Disney Blames “Anti-Woke” Boycotts for Latest Disaster

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A collage of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, the Ariana DeBose-voiced Asha, and Daisy Ridley as Rey

Credit: Inside the Magic

An anonymous Disney executive says that “anti-woke” boycotts by fans who perceive progressive messaging in movies are to blame for the company’s ever-increasing slate of flopped movies like The Marvels (2023).

Kamala Khan, Captain Marvel, and Monica Rambeau all glowing with power
Credit: Marvel Studios

Last year was a historically bad one for the Walt Disney Company, which saw historically huge flops for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Indiana Jones franchise, and its own animation studio. For the first time since 2016, Disney lost its crown as the highest-grossing major studio, and there seems to be no solution in sight other than CEO Bob Iger promising that they would just make fewer movies.

According to an unnamed Disney executive, this has less to do with the quality of their films than with audiences who are eager to see “woke” politicization in every movie the studio releases. A recent survey by the American Conservative Values ETF (ACVF) labeled Disney as the most “woke liberal company” in America, which makes sense considering that it has been under attack by prominent conservative politicians like Ron DeSantis and media outlets like Fox News for months.

Ron DeSantis with the Walt and Mickey statue at Disney World
Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

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This seems to be having an effect on audiences who perceive seeing women, POC, or LGBTQIA+ characters in films as rabid “woke” social messaging. Puck’s Matthew Belloni recently released a newsletter in which the aforementioned anonymous Disney executive responded to a recent column about the perceived politicization of Disney and was not mincing words about it.

The Disney executive responded, “Everyone says ‘It’s the movies, stupid,’ which is an easy thing for people to say. More appealing movies are a great way to jump the political issues. But more and more, our audience (or the segment of the audience that has been politicized) equate the perceived messaging in a film as a quality issue.”

Related: Disney Called “Woke” for Latest Pride Collection

scarlett johansson as natasha romanoff (left) and florence pugh as yelena belova (right) black widow on bike
Credit: Marvel Studios

In recent years, Disney has slowly attempted to promote films with female leads, like Black Widow (2021) and Wish (2023), only to see them barraged at review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes by viewers who accuse the studio of pushing a “liberal agenda.”

To that, the Disney executive said, “[T]hey won’t say they find female empowerment distasteful in The Marvels or Star Wars [which has positioned actresses like Daisy Ridley and Rosario Dawson as its leads for years now], but they will say they don’t like those movies because they are ‘bad.’ So ‘make better movies’ becomes code for ‘make movies that conform to regressive gender stereotypes or put men front and center in the narrative.’ Which is what you’re seeing now, and what Bob [Iger]’s pivot is about right now.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger looking worried in front of the Walt Disney Company building.
Credit: Inside The Magic

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On one level, this does seem to be an attempt to blame “anti-woke” audiences for the failures of movies rather than creative content or franchise exhaustion. On another, the evidence of partisans outraged and ready to boycott over the fact that The Little Mermaid (2023) remake starred a Black woman or that a subplot of Strange World (2022) involved an LGBTQIA+ romance is clearly out there on the Internet for all to see.

The unnamed Disney executive seems to believe that Bob Iger is preparing to cave to those anti-woke crusaders and move the company away from anything but the traditional characters and stories that they are used to. Only time will tell.

Do you think Disney pushes a liberal agenda? Tell us in the comments below!

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