A few days ago, Disney announced that the new live-action Beauty and the Beast movie will feature a gay character. This is nothing new in movies, but it is a first for a major motion Disney film. Why did they do it? Some might think they are progressing an agenda. Others will say that it fits the theme of the character and is no big deal. I do not plan to make this post about my opinion on this issue but, whatever you think about it, you must admit this is a huge step.
The folks at Disney are no idiots. They know that some people will rally behind this, while others will not. Today, and the reason I am blogging about this, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, called Christians to boycott Disney. It wasn’t that he called people to boycott this movie; instead he is saying that conservative families should boycott Disney. If this happened, even partially, it could be a major financial setback for Disney. Disney is dependent on families with young children. They are the ones, mostly, watching the movies and buying their products. A large boycott would send a message, if that is the right message to send.
The thing that is interesting to me is how companies are now standing up for what they believe in, regardless of how it affects their bottomline. For example, a few years ago, the president of Chick-fil-a went on a national radio show and said that they believe in traditional marriage. After this, a huge backlash unfolded with protests and big-city mayors calling for a boycott of the fast food chain. More recently, Target announced that they would no longer have male and female restrooms, but instead will allow patrons use the restroom that they most identity with. Like in the first example, Target caught a barrage of reactions from both sides of the issue. Like Disney, these companies (and others like Starbucks and Hobby Lobby) have stood up for their moral beliefs and are willing to face the consequences.
So, what will this mean for Disney? Time will tell as we see how the movie does at the box office. Many will see it and many will not. So, can we learn anything by looking at the outcomes of these other examples? What were the financial effects of the other companies? In the instance of Chick-fil-a, their sales increased 12 % during the controversy (source: Huff Post). For Target, their stock has dropped 12.2% since the announcement (source: MarketWatch). I think it is fair to say that this does not look good for Disney, but then again, they are Disney. It seems that the pro-homosexual/anti-homosexual movements are going to continue to collide with one another. Both sides are passionately focused and determined to be right. Maybe they are actually the new Beauty and the Beast.