Remember when Disney was a for-profit church of wholesome values? (Founded by artists affected by the death and carnage of two World Wars?) Probably not, which is why I wrote this, boring as it is — because someone must write Disney’s epilogue, or is this its obituary?
The last time an American had a real sense of war’s horrors was in 1973, the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, now 72, was one-and-twenty, barely old enough to understand life’s tragedies. For his generation, Vietnam was heading for the history books and its story retold for Americans in narcissistic film-classics like “Deerhunter” and “Apocalypse Now”.
Movie scripts Disney wouldn’t touch.
Today, if Walt Disney was able to come back from the dead he would watch “Loki” and “Mandalorian” and shudder in horror.
At Disney, innocent people shouldn’t be killed by heroes — ever.
Walt Disney (would say): “Not in a million years would I believe that had to be spelled out for anyone.”
How would he reconcile all the movements about human rights, LGBTQ, MeToo, BLM with all the unjust carnage these people gleefully consume? Even in entertainment, should someone be killed for simply standing in a hallway?
Today, most everyone else on Disney’s board were children when the Vietnam War ended. For them, the boardroom has been updated with fiber and curved screens. No morality continuity plan at Disney.
Though we’ve had small wars here and there, non has slowed down the American descent into narcissism. Both Iraq wars were more Disney “Shock and Awe” explosions then bloated corpses of one’s neighbors strewn alongside a babbling brook (the reality of Walt Disney’s generation).
This isn’t a hate piece on Disney. Disney is just the one company I expected to retain these values.
In today’s Disney movies, innocent security workers, who just peek their heads around hallways, are killed with abandon. By the end of any episode you could fill a stadium with the dead bodies.
The Mandalorian or Loki never believes in anything; they just want to have what they want. (“The Boys” made an attempt to question today’s superhero genre but succumbed to pointless plots in the second season.)
Sure, there’s the counter argument. If Disney made China or Russia evil, it would also put us on a path to war. I don’t buy that because the greater risk is under-estimating conflict, both geopolitical and domestic. In most action adventures today there is no real threat to the hero. Maybe I’m just too old but I can’t remember that last time I was on the edge of my seat.
And the final irony, when Disney does try to fight a battle against social evil (misogynism) it fires its hero (Gina Carano) because she had a mind of her own on other matters.
War Will Play Out As It Always Does
In our real world, we will stumble into war because we no longer expect it.
At some point, an attack will kill dozens or hundreds, for which some nation will feel compelled to respond — with proportional force. That means just a little bit more. And from that little bit more another response. And so on, and so on.
So far, we’ve been lucky. The U.S. didn’t start war with Iran over a drone getting shot down. Iran hasn’t gone to war with Israel over its top nuclear scientist getting gunned down by a robot. Russia didn’t go to war with Turkey over a downed fighter. In all those incidents few people died.
But what would happen if a navy ship from the U.S., Russia, China or any other major power is hit by a missile (doesn’t matter by who) and dozens of personnel die and dozens others end up with arms, legs, bodies and faces burnt beyond recognition? What happens when those images come to Instagram?
War will begin with the public wanting to end the the fight (calling it a war comes much later) with a quick knockout punch. It will want to see a Disney movie enacted in real life.
No wars end because people get smart. Because they recognize there will be no knockout punch. Those smarts requires years, decades of experience (only to be lost decades later as they are today). That’s the history of history.
Most wars end only after a few dozen people burning to death on a ship barely warrants a mention in the news.
Today, while the public watches the bodies fly and blood spurt on the Disney channel, there is a renewed global arms race.
At no time in my life have Americans cared less about what happens to people outside the U.S. Or thought less about the consequences of U.S., Chinese or Russian military activities. For years, women and children die in Yemen from U.S. made weapons. The New York Times couldn’t have covered that fact in more detail.
Anti-war protests these days are smaller than protests over a park bench being removed.
It would be easy enough to stop sending weapons to Saudi Arabia. Weapons are physical things. We know how to NOT put something in the mail.
Instead, Americans march for vague notions of sexual identity, police ideals, gender behaviors, etc. It’s all words. No specific laws are introduced. Blame this; blame that. You’re free to call anyone a racist.
To question these post-War generations, to try to put these issues in the context of other issues facing the world, only gets you accused of being the problem in the first place.
There is no real discussion anymore. One remains free to read history. One is not free to question others.
The children of the children, of those who suffered through two world wars, are now the jailers. They don’t care how many weapons the U.S. produces or where they end up or how they are used.
The new generation believes they will never make the jump from their war of words to a war of killing machines. They believe this because they simply have not experienced it.
They believe correctly that the wars of men storming a beach are over.
They don’t understand that for thousands of years people have believed war was over too, for one reason or another.
It doesn’t matter how much one can learn on the Internet. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
I have not written this essay to get Disney to change. I haven’t written it to convince anyone of anything. I’ve only written for people in the future. I want to answer their question. Did anyone see it coming? Yes.
You can count us on one hand.