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DisneyIdeas/CommentaryPolitics

The Disney Company Needs To Get Out of Trump’s Bed

This afternoon I wrote a series of tweets about the uncomfortable and potentially brand-damaging relationship that Disney CEO Bob Iger (pictured above, left) is pursuing with U.S. president Donald Trump, a relationship that puts financial aims above the welfare of Disney employees and the carefully polished cultural brand of the Walt Disney Company.

It turned out that as I was writing the tweets, Trump was hosting a screening of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory in the White House:

There is a major disconnect right now between the messages being sent out by the creative team at Disney and its upper management. The company’s animation studio is currently winning awards for Zootopia, a film about prejudice and social divisions, while its CEO is actively courting a president who came into power by exploiting prejudice and social division.

“It was horrifying to see that members of our society were being persecuted, very obviously because of what they looked like,” Zootopia co-director Rich Moore recently told the L.A. Times about black men who are targeted by American law enforcement. “I remember saying, ‘This is exactly what we’re talking about with this movie.’ It was emboldening.”

Comments like those by Moore ring hollow, however, when Disney’s CEO is collaborating with the country’s highest elected official, a president who is recklessly targeting and endangering large segments of Disney’s workforce and audience. Iger’s refusal to spell out Disney’s corporate and social values before engaging with Trump are deeply troubling.

Thus far, the only comments Iger has made on Trump have placed corporate profit over people. Shortly after the election, Iger said that he was “hopeful” about Trump because, “There is going to be far more energy around attacking the tax code, changing the tax code, closing loopholes on corporate taxes and lowering the base.”

Here’s the initial of tweets that I wrote. We’ll continue to follow this story.

  • Lori

    I’m so glad you posted about this. It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks where it feels like we’re not having these discussions in the animation community. That we’ve been treating this administration as business as usual and ignoring the possible ramifications of a WH that is more concerned with tax codes than the actual people who create the content.

  • Dustin Koski

    So Trump got the Iger Sanction?

  • Tastes like candy

    For some reason I keep reading this to have less to do with Bob Iger and more so a journalist attempt to discredit Zootopia and its creators.

    • Animator

      The reality is that Disney is a big company and the animation studios are a small bit of it. I doubt the “company” cares what the studios say as long as they haul in the bucks.
      Of course Iger has to play nice with the current president (like him or not) especially to influence those more global policies as Trump seems to lean towards isolationist and globalist when it benifits him.
      This has nothing to do with Moore or Zootopia. The comparison is silly and as always with Disney on cartoonbrew , Amidi’s articles are awkwardly prodding at best.

      • Tastes like candy

        I would of taken that into consideration, it’s more of a political stance etc and has little to do with Moore and Howard (who are both fine people who have done nothing wrong) if I haven’t read several other articles attempting to discredit The Academy and making a point to say that Zootopia doesn’t deserve to win for no other reason than it was made by Disney! They are pretty easy to spot and their are several of them! Reading those it becomes pretty clear this site has serious bias issues and these were written with the sole intent to discredit Zootopia and favor another film.

        • AmidAmidi

          We have been very clear in calling out the Academy (and other industry playrs) for their bias toward the Disney Co. which was won 8 out of the 9 animated feature Oscars. Their bias toward Disney-produced content, regardless of a film’s quality, delegitimizes the award and its intent. It is disrespectful to have sham awards that don’t accurately reflect the work being produced throughout the industry.

          • Tastes like candy

            So basically you’re saying Zootopia doesn’t deserve to win solely because it was produced by Disney? Let’s just throw out the many other awards it has one or do you also believe they were riding on the “Disney bias” train also? The AFI, Golden Globes, Broadcast Film Critics, and all of the critics that made Zootopia the number one film of the year on Rotten Tomatoes? They were all just paid off by Disney or something also? Are you by chance also a D.C. fan?

            The reason Disney wins is Disney makes better films that everyone watches! I realize it upsets you that no one watched Kubo and the two strings practically anywhere in the world… Or perhaps they didn’t pick another film that you felt should have made the short list. But stop acting like Zootopia doesn’t deserve what it has won and very likely will! It does! And I can safely say that most do agree with that! Perhaps not here among your followers, but outside of it you’d definitely see you’re in the minority.

            What you’re attempting to do is here is pretty petty sir!

          • AmidAmidi

            You’re still misunderstanding the argument so one more time, it’s irrelevant whether “Zootopia” deserves to win or even whether it’s the best film of the year. Same goes for all the other films in the category. The issue is that the Academy Award for best animated feature has lost legitimacy because of a clear and consistent pattern of voting bias that disregards merit and rewards the film studio.

