Ron DeSantis gestures while speaking during a press conference.

Don’t Worry, Everyone! Ron DeSantis Told Bob Chapek the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill ‘Could Not Be Weaponized’ Against LGBTQIA Community

That's the whole point though.
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At the Disney shareholder meeting Wednesday, CEO Bob Chapek took the opportunity to do far too little way too late and finally denounce Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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Chapek insisted that despite failing repeatedly to put out a statement saying as much, he and Disney as a company have been against the bill from the start, even working behind the scenes to fight it.

“We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” Chapek said, according to Deadline. “And we were hoping that our longstanding relationships with those lawmakers would enable us to achieve a better outcome. But, despite weeks of effort, we were ultimately unsuccessful.”

As a reminder, those “longstanding relationships” involve Disney donating to the campaigns of every single one of the horribly cruel bill’s authors and co-sponsors.

“I called Governor DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law it could be used to target [LGBTQ+] kids and families,” Chapek continued. “The governor heard our concerns. He agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address that.”

However, later on, according to the Hollywood Reporter in a quote curiously left out of most other outlets’ coverage, Chapek “added that DeSantis ‘committed to me that he wanted to make sure that this law could not be weaponized by any individuals to target kids and families,’ and asked that the company ‘come up with ideas and concerns of specific aspects of that legislation which could lead to the weaponization of it.'”

DisneyTV’s Ryan Aguirre added that DeSantis told Chapek “I encourage everyone to actually read the bill.”

DeSantis has repeatedly made those sorts of statements. As Politico noted recently, the Florida governor, “who has defended the measure publicly, frequently accused the media and others of misconstruing the true intent of the bill to stoke tensions. At one point, his press secretary called opponents of the measure groomers.'”

It is very weird that Chapek would mention DeSantis’ insistence that the law can’t be “weaponized”—and his insistence that people should “actually read the bill” as if we haven’t—if he doesn’t believe it himself. (Also note that he’s calling it a law and not a bill, giving every indication that everyone involved expects this to get signed.)

It is even weirder (and unbelievably disrespectful) for DeSantis to appoint Chapek and Disney the job of analyzing the bill and brainstorming adjustments that could protect LGBTQIA kids. Because a lot of people and organizations that dedicate themselves to this work full time have already done that. Why is DeSantis willing to listen to Chapek and not them?

The obvious answer, of course, is money. Disney brings in an incomprehensible amount of money to the state, so DeSantis has to listen to him. But beyond that, no matter what his mouth is saying in this shareholder meeting after a week of massive backlash and calls for boycotts online, Chapek has made it entirely clear that he does not really care to do anything about this bill.

But he will talk, and DeSantis will listen, and they’ll both pretend they were open to any sort of concession. Hell, maybe they’ll even make some minor change to the bill, rooted in semantics or something but totally inconsequential to the destruction being promised, just to drive home the charade. DeSantis will talk with Chapek about LGBTQIA rights but not actual experts and advocates because both men know the other won’t really challenge them on any meaningful level.

Update 3/9: Chapek is clearly full of sh*t on every level:

(image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.