Disney has been accused of cutting LGBTQ+ content from the films of Pixar, the animation giant and Disney subsidiary, during the editing process.
A letter from a group of employees of Pixar – the studio behind Toy Story, The Incredibles and Inside Out – claimed Disney executives have “barred” moments of gay affection from films before they are released.
Signed by “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar & their allies”, the letter says: “We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were.”
It adds: “Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest … Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”
First reported by Judd Legum of Popular Information, the statement is the latest development in a crisis for Disney prompted by the company’s response to the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill which passed in the Florida state legislature on Tuesday. Officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, it seeks to ban teaching of sexual identity and gender orientation in early-grade education as well as in “a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”. The wording of the latter has been attacked as so vague that it may effectively enable parents to prevent discussion of the topics at any age. The bill is currently awaiting a signature from state governor Ron DeSantis.
The letter came in response to a company memo sent by Disney CEO Bob Chapek on Monday after Disney failed to make a public statement in opposition to the bill, and revelations that every politician who sponsored the bill had received donations from Disney. Chapek defended the lack of opposition to the bill, saying: “Corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds … they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.” He added: “I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.”
Pointing out that Disney has already stopped commercial activities in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine and threatened to boycott the state of Georgia over its planned Religious Liberties bill in 2016, the Pixar employees group says the company’s claims “ring hollow”.
Chapek, who became CEO of Disney in 2020 after Robert Iger stepped down, is thought to want to step back from the kind of advocacy that flourished under Iger, with the Hollywood Reporter suggesting that Chapek is “concerned that Disney might be viewed as too liberal ”.
Disney has been contacted for a response.