Disney Shuts LA Times out of Coverage of its Latest Blockbuster

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest Disney blockbuster, shattering records in its opening weekend and getting impressive reviews. But you’d never know much about it from the pages of the Los Angeles Times. The reason? Disney has engaged in a blackout of the Times over its coverage of the company’s relationship with the City of Anaheim.

Deadline reports:

The notoriously sensitive media giant cut off the Times‘ access in response to the newspaper’s coverage of Disney’s business ties with the city of Anaheim. The article published this fall examined the public policy debate around whether Disney, which has received subsidies, incentives, rebates and protections from future taxes on its Disneyland theme park, is paying its fair share.

Shortly after the article appeared, Disney stopped returning reporters’ calls.

The Times went public with the dispute — the latest expression of long-running tensions between the media company and the newspaper, which covers Disney closely and critically as one the region’s biggest employers — its Calendar section today. The newspaper published a statement explaining to readers why the section was devoid of a review for the much-anticipated Marvel superhero tentpole Thor: Ragnarok, which opens to wide release today and likely will surpass $100 million at the box office in its opening weekend.

“Walt Disney Co. studios declined to screen the movie for The Times’ critics, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with the city of Anaheim,” the statement read. “The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public. Justin Chang’s review of “Thor: Ragnarok” will appear in Saturday’s paper.”

Disney has had a long history of cultivating unusual relationships with localities in order to be able to do business its own way. Since Disneyland was in its developing stages in the early 50s, Walt and Roy Disney worked out special tax incentives with Anaheim, and the company spent half a decade working with Orange and Osceola Counties in Florida in the run up to the opening of Walt Disney World (which I talk about in detail in my book Football, Faith, and Flannery O’Connor: A Love Letter to the South.)

Now the LA Times is questioning whether Disney is “paying its fair share.” Typical liberal move, isn’t it? It’s easy to see why Disney is mad – for all the complaint about left-leaning content coming from Disney, they’re pretty conservative when it comes to business – but it’s fascinating that they would choose to play hardball in such a way.

The move may backfire for Disney, as the New York Times is threatening to boycott Disney screenings until the company restores press access to the LA Times. Other media outlets could follow suit.

The whole tiff comes down to the fact that Disney is a big enough company to try to bully a media outlet, but the media could gang up enough to hit back pretty hard. And Disney doesn’t want that.

We Are In The Last Days: Jesus Isn’t Just All Right With ABC

…having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:5)

Whoopi Goldberg and the staff and producers of ABC’s “The View” would do well to learn this Scripture. In fact, they should learn it in context of what St. Paul wrote to Timothy.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a group of people more emblematic of that Scripture than the hosts and producers of “The View.” They just proved it Monday, in a discussion of which of God’s commandments might be obsolete (video above).

Seriously, they were discussing which commandments given by the Almighty Creator of the Universe we might simply ignore today, because God has become irrelevant or something. Goldberg even mockingly pointed to heaven and said “don’t hit me, God!”

At one point in the discussion (the 4 minute mark), Paula Farris mentioned that she was raised in a strict God-fearing family.

My parents were really strict about what we said in the home. We couldn’t say, ‘Oh, my God.’ We couldn’t say J.C., we couldn’t say Je- (bleeped out) … My son, we could say ‘Jeez’ … unless you were praising him, and then you could say, (bleeped out).”

The producers bleeped the name of Jesus, spoken in context of His power and relevance. Just before those remarks, Farris said “the great thing about the Bible and God, it’s the same yesterday, today and forever.” But Jesus is not to be spoken of publicly in this discussion, because His name is apparently not okay in a Biblical context.

Disney/ABC will broadcast all forms of blasphemy, including multiple and endless taking of the Lord’s name in vain. They will broadcast coarse language, cursing, and outright rejection of God and His power. But the name of Jesus, properly used, in Biblical context, must not be heard.

Honestly, I’m disgusted by it, but not at all surprised. So far, Disney itself hasn’t banned the mention of Jesus Christ from its theme parks or other venues–my family and I still pray out loud when we visit Disney properties and we haven’t been thrown out.

Walt Disney World still hosts the Night of Joy Christian music festival, albeit no longer in the park itself, but on property. I wonder how much longer that will continue, since censoring the name of Jesus is now a normal activity.

