iger_disney iger_disney
DisneyIdeas/CommentaryPolitics

Disney CEO Bob Iger Will NOT Meet Donald Trump Tomorrow

Disney CEO Bob Iger will not meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. It is absolutely the right decision, and we applaud Bob Iger for backing out of the meeting.

Iger will not attend due to a “previously scheduled board meeting.” The news was reported via tweet this afternoon by Chris Palmeri, Los Angeles bureau chief at Bloomberg News:

Iger was named to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum last December, along with other corporate chiefs including Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. The participants of the group were already known, but the date for their first meeting was not public, until Uber CEO Travis Kalanick revealed the meeting in a press statement last weekend.

Kalanick’s statement brought public visibility to the forum, widespread condemnation for the participating CEOs, and even became something of a meme:

It also led to a series of strongly critical Cartoon Brew tweets over the weekend, followed by this post in which we questioned Iger’s decision to take part in the forum. Our coverage subsequently led to a Variety piece that quoted what we’d written as well as other social media responses to our coverage.

The corporate watchdog group called SumOfUs has also castigated Iger, among other business leaders, for “being dangerously silent” on Trump’s immigration ban. In a petition, the group wrote:

This is pure cowardice. We know that most chief executives of large corporations support immigration — and almost all of them will have employees affected by the ban.

But, swayed by Trump’s new position and afraid to speak out publicly, corporate bosses are staying silent, and looking after their own interests and profits over the basic human rights of their employees, customers, and vulnerable refugees. And above that they are still contributing to Trump’s violent agenda by validating him as advisors.

There is no neutral. Either CEO advisors must speak out against the Trump Administration’s travel ban and step off of his committee, or they are complicit in the violence his administration is creating.

Iger, of course, has plenty of reasons to meet with Trump. Disney is big business; the company generated over $55 billion for fiscal 2016. For starters, he will want to temper Trump’s saber rattling toward China where Disney has made a huge investment in the form of the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort. And Iger has publicly stated that he’s hopeful Trump will change corporate tax laws, an area where some people argue that Disney has a point.

However, there’s a key difference between Disney and the other corporations participating in Trump’s forum, and that’s that Disney is a cultural brand. It stands not just for products, but ideas, and over the last decade, the company has made a concerted effort to show that its ideas are socially progressive. This forward-looking stance by Disney cannot be reconciled with an American president whose every word and action goes against the company’s core values.

Disney made Moana, whose co-director John Musker said, “We met with anthropologists and archaeologists and linguists and cultural ambassadors. The challenge in our movie then was as we went forward, we kept those people involved, because we really wanted to be faithful to the culture.” That cannot be reconciled with a president who has shown remarkable ignorance about other cultures and uses coded language to attack other people’s faiths.

Disney is rewriting its princess playbook to emphasize the strength of its heroines. The new trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast even begins with the line, “Belle, you’re so ahead of your time.” That cannot be reconciled with a president who has shown a complete lack of respect toward women and even bragged about sexually assaulting them.

Disney made Zootopia, whose co-director Byron Howard has stated is “about bias and discrimination.” That cannot be reconciled with a president who for the past year-and-a-half has exploited race and ethnicity, and pitted Americans against each other. (No link necessary here; if you’ve been breathing for the last year-and-a-half, you’ve witnessed Trump do it daily.)

In short, the cultural values of the Walt Disney Company are completely at odds with the actions and language of Trump. Giving Trump a photo opportunity with Disney CEO Bob Iger would hurt the positive global image of the Disney brand and have long-term repercussions for the company.

Disney employs corporate lobbyists by the dozens (and probably hundreds), and those people will continue doing what they do, but Iger would be wise to reconsider aligning himself, and by extension the Disney brand, with the increasingly toxic presidency of Trump.

Iger has made the right decision for now.

(Bob Iger photo: Shutterstock/s_bukley)

  • Crabamoustache

    People (mostly fungus) will pretend that Cartoon Brew is getting more and more political. That’s absolutely true, and I’m very glad about it ! Cheers Amid

    • AmidAmidi

      Just to be clear, we cover animation and what people are talking about in the community. And a whole lot of people in our community are very concerned about political issues at the moment. To do our job properly, we have to acknowledge the interests of our readers, and mix in the political discussion as it applies to animation. This won’t last forever but it’s the reality of this particular moment in time.

