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OPINION

No Conservatives, Bob Iger Will Not End Wokeness at Disney. He Will Save It.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Whatever his flaws, Bob Chapek was the CEO most likely to listen to conservatives. His replacement Bob Iger is the CEO most likely to blow them off.

To the shock of, well, everyone, Sunday night, the Disney executive board, in a surprise cutthroat maneuver, ousted fledgling CEO Bob Chapek to be replaced by his progressive predecessor, Bob Iger. At the news of this announcement, many conservatives foolishly began to celebrate Chapek’s fall, seeing this as a strike against wokeness and social justice at Disney. Sadly, nothing could be less accurate. For it was Bob Iger that brought Disney low and foolish Chapek who tried to undo it. And now, to dash conservative hearts, Iger has returned to finish the job. 

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Pre-mature:

Chris Rufo, an effective anti-woke activist and conservative writer for City Journal, who in no small part changed the conversation around Disney, described Chapek’s firing as a “Huge rebuke of woke leadership.” Rufo is not alone in this thinking, the hugely influential conservative news site, the Daily Wire, ran a similar notion with this headline to describe the change “Reeling Disney Fires CEO As ‘Woke’ Culture Blamed For Stock Plunge.” Wrongly insinuating, I think it is fair to write, that Chapek is being fired for being too woke.

However, to be fair to the conservative press, they are not alone in this. I’ve seen some friends and family on social media, also YouTube channels and right-leaning influencers on Twitter all  peddling a similar theming as well. The logic seems to follow a transitive pattern: Disney was woke, Chapek bent the knee to wokeness during Florida's "Don't Say Gay" protests; Chapek got fired; ergo, wokeness got fired. 

However, the problem with this line of thinking is that it woefully ignores reality.

Battle of the Bobs:

History shows Bob Iger, not Chapek, is responsible for creating and sustaining Woke Disney. 

From 2005 to 2021, Disney was under Iger's control, and during that time, the company lurched strongly to the left. It isn’t an exaggeration to say no one else in Hollywood pushed mainstream entertainment more towards wokeness than Iger who admittedly entertained serious ambitions to run for US president for the Democratic party.

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During Iger’s tenure, Disney became a vocal platform for political issues, with trans and rainbow flags sold at all Disney parks. The appointment of Kathleen Kennedy and Kevin Fiege, and the push to use Star Wars and Marvel as revisionist hollowed out vehicles not for storytelling but social justice, came at the behest of Iger. The parade of first-gay-characters, Iger. The trans activism in children’s entertainment, again Iger. All those employee mandatory anti-whiteness and racialized social justice activist meetings that Chris Rufo reported on, "reimaging tomorrow," yeah, that Iger reimagined tomorrow.

However, as painful as it may be for conservatives to admit how little our impact sometimes is, neither Iger nor Chapek lost their jobs due to Disney's wokeness.

For Iger, it was because the guy was a shopaholic. Under Iger, Disney went acquisitions crazy, buying up Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, 21st Century Fox, and many more, putting the company over $48 billion in long-term debt. With Fox, in particular, Iger stated he was interested in it so he could purchase Sky News, spent $71 billion for a company only worth $59, and then found out afterward that Sky News did not come with the purchase. For this, the Disney board kicked him out and put the bean counter, Chapek, in his place. 

For Chapek, his loss comes from being the fall guy who said two weeks ago that Disney is in a 2-year slump due let off from Covid, and that heir grand savior for which the company believed would turn big profits, Disney Plus and streaming, well, it lost $1.5 billion. Chapek had been brought in to be the money man, making cuts and turning the machine lean to make Disney profitable again. He failed to do that, or at least without stepping on toes, so he had to go.

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The tragedy of Chapek:

The irony in conservatives celebrating Chapek's end is astronomical. Despite his flaws, Chapek seemed to understand after becoming CEO that the company had become detrimentally political, which is why Chapek initially announced in a company memo during Florida "Don't Say Gay" protests that Disney would not be making a statement on the subject.  

“As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame,” Chapek added. “Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”

Chapek would later recount and beg for forgiveness from the mob, ultimately losing the game of Reedy Creek chicken in Florida with Governor Ron Desantis. Nevertheless, insider reports show that whatever Chapek may have said in public; in private he still preached on how destructive politics has been to Disney. 

On the other hand, Bob Iger is the guy that, in response to Chapek publicly saying Disney needed to get out of politics, attacked concerned parents by telling CNN: “To me, it wasn’t about politics. It is about what is right and what is wrong, and that just seemed wrong. It seemed potentially harmful to kids.”

For me at least, that is the immense tragedy in all this because Chapek was a slight chance for Disney to repent and abandon wokeness. Instead, the reluctant hero was slain only to be replaced by the villain; for which many conservatives celebrate him for this.

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