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How Trump Derangement Syndrome, #MeToo and Tumblrinas Ruined Disney

Posted on | February 18, 2024 | Comments Off on How Trump Derangement Syndrome, #MeToo and Tumblrinas Ruined Disney

You probably never saw Raya and the Last Dragon, which was not exactly a box-office blockbuster — it barely broke even — and is certainly not destined to be remembered as a classic Disney cartoon.

Nevertheless, Raya and the Last Dragon is historically important because the 2021 film marks the decisive turning point in the downward trajectory of Disney. Ace of Spades on Friday linked and excerpted a lengthy recounting of this history by Alan Ng, editor-in-chief of the website Film Threat. “The D-Files, Part 3: Disney the Killer of Dreams.”

Because Ng’s story is such a long one, and because Ace’s excerpts do not provide the necessary backstory for those who haven’t followed the twists and turns of Disney’s trajectory, I feel obligated to give readers a thumbnail history. Under the leadership of Michael Eisner, Disney in the late 1980s became the most successful studio in Hollywood and, beginning with 1989’s The Little Mermaid — which won two Academy Awards; Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “Under the Sea” — launched a string of animated features that became known as “The Disney Renaissance.” Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995) — Disney could do no wrong. Not only did these cartoon features bring in blockbuster box-office revenues, they also sold lots of VHS and DVD copies (every kid in the 1990s and 2000s grew up watching these videos over and over), to say nothing of the toys, costumes and other merchandising sales. Meanwhile, with funding from Steve Jobs of Apple computers, Pixar Studios began producing feature-length computer-animated movies: Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), etc. The popularity of this new-style animation eclipsed the old ink-and-paint animation style, and by 2006, Disney bought out Pixar.

In 2009, Disney added the Marvel franchise to its portfolio, and in 2012, bought Lucasfilms, bringing the Star Wars franchise into the brand. Bob Iger had succeeded Eisner as head of Disney in 2005, and these acquisitions — Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars — put Iger atop a seemingly indestructible entertainment juggernaut. The hits just kept coming, with the Pirates of the Caribbean series (five films, 2003-2017) adding to the Disney empire’s pile of successes. And then Trump happened.

It is difficult to find words for just how much hatred and craziness were generated in Hollywood by Donald Trump’s 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton. The show-business moguls had gone all-in for Hillary, and were as stunned as anyone when, on the evening of November 8, 2016, Trump won decisively in the Electoral College although (as Democrats never stopped pointing out over the next few years) Clinton had won the popular vote by a 3-million vote margin. Along the way to this result, Hillary had stirred up a frothing cauldron of feminist sentiment, which did not dissipate with her defeat. Instead, there was born the Women’s March movement and, eventually, the #MeToo campaign, launched in the fall of 2017 and initially inspired by widespread accusations of sexual abuse by movie mogue Harvey Weinstein. Very quickly, #MeToo — which must be seen, in retrospect, as a symptomatic side effect of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) — came knocking on the doors at Disney.

In acquiring Pixar Studios in 2006, Disney had regained the services of genius John Lasseter, who had started as an apprentice animator for Disney in 1979 but left in the mid-1980s to pursue computer animation, first with Lucas, and then with Pixar, where he directed their first three smash hits, Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story II. After Pixar was acquired by Disney, Lasseter was promoted to chief creative officer of Walt Disney Feature Animation, reporting directly to Disney CEO Iger. On November 21, 2017, the bombshell struck: The 60-year-old Lasseter was “taking a leave of absence,” it was reported, after complaints of “unwanted advances” and other similar misconduct.

The “leave of absence” proved permanent, and in June 2018, Lasseter’s exit from Disney was announced. Lasseter was replaced by Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee, the latter largely responsible for the 2013 hit Frozen. But this became more that the mere replacement of an executive, as Alan Ng writes, Disney decided “radical changes needed to be made in the racial and gender makeup of its leadership and creative process. This change began with Raya and the Last Dragon.” After that film began development in 2018, “a major recruitment push was made to hire more women from outside the company to reach a 50/50 male/female balance for equity’s sake.” It should go without saying that these new hires were younger and less experienced than the “old white guys” who got shoved out the door to make way for this “equity” crew and, given that they knew they were only hired for political reasons, the new hires brought with them a militant attitude. This brings us to the most shocking of Alan Ng’s revelations about Disney’s new hiring process:

Instead of hiring formally trained artists from traditional institutions like Cal-Arts, Disney (with the help of Women in Animation) explicitly recruited from social media sites, including Tumblr and Reddit — a fact confirmed by numerous sources. . . .
What mattered was that your social media profile checked the right boxes (i.e., “female” and “not White”). . . .
Another source noted that Tumblr was “UNEQUIVOCALLY” the base for new talent. Women from the social media site were quickly scooped up and placed on Raya and the Last Dragon, along with other animated shows and features. Talent was always an afterthought. It was more important that these women could pad the quotas and become useful foot soldiers for the cause of DEI. Once in, the activists were asked for referrals, and now they were in a position to hire other artists from their “friend squads.” They were now hiring based seemingly on their politics; these “friend squads” quickly created a powerful contingent not just at Disney. . . .
he vast majority of the newly hired Tumblr talent is self-taught. There’s nothing wrong with that as an artistic starting point. Successfully copying your favorite artists is the first indicator that one has minimal talent. The problem is that Tumblr is not art college and will not give you the proper training required to grow. Tumblr-based artists are constantly being affirmed by fellow Tumblr artists…which breeds an unhealthy level of narcissism and bad habits. Constructive criticism is the key to growth, but online criticism of one’s art is always taken personally and inevitably sparks drawn-out struggle sessions of hurt feelings followed by personal attacks. Best to keep your criticisms to yourself if you want to be part of the “friend squad.”
It is well-known in the art community Tumblr has a bad reputation. In fact, “Tumblr cartoons” is a term for awful animation featuring bad design and uninspired storytelling. One source told me, “Tumblr was Ground Zero for this mess we’re in. . . .”

This is madness, and it’s important to understand how this obsession with DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) connects to Trump Derangement Syndrome and the feminist theme of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Hillary’s message was, “It’s her turn” — voters owed her the job, because she’s a woman. Electing Trump instead was a gigantic middle-finger answer to that demand, provoking a feminist rage that fueled the #MeToo movement, took down Lasseter and resulted in Disney hiring a bunch of women artists from Tumblr, effectively creating a No-Males-Allowed climate inside the studio. As Alan Ng writes: “The mission of DEI is not equality…it’s revenge. The final outcome is a complete takeover…a reset…of the entertainment industry as a whole.”


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