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Disney goes for broke on woke

The entertainment giant pulls back the curtain on its enthusiastic embrace of all things LGBTQ


A participant in a Disney employee walkout earlier this month in protest of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law wears a Mickey Mouse logo LGBT pride pin. Associated Press/Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack

Disney goes for broke on woke

“My business is making people, especially children, happy,” said the late Walt Disney, founder of the global entertainment juggernaut that bears his name. “The important thing is the family. If you can keep the family together—and that’s the backbone of our business, catering to families—that’s what we hope to do.”

The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio opened in 1923, and the larger Disney empire will celebrate its centennial next year. With painstaking care and careful strategy, Disney built itself into a brand centered on creating entertainment and wholesome experiences for children and their families. The Disney brand and reputation were built on Mickey Mouse (originally named Mortimer), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, television’s The Wonderful World of Disney, and a host of legacy productions that transformed the very concept of entertainment.

In time, Disney would add spectacular theme parks, including Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida. Families flocked to the parks, and generations of young Americans grew up wearing Mickey Mouse ears and singing Disney’s iconic songs. What could go wrong?

Three major developments explain the recent transformation of Disney. The first was a series of corporate expansions into more “mature” forms of entertainment and experience. Under the leadership of CEO Bob Iger, Disney bought much of the famed 21st Century Fox empire. That was just one among many clear indications that the company was steaming full speed ahead into entertainment territory Walt Disney likely would never have allowed.

The second development arrived with new digital technologies that allowed Disney to move into a vast and unrestrained world of streaming entertainment, including Disney+. Even the trade journal Variety wondered out loud what “family friendly” might mean in Disney’s future.

But it is the third development that is most crucial: the modern revolt against traditional views of marriage, sex, gender, and family. The company has been pushing in new directions for years, but in the last few days, Disney, caught in a conflict with its LGBTQ+ employees and stakeholders, is going for broke on woke.

We have been given advance word that Disney is putting its entire future on the line for the sake of absolute moral revolt.

Disney’s current CEO, Bob Chapek, found himself in a pinch when a powerful group of his LGBTQ employees complained that the company had not put itself on the line in opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill now signed into law in Florida. He sought to placate those employees and the activists who supported them with corporate contributions to LGBTQ organizations and public messaging against the Florida bill. Clearly, Chapek misread the situation, and it is hard to see how he survives the aftermath. The LGBTQ movement does not want “progress,” it demands surrender.

Videos from a Disney “all-hands” employee session held just days ago reveal the scope of the company’s enthusiastic embrace of that total surrender. Rumors of the sessions have been circulating, and the videos found their way into the hands of Christopher Rufo, an investigative journalist with the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. He posted excerpts of the videos on Twitter, which reveal Disney’s new direction—an unrestrained, unapologetic, seemingly unlimited embrace of everything LGBTQ with gusto.

Disney officials and other participants in the videos fell all over themselves seeking to prove their credibility as LGBTQ advocates. Karey Burke, president of Disney’s general entertainment content, proudly pointed to her “two queer children,” going on to identify them as “one transgender child and one pansexual child.” She pledged to push for fully 50 percent of all Disney programming and characters to be “LGBTQIA” and racial minorities. Pro-LGBTQ narratives and queer leading characters are to be the new norm. Disney production coordinator Allen March committed the company to “exploring queer stories” and to quantify the fact that Disney is creating a sufficient number of “gender non-conforming characters” and “canonical bisexual characters.”

Company leaders also tried to prove their commitment to gender-bending. Disney diversity and inclusion manager Vivian Ware revealed that the company had already eliminated words like “ladies,” “gentlemen,” “boys,” and “girls” at its theme parks. In a bizarre statement, she proceeded to inform participants that not all “who identify as female” want to be greeted as princesses. Instead, she urged the company to focus on creating “magical moments” for all, regardless of any gender permutation. How, exactly?

If you are not seriously creeped out by now, God help you.

All this comes as no surprise to anyone who has been watching Disney in recent years. The company just finds itself in the awkward position of accidentally letting the world in on its internal conversations. So now we know. We have been given advance word that Disney is putting its entire future on the line for the sake of absolute moral revolt.

Disney is a huge corporation, and it includes many deeply committed Christians among its employees. They were not signing on for full woke. What do they do now? That question will ricochet from one company to another in the months to come.

What do we do now? Well, first and foremost, we do not act as if we do not know the truth about Disney. Christian parents and families must understand that Disney’s empire is no longer a place where you can even say boy or girl. Decisions will have to be made. I am fairly confident that Christians will be long gone from the world of Disney before there’s a woke remake of Beauty and the Beast.


R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also president of the Evangelical Theological Society and host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.


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