Pixar Employees Slam Disney For Allegedly Censoring Diverse Characters

By Michileen Martin | 2 months ago

pixar turning red

After Disney’s inaction in the passing of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a lot of people are unhappy with the company. Among those numbers you can officially count the Disney-owned company that’s made some of the most beloved animated films of the past three decades. A letter from some Pixar employees addressed to Disney has surfaced which not only urges the parent company make concrete steps to change their stance on the bill, but accuses Disney executives of demanding that almost any expression of same-sex affection in Pixar’s films be either removed completely from the finished product, or greatly reduced.

The letter, as reproduced by Variety, is addressed to Disney’s leadership from “the LGBTQIA+ Employees of Pixar & Their Allies” and comes in response to a company-wide memo from Disney CEO Bob Chapek titled “Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community.” Among other things, it addresses Chapek’s statement that, rather than getting directly involved in the debate over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, that “The biggest impact [Disney] can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.” The Pixar letter counters by claiming that it has tried to make such “inspiring content” only to be stopped by its parent company. “We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories,” the letter reads, “full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. 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.”

As reported by NBC News, the Parents Rights in Education Bill, or “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was passed on Tuesday in the Florida senate and signed into law by Florida governor Ron DeSantis. The law Pixar is asking Disney to disavow is meant to prevent the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida public schools. It passed in spite of opposition from Florida lawmakers like Senator Annette Taddeo who insists it will endanger the safety of “LGBTQ students and adolescents.”

In the wake of the bill’s passing, Disney has been criticized not only for staying quiet in spite of its often promoted commitment to diversity, but the fact that the company has given financial support to some of the state lawmakers backing the bill. As the letter from the Pixar employees points out, in the past Disney has used its corporate weight to change the trajectory of discriminatory laws. The letter uses the example of the 2016 Religious Liberty Bill in Georgia which many believed was meant to allow certain business to discriminate against the LGBTQ community on religious grounds. In response, Disney released a statement that the company — that does quite a bit of filmmaking in Georgia — would take its “business elsewhere” if the law were passed. While it was no doubt more than simply Disney that made it happen, the law thankfully went nowhere.

Pixar isn’t the only organization telling Disney to do more. In response to Bob Chapek’s pledge to donate $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other LGBTQ rights organizations, the HRC has told Chapek to keep his money. In a statement, HRC said they would continue to refuse any donations from Disney until the company takes “meaningful action” against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and others like it.

While Disney CEO Bob Chapek has expressed disappointment with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and has pledged to meet with Governor DeSantis, to many that isn’t enough. The Pixar letter goes on to challenge its parent company to take more concrete action against the legislative backers of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and similar laws. Specifically, the writers ask Disney to no longer financially support any legislators who voted for or otherwise supported the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to “fully denounce” the law, and to “make amends” for the support given up to this point. They further ask the parent company to make similar stands against anti-gay and anti-trans laws currently being considered in other states.