Disney family doc takes aim at Mouse House

Content of the article

NEW YORK (AP) — Abigail E. Disney has previously slammed the company that bears her name. But for the first time, Disney, the granddaughter of co-founder Roy O. Disney, has spoken about the medium the Mouse House was built on: a movie.

In the new documentary « The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, » Disney claims the Walt Disney Co. has lost its moral compass. As one of the company’s most prominent and outspoken critics – a member of the Disney family – Disney paints an unflattering picture of the company, especially when it comes to pay inequality and hardship. of some theme park employees to support their families. on minimum wage wages.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

Content of the article

“They followed the path of most other companies in this country. They started out with a bigger idea of ​​themselves than that,” Disney said in an interview. “The Walt Disney Co. was better. It was nicer, it was softer. It was a human enterprise.

« We lost the plot, » Disney said.

« The American Dream, » which plays in select theaters and makes its video-on-demand debut Friday, is made by Disney, an activist and film producer, and filmmaker Kathleen Hughes. This came on the heels of a series of tweets from Disney in 2019 in which she criticized then-Disney chief executive Bob Iger for compensation that in 2018 topped $65 million. Disney siblings Susan Disney Lord and Tim Disney are also executive producers on the film, which was made without any interaction from the company.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

“No one reached out to me. I’m a little puzzled, frankly,” Disney said. “I’m happy to talk if that’s what they want to do. I’m rooting for them. I love this business. This is a love letter to the company. But when you really, really love something and you see it go off the rails, you can’t stay silent.

The film follows four Disneyland caretakers who, on a $15-an-hour salary, struggle to make ends meet in expensive Anaheim, California. Growing pay gaps between executives and lower-level workers are a problem Disney knows about far beyond the company handling its film. At one point in the film, she describes her hope for change as “a little Disney.

« I know people think I just live here in some abstract country, » Disney said. « But abstractions matter a lot, and sensibilities need to change. »

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

Salaries for some Disney employees have changed. Unions representing 9,500 Disneyland workers avoided a strike by ratifying a contract that raised pay from $15.45 an hour to $18. A union representing hospitality workers at an Anaheim hotel also recently reached a settlement on $23.50 an hour. (Anaheim’s living wage ordinance, which is $23.50, had previously been ruled not applicable to Disneyland.)

In response to « The American Dream, » a Disney spokesperson responded with a statement.

“Our incredible cast members, storytellers and employees are the heart and soul of Disney, and their well-being is our top priority. We work hard to ensure our team is supported in a way that enables them to grow their careers, care for their families and thrive at work – that’s why so many people choose to spend their entire careers with us. .

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

The spokesperson also cited medical coverage, access to tuition-free higher education and subsidized childcare as benefits for workers. “We are committed to building on these impactful programs by identifying new ways to support our actors and our communities around the world,” the spokesperson said.

When Roy E. Disney, who founded the company with his brother Walt in 1923, left the board in 2003, the family ceased to be involved in running the business. Since Abigail Disney directed her documentary, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Iger has been replaced by Bob Chapek, who previously directed parks for the company. During this period, prices rose sharply at the company’s theme parks – another point of contention for Disney.

Advertising 6

Content of the article

« I just don’t think it’s a good idea for Disneyland to become a luxury vacation spot that most Americans don’t have access to, » she said. « I don’t know how much more the brand can handle. »

Disney, however, was encouraged by workers who protested Chapek’s response to Florida legislation that critics dubbed the « Don’t Say Gay » bill. For Disney, the situation reflected the company’s struggle to maintain a role as a moral authority in a politically polarized environment.

« There’s nothing like not having a position on this issue, » she said. “There is no neutral ground. Pretending that you can stand still on a moving train is a terrible mistake.

Ultimately, Disney increasingly fails to recognize the business that for much of its life was the family business. Making a film about her disapproval, she said, was « extremely uncomfortable ». But she didn’t give up on a happy ending forever.

« I really mean good, » Disney says. « You can say a lot of things about me, but I mean good. »


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


Back to top button