      • Crabamoustache

        Sounds alright to me !

      • rnenno

        True, but you could do so without all the malice you hold against President Trump.

      • okiloki

        I very much appreciate the news that’s being covered, especially as it relates to our industry and how it relates to the current political situation. Keep up the good work!

    • fried

      You’re very glad about it because now you don’t have to go outside of CartoonBrew to get political news as well.

      Unfortunate for people who want animation news and now have to share it with, “Animator Genndy Tartakovsky gave Trump a Dirty Look (EXCLUSIVE)”.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I wonder how this will effect the immigration status of Jose Carioca and Pancho Pistoles.

  • Karl Hungus

    Thats a lot of hubris you are trying to harness there when you present “socially progressive” political views as “forward looking”. So anyone who doesn’t fully invest in these views is “backwards looking”? Its like you’ve learned NOTHING from the election of Trump. People have different ideas about the direction of the country and we have elections to decide these matters. The same people who voted against progressive policies this election, voted twice for the last president. The pendulum swings as it always has. What’s new is those touting socially progressive views would frame anyone who disagrees with them as evil or backwards. The other side doesn’t think you’re evil, they think you’re wrong. And with that, they have cornered the market on sanity while you further the descent into hysteria and choose 8 years of Trump over 4.

    • Strong Enough

      please. each side does the same thing. some on the other side think the left is evil and calls them “libtards” and says liberalism is cancer. each side has its crazies and extremes. the pendulum will always swing back and forth and 2018 will differ from 2010 and so goes the clown show

    • Chicken McPhee

      I’m genuinely curious, Karl Hungus, what of these views do you feel unable to fully invest in? I mean without being hung up on this all-or-nothing concept.
      Certain things are definitely “backwards looking”. Say, for example, you were going to animate a short, and you decided to use cels and paint instead of a tablet and a computer. That’s looking back, because the technology of animation has evolved.
      I mean just on semantics, “socially progressive”; implies progress of society. (regardless of whether you think it’s good or bad progress).
      But that’s what you lot wanted, right? To make “America Great again” as in, “great” as it used to be in the past (hence the “again”). That would be, by definition, “socially regressive” or “backwards looking”. So why now talk about it like it was something you didn’t want or think is wrong?

      • Karl Hungus

        I think we simply have a president that values western culture over other cultures and that is not a backwards position. Because not all cultures are equal. Unsavory as it may seem to announce, our culture is superior to other cultures. if all cultures were equal, then we would celebrate cannibalism, which is a purely cultural trait. Everything we as americans cherish: civil rights, womens rights, gay rights, came from OUR culture. So multiculturalism, the idea that every culture can live together harmoniously refutes all of those accomplishments. Brexit was a repudiation of multiculturalism as well. And there will be similar results in upcoming elections in France, Germany, and Italy. Either our culture of freedom and equality influences other cultures (and brings them up to speed on human rights) or their culture influences ours.

        • Chicken McPhee

          Don’t know how superior the culture in our great US of A can be when we have a dictator and an actual nazi in the white house, neo-nazis are being supported and the fourth reich slowly built. That’s not our natural culture. This multiculturalism that you speak of arose out of many cultures banding together because they were tired of assholes.
          People are either evil (lack empathy, dead inside) or not evil. They either want to fight or just be left alone. It’s the constitutional freedom that makes the culture what it is – because people aren’t threatened and they recognize others just want to live. California, for example, has many different cultures that band together. Every single person living there didn’t “find out about XYZ and wanted it too” they were born that way. They made choices. How delusional must one be to think that people only adopt cultures. People MAKE the cultures. Individuals of different ethnicities and economic backgrounds make choices that add up to a culture. The culture perpetuates by people being open to learning about each other…eat each other’s cuisine.

