Disney is Out of Touch With Mainstream American Values | Opinion

Conservatives are once again shooting themselves in the foot and handing the Left an easy victory. In their confrontation with the Disney company over its opposition to an education bill that liberals mislabeled "don't say gay," Republicans are playing into their opponents' hands by picking the wrong side of a culture war that's already been decided against them.

Or so liberals think.

As one Politico writer put it, the very notion that the GOP would "demonize one of America's most beloved and trusted corporations seems so quixotic on its face that it invites a simple question: not 'Why would they do this?' or even 'Why would they think it could be done?' but 'Why would it even seem advantageous to try?'"

On its face, this assessment of the dustup between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the company that operates "the happiest place on earth" seems accurate. That's especially true if you believe that the culture wars over gay and transgender issues were already won by the LBGTQ lobby and its corporate allies years ago.

That assumption is based on the way Hollywood helped normalize gay marriage in films and television shows, powering the push for the courts to ultimately mandate its acceptance everywhere in the country. That campaign illustrated the truth, enunciated by the late Andrew Breitbart, that politics was downstream of culture. Since the entertainment industry remains firmly in the grip of the Left, its leaders likely assume every policy shift they endorse will inevitably be made a permanent part of American culture.

Hence the belief that Florida Republicans are crazy to think they will succeed in stopping the indoctrination of young children to accept radical ideas about gender. If Hollywood, including heretofore family-friendly Disney, plans to promote gender ideology, it's because it believes mainstream American culture will follow along even when it advocates for the use of life-altering medical treatments on minors, with or without their parents' permission.

But while Breitbart's rule still holds, the Left and its corporate enablers, such as those running Disney, are fundamentally mistaken about their power to control public opinion.

Ron DeSantis
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 24: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at The Rosen Shingle Creek on February 24, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. CPAC, which began in 1974, is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Liberals may believe that supporting the right of parents to be involved in decisions regarding their children's well-being and to limit discussion of gender and sexuality issues in classrooms is reactionary. But no matter how many times they call Florida's HB1557 law "don't say gay" and assume that will be enough to ensure its defeat, that doesn't make it so. Nor does it change the fact that there is a huge difference between acceptance of adult gay couples and the attempt to normalize the idea of young children changing their gender, or allowing biological males to compete and dominate in women's sports at the high school and college levels. Such things are not rooted in basic American values.

Moreover, the growing polarization of American political culture means that liberal confidence in Hollywood's power to determine societal norms is also mistaken. In the last three years, the bifurcation of society has become almost complete, with Americans reading, viewing and listening to entirely different sets of press outlets and becoming isolated from each other on social media platforms.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, many Americans stopped listening to cultural or media outlets that call them racists because of their skin color or their adherence to equality instead of "equity." The same is true of conservatives who are ignoring mainstream media that label them traitorous insurrectionists because they voted for Donald Trump or question the fairness of the 2020 presidential election.

Now, even demographic groups that Democrats believed to be unshakably liberal are joining the backlash against woke doctrines about race and gender being imposed in the schools. When Disney, acting under the pressure exerted by both left-wing employees and liberal opinion leaders, chose to publicly oppose the Florida law, it started something it couldn't finish.

DeSantis and the GOP are not trying to turn back the clock to the 1950s while the rest of the country has moved on. They are actually in tune with much of mainstream America, which is rejecting the Left's demonization of those who think parents should be in charge of their kids' education and that sex ed, including indoctrination about gender, isn't appropriate for kindergarten students.

Disney, as one former writer for the network recently acknowledged, has long been involved in the sexualization of children, and it is not so powerful as to be able to mainstream ideas about race and gender that ordinary Americans reject as racist or too left-wing. And as it takes on a popular governor who is unafraid of such confrontations, it is about to find out that its influence may fall short. The GOP could inflict serious financial damage on a corporation dependent on state acquiescence in a sweetheart deal from which it has long profited.

This sort of comeuppance has been long in coming. But it will still shock the cultural Left to learn that there are limits on its power and that there are some things it can't make Americans swallow, no matter how hard it tries through its programming and public advocacy. Backlashes against pop culture are also upstream of politics, and that wave of anger about wokeness could swamp not only Disney but its Democratic Party supporters this fall.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS.org, a senior contributor to The Federalist and a columnist for the New York Post. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.