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OPINION

This Time Is Different. Boycott Disney Will Work.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Critics say Disney is inevitable; Floridians say different. “I’m done with Disney” is the clarion call for millions of consumers leading a boycott against Disney for their entrance as harsh partisans in the culture war and biting the hand that feed them. Disney’s siding with the regressive left could not have come at a worse time. The House of Mouse is roiling under crushing debts, a slowing revenue stream, and a wealth of competitors to their theme parks and entertainment. Critics against this effort say this attack on the Disney behemoth is pointless. But in truth: Disney is a paper tiger. 

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Up to their eyeballs.

The Mouse is a lot sicker than most people realize—Disney's stock price shrunk by more than a third in the last year alone. Take a look at this chart. People like to think of Disney as a theme park and entertainment company, but that is only a part of the total assets owned by Disney. Did you know that Disney owns a book publishing company, ESPN, a sports network, and ABC news, with significant stakes in other news companies like Vice? Disney also owns a cruise line, which has been effectively shut down for two years and only starting to open again. Most of these businesses are down financially, not up. Even their parks department is hurting, with Disney Land Shanghai still shuttered

This poor financial state is yes, due to Covid, but it also has a lot to do with former CEO Bob Iger. One could sum up Iger's tenure at Disney as making the company political and buying up every business they could on sight, like Marvel, Fox, and Lucas Arts. However, those acquisitions did not come cheaply, putting the company in an astounding $51.77 billion in long-term debt, with only 2 billion in yearly cash flow. Their 2021 free-cash-flow to debt ratio was 0.038 when the industry standard is one or more. Disney is up to its eyeballs in debt and has no way to pay it off. 

Forced Perspective:

This is not the first-time conservatives have tried to punish Disney for playing politics. As well illustrated by reporter Mark Pinsky at Variety, critics point toward the failed 1995 Southern Baptists boycott. In the 1990s, Disney announced it would provide health benefits for LGBTQ employees. At the same time, its book publishing arm, Hyperion, put out books like "Heather Has Two Mommies." Baptists and several evangelical groups were enraged and vowed to no longer buy Disney products. The resulting boycott was a disaster, with many denominations signing up but few members going through with it. 

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Due to the end of the Covid Pandemic restrictions, Disney is currently having record amounts of people trying to crowd into their theme parks, even with higher ticket prices and the removal of free, fast passes. 

Doubling Down:

But we are not living in 1995 any longer. According to polls of even Floridian democrats, over 55% of Democrats agree with the Parental Rights in Education law for which Disney is sworn against. Internal email leaks from Disney show not even their own employees are happy with Disney getting political. Disney’s culture-war playbook is not just ticking off conservative consumers– a humongous player base for the family-friendly company- but is activating your average consumer as well against Disney.

Yet despite the lower stock price and the protests at Burbank, Disney is doubling down on the LGBTQ agenda as seen with their “Gay, Gay, Gay,” appearance at GLAAD, and the hiring of left-wing activist Kristina Schak as spokesperson.

Content Content Content:

This matters because over the course of these last few years, a key strategy for Disney is to divide their content creation into two camps; half the content would be progressively oriented, like the menstruation allegory film Turning Red, while the other half would be red-meat projects like The Mandalorian to pay the bills. However, as I reported recently, the policies and culture inside the company are making it increasingly difficult to produce anything but unsellable woke propaganda. 

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At the same time as Disney slides into a vortex of meaningless political content, other companies, including conservative ones like the Daily Wire, are making content people want to watch. We are not living in 1995 anymore. Consumers now have the internet and a wealth of digital content to choose from. If Disney fans want to watch their favorite movies, like Sleeping Beauty, they can buy a used DVD or watch the ones they already have in their collection. That’s nothing to say about torrenting and borrowing content from a friend or family member. Moreover, it’s not like there aren’t great non-Disney theme parks to visit these days. It’s much easier for consumers to break up with Disney than for the Mouse to break up with them. 

Ozymandias:

Disney feels inevitable. People think the company is so large and it’s always been here; there’s no way it could end. But that isn’t true. Disney isn't even a century old; it's a company that is tangled up in a thousand businesses, and few of them are turning a significant profit. They no longer have Daddy China Warbucks to pay the bills. So they are now entirely reliant on the sweet-heart deals and kickbacks that states like Florida and California give them. And now Governor Ron DeSantis and the DC republicans are counting the days till they can gut the company by reforming copyright law and removing those special privileges. 

History will show Bob Iger put Disney on the path to ruin. As Disney angers more and more people, as they are less able to put out content that can get eyeballs to, and as those debts become more and more insurmountable, the idea of a shriveled Disney, or gasp, even bankruptcy becomes more real every day. It’s entirely possible. We are watching the beginning of the end for the once-great Walt Disney Company.

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