Disney Fired Their Woke CEO but Will Anything Change?

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Under outgoing CEO Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Co. has been the worst-performing major stock you could buy, losing more than half its value since its post-lockdown high in March of last year. Disney has vastly underperformed, even in a shrinking market.


To the surprise of perhaps very few, Chapek has been handed his hat and coat and shown the boardroom door, only to be replaced by his predecessor, Bob Iger.

Disney is the creator or owner of some of the most valuable intellectual properties in existence — everything from Mickey and Donald and Goofy to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars. Congress grants outrageous copyright protections even to Disney’s oldest properties, giving them a lock on characters whose exclusive value should have long since expired. Disney’s global theme parks are among the most coveted — and expensive — family travel destinations. And let’s not forget that sweetheart tax deal old Walt negotiated to protect his Orlando properties.

The company was thought to be bulletproof. So what happened? How did Chapek screw it all up so badly?

The proximate cause was Chapek’s in-your-face attitude towards corporate wokeness costing the company dearly. The Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo explained on Twitter Monday morning: “After Chapek’s disastrous fight with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Disney+ domestic subscriber growth collapsed, public approval dropped, and the stock price plummeted. Other causes contributed (economy, streaming saturation), but timing suggests they paid a price for the DeSantis fight.”

It’s difficult to imagine anything more self-destructive than a company soiling its nearly century-old family-friendly reputation. Unless, of course, it’s that same company choosing to kiss off its sweetheart tax deal in a fit of pique.


But Disney will always have its intellectual property to fatten corporate coffers, right?

Maybe not.

It’s said that there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. Unfortunately for the Mouse Company and its shareholders, there’s a lot less ruin in intellectual property.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has enjoyed, as it were, diminishing returns since 2019’s Avenger’s Endgame wrapped up all of the essential characters’ arcs in a three-hour finale. The endless parade of badly-written MCU TV series on the Disney+ streaming service hasn’t done the franchise any favors, either.

WandaVision was a sometimes confusing mess. Loki was one of the worst-written shows I’ve ever seen. Making fun of She-Hulk, which wasn’t just badly written but also cheap-looking, has practically turned into a cottage industry.

The Critical Drinker speaks for us all when he calls She-Hulk “rock bottom” and “the single worst thing that Marvel has ever put out.”

The less said about post-Lucas Star Wars, the better, but I will add one more observation to an overworked subject. Just when it appeared The Mandolorian had cleansed some of the bitter taste left by the awful Disney sequel movies, a plot development in Book of Boba Fett essentially erased all the beloved plot and character developments from Mando’s second season.

All so that Disney could try and sell a few more Baby Yoda plushies, apparently.

Under Chapek, Disney has been in a mad rush to dilute the value of some of the company’s most valuable properties. Just churn out the content, no matter how woke or just plain lame, and consumers will keep lapping it up.


But will they? Indefinitely?

Here’s another question: Why are Disney shares down even further on news of Iger’s return?

I can’t explain it any more pithily than this:

It was the returning Bob Iger who sent Disney down its current path to Total Wokeness. Chapek was merely the guy in charge when the stuff inevitably hit the fan.

The rot at the Magic Kingdom runs deep, like an heir to the family business who could never quite understand what made the business successful — and who has his own ideas about how to “fix” what was never broken.

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