Bob Iger is having to face a lot of challenges at Disney right now and he has some OPINIONS.
At the forefront of Iger’s challenges have been accusations that Disney is promoting some kind of “woke agenda” or has strayed from Walt Disney’s original “vision” and “values.” Coupled with that comes all of the controversy surrounding Disney’s handling of the Parental Rights in Education Bill, the ensuing fight between Disney and Ron DeSantis — which is now headed to court after Disney filed a lawsuit against the Florida Governor, and the drama surrounding the Reedy Creek Improvement District (now Central Florida Tourism Oversight District). So just what does Iger have to say about these things? We’ve dug for some of his thoughts and are breaking it all down for you here.
1 — NOT Agenda Driven
During the 2023 Shareholder Meeting, one individual shared how, in their opinion, Disney’s films and entertainment are “increasingly promoting the woke agenda.” They went on to accuse Disney of choosing to “collaborate” with “predators to sing to children.” The individual concluded with another question, “Would it not be beneficial for the Company to ditch the LGBTQIA+ and gender ideology for good?” His advice was to “Turn Disney back to the a-political fun place that it used to be and I bet that you’ll win back both the trust of families and the stock market.”
So what did Iger have to say about Disney reportedly promoting a “woke agenda?” Well, he actually had some strong opinions. In response to the question, Iger said that Disney prides itself on being “accessible to all people.” He acknowledged that Disney has “recently gotten criticism…for what some perceive to be agenda-driven content.” Iger shared that he is sensitive to that and that Disney’s “primary mission needs to be to entertain.”
To drive this home, Iger said, “I’m very serious about that. It should not be agenda driven. It should be entertainment-driven. That should be the goal in all of our stories.”
How Iger’s view could (if at all) change Disney’s content remains to be seen. But it is clear that he does not view Disney’s goal as being to promote a particular “agenda,” but rather to entertain.
2 — Parents Should Be Able to Trust Disney’s Content
Iger spoke a bit more on the subject, particularly as it relates to parents and their “comfort” levels with children’s content. According to Iger, Disney won’t be able to please everyone all of the time, but they should “be sensitive to the fact that parents have different levels of comfort with the content that is delivered to their children.”
Iger said, “I want parents to be able to trust the content that we’re creating for their children.” He went on to note that Disney is “committed to delivering age-appropriate content for family audiences while also telling stories that reflect the world around us and that foster greater understanding, greater perspective, greater acceptance of all people.”
Again, it’s unclear what changes could result from Iger’s view on this topic but it is interesting to see his discussion of how parents can have different comfort levels when it comes to content their kids are consuming.
3 — DeSantis Has Retaliated and Punished Disney for a Constitutional Right
Many have drawn a connection between Disney’s statements against the Parental Rights in Education Bill (what critics called “Don’t Say Gay”) and the subsequent actions by Governor DeSantis and legislators in Florida to dramatically change the Reedy Creek District and strip Disney of some of its powers over the District. Iger drew that connection directly, clearly, and out in the open.
In discussing the Reedy Creek District situation during the 2023 annual shareholder meeting, Iger said, “A year ago, the Company took a position on pending Florida legislation, and while the Company may have not handled the position it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”
According to Iger, “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business, in effect to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right…and that just seems really wrong to me.”
While some have tried to draw that connection more subtly it seems Iger was not willing to waste any time beating around the bush and directly accused the governor of punishing Disney for exercising a constitutional right. And that battle only continues…
Click here to see how monorail inspections at Disney could CHANGE thanks to DeSantis’ plans
4 — Anti-Business, Anti-Florida
Iger has more to say about DeSantis and his actions in Florida. Also during the 2023 Shareholder Meeting, Iger said, “We love the state of Florida.” He continued, “I think that’s reflected in not only how much we’ve invested over the last 50 years, but how much we’ve given back in the form of jobs, and community service, taxes…tourism of course, and all sorts of other responsible business practices.”
Iger noted that retaliating against any company or individual for a constitutional right seems “wrong,” particularly when such actions are taken “against the company that means so much to the state that you live in.”
Iger mentioned how Disney has “over 75,000 employees…countless thousands of indirect jobs have been created, about 50 million visitors will go through our gates this year alone, about 8 million of them from outside the US, and we [meaning Disney] are the largest taxpayer in the state.”
And Disney is set to invest more in the state soon, “over 17 billion dollars in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years,” to be more exact, “and those investments we estimate will create 13,000 new Disney jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs, and they’ll also attract more people to the state and generate more taxes.”
In conclusion, Iger said, “Our point on this is that any action that thwarts those efforts, simply to retaliate for a position a company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida.” Those are some pretty fierce words to throw into the middle of an already heated battle.
Click here to see how Disney has subtly responded to some of the Reedy Creek drama
5 — All Disney Wants in Florida
With all of this controversy, you might be wondering just what Disney wants in Florida. Iger has spoken to that too. During a TIME Magazine interview, Iger talked about how Walt Disney’s dream turned “swampland in Central Florida into a business that employs over 75,000 people, that is visited by tens of millions of people every year, that is a major tourist destination in the United States, and for the state of Florida, that creates huge value for our company and its employees, and for the state of Florida itself.”
Iger went on to say that Disney’s “sole goal” in Florida is to keep creating value for these constituencies. He said, “All we want is a relationship with the state that enables us to continue to do that.” Iger said that they have the desire to continue to invest in Florida, grow the business, hire more people, increase attendance, and more all so they can “increase more value for the Walt Disney Company and for the state of Florida. It’s that simple.”
