We don't need a 'Republican Disney'
Major studios will support conservatism if the money is right
It isn’t difficult to imagine what a Disney run by Republicans would look like. Bambi’s mother would be felled by the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. In “The Little Mermaid” reboot, Ariel would be banned from competitive swimming because she had the biological advantage of being born with a fin. “Beauty and the Beast” would be reimagined as a tale in which a large, hairy millionaire finds love with a young woman only to realize she’s a porn star whom he must then pay to keep quiet.
Following Disney’s recent opposition to a new Florida law limiting instruction on LGBTQ issues, The Daily Wire, a conservative media organization, announced a plan to spend $100 million over the next three years to start its own children’s entertainment division. The move, according to co-founder Ben Shapiro, is necessary to combat Disney’s “woke” agenda.
This new venture is another step from activists on the right meant to segregate themselves from entertainment options that don’t align with their values. Their complaints are not without merit - even before the Trumpification of the Republican Party, Hollywood stars sneered at conservatives, using awards shows to mock small-town Americans as small-minded bigots who couldn’t possibly understand the world like celebrities who are paid millions of dollars pretending to be other people.
This isn’t the first attempt by conservative activists to build their own entertainment options. For years, AM radio was uniquely the bailiwick of the right. Then came Fox News. Then came MAGA-branded online news outlets and social media websites. Plans to create “non-woke” universities are now underway. Myriad sites have cropped up hosting “conservative comedians.” (Which is code for “not actually comedians.”)
Given the progressive incursion into sports, highlighted by Major League Baseball’s decision to move the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta because Georgia passed a number of common-sense voting reforms, don’t be surprised if you one day see Republican leagues distinct from Democratic ones. Brace yourself for GOP MLB, where 800 foot fences are necessary because each of the players is on a regimen of mandatory horse medicine. Jerseys in the Progressive NBA will no longer feature players’ names – instead, they will be adorned with their pronouns. And so on.
In addition to its children’s offerings, The Daily Wire has also unloaded a pile of money to set up its own movie studio for grown-ups. In January 2021, Shapiro announced Daily Wire Entertainment, which has already begun production on films that more accurately reflect “conservative” sensibilities.
Shapiro promised “edgy, entertaining, awesome movies that won’t mock your values.” (Unless your values include seeing an actor that has been in a major motion picture in the past decade.)
Last week, Daily Wire Entertainment released “Terror on the Prairie,” a full-length film starring actress Gina Carano. You may recall that Carano was tossed from the Disney+ show “The Mandalorian” after some nonsensical social media posts in which she suggested conservatives were being treated similarly to how Nazis treated the Jews during World War II. (Who can forget the scene from Schindler’s List where the Nazis mandated masks in Costco?)
Of course, if a conservative media organization wants to put up $100 million of its own money and produce movies about superheroes who get their powers from chugging Ivermectin, no one will stop it. But running a movie studio with the best talent available in the world is difficult enough; having to do so with also-ran actors tossed out of Hollywood’s polite society for making intemperate comments will be a difficult mountain to scale.
Further, grabbing scripts featuring “conservative” themes is an instant handicap in the movie making process. A movie can be both good and conservative, but it must be the former first and foremost. Picking a project because you’re thirsty for its politics is buying a sexy sports car that has no wheels.
Undoubtedly, popular culture needs more conservative representation, and it can be done. Just look at the Oscars this year - Best Picture nominees like “CODA,” “Belfast” and “Dune” are steeped in conflicts about family and religion and loyalty. The films of Judd Apatow - whom no one would confuse for Sen. Ted Cruz - are, in their bones, conservative. (It takes a torrent of priapic jokes to get there, but “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is a celebration of celibacy.)
And what is “Ratatouille” if not a condemnation of overly zealous restaurant health inspectors? Let the free market decide whether consumers want to eat gourmet meals prepared by rodents!
Of course, if you have an objection to Disney, there are already plenty of alternative options. In Florida alone, if you don’t want your children to be subjected to the white-hot sexual tension between Woody and Buzz Lightyear, you can go right down the road and overpay for a Harry Potter-branded magic wand at Universal Studios. There have never been more options to keep your children entertained - some of us grew up throwing sticks at each other to pass the days away.
And it’s not like there haven’t always been latent gay and lesbian themes in Disney movies. If talking snowmen were a real thing, the chances Olaf from “Frozen” would host his own Tony Awards subreddit are about 150 percent.*
Of course everyone prefers content that comports with their worldview. But creating ideological silos will further exacerbate the current climate in which offices now need two separate water coolers for people to talk. Entertainment is a common language we all speak; once we can’t even talk about children’s movies at work, it will be as if those on the left and right are living in completely different countries.
It would certainly be better – and more cost effective – for there to be more conservatives at Disney instead of there being more conservative Disneys. Use the existing infrastructure to force entertainment companies to cater to your preferences rather than pouring money into starting from scratch.
The market speaks volumes – think of all the conservative country music stars currently signed to major labels. When people spend money on right-wing content, the entertainment conglomerates will chase those dollars. (This could be a benefit of The Daily Wire’s new film production company – if it is successful, the big studios will surely copy its blueprint and put A-level talent behind it.)
Setting up a right-wing Disney or Netflix will only serve to segregate audiences, who will, as a result, have less familiarity with the politics of their neighbors. America is already being crippled by the lack of universal touchstones in movies, television and music; cultural secession will lead to further social fracturing, leaving people feeling even more like disaffected outcasts. And thus, we’ll find Nemo before we find any common ground.
*-This joke was cleared with an LGBTQ friend before publication. He deemed it funny.