I t can be hard growing up. Finding out that Santa isn’t real, or there’s no stork that delivers babies, or that the company that makes The Little Mermaid is a soulless corporation that cares about profit alone and has designs on world domination.
If you’re a Marvel fan, you might have missed that last bit. Instead, you could have been grinning with excitement when it came out that Disney (who own Marvel Studios) were looking to potentially buy film and TV assets from 20th Century Fox. Currently, many of Marvel’s comic book characters (in particular, The Fantastic Four and the X-Men) have their film rights owned by Fox, and cannot be brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Had the deal gone through, new possibilities could have seen these characters interact. Childhood dreams could come true!
Culture must never become homogenous, owned by one dominant corporation
Perhaps, though, it is time to remember that Disney makes these films for profit. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, certain cinemas may not screen the next Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, due to Disney’s demand of 65% of the revenue of ticket sales. This is far above the usual 40% for movies that play overseas, according to Slash Film.
At the same time, Disney recently came under fire for banning the Los Angeles Times from attending film screenings, citing ‘biased and inaccurate’ articles. Such articles took a look at Disney’s relationship with the city of Anaheim, the location of Disneyland, where Disney employs 23,000 people. Although the articles were frank about Disney’s tactics to achieve favourable incentives and protections from further taxes, it is worth noting that they did also address the benefits that Disney had brought. Despite this, however, the LA Times still found themselves banned from the films.
As a result, other publications declared their intention to boycott future films, including writers from the New York Times and The Washington Post. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and National Society of Film Critics (among others) even announced that they would disqualify any Disney films from award consideration.
The same day, Disney caved and restored the LA Times’ access to screenings.
What is particularly terrifying is not only the ban, but the way they were banned from films, a completely different entity to Disneyland. It is not just if you criticise films, but also if you criticise anything.
The LA Times article was getting too close to uncovering an ugly truth about Disney. Now such a huge employer, Disney is capable of manipulating an entire town. What would happen if Disney threatened to move Disneyland? The political leverage they possess should scare us all. Particularly in an age where, for example, Fox wants to buy the 61% of Sky it doesn’t own. Massive corporations are slowly coming together in huge monolithic blocks, dominating entire cultures. Only the government is standing in the way of this deal, and, as a result, Sky is threatening to close Sky News.
journalists are holding fewer cards, while Disney gets the whole deck
Culture must never become homogenous, owned by one dominant corporation, with one particular ideology. Simply because it is bought as a result of the ‘free market’ does not mean it is any less authoritarian.
So, yes, it would be great to see Wolverine and Spiderman quip back and forth with Captain America or Iron Man. But if we allow this to happen, we are one step closer to losing all the variation and diversity that makes culture interesting.