Disney Has Broken Rule №1 of Business, but Why Is Nobody Saying Anything?
If I turned to my employer and declared I won’t serve half our customers because I do not agree with their values — I would rightly be fired.
Yet, in America the land of customer service, this is happening as we speak.
Where Disney was once seen as the home of imaginative storytelling, it has now come to symbolise (very) overpriced theme-parks, meaningless virtue signalling and pointless remakes.
How did it come to this?
In a time, not so long ago, Disney was focused on one thing — making money.
Now whatever your beliefs about the merits or otherwise of capitalism, this was not an abnormal ambition in the USA.
However, as Andy Grove famously declared “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
Somewhere along the line, Disney became complacent.
Previous successes were taken to mean there would be equivalent future successes and how could there not be when Disney had acquired Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar?
Disney had taken on the mission to acquire some of the most distinctive intellectual property of our time.
Yet under their stewardship, characters that were once beloved have become one-dimensional, incapable of growth and moralising.
If there’s one film that symbolises this, it’s the Mulan remake.
When making a film about one of the most famous cultural icons in Chinese history, the rational instinct would be to tread carefully.
China’s domestic market has created many beautiful renditions of the story of Mulan and the 1998 Disney version is not hated in China.
That version involved painstaking research from artists, animators, and scriptwriters alike. Even the background characters in the scenes in her hometown are doing Mulan Tai Chi.
The 2020 film, however, managed to wilfully misinterpret the concept of qi to make Mulan a bland superheroine, get wrong basic Chinese locations, and tacitly condone the ongoing treatment of the Uighurs.