Parental Protests Halt Disney Progress, Future Uncertain

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Protests at Disney

Credit: Inside the Magic

“They don’t make them like they used to” might be a semi-outdated maxim, but it’s definitely one that applies to most modern Disney movies.

Logo for Walt Disney Animation
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

If you’re one of the millions of fans who have been following the saga of the Walt Disney Company, you’ll already know that production on most of their upcoming movies has been a war zone. With filmmakers and projects getting canceled at the drop of a hat, it’s a miracle the studio is able to get anything off the ground these days.

Related: ‘Once Upon A Studio’ Celebrates Disney Animation With Every Iconic Character

Many have cited Disney’s new direction in recent years as the pathway to an inevitable downfall, as the studio has been accused of pandering to the wrong audience and pushing an agenda rather than taking risks and creating new stories. The truth of the matter is that Disney themselves aren’t entirely at fault and that a portion of the blame lies with censors, certain social movements and factions, and the fear of consumer backlash.

 Social Pressure Keeps Disney Movies from Changing

Bambi exploring the woods with friends
Credit: Disney

The announced remake of Disney’s Bambi made headlines this week, as the filmmakers have made the drastically controversial decision to remove the death of Bambi’s mother from the production. The outcry of “go woke, go broke” was promptly heard shortly thereafter, but the real issue isn’t that simple.

Related: Bob Iger Ditches Disney’s Family-Friendly Image, Dooms Disney+

A quote from Lindsey Anderson Beer, one of the film’s directors, elicited a particularly vocal response regarding the change. In an interview, Beer stated the following.

“Not to spoil the plot, but there’s a treatment of the mom dying that I think some kids, some parents these days are more sensitive about than they were in the past, and I think that’s one of the reasons that they haven’t shown it to their children.”

Notice how she states that “some parents these days are more sensitive.” In that one sentence, the truth of the matter is revealed. It’s not about the fear of indoctrinating kids but catering to the parents who pay for the Disney+ subscriptions.

Wade and Ember ride the subway in 'Elemental'
Credit: Pixar

Disney’s fatal mistake isn’t pushing an agenda or some form of message, as audiences didn’t have an issue with it before, but the creative restrictions masquerading as a “think of the children” narrative. As a result, Disney has sacrificed integrity and artistry to satisfy their consumers.

Related: Internet Raises Controversy Over Disney Princess’s Accent

Here’s where things get hairy. Driven by the almighty dollar, Disney has forgotten what it was like to take a risk and try to tell a new story. While some might argue that films like Lilo and Stitch were the last example of Disney’s true elements, look at films like Frozen.

Elsa in 'Frozen'
Credit: Disney

Frozen is one of the most successful animated films of all time, but it relied on traditional Disney elements to get off the ground. It was a classic fairytale that checked all the boxes in the studio’s repertoire, but it took a major risk by not having sisterly/familial love be the core element rather than a romantic scenario.

Related: Pixar Overhauls Future Projects, New Films in Doubt

The Bambi remake might be another entry in Disney’s long line of lackluster releases, but it might hopefully be the wake-up call the studio heads need. The big issue isn’t the woke mob or bad movies; Disney has lost their identity, and they need to reclaim it.

Is Disney fighting a losing battle? Tell Inside the Magic what you think in the comments below!



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