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Bob Chapek Commits To Diversity In Disney's Storytelling

The Walt Disney Company has seen numerous changes throughout its nearly 100 years of creating magical memories for viewers young and old. As a company that has been around for such a long time, Disney has always reflected the current social, cultural and political climate to ensure that it can reach the widest possible audience out there. However, in the last few years, with the world being as divided as it is, it has been a difficult task for the company. Nevertheless, they have stood to the challenge, with Walt Disney Company Chief Creative Officer Bob Chapek at the head of it all. Chapek, who was originally the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products for nearly 20 years, took on the role of CEO of the entire company following Bob Iger's departure in February 2020 (via The Los Angeles Times). Since then, Chapek has had plenty of hurdles to go through, most prominently having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as it shut down the company's worldwide theme parks (via The Verge) and halted several of their most anticipated releases and productions (via Reuters).

However, one of Chapek's most pressing duties has been dealing with the company's handling of representation. As a company, Disney has had far from the cleanest record of politically correct examples of proper representation throughout its history, with several of its classic films from "Dumbo" to "Aladdin" containing some dated stereotypes. Thankfully, Chapek is committed to keeping Disney as inclusive and diverse as possible. 

Chapek wants Disney's content to reflect the world we live in

Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently attended a Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference where he discussed the company's commitment to diverse content, per The Wrap. "I think the more complex something is, the more you really have to drill down into the basics," Chapek says. "And we want our content to reflect the rich, diverse world that we live in ... the world is a rich, diverse place and we want our content to reflect that. And we're so blessed to have the greatest content creators and they see it similarly." Disney has had to defend its stance multiple times this year, most notably when Disney opposed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' "Don't Say Gay" bill that prevents schools from teaching youth about sexual education and gender identity (via CNBC). 

Similarly, many of Disney's recent releases have seen controversy for pushing positive representation. This includes Pixar's "Lightyear" which included a same-sex kiss that got the film banned from several countries, as well as the racial backlash for the casting of Black actress Halle Bailey as Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid." Despite the uphill battle, Chapek continues to believe in Disney's power to unite audiences, saying, "I always say, when someone walks down Main Street and look at the castle, you're not thinking 'I'm on one side of the political spectrum or the other.' You have a shared belief in all the wonderful aspects of what Disney is."