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Eisner won’t ‘censor’ Disney; boycott among key ’97 stories


LOS ANGELES (BP)–Michael Eisner, writing in the
entertainment conglomerate’s annual letter to its
stockholders, said he “will always defend the right” of the
company to produce entertainment on certain “subject matter”
that some may not like.
Disney released the text of the letter from the
company’s chairman Jan. 5; the letter accompanies the
corporation’s annual report which is being mailed to Disney
shareholders.
While not specifically naming the Southern Baptist
Convention or any of the other groups that have criticized
Disney on moral issues and called for economic action
against the company, Eisner wrote, “We will not let a mayor,
or a congressman, or a senator, or a particular interest
group or even a President attempt to control our content.”
Eisner further said he will not attempt to restrict the
Disney employees’ exercise of their artistic expression.
“We seek to be in business with the best and most
creative talent we can find,” Eisner wrote. “We then try to
give them freedom to do their best work. We try not to
censor them and I will always defend the right of the
talented artists who work for us to push the limits of their
imagination.”
As Disney has become more successful under his
direction, Eisner wrote, it has increasingly “become a
target.” The company’s detractors are affording Disney “the
supreme compliment” by holding Disney to a “higher
standard,” Eisner wrote.
“And on this we can agree,” he continued. “We do try to
hold ourselves to a higher standard, both ‘on stage’ where
we try to produce entertainment that is a cut above, and
‘backstage’ where we try to operate a company that is a
responsible corporate citizen.”
Eisner accused the company’s critics of seeking to
“trade on (Disney’s) popularity,” noting most of the
criticism is centered on “non-Disney branded films and
non-Disney television shows.”
Meanwhile, the vote by messengers to the Southern
Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Dallas last June for
a Disney boycott earned a spot among the top 10 religion
stories in 1997. A ranking by members of the Religion
Newswriters Association placed the action as the sixth most
newsworthy event of the year. The life and death of Mother
Teresa topped the list.
In another year-end wrap-up, correspondent Gene Edward
Veith of WORLD magazine tagged Southern Baptists as “culture
warriors of the year.” Veith reviewed cultural milestones in
1997 in the article in the Dec. 27, 1997/Jan. 3, 1998, issue
of WORLD.
The call for economic action aimed at the Disney
corporation was “a catalyst for other churches, ministries
and individuals to just say no to the entertainment
leviathan,” Veith wrote, criticizing American Christians for
their “habit of uncritically embracing the entertainment
mentality.”
A 30-minute video, “The Disney Boycott: A Just Cause,”
is available from the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission, detailing specific concerns about the direction
of The Disney Company under Eisner.
Featuring ERLC President Richard Land, Focus on the
Family’s James Dobson, well-known Southern Baptist pastor
Adrian Rogers and American Family Association founder Don
Wildmon, the video includes clips from several Disney
productions that have drawn the ire of the company’s
critics.
Information about obtaining the video is available from
the ERLC at (615) 244-2495; fax, (615) 242-0065; e-mail,
[email protected]; mail, 901 Commerce St. #550,
Nashville, TN 39203.

    About the Author

  • Dwayne Hastings