Noah Isherwood, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor
ABC, ESPN, A&E, Hulu, National Geographic, Pixar, LucasFilm, Twentieth Century Fox, 21st Century Fox, Marvel, the Jim Henson Company, the History Channel, Lifetime, Hollywood Records and Touchstone Pictures. These are all companies that the Disney Corporation has controlling interest in, and that should scare you.
Since its inception in 1923, Disney has been on the path to leadership in the entertainment industry. After becoming the top animation studio in the nation, Disney diversified into live-action film and television, and the rest is history. Over the years Disney bought, sold, and traded many smaller media companies, and recently this trend has culminated with the acquisition of Fox’s entertainment divisions. Disney has its fingers in every pie in the media pie case, from publishing to streaming, and the American public is blindly supporting this outright trust-building.
Some would say that the Disney Corporation is not indeed a trust, but I would argue that it is, while not in an historical sense. Disney is a cultural trust. Nearly all of the creative rights to our culture’s pop characters are owned by Disney. “The Simpsons”, every Star Wars character, The Muppets, The Avengers, The X-Men, the universes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Planet of the Apes” all take residence in the house of mouse. This cultural trust extends to educational programming too, with National Geographic and the History Channel being controlled by Disney.
The ramifications of this cultural trust are frightening. One board of directors ultimately controls the creation of nearly half of America’s favorite entertainment, with no oversight or checks on the financial or cultural power that fact entails. This should scare us a bit, especially given the fact that we live in an era that constantly voices its concerns about fairness and equity. Is it fair and equitable to allow one company to effectively control the media intake of millions of Americans? The longer Disney is allowed to continue down this path to media monopoly, the more dangerous it becomes to society. The effects of popular media on politics are well known; will we as a nation stand by and allow Disney to dictate policy? Obviously, this control is not yet evident or outright, but the seeds are being sown to bring it about.
Disney is the face of big business in the 21st century. They control around 40 percent of the visual media industry, and we haven’t even discussed theme parks or merchandising.
One of Disney’s newest additions, Spider-Man, has a catch phrase: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Where is Disney’s responsibility balancing its power? I for one cannot see it among all the mouse ears.