          • Dusty Ayres

            To be brutally frank, Zootopia is the same old same old talking animal caca that Disney and other U.S. studios have done for far, far too long (and that too many North American moviegoers willingly partake of.) The other movies mentioned here by Amid in a previous article are better because of the wide range of story topics and characterization that they offer, going beyond more than just cute animals doing human things (Kubo & The Two Strings in particular.) That you can’t see that tells me more about you and how you see animation vs. what Amid is saying.

            The Academy has to grow the frak up and start getting beyond Disney and the other companies in what they offer as animation each and every year at the awards; there’s more to life than talking animal movies, and not all of them have to have a happy ending or be about child-centered things (Sausage Party doesn’t count-I want to see the [North] American industry do something like Tokyo Godfathers,, Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Metropolis, Akira, Barefoot Gen, etc). It’s high time for this to happen (again) like it did back in the 1970’s when Ralph Bakshi did his seminal works.

          • edge13

            “there’s more to life than talking animal movies” when was the last time talking animal movies win an Oscar anyway?&its not even by Disney.
            what amaze me about Zoo is how they tackle a current relevant adult issue so it can be understood by younger viewers,no WDAS movies carry more/heavier social issue like this before infact none the other 4 do.
            regarding technicality,if you saw the BTS & all the concepts for it,you’ll know it has equally as much works&complexity as Kubo esspecially with it reworks at the midproduction

          • crossie

            This is a really weird hill to die on; it’s not even that you’re wrong to point out the Academy has a Disney bias in the area of animation. Of course they do. The world does.

            Of course, you’re also right arguing that the award has no legitimacy; the Oscars are a publicity stunt given by a group originally founded as an anti-union in which a lot of people give each other giant golden statues rather arbitrarily.

            If it doesn’t matter if ‘Zootopia’ is the best film, then it doesn’t matter. It never mattered. ‘Your Name’ (or whatever you wanted so badly to be nominated or win that didn’t or won’t) will still be a great film next month despite not being an Oscar nominee. So will ‘Zootopia’, despite being the recipient of a bias not actually in its control.

            It hasn’t even won the thing yet; the award’s about due for another upset, keep your hopes up (or your fingers crossed if you’re on team ‘Zootopia’).

            So, I guess, what I’m saying here is, let’s all agree that ‘Moana’ should definitely not be the winner and leave it at that.

          • Dusty Ayres

            Right now, the (unfortunate) odds are on Zootopia winning the Best Animated Picture Oscar when it really doesn’t deserve it (Kubo & The Two Strings does, IMHO.) Moana was great, but again, it would be nice if a non-Disney movie didn’t win the award in question.

    • Mack

      Yeah, I don’t understand why one would say Moore’s comments “ring hollow” when he has nothing to do with whatever goes on between Trump and Iger.

  • Dream High Animation

    man ….. how things went south so fast!! :/ ?

  • Pedro Nakama

    When you see Trump saying crazy things and tweeting outrageous statements just remember that every big business person in the world is exactly the same but they just don’t act that way in front of a camera or on social media.

  • ‘Shameful, shortsighted, and stupid that @Disney CEO Bob Iger is collaborating with Trump to boost the DisneyCo’s profits at any cost.’

    Sure, it’s shameful, but this shouldn’t be surprising. It’s in the DNA of big corporations to pursue profit at any cost. So of course there is going to be dissonance between the values of employees, and the CEOs.

    That being said, since this is potentially damaging to the Disney brand, it could be damaging for profits. So I’m not sure that this is a prudent business decision.

  • Wait…Disney actually supports Trump? They always (or mostly) came across as a liberal company to me.

    • Dylan Nightingale

      Walt Disney himself was more of a Conservative… probably not a hardcore Conservative, but still.

  • C

    Disney is terrified that Trump’s protectionism will affect it’s profits, in everything from tariffs on outsourced VFX work to physical goods. Iger is hoping to get a good deal from the Trump administration or else its profits will suffer and his legacy in the business community will be tarnished (his peers are business people, and we wants to be seen to be excelling among them. If he hung around artists, maybe he wouldn’t care so much.)

  • Chicken McPhee

    Pixar is mostly liberal, to the point of hearing whining trump-supporting employees about feelings of rejection. And at the end of the day, Iger working with Trump is just as gross as Katz working with Obama (and getting a National Medal of Arts…are you kidding me?).
    If this keeps up, Pixar might detach from Disney. Disney’s dependent on Pixar for leading quality of production. All that on top of wage fixing. What a doomed industry to be in.

    • Axolotl

      They should do it, if only because we can call it ‘Pixit.’

    • Funkybat

      I’m pretty sure the majority if Disney Animation Studios creatives are just as liberal as most Pixarians. I have met very very few conservative people in the industry, even fewer Trump supporters. I’ll admit some people may just be keeping their views to themselves, but the vast majority of artists I know have been blowing up social media with anti-Trump and anti-alt-right views and artwork.

