Written by PTC | Published December 29, 2022
December 28, 2022
Dear Mr. Iger:
When news broke that you were returning to the Walt Disney Company as its CEO, I was immediately heartened.
As president of the Parents Television and Media Council (PTC), I was sorely vexed by the direction Mr. Chapek had been taking the storied company after your departure, essentially turning the once-Magic Kingdom into a Tragic Kingdom. The PTC had been advocating publicly for the Disney Board to remove executives from corporate leadership for eschewing all that made Disney so special, and your reinstatement suggests that our calls were both heard and answered.
Much has been said about your return to Disney by business and media commentators, but they have seemingly ignored – or have failed to observe – a more simple and pragmatic reason why things went so sideways during your two-year absence from the company. It goes back to a comment you made a few short weeks ago when you addressed your corporate team.
You told Disney employees that “every transaction that occurs at this company emanates from some form of creativity, and therefore it is my No. 1 priority. It is the focus. It’s not about how much we create; it’s about how great the things are that we do create.”
So, what has Disney created in the past couple of years?
In my 40+ years working in and around Hollywood, I never could have imagined that a company named for Walt Disney would produce and distribute a television program that depicted a teenage girl masturbating in front of her laptop computer. But that’s what appeared in an episode of PEN15.
I never could have imagined Disney would produce and distribute a television program that centers on a steamy, sordid “romance” between a high school teacher and one of her students. But that’s what A Teacher is all about.
I never could have imagined the Walt Disney Company would produce a cartoon – and distribute it over one of its basic cable networks – about a teenager who is the love child from a fling her mother had with the devil, and where demon characters chant, “We wanna f*** a corpse! We wanna f*** a corpse!” (But in Little Demon there are no “bleep-outs.”)
The content of Little Demon is simply astounding. In just the first three 30-minute episodes, PTC research found sexual content including animated female frontal nudity (no pixilation), vulgar slang references to male and female genitalia, vile sexual innuendo, a main character who gets turned-on by violent sex. We counted 173 instances of explicit language including 38 f-words and 35 s-words (all unbleeped); 45 instances of violence including graphic, gory violence such as heads exploding and bodies being mutilated and dismembered; all along with occult imagery, Christian-bashing, and drug use.
Is this what the Walt Disney Company refers to as “creativity?”
Mr. Iger, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with you a few times over the past decade or so – primarily at your annual shareholder meetings. Even when you disagreed, you always listened politely and responded to my concerns. It is in that spirit that I offer you the following unsolicited counsel:
The Walt Disney Company needs to stop trying to be like Netflix, and instead return to being more like… the Walt Disney Company.
The one thing that made Disney the most trusted entertainment brand in the history of the world is that it manifested the precious magic and innocence of childhood. And the company did so while increasingly becoming more inclusive in its storytelling. But “inclusive” has rocketed towards “indoctrination,” with Disney executives even being recorded on video celebrating overt and intentional efforts push sexual themes into children’s programming. Certainly you can help Disney embrace inclusivity without sexualizing, or even sexually exploiting, children.
Perhaps more than anyone inside the “House of Mouse” you understand, appreciate and value the qualities of the Walt Disney Company that made it so successful, and so wildly valuable. We urgently call on you to restore those qualities to Disney’s unparalleled capacity for creativity.
Because our Children are Watching®.
Timothy F. Winter