          You’re confusing culture with social construct. Culture is free and ever-changing. Social constructs have rigid rules and those who don’t stay within the lines get automatically scrutinized. People are born into culture, but don’t necessarily automatically assume or agree with all aspects of it. They live and die by their values. And that’s what refugees are – they are people who are fleeing their land because it’s overtaken by terrorists. There are many Americans who are born in USA and don’t automatically become KKK – and yet it’s part of the “white American” culture. But just as a “christian” in kentucky can be a KKK member, a muslim can just want to be left alone and live by their philosophy without attacking others. Same way, the current administration is a terrorist group, who call themselves “christians” but act, move, live and breathe and most importantly plot exactly like nazis, all you have to do is read a history book or two.
          Consider the amount of hostilities that have occurred since that thing was “elected”. Consider the absolutely uncompromising, undiplomatic tone those creatures push. There were no negotiations in the takover – it was, is and continues to be hostile. USA is under a coup. Already there is talk of a war with Iraq, China and the Russians have clearly messed with the elections, all intelligence agencies agree.

        • Chicken McPhee

          The great thing about multiculturalism is that it’s about people coming together to live peacefully. But there will always be rejects of society, mentally deficient and permanently impaired individuals (with whatever horrible event transpired or affected them, including fascist parents) who just want to fight, and see the world burn.
          Pacifists don’t necessarily object to the use of violence either, punching nazis is wholly encouraged in this day and age as it was back then – we all live and die by our principles.

    • Marie

      “The same people who voted against progressive policies this election, voted twice for the last president.” This part of your comment is false. SOME of the people—in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania specifically—who voted for Obama in 2008 and/or 2012 voted Trump in 2016. Trump’s opponent received 2.8 million more votes than he did; he won 26.3% of votes cast in the lowest turnout in two decades. And to reiterate what Chicken McPhee said, Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” inherently implies going backward. For some of us going backward means: gays in the closet and discriminated against; women not making their own reproductive choices; obstacles to women pursuing their potential outside of the home; public education, voter access and anything else that disproportionately affects or helps blacks and Latinos being undermined; demonization of all Muslims; destruction of the planet et al. None of these positions are “sane” to the 63 million people who voted for Trump’s opponent nor, apparently, to the remainder of the western world which has been protesting as much as Americans. Although political correctness can be taken too far, it’s ultimately about being decent to other people. That Trump voters feel they’ve been oppressed because it’s no longer socially acceptable to harass others with hate speech/epithets is more of a genuine threat to some of us than Sharia Law taking over the US.

      • Karl Hungus

        Yes, and if a supermajority in California and New York meant more than a footnote then things would be different. The electoral college is the same decider today as it was on Nov. 7th, as it was in 2015, as it was in 1981. Its the United STATES of America. The senate operates on the same principle.
        Trump signed an executive order furthering the protection of gays 3 days ago. If you didn’t know this, you need to seek out new news sources.

        • AmidAmidi

          “Trump signed an executive order furthering the protection of gays 3 days
          ago. If you didn’t know this, you need to seek out new news sources.”

          Please provide a news source that has information on the executive order Trump signed.

          • okiloki

            Actually, Trump never signed an executive order protecting gays. This is misinformation. What Trump did do what issue a public statement saying that he would leave in place Obama’s 2014 executive order, which protects LGBT contractors from being fired for their orientation. Trump was very close to rolling back Obama’s executive order, but thankfully Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly convinced him not to, and to issue the public statement instead. An earlier leaked draft of the Religious Freedom executive order that Trump was going to, and still might sign, would have given individuals and businesses the right to deny LGBT jobs, heath services, housing and marriage certificates. Sooo…not exactly a LGBT friendly president. Also, his current Supreme Court nominee is bent on reversing same sex marriage.

      • Too Many Cooks

        I don’t believe the social acceptability of hate speech has changed in the past three years.

  • Mister Twister

    I think this place should just be 100% politics all the time.

  • Too Many Cooks

    Maybe I’m interpreting this wrong, but it seems that you’re saying that if you do not like the job the President of the United States is doing, you should not try to compromise with or influence him in any manner, because we are not all on the same team.

    • Joseph Christian

      That’s what republicans did for 8 years.

      • Too Many Cooks

        Republicans refused to meet with President Obama?

  • vincenzosz

    Excellent article.

  • Too Many Cooks

    I know I already commented, but I can’t get this out of my head. Trump, whether you like it or not, is going to be the president for the next four years. There is nothing to be gained from refusing to work with him, except maybe a false sense of moral righteousness.