Culture / Movies / Politics

The Dark Side of Disney

Like many suckers, I saw Star Wars opening night.  My local independent movie theater runs a promotion where you can see a movie for $6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They released Star Wars on a Thursday, so I rolled up to the counter with twelve bucks, ready to pay for me and my boyfriend.

“That’ll be $24,” said the teller.

“But it’s Thursday.”

“Special engagements excluded.  Sorry.”

My boyfriend handed over his card and we stepped out of line.

Then a senior woman tried buying a ticket.

“That’ll be $12.”

“Oh, but it’s Thursday.”

“Special engagements excluded.  Sorry.”

“I am also a senior,” the lady said, reaching for her ID.

“Sorry, Ma’am.  Disney has really been cracking down on ticket prices.  Everyone pays $12.”

I’ve got a few opinions on this.  Before I being, let me say this blog is called Critic of Everything and I just used the word “opinion”, so if you’re planning on reading my article and flaming me for being an obnoxious armchair critic, duh.  Of course I am.  If you thought Star Wars was fantastic and worship at the altar of Star Wars or Marvel every season, good for you.  But I’m not going to mindlessly praise a company that, quite frankly, wants too much.

Second of all, what do you think made people critics in the first place?  You had to have a TV show.  A newspaper.  A magazine.  A website.  Not everyone can have a website.  GUESS WHAT.  We are the real critics.  And guess who decides which movies are hits and which movies are flops?  We do.  Me and you.  The paying public.  Not The Rolling Stone, People Weekly, or any of a small handful of people who control the film industry.  We buy the tickets.  We have the power.

That said, the paying public is quite susceptible to effective marketing (see also: The 2016 election).  That’s why “critics” (ie, me) feel the need to share opinions contrary to marketing, as marketing usually says “SEE THIS MOVIE IT’S AMAZING”.

Whether Star Wars was good or not is really not the point.  The point is, Disney has a net worth of $92 billion,  made over $55 billion last year, ranks #52 on the Fortune 500 List, and has enough money to buy whoever they want (Read: Fox).  CEO Bob Iger makes $44 million a year. And they STILL won’t give a little old lady a discount on Discount Thursday.

The problem I have is this: Disney pretends to be a wholesome company.  Their movies have themes like following your dreams, believing in magic, and good triumphing over evil.  But they are evil.  Here are some stories I’ve heard:

Several Disney employees referred to their company as Mousewitz.

My good friend was denied a job at Disneyland because he requested Sundays off for religious purposes.

A family member wrote software for Disneyland Parks.  When they were finished, Disney fired them and kept using their software, without his legal permission.

A friend worked for ABC Studios.  A co- worker described, in graphic detail, how he was going to kill another co- worker.  The murderous co- worker returned after four weeks of paid leave.  This was not his first offense.  My friend quit.

Hollywood is a terrible, terrible place.  I was raised in Los Angeles and the #MeToo campaign surprised no one.  This is an industry practiced in treating people like slaves.  It’s one of the only industries that still has effective unions, though even those can get pretty cutthroat.

Women aren’t the only people working in Hollywood who have been abused, and sexual isn’t the only kind of harassment.  Hollywood studios like Disney have been treating people like shit FOR YEARS.

I hope to God that this #MeToo movement extends to other parts of the industry.  We vote with our wallets.  I hope you don’t just mindlessly see a Disney movie because “OMG Disney”.  By all means, Disney makes some great movies.  But think about where they’re coming from.  Disney is not on the same side of the force as Rey and Luke.  They’re on that weird Benecio Del Toro character’s side. 

I’ll probably still see the next Star Wars… but I’ll wait till its $6.

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