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Ex-Disney Animator: Stop Putting ‘The Message’ First

John Musker offers Mouse House tough love tied to company's financial woes

Disney’s woes aren’t going away.

The Disney-owned Pixar just shed 14 percent of its workforce, a move following the dismissal of 75 creatives last year.

The news comes on the heels of too many recent Disney duds to count. Here’s just one:

Last year’s “Wish,” supposedly a tribute to the studio’s 100th year anniversary, proved particularly galling. The animated film earned $63 million at the U.S. box office.


CEO Bob Iger is promising less content moving forward, a decision impacting the deflated MCU and other properties. One Disney executive lashed out at “racist, sexist” consumers for the Mouse House’s recent woes.

John Musker has more constructive criticism.

Musker worked at Disney for decades. His credits include directing “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “Moana,” among many other projects. He left the company six years ago, part of an exodus that coincided with the company’s new DEI initiatives.

Film Threat’s “The D-Files project” delivers the behind-the-scenes chaos tied to its woke agenda. The site’s reportage reveals Disney’s quest for a more diverse workforce. That pushed many talented veterans to find work elsewhere.


Now, the ex-Disney animator has some advice for his former bosses. More entertainment, less fun.

The animator spoke to El Pais on a wide range of subjects, including ways to revive the Disney brand. Musker didn’t get political. Instead, he gently suggested what’s gone wrong with the studio and how to right the ship.

Far easier said than done.

For starters, Team Disney should let story and characters lead the way, not any Culture War agendas.

The classic Disney films didn’t start out trying to have a message. They wanted you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it. You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling. I think they need to do a course correction a bit in terms of putting the message secondary, behind entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters.

Iger has promised to avoid Culture War battles in the future.

Yet the upcoming “Star Wars” project “Tales of the Empire” features a nonbinary character and the “Fantastic Four” reboot gender-swaps Marvel’s iconic Silver Surfer character.


  1. There was a time when I would have been excited to see the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. Disney’s aggressive gender-activism changed all that, now this doesn’t even register a blip on my radar.

  2. In the history of the world no company has ever cost-controlled its way to greatness. As a thought experiment will producing NO output and firing ALL creatives make Disney profitable? Quite to the contrary it’s a ticket to oblivion.

  3. What Musker is saying makes sense. The characters should be the priority over any message. Musker is not being bigoted by complaining about the existence of a non-binary character. There’s a difference between pushing a message devoid of entertainment value and complaining when non-white and non-male characters exist. The former is successful entertainment. The latter is bigotry.

  4. “Let’s shoehorn ideology into each and every page of script, then recoil in horror when our work doesn’t sell.”

  5. First off, there was a non binary character? And so what?

    Second, there is precedent for the Silver Surfer swap so stop it

    1. Stop what? Stop doubling down on stupid. Stop doing things you have plenty of evidence at this point that will absolutely anger your customer base and cause you to lose money. Some crappy Silver Surfer gender swapping story in the comics is irrelevant. Look, the Girl Scouts could try raising money every year selling rotten fish, but cookies is what the customers want. Do you want to make money or not? The customers, not to mention the shareholders, deserve better. If you want to be a business, do what makes money. Otherwise, go be an ideological charitable organization. At least the donors would know what they were giving money to.

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