Walt Disney has no issue with battling American politicians and parents who object to age-inappropriate content in its entertainment. But when it comes to its Disney+ streaming service in the Middle East, gay is something the company will not say.
Since suddenly going woke after decades of providing family-friendly entertainment, Disney has seen multiple products unable to crack Middle Eastern markets.
Just in the past year, “Lightyear,” Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and even “West Side Story” have run afoul of the region’s religious censors. When asked, Disney reportedly refused to make cuts.
But the entertainment giant has apparently found a corner it is willing to cut to gain access to the markets for its streaming service.
In the past 12 months, it learned that material aimed at adults with LGBT-themed content was allowable in the United Arab Emirates. The Dr. Strange sequel passed muster as did “Eternals,” though it was cut for scenes of affection.
These and others that are aimed at older audiences will reportedly make the cut for Disney+ in Arab regions. That, however, is not true for projects aimed more at children.
Disney+ Middle East to Align With Local Censorship Rules, ‘Lightyear’ Won’t Appear on Streamer https://t.co/C97l66Xz4f
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 5, 2022
Most other parts of the world received “Lightyear” on streaming just recently, but not so in the Middle East. Same goes for “Baymax,” which features a transgender “man” who menstruates.
It bears asking. Isn’t this in large part what American critics want as well? It is saddening to see Disney depart from family-friendly entertainment in any case, but films aimed at the adult market are far less worrisome than those with age-inappropriate themes targeting younger audiences.
Disney decided that Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law was a hill they were prepared to die on. How much blowback would the company receive if it dug in its heels and tried to change religious and cultural restrictions in the Middle East?
That’s easy. The company would be a distant memory in Arab countries in no time, and they know that. So, despite all of the principled posturing company officials make whenever any American dares to question questionable content, their morality is still up for sale.
Wouldn’t it be nice if U.S. children were simply afforded the same level of protections that young ones in other countries are?