Disney’s Identity Crisis

It’s official. Disney announced it will purchase Fox. From Washington Post

The merger pairs Disney,  the No. 1 studio at the box office and and company behind massive hits like “The Avengers” and “Star Wars” reboots, with the No. 3 studio, Fox, which has produced the “X-Men” and “Avatar” franchises as well as  a range of mid-budget crowd-pleasers and critically acclaimed films.

It also brings brands such as FX, National Geographic and “The Simpsons” into the same fold as ESPN and ABC — all part of Disney’s gamble that only a company of this size could effectively thwart a furious charge into the business of entertainment by well-financed technology giants like Netflix, Apple and Google.

The purchase turns Disney into an entertainment frankenstein. The company owns Mickey Mouse, Frozen, Marvel Super Heroes, Star Wars, Family Guy and the Simpsons. Do any of these properties have anything in common besides being legally owned by Disney? With this purchase, Disney is losing the identity that made it a household name in the first place.

Disney became a powerhouse because of its identity. Disney was a company that took viewers on fairy-tale like adventures with beautiful music and animation with a family friendly flare. These characteristics allowed Disney to turn orange groves into a kingdom that children all over the world wish to visit. It was the company’s unrivaled creativity and craft that made the company so revered. But by buying up properties at a feverous pace, Disney erodes the identity it has built up for itself.

Compare this to Nintendo. Nintendo made fantastical, colorful games with a splash of Japanese weirdness that are family friendly and fun to play. Nintendo perfects its craft in terms of both design and quality. Furthermore, the company maintained this by staying relatively close-knit and only adding a few subsidiaries. This is why games like Splatoon and ARMS feel very “Nintendo” despite being made years after Nintendo’s household names.

By trying to own a multitude of companies, Disney is losing what made it special and, in turn, will result in the long-term decline of the company. Again, Disney won the hearts and minds of millions through its unique identity. I don’t think this will happen in a few months or even a few years. But children growing up today won’t have the same relation to Disney as their parents did. The Disney they are growing up with is not the masterful craftsman who can bring stories to life but a mega-corporation that owns a lot of different brands. Over time, Disney will lose what makes them special. They will lose the magic that allowed the company to dominate in theme parks and merchandising

Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I think this saying is for more memorable than Disney’s current motto “If you can buy it, you can do it.”


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