To no one’s surprise, this past week Disney announced it will soon begin producing even more sequels. In a quarterly earnings call, the company’s one true ruler, CEO Bob Iger, announced Disney Studios will soon start production on “Zootopia 2,” “Frozen 3,” and “Toy Story 5.”
Along with “Inside Out 2,” a fifth “Indiana Jones” movie, an absurd amount of superhero movies, and more live-action remakes of beloved animated films, Disney will be busy repeating the same stories over and over again for the next couple of years, if not decades.
To be fair, making sequels and creating sprawling franchises with multiple installments has proven to be an incredibly lucrative business model for Disney. After all, they’ve already been doing it for decades. And if every sequel were of the same caliber “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” there would likely not be an issue.
But with ideologically charged and uninspired writing, Disney is degrading their films’ artistic integrity and nullifying the cultural utility of once beloved stories by never allowing them to experience an organic end. The hero’s journey is irrelevant if he is never allowed to return home.
Ironically, the aforementioned “Star Wars” — owned by Disney — has suffered the same effect. Sure, independent storylines within the “universe” wrap up, but there is no finality to its overall premise. Because of this, audiences are left adrift in a multi-media universe of pop culture content with no sense of proper orientation other than the belief systems that this content is trying to instill in them.
Perhaps that’s the point. We know Disney is a thoroughly activist company. After all, company executives have bragged about Disney’s “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and relentlessly used sequel content to pummel children with woke ideology.
Taking into account the well-documented, steady decline in American religious participation along with the rabid politicization of entertainment, it becomes clear that studios like Disney use sequels, spin-offs, et al., to morally shape audiences they believe are impressionable.
Disney isn’t just churning out subpar content for the sake of making money; the studio is structurally invested in ideologically capturing its audiences. By re-using characters and settings, people grew up loving, they are able to disarm even generally discerning people’s defense mechanisms. They sneak past the gate by reminding you of your childhood, and then they poison the well with woke, patronizing garbage.
How can there be anything left for anthropomorphic toys to learn about themselves? “Toy Story” came out almost 30 years ago and already spawned three cinematic sequels; several animated shorts; and two separate, unrelated spin-off franchises about Buzz Lightyear’s self-contained adventures. What could a fifth movie add to the story?
Nothing good can come from a “Zootopia” sequel. The first movie is about a bipedal animal police force that solves a crime in a city where some animals are unfairly treated because of popular stereotypes about their species. Crucial to the film’s plot is the juxtaposition of powerful elite carnivores and proletarian herbivores. There is no story Disney could tell within this premise that isn’t inherently activist.
“Frozen 2” was a commentary on colonialism that caricatured Europeans as thieves of natural resources who despise indigenous people with naturalist religious practices. So it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that the third installment in this franchise would be just as if not more woke.
Hollywood’s obsession with churning out sequels is lazy and malicious. They seek to indoctrinate impressionable people with uninspired writing, and it appears to work because otherwise, they wouldn’t keep doing it. But it ruins storytelling and reduces our cultural landscape to little more than brightly colored cynicism.