As the Scripture says, we are in the last days.

Disney’s CEO Fiddles With Political Opinions While The Company’s Theme Parks Attendance Numbers Burn

Like apparently everyone else on earth, Disney CEO Robert Iger saw fit to weigh in on President Trump’s removing the United States from the useless Paris Climate Change Accord:

Perhaps Iger should focus less on asinine political pouting and spend more of his time figuring out why attendance is down worldwide at Disney’s theme parks.

In a rare slowdown in one of the hottest areas of the entertainment business, attendance declined at 13 of 14 Disney theme parks around the world in 2016 compared with 2015, according to an independent report released on Thursday. Higher prices, intended in part to ease crowding at certain parks, were a major contributor, analysts said.

[…]

The biggest declines occurred overseas. At Disneyland Paris, attendance plunged 14 percent, to 9.8 million, as tourism across Europe continued to be affected by terrorism fears. Bad weather was also a factor. Hong Kong Disneyland had a 10 percent drop, to 6.1 million, amid a continued decline in tourism from mainland China. Disney recently unveiled $1.4 billion in upgrades in Hong Kong.

But Disney’s North American parks had more modest declines. Attendance at the Magic Kingdom totaled roughly 20.4 million, down 0.5 percent; Disneyland’s estimated total was 17.9 million, down 2 percent.

Universal has shown an increase in attendance over the same time period, but even in a down year, Disney’s numbers dwarf theirs.

Now, it’s worth noting that Disney doesn’t disclose its attendance numbers, and these figures are estimates from a trade group. They also don’t take into account recent upgrades like the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout attraction at Disneyland in California, which boasted 300 minute wait times on its opening weekend and the Pandora: The World of Avatar land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, whose attractions has 200 and 250 minute wait times when it opened.

(Future upgrades will boost attendance as well. Star Wars Land, when it opens at both American parks in 2019, will surely show an increase in numbers.)

It’s also worth considering that lower attendance doesn’t equal less profit. Disney still reported a profit over that time period thanks to its ticket pricing structure, as well as hotel and resort pricing.

What’s the point, you ask? It’s simple: lowering attendance numbers should be cause for concern, regardless of profits (though selfishly, as a Disney addict whose family visits Walt Disney World at least once a year, I like the thought of shorter lines). Bob Iger should focus more time on growing every area of the company he leads and less time on political opinions that don’t really matter to most people.

Disney Made Their Own Gay Beastly Bed and They Can Lay in It

Disney’s much-anticipated remake of Beauty and the Beast hits theaters this weekend amidst a fair bit of self-inflicted controversy. But if reports are true, the film’s director Bill Condon is getting fed up with having to deal with complaints and boycotts over him choosing to interject homosexuality into a beloved cartoon movie.

According to Fox News:

Bill Condon is getting tired of everyone talking about his new film’s “gay moment.”

The director of the live-action remake of Disney’s fairy tale classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” told Vulture that he’s had enough of discussing the sexuality of Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, played by Josh Gad, which is the character that the moment features.

“Can I just say, I’m sort of sick of this,” explained the 61-year-old to the publication. “Because you’ve seen the movie — it’s such a teeny thing, and it’s been overblown.”

I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t. So it’s distinctly possible that Condon is right that the fears and frustrations with the show’s alleged “gay moment” are all overblown. To a small child there to watch singing plates and clocks, or to an innocent adult not looking for it, the supposed homosexual curiosity of one of the movie’s minor characters might not even be noticeable. I honestly don’t know.

But here’s what I do know. When you go out of your way to announce to the media during the promotional lead-up to your movie’s release that it will feature the Disney company’s first “exclusively gay moment,” you are the one responsible for the fallout. You don’t get to complain about the controversy when you introduced the controversy.

And make no mistake, this was a bed of Condon’s own making. Talking to Attitude magazine weeks ago, the openly gay Condon said of the character LeFou, “[He] is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.” Condon went further, applauding how actor Josh Gad, “makes something really subtle and delicious” out of LeFou’s sexuality, delivering a “nice, exclusively gay moment.”

So forgive my incredulity when the same guy who bragged about his inclusion of controversial adult sexuality in a movie marketed to families, whines that he’s sick of people talking about it.

