Update: Disney officially lifts LA Times ban amidst today’s serious and growing backlash.
Disney, quite possibly the most powerful mass media and entertainment conglomerate in the country, has just made some influential enemies: film critics. Back in September, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report uncovering some of the tax benefits Disney receives from Anaheim, California. Well, the house of Mickey Mouse was not happy about the story. In an act of retaliation, the conglomerate then barred The Times from attending pre-screenings of Disney films.
Now, film critics nationwide have united to balance the scale. Together, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics wrote the following statement:
[We] jointly denounce the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, all four critics’ organizations have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.
Disney’s decision to block The Times from pre-screenings reveals the unchecked power they possess. As the owners of Marvel, LucasFilms, and the extensive Disney catalogue, it can be argued Disney no longer needs critics to promote their films. (Let’s be honest, tickets to the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi will sellout in the blink of an eye with or without The Times.) However, the necessity for unbiased media is paramount in our information saturated age: sometimes it’s refreshing to simply get the facts.
Let’s hope Disney retracts their problematic decision because if their actions remain unchecked, this will create a dangerous precedent for mass media companies, sending the message that only news outlets and journalists on Disney’s payroll will be allowed to review their films.