      • Chicken McPhee

        They feel (rightly) suffocated inside, to the point of exploding over social media with angry white nationalist propaganda and then having fits of whining about feeling rejected in a way you wouldn’t think an adult would. It’s a lot of pressure when pretty much EVERYONE you work with is not a nazi sympathizer.

    • Dusty Ayres

      What will Pixar do, and where will it get financing for its future projects?

      • Chicken McPhee

        What will Disney do, and where will it get artists for its future projects?

  • Jess

    From what I heard, Trump called Iger and asked him to be on his advisory board and Iger was very torn but in the end decided it would be better to try to have some sort of influence rather than stand idly by. We can’t complain that Trump’s inner circle is all totally evil and then condemn anyone from the not so evil side who tries to get involved and make some sort of impact.

    • Mack

      Excellent point.

    • okiloki

      It is hard to know what Igor’s motives/goals are and time will tell if he is only serving corporate Disney’s interests or is doing behind the scenes work to limit Trump’s damage. Or a mix of the two. It is great to see some of the tech firms standing up and speaking out against Trump in their own way.

  • Karl Hungus

    Take a deep breath everyone. I think its going to be okay.

    • Funkybat

      On what evidence do you base that feeling?

  • Not surprising, of course they take the bait of any financial benefits. Unfortunate though… I hope the voices of the Disney artists (and their creations) can ring louder in the eyes of the public. This shouldn’t mean their voices are now somehow invalid.

    • Mark

      Those same Disney artists are deleting the Uber app off their phones and proudly tweeting about it, they can have some of their own medicine.

  • Elsi Pote

    People, people, it’s very clear to me thst Iger wants to open Avatar at Animal Kingdom this year without causing a “Navis are here to kill us” blowback from Trump’s supporters.

  • Truthseeker

    Have you already forgotten that Disney was the company that fired American workers to replace them with H-1B visa employees?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/us/last-task-after-layoff-at-disney-train-foreign-replacements.html

    President Trump also called them out during his campaign for doing so. Iger, like all big businessmen, wants to be on good terms with whoever is president so that he can conduct his business affairs as he wishes, and someone like Trump, who campaigned on protecting American workers, is an obvious threat to that. It’s the old strategy of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

    Clearly, Iger is doing a great thing here. He’s trying to co-opt Trump so that he backs down on his policies and makes sure that being white, straight, male, and an American citizen give you no special consideration in employment. Lots of foreigners will be able to take jobs that might’ve gone to them, they’ll be unable to start families, and America will get more beautifully diverse. He’s fighting the good fight and you don’t even realize it.

  • Jim Freebird

    God Guys…..Get used to lots of unorthodox actions from Trump that won’t be permanent and won’t amount to much. Courts will intervene where possible. It could be much, much worse…..we could have a Rubio, Cruz or Cotton up there and all be in for it! If he keeps good relations with England, France, Germany, China, and Russia and respects the sovereignty of middle east countries the economy and thus Disney Stock should do well. Coors Beer is run by very Conservative Republicans who sponsor more liberal Rock bands, Bikini contests and Wet Tee shirt contests than any brewery! You have to appeal to all people and work with those in charge to keep businesses lucrative and your shareholders content!

    • Martin Cohen

      But if the courts are appointed by Trump, they will support his actions, no matter how unconstitutional.

  • Troy

    Oh wow there’s actually some effect due to trump’s presidency…. on Big Corporations. In the grand scheme of things it isn’t exactly significant of impacting animators (in general). This isn’t to provoke about the moral implications of Disney, what I am getting at is how does this affect the newcomers of animation. People get laid off, quit, or fired under different situations in all colors of reasoning and last I checked people are doing things like nothing happen, until notified.

  • Matt

    Again you don’t report facts. You don’t seem to mention that in 2011 Obama implemented a temporary ban of people from Iraq and Carter did a ban of people from Iran. It is not a ban on Muslims. This site has turned into the anti Trump site. No one is being banned they are being vetted.

    • Chicken McPhee

      You’re literally comparing apples to oranges.

    • mrswanbug

      This is the main argument I’ve heard defending Trump’s actions. But it’s also more complicated. I found this information helpful:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/29/trumps-facile-claim-that-his-refugee-policy-is-similar-to-obama-in-2011/?utm_term=.925250503622

      I’m not even sure if I should be responding to this comment–it’s not animation related. However, CartoonBrew is one of the few sites I visit where I see people arguing on Trump’s behalf–animation, not politics, is our common interest. I’m isolated in a liberal Facebook bubble, and I welcome hearing arguments from the other side so that I can hope to understand the full scope of what this country’s dealing with. Let’s discuss, civilly, and figure this out.