Not that anyone should be surprised by Condon’s approach given that this is standard operating procedure for the LGBT movement. They flagrantly and aggressively assault cultural norms and traditional morality, and then accuse people who respond negatively to their activism of being hateful.  After shoving their own version of morality in the face of others, men like Condon are giddy to indict those who disagree with them of trying to impose their religion. It’s transparent and tiresome.

Bill Condon is an activist who saw an opportunity to inject his political agenda, no matter how subtle, in a major Disney film marketed to people he knew were unlikely to agree with it. It’s more values-imposition from the don’t-impose-you-values crowd. It’s childish and dumb.

Rational people won’t feel the least bit sorry for Disney given that they knew what they were getting with a guy who once bragged that the first thing he wants to do when he gets to a hotel room is, “immediately go rip pages out of the Bible.”

When you assault their values, flagrantly or delicately, traditional conservative and faithful Christians may not be the type to march down Pennsylvania Avenue dressed as parts of the female anatomy in order to protest. But don’t act shocked or mistreated if some decide not to buy a ticket to your movie.

Beauty and the Beast by Disney

Why Is Disney Sexualizing Beauty and the Beast to Advance the Gay Agenda?

By now you have probably heard that Disney is set to introduce its first openly gay character in the new “Beauty and the Beast” movie set for release. The vehicle for the introduction is the dim witted, flamboyantly effeminate sidekick to the bad guy.

What we do know is that LeFou, the character, will have some sort of obvious gay moment. It goes without saying that such a moment does not exist in the original movie or broadway play.

Take the gay part out of this for a minute. Why must Disney add a bit of sexualization to a kids’ movie anyway? To the extent it is a romance, it is a love story of a girl and her father and of a girl’s growing love for a beast. The only other love story is Gaston’s (the bad guy) love of himself.

Dragging someone else’s sexual attraction into the story just for the advancement of gay rights is dumb and not really appropriate for or fitting within the story. Disney, along with much of Hollywood, has waged an ongoing indoctrination effort to make boys and girls both appear effeminate and unisexual as well as advancing same-sex relations as normal. So this is to be expected.

It just seems if it is relevant to the plot it would be appropriate, but otherwise it is just gratuitous agenda advancing through sexualization of a children’s movie. But again, given that it is the dim witted, flamboyantly effeminate sidekick of the bad guy they are going to do this with, I suspect a lot of kids will not connect it to anything resembling normal.

In fact, I would suspect a lot of families resistant to the advancement of the gay rights agenda who go see the movie will use LeFou’s depiction against him as a teachable moment, thereby doing more harm than good to Disney’s intentions.

Chicago Sports Broadcaster Reveals His Ugly Disdain for the American People

Chicago sportscaster Mark Giangreco has a reputation for making his opinions known. Unfortunately, his reputation as a vile, hate-spewing Leftist may overtake his standing in the world of sports broadcasting.

The trouble for Giangreco began in response to this tweet from Toronto Star sports columnist Bruce Arthur:

Giangreco’s reply – in a tweet that he has since deleted – read, “so obvious, so disturbing. America exposed as a country full of simpletons who allowed this cartoon lunatic to be ‘elected.’ ”

Sadly for Giangreco, the internet is forever, and the deleted tweet got to be too much for Disney, who owns the station where the sportscaster works.

“Sports anchor Mark Giangreco’s Twitter comments are not in line with ABC 7 Chicago’s non-partisan editorial standards,” the Disney-owned station’s management said Thursday in a statement. “We’ve reviewed the matter and are taking the appropriate action.”

Reportedly, the “appropriate action” includes a multi-week suspension without pay. (Interestingly enough, Disney hasn’t done anything about the left-wing bias at ESPN, which it also owns. But I digress.)

This isn’t the first time Giangreco has found himself in hot water.

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling tweeted a suggestion that CNN should be called “LPNN,” the Liberal Propaganda News Network, Giangreco responded, “Let’s change Fox News to Nazi News.”

And, in fact, his sense of humor has also caused trouble offline several times.

In 1999, he joked that former NFL player Walter Payton looked “shriveled up,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Unknown to the public (and Giangreco), Payton was suffering at the time from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a fatal liver disease that has since been nicknamed “Walter Payton’s Disease.”

