Disney Is Not Our Savior

Let’s talk about Roseanne Barr. She has a storied career of saying the wrong things and pissing off every kinds of people. Actually, that’s mostly all she was known for outside of her mega-hit television show, Roseanne. Terribly singing the Star-Spangled Banner, dressing as Hitler, and a plethora of insensitive remarks for decades left her lingering in C-list celebrity limbo. Most of her post-Roseanne acting credits include minor voice-acting, playing herself, and playing herself satirically.

But in 2018, her show Roseanne was resurrected to amazing ratings, and she was once again a household-name celebrity. Hurrah! Then she posted a racist tweet, and ABC, owned by Disney, shit-canned her the next day. She was fired from her hit television show, a show with her own name on it, because she was racist. Good for Disney.

Barr didn’t just make one bad joke. She’d proved herself a racist for over a decade. And finally, Disney had the power to teach her a lesson.

Okay, and I’m back from laughing so hard I almost popped stitches from a hernia surgery I had twelve years ago. Disney didn’t give two shits about what was morally right. They ran the numbers. The show continuing without Barr would make the company more money than defending her, and risking a boycott.

Cara Dune was a beloved character on another hit-television show, The Mandalorian. Played by MMA fighter Gina Carano, Cara was so beloved Disney started developing a spinoff show around her.

Carano herself was also an interesting character. In August of 2020, after a summer of posting anti-masking and COVID conspiracy tweets, Carano blundered into a controversy over pronouns — and would not stop talking. Despite conversations with Disney and her co-stars, she continued mocking transgender people for several weeks.

And nothing happened to her. Disney continued work on Carano’s new series and did its best to brush her transphobia under the rug.

Six months later, following the release of a new season of The Mandalorian and Carano continuing to play the victim to the so-called Trans bullies, she posted an anti-Semitic tweet. Disney shit-canned her the next day and canceled her series.

Thank you, moral-arbiters as Disney. You are the ombudsmen of our reality, correcting errors in the darkest timeline of our pure-hearted souls. Or you just know better than to fuck with us Jews. Come on! They ran the numbers and decided they would make more money firing Carano and taking a short-term loss on her show than defending her and — yeah, risking a boycott.

The question: Why did Disney distance itself from Barr and Corano so quickly after racist or anti-Semitic tweets, but not after Corano’s transphobic tweets? Similarly, why did Spotify force Joe Rogan to apologize for his racist comments, but not his transphobic ones?

Let’s talk about another crotchety old lady, the BBC. If you follow Trans anything, you know about their infamous article, “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women”. (I refuse to link to it, but just Google “bbc transphobic article” and it’s the first result.)

If, like me, you filed a formal complaint with the BBC about the article, you would have received one of a number of canned email responses. One of those responses used the cover of the BBC’s “strong commitment to impartiality” to defend publishing an article presenting the views of transphobes. They are, basically, both-sidesing, transgenderism and transphobia. (Although doing so without presenting any Trans viewpoints.)

This is, of course, disgusting and blatant partiality from the BBC, who probably assume most of their readers are stupid because they get their news from the BBC. But it gets worse: The BBC has a specific rule that they are not impartial on racism. Meaning they do not both-sides racism. They do not interview the KKK or Nazis when writing pieces about racism. Racism, to the BBC, is objectively bad. But not transphobia.

Like the BBC, the world still sees transgenderism as a discussion, a conversation, an argument that has not yet been won. Despite the massive amount of scientific evidence defending Trans people, our existence has not yet been decided by the cis-normies. They’re still thinking on us, and will let us know when they come to a decision. In the meantime, we should laugh at their jokes, appreciate they’re even thinking on us one way or the other, and maybe get the fuck out of their faces and go live in a hole somewhere.

This is why Disney isn’t shit-canning actors for transphobic speech. Oh, Disney isn’t spending any time thinking about the morality of Trans people. No. It’s everyone else who aren’t quite ready to cancel their Disney+ subscriptions. Disney would have shit-canned Carano for transphobia if the numbers told them enough customers would walk away if they didn’t. But the numbers don’t say that yet. History doesn’t say that yet.

There are more than thirty states working on anti-transgender bills right now. In Texas, the governor required child-protective services to remove trans children from their parents. Idaho is criminalizing puberty blockers with up to life in prison. And in Florida, teachers can’t even discuss sexuality and gender with students. (Unless it’s man-on-woman missionary, which they’re now required to demonstrate with a Ron DeSantis blow-up sex doll.)

Within the Trans community, there’s plenty of attention on the anti-trans bills. Outside our community, only the Texas order seemed to gain traction in the media. (Even the President mentioned it in the State of the Union. Fancy!) But a week later, everyone quickly moved on to Florida’s far less impactful “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Funny how the bill also prevents gender discussions, and even DeSantis said the main purpose is to stop discussions on transgenderism, yet everyone calls it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Hmmm.

While several companies signed a letter against the Texas anti-trans order, it was mainly thanks to the efforts of the HRC. There was very little public pressure on individual companies. Despite calls for a boycott, SXSW was very well attended. But Disney! Everyone had something to say to Disney about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. All the allies showed up for this one. (And it worked, because Disney did kind-of-sort-of relent in a temporary way.)

Within my own friends circle, I have spent months advocating for the cancelation of Netflix and Spotify accounts after they both platformed and defended transphobes. It’s been difficult, and many friends have sadly not cared enough to give up Bridgerton. But to then see some of the same people actively calling for a protest of Disney because they — puts on reading glasses and checks notes — did something every large corporation does, fund Republicans, well, I just feel like people still don’t care about me.

Once again, Disney did something because they saw the political tide. Defend Jews, defend Black people, defend Gays. There’s money in doing so. There’s money lost in not doing so.

But until we as Trans community come together and start demanding strong boycotts against companies, and our supposed allies start joining us, we are going to see more comedians laugh at us, more laws criminalize us, and more fascists murder us. I just hope we don’t have to wait for millions of us to be wiped out before people start caring.

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JvA

(they/them) Trans-Jewish Orchestra. Comedy writer and software engineer. Sometimes comedy engineer and software writer.