Not surprisingly, coronavirus came up several times Wednesday during a meeting of Walt Disney Co. shareholders in Raleigh, N.C.
Once was when new Disney CEO Bob Chapek fielded a question about whether the company would agree with people who have signed onto a petition asking the company to “reconsider the way in which you currently promote LGBT ideology in many of your products for children,” specifically by refraining from holding another gay pride-themed parade at its parks. Disneyland Paris held the company’s first, official park-sponsored event in May.
“We want to trust your brand, but we no longer feel safe,” said the woman, who gave her name as Caroline Farrow, at about 30 minutes into the audio Disney provided from the event. “At a time when your stock is down by 20 percent, is it perhaps time to reconsider what you can do to make Disney more family friendly, to make it safe for people around the world, not just one particular minority?”
Chapek responded to her question about the company’s “ideology” first.
“At Disney we strongly believe that we should reflect in our creative content the diversity that we find in our fan base and with our audience,” he said. “And I believe that will continue with an increased commitment as we move forward. ... We believe we want to tell stories that our audience wants to hear and that reflects their lives.”
Then he noted that Disney’s stock has taken a dive in the wake of a global health crisis.
“Secondly, in terms of the stock price, I think there’s a lot of reasons why the stock price might be down 20 percent, and it has nothing to do with the issue that you raised,” Chapek continued. “It might have more to do with coronavirus and the worldwide pandemic that we’re facing, but thank you for your question.”
Chapek replaced Bob Iger last month as the company’s chairman, although he remains in an executive post.
It was under Iger that, last month, the new Disney Pixar movie Onward arrived in theaters featuring the first LGBTQ character in Disney animation history, months after the company featured a brief same-sex kiss in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and an openly gay character in Avengers: Endgame.
Onward director Dan Scanlon told Yahoo Entertainment, “It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world.”
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