Are Mickey And Minnie Mouse The New ‘Masters And Johnson’?
(For those who came of age after the turn of the century, Masters and Johnson were famous for leading research “into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions.” Now to the subject at hand.)
We should all be able to understand and agree that the primary role of businesses in America is to produce goods and services for the consumer at a profit for the owners. In the case of major corporations, the business has a legal fiduciary obligation to produce a fair return for the stockholders – the off-campus owners. Businesses also contribute to charities and lobby on legislation impacting directly on their ability to make that profit. Businesses and business people make political contributions to candidates they believe represent the best interests of the businesses.
Big corporations do get into unnecessary and damaging controversies when they engage in political advocacy that is NOT in line with their primary purpose. It usually happens because the top decision-maker in the business has personal political biases – and can use, or misuse them , based his or her authority to run the operation.
That is what happened to Disney. The issue of the school curriculum is not an existential subject for Disney even if the business is built on children. A wise CEO would have refrained from getting involved. In fact, that is exactly what Disney CEO Bob Chapek originally did. For whatever reasons, he changed his mind and decided to put the Disney brand 100 percent against those opposed to sex education for the youngest students.
That not only put Disney at war with a lot of parents – a majority according to some polls – but against the policies of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican majority in the Florida legislature.
But the issue went far beyond the Florida borders. Chapek’s decision angered a very large portion of the American population. It placed Disney needlessly at the center of the controversy.
It triggered national calls for a boycott of Disney parks, products, and movies. That most certainly will not be a mortal blow to the Disney empire, but it will hurt – and the hurt will be felt in the bottom line. That is where it will impact the stockholders who have every right to expect the Disney leadership to protect stock prices and dividends – and Disney stock value has dropped since Chapek did his flip-flop.
Since Disney’s decision to jump into the fray of this controversial issue, one might believe that the Company would have an impact on the issue. Not only is that not likely to be the case, but the only impact may be on Disney. Apart from the limited impact of a boycott, DeSantis and the legislature have responded to Disney by ending Disney’s privilege of operating Disney World as its own community – its own city.
Now I have to admit that the idea of using government to push back against businesses based on their positions on issues is troublesome to a conservative like me. It is only somewhat ameliorated by the fact that it is not punishing Disney as much as it is removing a special privilege they enjoy. Since the new law will not take place for more than a year, I suspect it will never be invoked.
One of the most important responsibilities of corporate leaders is to protect and enhance the brand. What Chapek did was just the opposite. He damaged the brand at the expense of the stockholders.
I couldn’t help but think back to my early years and seeing one of the iconic pornographic “8-pagers,” as they were called, that featured cartoons of Disney characters doing those things you only find in books sold in “adult” stores (at least so they tell me). In the minds of some, those 8-pagers could now be considered educational material for the pre-pubescent. (🡨 Of course, I am kidding. I qualify that before the anal-retentive left-wingers suffer another hair singeing.)
The unfortunate thing about Disney’s involvement is that it –pushing sex education onto the youngest children – has imposed adult content into the lives most parents see as the innocent years. It is not about homosexuality or self-identification. It is just that those subjects are best left to more mature students and their parents – just as we have traditionally done with heterosexual issues.
This is not a “don’t say gay” law – as the left has branded it – but a “protect childhood innocence” law.
So, there ‘tis.