and ingenuity goes into keeping park goers happy and, more importantly, spending. And it’s paid off, both monetarily and in the legions of Disney fanatics that flock to the parks and movie theaters.
But pushing gender ideology on small children when a majority of Americans, 68%, have said they are less likely to continue purchasing Disney products because of the company’s plan to include more sexual ideology in its content doesn’t appear at first glance to be the smartest decision the company has ever made.
Until you realize what these ideologies do to kids.
Disney pushes this stuff on children not to catapult them into a perverse early adulthood but rather to emotionally stunt them and keep them in a perpetual childhood wherein every selfish whim is celebrated without question or consequence.
Both critical race theory and radical gender ideology condemn reason in favor of emotion and sentimentality. Someone feels like another gender, so they are one; chromosomes and basic biology be damned. Another person feels like they are a victim of systemic racism, so they are; no matter what the statistics say.
They also divide people into us vs. them camps wherein someone is wholly good or wholly evil based on superficial characteristics. Those in the oppressed category and their suppliant “allies” are good. Those who belong to a group determined to be “dominant” or those who question the ideology are invariably bad. This makes children more distrustful of one another but more pliant toward authority, as long as that authority places them in the “good” category.
Most importantly, they foster a sense of entitlement. These ideologies teach that those from oppressed groups deserve restitution and shouldn’t be held to the same standards as people from “oppressor” groups. Those standards can be grades at school, basic social skills or adherence to the law.
If someone is part of a sexual or racial minority, them must not only be protected but also celebrated. The leeway given to this paradoxically celebrated yet simultaneously oppressed class by leftists in powerful institutions encourages antisocial and destructive behavior. We saw journalists and academics make excuse after excuse for the destruction wrought by the George Floyd riots in 2020.
This way of acting and thinking is fundamentally childish, and that’s what Disney’s end goal is by promoting these ideologies: turn spoiled, petulant kids into spoiled, petulant adults.
Why? Because a grown adult who allows their emotions to overcome their reason, behaves immaturely by closing themselves off to differing opinions, believes they are entitled to praise and has low impulse control because they’ve never been told challenged or told no is the perfect consumer.
A lot of parents may disagree with Disney’s strategy now, but their kids growing up under these ideologies are going to be much more sympathetic, and gullible, to the company’s programming. And once those kids grow up, become working adults and get access to credit cards, they’ll become unquestioning acolytes to the Disney brand — the brand they believe helped foster their identity.
So, while in the short term, Disney may well take a slight loss from disgruntled parents cancelling their annual family trip down to Florida, but they’re banking that in the long run, given Disney’s near-complete domination of kids’ pop culture, they’ll have a motivated and loyal customer base in the future.
But, of course, Disney is overlooking the social ills caused by these ideologies. The increased racial tensions, the mental health crisis afflicting LGBT youth and the general breakdown of civil society in the face of hyper-partisanship are all byproducts of critical race theory and radical gender theory.
Children are growing up lonelier, angrier and more confused about the world they live in than at any other point in this nation’s history. But it would seem that everything, even the souls of America’s youth, is for sale at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”