Pixar employees call out Disney for censoring affection between same sex charactersMarch 11, 2022
I’m absolutely sick over Florida’s HB 1557, the Don’t Say Gay bill. The only thing making this atrocious legislation worse is the response to it. Anything short of total condemnation is unacceptable. So when Disney CEO Bob Chapek leaked his weak memo about his ‘concerns’, my heart sank. But that’s about all the power I have, to get disappointed. Pixar Studios, however, has a lot more sway than I do and they did not take Disney’s response lying down. Pixar’s leadership and employees issued a statement exposing Poppa D and all the ways they’ve tried to erase any LGBTQIA+ progress Pixar injected into their stories. The statement exposed Chapek’s memo as BS, explaining how Disney has been profiting off LGBTQIA+ business while scrubbing any form of same sex affection shown in Pixar films to broaden distribution. Below are Chapek’s points that Pixar counters systematically. You can read the full statement here.
Monday’s email, “Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community”, rang hollow. It began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone. Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s. Additionally, Disney began capitalizing on Pride in 2018 with The Rainbow Mickey Collection, (while de-emphasizing the terms like LGBTQ+ and not even featuring explicitly LGBTQIA+ pieces such as Pride flag pins until 2021). To this end, it feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to “step back” in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk.
The second claim stated that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds”. However, the very email making this claim opened with a corporate statement regarding the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Eight days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Disney paused the release of theatrical films in Russia and announced “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation.” Following the siege on the capital in 2021, Disney stopped all political donations to members of Congress who had objected to the presidential election results. In 2016, Disney told the state of Georgia: “We will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law” in response to the controversial Religious Liberty bill. By taking a stand, Disney directly affected the legislative outcome in Georgia. It has been proven that Disney’s corporate statements can and do make a difference.
Finally, we come to the push for Content as the answer. We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it. Beyond the “inspiring content” that we aren’t even allowed to create, we require action.
Chapek said Disney was working behind the scenes with Florida’s government. However, Ron DeSantis’ office announced Wednesday they’d heard from Disney for the first time on HB 1557. That same day, Chapek finally publicly denounced the bill to his shareholders. He said that, on a call with DeSantis, the governor, “committed to me that he wanted to make sure that this law could not be weaponized in any way by individuals in the state or groups in the state to unduly harm or target gay, lesbian, nonbinary or transgender kids and families.” The law exists to be weaponized and to do harm and target the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t think Disney has any personal bias against the LGBTQ+ community, I think this is purely profit driven. But that’s just as reprehensible. Good for Pixar for putting them on blast. I still don’t understand why they ever agreed to be purchased, but this statement is the best thing they’ve produced since Disney acquired them. I’m interested to see what Disney’s response will be.
Pixar isn’t the only one calling The Mouse out. Chapek thought a $5 million donation to the Human Rights Campaign would make up for Disney’s history of turning their back on the LGBTQ+ community. But the HRC rejected the donation until Disney “takes meaningful action.” As a HRC member who gets hit up for $15 every other day, that’s huge of them to turn down the cash. Bravi to both HRC and Pixar. Disney needs this kind of hit. We have to make a stand lest we lose all the progress we’ve made.
I’m glad this cruel and archaic Florida bill is getting so much attention. I hope some of that spotlight can fall on Idaho’s HB 675, an anti-trans bill so restrictive, it will have entire families serving time for helping a child live their fullest life.
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