The new Walt Disney Company Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger, who took the reins at the company on November 20, 2022, is looking to make a course correction regarding Disney’s political involvement.
Iger has taken over during a precarious time for the company. Disney’s stock price has fallen a staggering 52% since reaching an all-time high in March 2021, and the company lost an astounding $1.47 billion on its streaming services in its most recent fiscal quarter.
Iger previously served as Disney’s president starting in 2000, and then served as CEO from 2005 until his retirement in 2021. However, Disney’s Board of Directors asked Iger to return to Disney following recent political controversies involving newly-ousted CEO Bob Chapek and lackluster financial results.
“It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to the Walt Disney Company as chief executive officer,” Iger wrote to staff upon his return.
After returning as CEO, Iger held a townhall with employees in which a cast member (Disney employee) asked a virtual question saying they wished Disney had stayed out of politics. “Will Disney stay out of making political statements?” the cast member asked.
“Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not,” Iger said. “It can be distracting. It can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to quiet things down, I’m going to do that.”
You can watch Iger’s full response to the question below:
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained video from returning Disney CEO Bob Iger's first town hall with employees, in which he signals that he will work to "quiet things down" politically and move toward neutrality in the culture war.https://t.co/ZBGdHhxFVS pic.twitter.com/ZbMCZN4MlG
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
Following Disney’s very public spat with the state of Florida over its Parental Rights in Education law (which ex-CEO Chapek had said at the time was a “disappointment” and “unfair”), the Florida state legislature revoked the company’s special privileges under state law and its autonomous governmental status.
Regarding that incident, Iger said that he was “sorry to see us dragged into that battle.”
Iger also said that he wants The Walt Disney Co. to continue to promote messages of “inclusion” and “tolerance.” However, he added that the company must walk a “delicate balance” over the messages it chooses to promote.
“You’re talking to an audience. But it’s also important to listen to an audience,” Iger said. “It’s important to have respect for the people that you’re serving, that you’re trying to reach, and not have disdain for [them].”
If Iger’s remarks are an indication that The Walt Disney Co. will remove itself from involvement in politics and get back to what it does best: entertaining families, telling moving stories, and providing a “magical” escape from an already over-politicized world, that would be a good thing.
Perhaps Disney will stop injecting a sexual agenda into its movies, which the company recently did with the movie Strange World (it’s on track to lose the studio $100 million) which features a gay teen romance with the main character. Disney’s movie Lightyear, which was released earlier this year and also featured a gay theme, likely lost the company around $100 million as well.
Instead, maybe The Walt Disney Co. will create more family-friendly – and faith-friendly – content like its annual Candlelight Processional. Each year, at Disneyland and Disney World, the company has Christmas processionals every night of December in which a celebrity reads the story of the birth of Jesus Christ found in Luke 2, accompanied by a choir that sings multiple beautifully sung faith-based hymns.
Disney says, “Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the story of Christmas, recounting the biblical tale of a savior born in Bethlehem.”
Last year, the lead singer from the Christian band, Mercy Me, served as a narrator for one of the processionals, a clip of which you can watch below:
These processionals indicate that Disney is still willing to provide good, family-friendly storytelling that entertains and inspires.
Hopefully, The Walt Disney Co. has learned its lesson over the last year and a half and will create content that all families – even conservative, Christian ones – can enjoy.
If you want to learn more about the entertainment content your family is viewing, check out Focus on the Family’s free service Plugged In. The Plugged In team reviews movies, television shows, music, games, books and more. You can learn more about Plugged In here.
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Photo from Getty.