The chief executive of the Walt Disney Company said that the Mouse House “stood our ground” against a “barrage of attacks” from “certain political constituencies” during the “Don’t Say Gay” controversy in Florida.
Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney, responded to the political brouhaha which prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to strip the company of its self-governing, autonomous status in retaliation for its opposition to a controversial law governing the teaching of sex education to youngsters.
When management issued a statement condemning the law and vowing to help defeat it in court, the GOP-dominated state legislature moved against Disney – one of the largest private employers in the Sunshine State.
Chapek acknowledged to The Hollywood Reporter that the Mouse House was walking a tightrope. He said that his employees view the company as “a very cohesive, big, happy family.”
He said the company wanted to “rise above” the “political subterfuge” which saw “our brand” be “misappropriated or misused to try to fit the needs of any one particular group’s agenda.”
“These are complex social issues where we absolutely, positively want to represent the needs and the expectations of our cast members, but we also realize that sometimes in such a divided world, there’s not alignment between what possibly large constituencies of our guest and consumer base are looking for in terms of the kind of content that they want to show their kids at this particular time,” Chapek told THR.
The CEO said that Disney has found it “very difficult” to satisfy everyone.
“What we try to do is be everything to everybody,” Chapek said.
“That tends to be very difficult because we’re the Walt Disney Company.”
Chapek added: “When you’re a lightning rod for clicks and for political podium speeches, the essence of our brand can be misappropriated or misused to try to fit the needs of any one particular group’s agenda.”
“We want to rise above that.”
Chapek said his employees have his back because “actions speak louder than words” and “they saw resiliency and consistency no matter how strong the attacks.”
DeSantis, whose name has been bandied about in political circles as a potential 2024 contender for the GOP nomination for president, has made the fight against “woke” corporations a central plank of his administration.
During an appearance on Sunday near Fort Lauderdale, DeSantis said Republicans ought to be more willing to take on corporations who stray into the political space.
“Corporatism is not the same as free enterprise, and I think too many Republicans have viewed limited government to basically mean whatever is best for corporate America is how we want to do the economy,” the governor said on Sunday.
“And my view is — obviously free enterprise is the best economic system — but that is a means to an end,” DeSantis added.
“It’s a means to having a good fulfilling life and a prosperous society. It’s not an end in and of itself.”
His comments were reported by the news site Insider.