“That hurt, it really did,” Payton later said. “I realize how serious it is and I realize there are a lot of other people that it might be serious to. To poke fun at it without even knowing what the problems are … it’s very difficult. Very disheartening.”

He has also made inappropriate jokes about the Detroit Pacers’ 2004 NBA championship run and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Giangreco did not respond to the media’s requests for comment, though he did issue a public apology.

Perhaps this disciplinary action will do Giangreco some good. In the meantime, you stay classy, Mark.

It’s Time To Reboot Star Wars

“Reboot Star Wars?!? Heresy!” you say. Now hang on and hear me out before you heat up the tar and pluck the turkey feathers. “Dad,” my 7-year-old son asked me the other day, “how long will they make new Star Wars films?”

“Forever, son.” I replied, without lying. Disney is the master of milking milk cows. And Star Wars is the milkiest of the milk cows, or ca$h cows, as it’s written in Bob Iger’s board room. There will be no end to Star Wars, but to get there, we need a new beginning.

In “Rogue One,” they made a good start. As the first line of Episode VII: TFA reads, “This will begin to make things right.” To see how that applies, read two excellent reviews of the movie (with spoilers) from Ben Howe and Ben Domenech.

Disney already effectively rebooted the franchise, to many hard-core fans when they summarily declared hundreds of thousands of pages of “canon” to be merely “legend.” That includes deep back-story development on every X-wing pilot, Empire weapons program and galactic bounty hunter, along with a rich trove of the History of The Force.

Of course, The Mouse can draw upon that material, rather selectively, and they’ve done so–selectively, again–in the first two movies. But what we really need now is a new beginning, based on the gritty linchpin story told in Rogue One (and sure to be others), that wipes away, totally and completely, the travesties of Lucas’ Episodes I-III.

I mean it’s not like Star Wars is different from any other fan-beloved movie franchise. Spider-Man is undergoing its, what, third or fourth reboot? This time it’s a studio transfer, moving the series rightfully into the Avenger-Marvel universe. Batman has been rebooted more times than a PC installing Windows 95 (if you’re under 40, you will have to look that up).

The best Batman so far may be the next one up, the Lego version played by Will Arnett. It may also redeem the truly awful Suicide Squad, incorporating Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn, along with every awful Batman movie ever made.

But Star Wars needs a fan redemption, because in Lucas’ version, the only one who is redeemed is Vader. Rogue One takes care of that misconception, but now turns Episodes I-III into an infected splinter in the souls of Star Wars lovers. Disney is nothing if not masters at keeping old fans happy and new fans intrigued. The latest movie sets up the springboard and impetus for what needs to be done.

Let’s wipe midi-chlorians, virgin births, Jedi Councils and the clean, shiny, unused future from the horizon. Let’s erase all memory of Jar Jar Binks. We can do much better than Episode I, where the most memorable characters are a devil-horned Sith who gets zero character development but an awesome part, and the unabashedly racist Chicken George part of Binks. In the Rogue story line, the entire race of Gungans would have been summarily destroyed.

We can do better than to play stupid tricks like the audience doesn’t know who Palpatine really is. Why shade his face while he pronounces insipid tripe to match Yoda’s own dumbing down of the power of The Force.

One movie. It can be done with just one movie, with the timeline from Anakin’s birth through Darth Vader. Thirty seconds of screen time can take us all the way to the Clone Wars, if done right. Then tell a real story–don’t tell us like Lucas did (Qui-Gon Jinn may as well have broken out a PowerPoint presentation), but give the audience some credit for having brains and imaginations. And get some better actors than Hayden Christiansen. Don’t waste talent like Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor.

There’s plenty of time for Disney to fill in the gaps, and enough source material for 50 years of Star Wars movies, all of them fan pleasers. But to do that, we need a new beginning.

DR Radio

DR Radio: VidAngels & Christmas Demons

  • Is filtering a right?
  • Are Christians entitled to filtering movies and TV shows?
  • Why is there so much persecution of Christians in the world?
  • What is Advent all about?

We look at these questions and more in this episode of DR Radio! You can listen to the audio, subscribe to the podcast, or read the full show notes over on our website.