The Walt Disney Company is usually deathly allergic to politics. No doubt they’ve concluded that supporting one side means alienating the other, so their movies and TV shows generally put forward a soft inclusive liberalism without ever committing to a specific political position. At least, that’s the case in normal times.
But right now things are anything but normal. The country is currently facing mass civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd by killer cop Derek Chauvin. By now the world has seen the incredibly disturbing video of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, squeezing the life out of the terrified man. This has quite rightly kicked off a wave of civil unrest across the country, drawing a line in the sand between those that would perpetuate racism and those that tacitly or overtly support it.
This has put Disney (and their subsidiary companies) in an awkward position, facing internal pressure from their employees and external pressure from their fans to take a stand. Now, they’ve released a statement, tweeted simultaneously from the @StarWars, @MarvelStudios, @Pixar and @Disney accounts, and you can check it out down below.
Predictably, reactions have been mixed. While many have congratulated Disney for the message, some have quite reasonably pointed out that it’s still a very milquetoast message that makes no commitment to actually do anything. A particularly pointed response parodied typical corporate messaging on this, saying:
“We at [Brand] are committed to fighting injustice by posting images on Twitter that express our commitment to fighting injustice. To that end, we offer this solemn white-on-black .jpeg that expresses vague solidarity with the Black community, but will quietly elide the specifics or what is wrong, what needs to change, or in what ways we will do anything about it. this is doubly true if [Brand] is particularly guilty of exacerbating these issues.
We hope this action encourages you to view [Brand] positively without, you know, expecting anything from us.”
Let’s face it, nobody is expecting to see Mickey and Donald on the barricades throwing gas canisters back at cops, so I suppose messaging like this is the most we can hope for from major companies like the Mouse House. Fortunately, individuals associated with them – like Star Wars‘ John Boyega – aren’t so shy. Boyega has spent the last few days signal-boosting videos of the cops trying to arrest a black FBI agent they assumed was a criminal, guides to protesting safely and promoting British-based protests in support of the US movement. And honestly, good for him.