This afternoon I wrote a series of tweets about the uncomfortable and potentially brand-damaging relationship that Disney CEO Bob Iger (pictured above, left) is pursuing with U.S. president Donald Trump, a relationship that puts financial aims above the welfare of Disney employees and the carefully polished cultural brand of the Walt Disney Company.
There is a major disconnect right now between the messages being sent out by the creative team at Disney and its upper management. The company’s animation studio is currently winning awards for Zootopia, a film about prejudice and social divisions, while its CEO is actively courting a president who came into power by exploiting prejudice and social division.
“It was horrifying to see that members of our society were being persecuted, very obviously because of what they looked like,” Zootopia co-director Rich Moore recently told the L.A. Times about black men who are targeted by American law enforcement. “I remember saying, ‘This is exactly what we’re talking about with this movie.’ It was emboldening.”
Comments like those by Moore ring hollow, however, when Disney’s CEO is collaborating with the country’s highest elected official, a president who is recklessly targeting and endangering large segments of Disney’s workforce and audience. Iger’s refusal to spell out Disney’s corporate and social values before engaging with Trump are deeply troubling.
Thus far, the only comments Iger has made on Trump have placed corporate profit over people. Shortly after the election, Iger said that he was “hopeful” about Trump because, “There is going to be far more energy around attacking the tax code, changing the tax code, closing loopholes on corporate taxes and lowering the base.”