It’s the dream of every little girl: Prince Charming rides in on a white horse and asks her to come with him. They gallop off to his castle where he takes her hand, gets down on one knee, and says… “BIPOCs and other marginalized groups face cultural genocide thanks to a patriarchy that encourages heteronormativity and ableism.”
To which she sings, “When you microaggress upon a starrrrrrr…”
Yes, from out of the “too tone deaf to function” file this week comes the Disney corporation, that peddler of fairytale escapism, which has now gone full woke. Its new business model appears to be as follows: Disney hikes its ticket and merchandise costs, making its theme parks increasingly unaffordable to poor and middle-class families. It then absolves its guilt by posturing as an ally of the “powerless” and “marginalized.”
A rainbow-colored Mickey balloon that costs $30: welcome to the Magic Kingdom.
So it was that last week Disney came out swinging against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. The company released a statement declaring, “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.” This wasn’t just another corporate press release; it was a stake in the ground, a taking of sides in the culture war. It came unsurprisingly after Pixar, Disney’s lucrative animation studio, pressured its parent company to be more gay-friendly.
The problem, of course, is that the Florida law is not inherently gay-unfriendly. It doesn’t banish or stigmatize LGBTQ; it doesn’t even mention the word “gay.” What it does do is prevent kindergarten through third-grade students from learning about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. Cue horrified parents: you mean my seven-year-old’s remedial cursive teacher ISN’T going to instruct him in lesbian sex?!?! Far from disempowering the downtrodden, the “Don’t Say Gay” law empowers parents, not the education bureaucracy, to explain delicate matters to their children.
For a left that seeks to use schools to indoctrinate kids in whatever flavor of identi-Marxism they’re hot on this week, this is unacceptable. Now, they’ve been joined in their crusade by the most powerful entertainment company on earth. Disney has been tilting woke for some time. Last year, it fired actress Gina Carano from the Star Wars show The Mandalorian after she expressed wrongthink opinions on Twitter. Its streaming service Disney+ also recently slapped a content warning on that notoriously edgy docudrama The Muppet Show.
Yet for sheer madness, it’s hard to beat the struggle session that was documented last week by the conservative journalist Chris Rufo. Disney executives reportedly gathered to discuss implementing a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and “adding queerness” to their children’s programming. One Disney bigwig said he had created a “tracker” to ensure the company was including enough “canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters, [and] canonical bisexual characters.”
Amid that gibberish, it’s the tracker that’s most revealing. Wokeness is the marriage of static identity politics to bland technocratic bean-counting. That makes it anathema to vibrant storytelling, which can’t be carefully tracked, which requires creativity, surprise, adventure, and, most of all, variety. Wokeness is allergic to variety. It postures in favor of a diverse world, but in practice it’s more interested in telling us what we can’t do than what we can, with dissent very much not tolerated. It’s a totalitarian ideology, and that makes it the enemy of the creative class, which can never be uniform or overly technical lest it become boring.
Disney, by catering to all this, is thus sowing the seeds of its own destruction. A company that practically slapped a trademark on the word “imagination” has succumbed to activists whose entire purpose is to constrain “offensive” imaginings. Because what could be less woke than a trip to Disney World? The place is a plastic-and-concrete confection of heteronormative love stories, nostalgia for monarchy, toxically masculine Caribbean pirates, culturally appropriated singing toucans, ableism-inflected flying elephants, and indigenous-erasing animatronic presidents, with its foyer a main street-style tribute to capitalism and its final act a fireworks show that doesn’t even come with a trigger warning.
Children love this stuff because it’s adventurous yet also warmly familiar; woke censors hate it for the same reason. Messrs. Mouse and Duck, take note: these two groups cannot be reconciled. Still, maybe Disney can yet maintain its sense of fun while also appeasing the left. How about this: an all new Space Mountain ride. It buckles you in, lurches you forward a couple inches, then lets you out while congratulating you on having minimized your carbon footprint.