For parents who love anti-gay conspiracy theories and Mickey Mouse, this is the toughest boycott yet
In his lifetime, Walt Disney honed an aesthetic to match the conservative, religious, patriotic, and exceptionalist vibes that color Republican Orthodoxy even to this day. His films and amusement parks offered a facade of seamless, squeaky pure sentimentality achieved through covert work and a ruthless degree of control. His utopian visions took the form of optimized suburban dispersal for the white middle class. Decade after decade, his brand screamed virtually “family values.”
But more than half a century since Disney’s death, his name has triggered the same kind of Americans he once served. It started with a few small skirmishes: Trump supporters were told to get away from Disney World after camping with a cut-out of Mickey Mouse in a MAGA hat. Furor over internal notes referring to a “white privilege checklist” and the need to move past “white dominant culture.” The latest issue, bigger and more radioactive than anything so far, is Disney’s opposition to Florida’s new law banning discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in classrooms – an attitude it took after employees pressured the company to condemn anti-LGBTQ legislation. . To the extreme right, this is proof that Disney is run by pedophiles who subliminally want to expose your children to sex.
This is a fascinating crossroads for an important customer base: the grim Disney Moms. While not everyone in this category is so invested in culture war rhetoric, there are many, and they now have to navigate between their loyalty to different entertainment empires – The Mouse on the one hand and the Fox News outrage machine on the other. Both the GOP and right-wing experts are discussing sanctions such as blocking the company from renewing its copyright on Mickey or terminating its special property in Florida. QAnon forums are trying to link the brand to Jeffrey Epstein. In the midst of the carnage, pillaged Disney mothers say goodbye.
While fathers in anger announce their cancellation of Disney + and intend to boycott any product or tourist destination offered by the third largest global media conglomerate, it is the mothers who evoke some pathos when they remember the good old days. It’s especially funny and sad when they notice that Disney has not been the same “since Walt died”- which was in 1966, long before Disney World itself was completed. You can feel that they let one cult worldview darken another: Oh, Disney was magical, and it’s sad that the kids (or grandchildren) do not want it in their lives, but the paranoid psychos I follow on Twitter said , that it is evil, so it is!
The scale and impact of far-right attempts to downgrade Disney will certainly be limited, even if they are exaggerated online. Worst of all, the company will not suffer as much as people who deny themselves the comfort and joy of the movies and family vacations they have come to forgo. In their emotional, prolonged parting, you can almost hear the mothers’ higher reasoning fighting against the forced conclusion of a corrupt conspiracy. Based on their own direct experience, they have know that Disney characters, stories, and fantasy land do not sexualize children or force them into queerness. The know that if they walked into one of the parks today, they would find the same old amusements and castles and glorious staff as ever, a place where virtually any threat to the traditional American lifestyle is eliminated by design. They are “crushed” because they have accepted propaganda that stains dear memories.
Should the MAGA Coalition ever want to stop and question what they are being told by talking heads and cruel trolls, this demonization of Disney as an “awake” company provides one of the best chances to do so. . Instead, we see that they will sacrifice a monolith of conservatism even to nurture a reactionary appetite for persistent, ever-growing rage. The actual left will not shed a tear if Disney files for bankruptcy tomorrow, but if it’s the enemy the right will fight, then they’ll get more power, I think. Just weird to see them turn to the things that are made for them.