      I hope you can at least understand that this executive order has caused a lot of people pain and frustration, and stands to further divide us as a nation. Let’s all please keep an open mind

      • Funkybat

        I’m quite frankly baffled at how many pro-Trump or “give him a chance” voices are on this site. I know hundreds of people in the animation community, and I can think of only two people in my entire circle of friends, professional contacts, and current/former colleagues who have expressed anything but dismay or outrage regarding Trump and his administration. I realize there are conservative people in animation, but the fact is even many conservatives are dismayed by Trump because what he and his cadre are promoting isn’t American conservatism, or even American, really.

        In the interests of keeping this animation-related, I’ll just finish by saying that I’ve seen a lot of amazingly well-done art critical of this whole situation coming out of the animation and cartooning community, and I am proud to see artistic freedom of speech exercised in the face of such madness.

        • Matthew

          I don’t even think Walt would have supported Trump. Consider how many movies made by Disney revolve around greedy businessmen trying to destroy things that serve the public (i.e. any movie with Keenan Wynn as Alonzo Hawk), films like POLLYANNA where people take back their community from an autocrat, and countless versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

      • Dusty Ayres

        What ‘open mind’ should we be all giving fascism & racism? What Trump’s doing here is wrong, period.

    • okiloki

      This has been proven false. There has never been a ban on Iraqis. There was a temporary increase in restrictions for Iraqi refugees in 2011 after it was found specifically that 2 Iraqis were plotting a terrorist attack, but no outright ban regardless of legal status. Also, they actually were vetting people whereas this administration is not vetting anyone; they just don’t want to let anyone back in. This ban is a flat out ban on all people who originated from these 7 countries including permanent residents and H1B Visa holders, even though there isn’t a specific terrorist threat. You can literally have been living in the US for 20 years and go on a cruise, and then be deported to a country you fled from 20 years prior with no money and no housing provided.

      Permanent residents supposedly can apply for reentry after 90 days on a case by case basis with priority given to Christians, but they lose their green card status after 6 months of being outside the country so chances are most will lose their green cards while their vetting process supposedly starts 3-4 months from now. Please do not get your information from Trump and do your research from legitimate news sources (not Breitbart or alt right/conspiracy blogs) or it is very easy to fall for his lies.

      • Matt

        You may want to check on your facts. You are misinformed. No special treatment for Christians. Please gather your facts from some place else besides Huffington Post.

  • Mister Twister

    Cartoon Brew — stealth political discussion masquerading as cartoon talk :)

    • Martin Cohen

      Not stealthy at all. Quite appropriate in the current environment, in my opinion.

    • Lloyd

      Mickey! Is that you?
      Don’t let Uncle Walt find you around here!

  • Lori

    I think we in this community need to take this administration as seriously as everyone else. The bottom line is that cozying up to Trump (ie. Bannon) means an acceptance, or at least an enabling of his policies. Not to cavalierly throw Godwin’s Law in here, but there was a belief that the other side could somehow sway Hitler back from his more radical stance, and that didn’t happen.

    We’re going to see a return to Reaganomics but in much more extreme levels and this has an impact on all business in this country, especially ones that have a global reach, like Disney. You can bury your head in the sand by saying, this won’t impact animators, or this will have minimal impact on animators, but you’re only kidding yourself. The only people whom this administration will minimally impact are those at the top of the totem pole, and that minimal impact will come in the guise of a huge paycheck.

  • vincenzosz

    As a consumer I refuse to support any part of the Disney brand until their stance is made clear. This is a time more than ever of standing up for what we believe in. Especially since Disney is connected to an essentially very political franchise such as Star Wars which we are now more or less living in. Money and power aren’t everything. Freedom, unity and respect for one another and the world around us needs to take precedent – as always.

  • Too Many Cooks

    Which of Trump’s policies are affecting LGBTQ and (racial/ethnic) minority citizens?

  • Gina Kamentsky

    I’ve been teaching design and animation for close to thirty years. I’m wondering how this ban impacts our ability to have a diverse animation faculty and student body. Beyond the ban, will Muslim students and faculty still feel comfortable coming to the United states to study and attend festivals? i’m thinking specificly of films such as Persopolis which had a huge impact.

  • otterhead

    He’s on a policy forum advisory group. Seems to me that having people like Bob Iger and Elon Musk on an advisory panel, rather than have policies dictated to them by the new regime, would be seen as a rather good thing. I’m hoping Iger can help influence the Trump dictatorship to improve their LGBTQ stance and their attitudes towards those from other countries who want to visit or work in the United States.

  • RCooke

    I’d imagine wage fixer ed catmull is a big supporter of trump. Get the most work out of people for the least money, prevent them from working elsewhere, and take sh*ts on solid gold toilets.