BOB IN, BOB OUT: Will Iger’s Return Help UNWOKE-IFY Disney?
After two long years of massive, catastrophic, and truly avoidable mistakes from Disney CEO Bob Chapek, former CEO Bob Iger will be returning to take back over the helm and hopefully right the ship.
Under Chapek’s leadership, Disney value is down 41% this year (spiked a bit this morning at the announcement of Iger’s return so it’s 36% down now). To understand the magnitude of a 41% loss in value – consider that in 2016 a two-year-old boy was literally eaten by an alligator at Disney World Resorts (by the way – Bob Chapek was in charge of that division at the time) and the stock dipped about 1% despite the story dominating national news for weeks.
So Chapek’s leadership of Disney as CEO has been 41x worse for the company than a little boy getting eaten by an alligator.
Chapek has been embroiled in controversy since day 1. Most notably, he decided that Disney was going to be a very socially progressive mouthpiece and decided to publicly denounce Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill completely mischaracterizing it as “anti-gay” and using word-for-word talking points from democratic operative organizations. The people of Florida pushed heavily for the Parental Rights bill and it moved through the State Legislature. The people of Florida did not take kindly to Chapek’s decision to weigh in and decided to revoke the tax status of Disney World Resort’s land which has been in place since Walt Disney himself purchased the land. It was a pretty big whiff from Chapek.
On top of that doozy, Chapek, who does not have nearly the sharp political mind of Iger regardless of Iger’s politics, also decided his response to the Florida legislative catastrophe would be that Disney didn’t do political donations at all anymore. That is incredibly stupid in a world where every other corporate competitor is still making donations.
Under Chapek’s leadership, the company also announced renovation to the beloved Splash Mountain ride at the parks to now reflect the Princess and the Frog instead of Song of the South (a film which has been censored due to its depiction of offensive material related to slave songs and stereotypes). The move itself may not have been such a problem except that Chapek decided to make the announcement in the middle of major Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation which caused so much destruction that President Trump was considering deploying the National Guard to protect cities. So instead of considering and embracing modernization, consumers felt it was pretty pointed.
He also placed Karey Burke in charge of the Disney Entertainment branch and she was caught on video saying Disney was committed to making at least 50% of the characters “underrepresented” which she explained to mean gay. She also said she believed – because of her child’s offhand comment- that “most people were queer.” Another exec enthusiastically admitted to pushing “the gay agenda.” Hilariously in doing this so far, the Disney team has just shoehorned random gay couples into movies and shows ensuring they are nowhere near starring roles and that the fact of their gayness is relatively obscure and meaningless. All for the progressive gold star.
Regardless of Iger’s politics, he was always a lot better about understanding the relationship between business and open political ideology which is to say: there shouldn’t be a noticeable one. If Iger had a progressive agenda (which he did), he was smart enough to keep it subversive so as to not rankle the core Disney-consuming demographic of midwestern nuclear families. For this reason, Disney shares rose this morning (almost 9%) by the biggest margin since Chapek took over.
Is this the end of Disney wokeism? Too early to tell. While Iger is himself an outspoken democrat and the liberal media is trying to depict this as a boon to wokeism, he never openly infused those politics inside the Disney brand. Anything Iger did was beneath the surface and that is the tactic we may see again. Is it more insidious? I’m not sure but it’s definitely less annoying.