In recent months, Disney has taken steps to maximize their influence over the film industry by purchasing 21st Century Fox and starting their own streaming service, Disney+, which was released to consumers on Nov. 12. Major fans of Disney have been rejoicing the consolidation of all Disney properties into one service, as it allows for on-demand access to classic movies and new exclusive series featuring popular characters and titles. The collection of Marvel movies, Star Wars content and “The Simpsons” series makes the offer of Disney+ unbeatable, especially considering the bundle of ESPN+ and Hulu that it is paired with.
Despite all of the excitement surrounding the service, there are still serious flaws with Disney’s moves in the entertainment industry and what the consequences could be for the consumer. The deal is better than any other service ever offered, and Disney is hoping that it will quell fears about their near dominance over our culture.
It would be an understatement to say that television, movies, and video games have largely served as the foundation for American culture. The catchphrases and memorable scenes became, and continue to become, the conversation in every school, workplace, and home. The beauty of our culture was the apparent openness and diversity in the products it created. So many varied genres and unique viewpoints on life, fantasy and society allowed for great debates amongst everyday Americans. The growing reach of Disney, however, threatens the freedom of culture that we have enjoyed and come to define ourselves by.
The merger with 21st Century Fox means that Disney now owns one in seven of all movies ever nominated for Best Picture. It commands 40 percent of the domestic box office sales, roughly equal to $2.7 billion. Essentially, everything we see is Disney, or rather, Disney decides what we see. It isn’t a surprise that many directors, including Martin Scorsese, have come out in recent months to criticize Disney and Marvel for the lack of risk-taking art and commodification of cinema that has occurred. It has been compared to an amusement park ride — each of Disney’s films have some ups and downs, but ultimately, the viewer knows the characters they love are safe and the ending is predictable. The movies result in billions of dollars in merchandise sales for Disney at the expense of free expression and innovative art.
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