At The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live 2022 streaming event, Disney CEO Bob Chapek defended the company against allegations of being “too woke.”
When asked about the matter, Chapek noted that content is the company’s north star, stating that Disney’s creative projects are designed to reflect the “rich diverse world” people live in. He added that “Disney is a company that has survived for 100 years by catering to its audience, and it’s going to thrive [for] the next 100 years by catering to its audience.”
The company has come under criticism in recent years, with critics arguing that Disney is pushing too far left on the political spectrum in its push for increased diversity and cultural sensitivities. Some moves that have fallen under criticism include the announcement of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, starring a black Disney Princess, coming to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The ride replaces Splash Mountain, which is based on “Song of the South,” a film that has not had an official release in any form in decades due to calls of racist depictions against African Americans. Earlier this year, Disney also spoke out against Florida’s HB 1557, commonly dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits educators from discussing issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity in certain grade levels. In their statement, Disney said their “goal” was for the law to be repealed or overturned in court.
Nonetheless, Chapek’s answer seems to indicate that he sees these recent moves not as being “woke,” but as necessary to accommodate the “largest possible audience” and profit in an evolving world, though he hopes Disney will be a unifying force in an increasingly divided time. Having “diverse stories and diverse characters” seems to factor into this.