Click here to see what hotel is getting a MAKEOVER in Disney World
6 — Willing to Discuss Things With DeSantis?
By now you might be wondering just what Iger thinks about DeSantis and whether he’d even be willing to talk to DeSantis at this point, given the tension that could exist. But, during the TIME Magazine interview, Iger said “the governor of Florida wants to meet with me to discuss all of this, of course, I would be glad to do that.”
Iger continued, “You know, I’m one that typically has respected our elected officials and the responsibility that they have, and there would be no reason why I wouldn’t do that.”
At this point, it seems the battle between Disney and DeSantis continues to be quite adversarial, with DeSantis discussing a potential prison being built near Disney World, changing ride inspections, and more. But who knows what things could change in the future.
See what DeSantis has had to say about building a prison near Disney World
7 — On What Really Is “Political”
Will Disney be weighing in on every issue? What’s a political issue and what’s not? Iger has some thoughts on this too. In late November of 2022, soon after Iger returned to the CEO position, he spoke during a town hall meeting and said, “I think there’s a misperception here about what politics is…Some of the subjects that have been proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and I don’t think they are.”
This seems to echo his earlier statements from 2022 (prior to his return to the CEO position). At that point, Iger discussed his desire to speak up about the “Don’t Say Gay” situation and explained, “A lot of these issues are not necessarily political. It’s about right and wrong.”
What about potential backlash from fans or others? According to Iger, “When you are dealing with right and wrong, and when you are dealing with something that does have a profound impact on your business, I just think you have to do what is right and not worry about the potential backlash to it.”
Now, that doesn’t mean Disney will weigh in on every issue. During the 2023 shareholder meeting, Iger said “I also understand there are gonna be gray areas. There are gonna [be] times when we decide to weigh in on an issue that we believe is worthy of debate because of its relevance and importance to our business or to our employees…and there are times when I actually believe we shouldn’t.”
Still, Iger said that he feels strongly that Disney alone should be able to determine “whether, when, or how to weigh in on an issue, whether it’s private or public.”
8 — On Controversy
We couldn’t write up this post about controversial Bob Iger quotes without including a quote from Iger ABOUT controversy — ironic, isn’t it? Back in November of 2022, Iger discussed the Reedy Creek/DeSantis situation and made several of the quotes identified above. But he also spoke about controversial situations themselves.
He shared, “Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not.”
FOX Business reported the remainder of Iger’s words where he noted the following about controversy: “It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I’m going to do that.”
This was all said before the latest developments in the Reedy Creek saga (and prior to some of Iger’s more direct and public statements about DeSantis’ alleged “anti-business” actions), but still it’ll be interesting to see how (if at all) Iger manages to “quiet things down.”
Click here to see what the DeSantis-appointed board has been working on with the Disney District
9 — Straying Too Far from Walt’s “Vision” or “Values”
Another big criticism that goes hand-in-hand with some of the situations discussed above is that Disney has strayed too far from Walt Disney’s original “vision” or “values.” Iger addressed this (somewhat) during the TIME Magazine interview when he was asked if you can change a company and keep its values.
Iger replied, “I actually think that if you study great companies over time and you try to figure out why some companies stand the test of time and others do not, you would quickly conclude that most companies fade away because they’ve abandoned the core values that created the company in the first place.”
He continued by saying that “in the interest of staying relevant, they distance themselves from the essence of what they were.” But he noted, “There is a way to completely adhere to those same values but to present them to the world, to your customers, and to your employees in much more relevant ways.”
So it seems Iger does NOT want to abandon Disney’s “core values” but he does feel that there may be a way to present those to the world in a more relevant manner.
10 — The “Right Values” in Disney Films
Finally, we’re tackling Iger’s views on the “right values” contained in Disney films. If Disney’s content is not supposed to be agenda driven but is still meant to be accessible and touch people’s hearts, then what will be represented in them? During the 2023 shareholder meeting, Iger discussed some of that.
He said, “We’ve been telling stories for 100 years aimed at entertaining and inspiring families from all over the world. And we’re extremely proud of the positive impact we’ve had on billions of people over that 100-year period of time. For generations, the stories that we’ve told have touched people’s hearts, because they’ve been infused with right values.”
Just what are those “right values?” Well, according to Iger, Disney’s films have “celebrated heroes, emphasized the value of family and friendship, they’ve instilled a steady faith in the belief that good triumphs over evil, that tomorrow is always brighter than today.” He shared, that it is his “hope that Disney continues to be a source of hope and optimism for the world. And we’re honored to actually carry forth Walt’s legacy of inspiring joy and wonder for everyone.”
And there you have it — 10 important and potentially controversial quotes from Bob Iger on some hot topics. What will Iger say next? And what challenges will Disney face as it moves forward with job cuts, budget cuts, continued Reedy Creek drama, and more? We’ll be watching to see and we’ll share ALL of those details with you.
To see more about what Iger has said recently, click here to see his views on having more Marvel in Disney World, and click here to learn about Iger’s bromance with Steve Jobs.
Click here to learn about 5 controversial Bob Iger CHANGES
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Which of these quotes intrigued you the most? Tell us in the comments.
The post 10 Controversial Things Bob Iger Has Said About Disney’s Alleged ‘Woke Agenda’ first appeared on the disney food blog.