Disney finds itself caught in a cross-fire of its own making after two attempts to satisfy the current culture war look to be backfiring spectacularly. A much-loved classic has found itself under examination, with a dangerous precedent already set by Disney themselves. Meanwhile, an internal training course has leaked out causing challenging commentary and shareholder unrest.
Disney’s Snow White has found itself at the center of a heated public debate around consent. This all stems from the famous kiss scene in which the prince revives the poisoned Snow White.
The website SFGate ran a review of the revamped ride Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. Just like the movie, the ride ends with the animatronic Snow White being kissed by her prince. The first clue that there was going to be an issue comes early in the review:
“Disneyland’s new Snow White ride adds magic, but also a new problem.”
The writers claim that the kiss is unacceptable and should have been removed from the ride. Disney is trapped by their own precedent after having removed elements of Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise that the culture warriors had determined as “problematic”.
The review continues:
“A kiss he gives to her without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening. Haven’t we already agreed that consent in early Disney movies is a major issue?…
It’s hard to understand why the Disneyland of 2021 would choose to add a scene with such old-fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman.”
So far, so 2021! As you would expect, this has now caught fire online via social media. Disney has acknowledged harmful or problematic content in its older movies already and includes warnings on some of its classics on the Disney+ streaming service.
This is not the only culture war clash Disney finds itself embroiled in. Internal whistleblowers have leaked documents from the new Disney Diversity And Inclusion employee training program and the contents really are quite extraordinary, even for the entertainment industry.
The course claims that the USA was created on “systemic racism” and asks employees to complete a “white privilege checklist” according to the leaks.
Documents were leaked to City Journal, and the new initiative, called Reimagine Tomorrow, goes on to provide training around what it calls systemic racism, white privilege, white fragility, white saviors, microaggressions, and antiracism.
The wording on the documents reads like a 2020’s culture war game of word bingo, stating that the U.S. has:
“…a long history of systemic racism and transphobia…”
It goes on to claim that employees must “take ownership of educating yourself about structural anti-Black racism” and “not rely on your Black colleagues to educate you,” which is “emotionally taxing.”
It calls on White employees to “work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness to understand what is beneath them and what needs to be healed,” and then suggests they “listen with empathy [to] Black colleagues [and] not question or debate Black colleagues’ lived experience.”
In a final blow to common sense, the course claims that equality or “equal treatment” is not as important as “equity” and the “equality of outcome” therefore employees should “reflect” on the country’s “racist infrastructure” and “think carefully about whether or not [their] wealth” is derived from racism.
By far the most staggering thing in the Disney plan is the creation of three racially segregated affinity groups for minority employees. These are aimed at creating “culturally authentic insights”. The Latino group is called Hola, the Asian group is Compass, and the black group is Wakanda, thus proving that even when Disney is being unbelievably racist in an attempt to not be racist, it can still be patronizing and absolutely tone-deaf too!
Other zingers from the white privilege checklist include markers to be ticked that read “I am white,” I am heterosexual,” “I am a man,” “I still identify as the gender I was born in,” “I have never been raped,” “I don’t rely on public transportation,” and “I have never been called a terrorist.”
It wraps up by claiming that “competition,” “individualism,” “timeliness,” and “comprehensiveness” are “white dominant” values that “perpetuate white supremacy culture.”
The company recommends that employees read 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice, a book that supports defunding the police.
Shareholders are asking questions about how much this is costing at a time when cash flow has suffered from the results of the pandemic, and the #canceldisneyplus hashtag is once again trending, while employees are clearly concerned enough to be whistleblowing and leaking information.
Not a good place for Disney to be in.