2022 wasn’t the year The Walt Disney Company’s descended into wokeness, but it was the year the media giant fully embraced it. From the legacy-character emasculations of “She-Hulk” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” to the variety of children’s movies pushing LGBT ideology, Disney decided to go all in. Unfortunately for their shareholders, that wasn’t a great strategy.
The company had its worst year since 1974, seeing $123 billion in value wiped out.
The losses resulted in a staggering $123 billion being wiped from Disney’s market value in 2022 alone.
Two responses will be offered here by supporters of Disney. The first will be that other media companies also had a rough time in 2022. That’s somewhat true, though the level to which Disney did appears to be unique. Still, isn’t the entire point of picking a corporate direction to outperform other companies? If Disney’s aggressive woke bent didn’t do that but actually resulted in the opposite, then that’s an indictment of that direction, is it not? That’s especially true given there were several decidedly non-woke, non-Disney properties that did amazingly well in 2022, with “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Yellowstone” coming to mind.
That brings me to the second response we’ll get, which is that anyone who criticizes Disney’s wokeness is just a misogynistic bigot who can’t handle protagonists being anything but straight, white males. That’s not true at all, though.
Take “Kenobi” as an example. The problem with that show wasn’t just that Reva was given a leading role (though a series focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi probably should have focused on… Obi-Wan Kenobi). The problem is that they wrote Reva’s character to satisfy modern woke needs. Namely, the idea that a black woman can never be a villain. How much more interesting would the story have been had Reva been killed off after being stabbed and left an ambitious member of the Empire who flew too close to the sun? Instead, she got a ludicrous, completely telegraphed redemption arc that made no absolutely no sense and killed off all the show’s complexity.
Then there’s how Disney chose to handle its legacy male characters. She-Hulk was a terrible show without even addressing that angle. Yet, it was made worse by the fact that it was used as a vehicle to completely neuter the real Hulk, turning him into a whiney moron constantly bested by the superior intellect and control of She-Hulk. Meanwhile, Thor, who had already been made a mockery of in previous years, was good and fully destroyed as a viable character.
Over and over again, Disney has chosen to demean and mock male characters, even those who once headlined their most popular properties. Why is that necessary to empower female leads? Why did Luke Skywalker need to be turned into a depressed, cowardly recluse and Han Solo into a selfish, deadbeat dad to make Disney’s new female lead in “Star Wars” viable? Never mind that those choices made no sense given who those characters were in their original roles.
The point is that it’s not just about who the characters are in regard to demographics. It’s about how those characters are written and how Disney’s executives choose to prioritize woke adaptations over good story-telling. Further, past character critiques, the fact that Disney has a “not so secret gay agenda” and used 2022 to push woke LGBT ideology in multiple kids’ movies obviously gave a lot of parents pause. I can speak from personal experience on that front.
“Go woke, go broke” is an overused cliche in some ways, but it applies to Disney’s current track. They continue to double down on failure when the results are staring them right in the face. Will they learn any lessons? I wouldn’t count on it given who is in charge.