Elon Musk Slams Disney’s ‘Inclusion Standards’

The billionaire investor lambasted Disney’s inclusion initiatives in a series of tweets.
Elon Musk Slams Disney’s ‘Inclusion Standards’
SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during live interview with Ben Shapiro at the symposium on fighting antisemitism on January 22, 2024 in Krakow, Poland. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)
Audrey Enjoli
2/8/2024
Updated:
2/9/2024
0:00

Elon Musk has criticized Disney’s entertainment inclusion initiatives, calling them “mandatory, institutionalized racism and sexism.”

On Feb. 6, the billionaire investor and owner of X, formerly Twitter, posted on the platform that an “anonymous source” had sent him Disney’s alleged inclusion standards for its “General Entertainment Content.”

Disney General Entertainment (DGE) is the company’s portfolio of television brands and businesses, which include ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Freeform, FX Networks, Hulu Originals, and National Geographic, among others.

A one-page document uploaded on Disney’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” website—a campaign launched in 2021 to amplify “underrepresented voices”—appears to include the same list of inclusion standards.

However, ABC Entertainment is listed at the top of the page instead of Disney, as shown in the document Mr. Musk published. The Hollywood Reporter previously reported that ABC Entertainment launched the new set of inclusion standards in 2020, with a goal of achieving all four of its categories by May 2022.

Standards outlined in the document include hiring 50 percent or more of regular and recurring actors and written characters from underrepresented groups.

Mr. Musk continued to lambast Disney’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) standards in a series of separate tweets. In one post, the Tesla and SpaceX owner published what he called “the full racist, sexist, etc discriminatory set of laws enforced by Disney’s DEI Gestapo.”
“No wonder most of their content produced over the past several years has sucked,” he continued. “Just trying to navigate the DEI minefield is going to crush the creative process!”
Mr. Musk said Disney’s inclusion standards “[crush] the creative spirit of someone who just wants to make great art.” He also slammed the company’s chief executive officer, saying, “Walt Disney would despise Bob Iger.”
The Epoch Times reached out to ABC Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company for comment.

Disney’s Inclusion Standards

During a 2022 company-wide call for the “Reimagine Tomorrow” campaign, Karey Burke, Disney’s president of general entertainment content, expressed her desire to see more LGBT leads.
“I’m here as a mother of two queer children, actually,” Ms. Burke said in a video uploaded to X. “One transgender child and one pansexual child.”
She noted her goal was to make half of all Disney characters identify as either LGBT or a minority, per The Rubin Report.
The Walt Disney Company discusses its “commitment to inclusive storytelling” on its website. It references various studios and organizations like the British Film Institute and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which have “adopted policies, practices, and standards to grow representation and respect for all communities in front and behind the camera.”

“In line with evolving industry practices, we have and are continuing to develop representation guidelines across DGE content and Studio live-action productions,” the website states.

According to the company’s “Content Representation Dashboard,” people of color account for 40 percent of its directors, 49 percent of its series regulars and leads, 26 percent of its producers, and 34 percent of its writers in scripted content and film. The company’s on-air representation includes 41 percent people of color.

During a 2023 interview at the DealBook Summit, Mr. Iger—who is expected to step down in 2026 at the end of his contract—touched upon Disney’s DEI stance, noting that a “robust immigration policy” in the United States is “pro-business” for the company.

“We have over 200,000 employees. We rely on a workforce that is talented, motivated, interested in working for our company,” he said. “The more diverse it is, the better off we are, the more experienced.”

Musk Offers Legal Support

On Feb. 6, Mr. Musk offered financial assistance to anyone who had been impacted by Disney’s DEI hiring policies. “If you were discriminated against by Disney or its subsidiaries (ABC, ESPN, Marvel, etc), just reply to this post to receive legal support,” he wrote on X.

That same day, actress Gina Carano filed a lawsuit against Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company with the support of Mr. Musk. She alleged the company discriminated against her conservative political views when it fired her from “The Mandalorian” in 2021.

In a statement posted to X, Ms. Carano claimed she was “hunted down” by the company for content she posted and liked on social media because she “was not in line with the acceptable narrative of the time.”

“My words were consistently twisted to demonize & dehumanize me as an alt right wing extremist,” she said. “It was a bullying smear campaign aimed at silencing, destroying & making an example out of me.”

In a separate post, Mr. Musk’s X Corp said it provided financial support to Ms. Carano’s lawsuit as a sign of its “commitment to free speech,” adding that it was “empowering her to seek vindication of her free speech rights on X and the ability to work without bullying, harassment, or discrimination.”

Diversity in Disney’s Remakes

Disney has garnered criticism for increasing diversity in casting for its live-action adaptations and remakes.

Disney’s “Snow White”—a live-action adaptation of its 1937 animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”—is set to be released in 2025 after reportedly being pushed back due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, per Deadline. It features half-Colombian and half-white actress Rachel Zegler, a self-described “white Latina,” per Variety.

Most notably, Disney cast a black actress, Halle Bailey, to star as Ariel in its 2023 live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”

The remake’s director, Rob Marshall, told Entertainment Weekly that there was “no agenda” behind casting a black actor for the role—a character that was originally white in the animated version, which was first released in 1989.

“We just were looking for the best actor for the role, period. The end,” he said. “We saw everybody and every ethnicity.”

Audrey is a freelance entertainment reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California. She is a seasoned writer and editor whose work has appeared in Deseret News, Evie Magazine, and Yahoo Entertainment, among others. She holds a B.A. from the University of Central Florida where she double majored in broadcast journalism and political science.
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