On March 11th of 2009, Comedy Central aired the South Park season premiere, The Ring. In it, Mickey Mouse is portrayed as the crass, foul-mouthed, violent, and greedy head of the Disney Corporation. He acts like an over-entitled ass who never had to deal with the consequences of his actions, in stark contrast to the image of the family-friendly bundle of cheer Disney has master-crafted over the decades. However, the satire is closer to the truth.
We don’t live in a socialist utopia, much to my chagrin. Disney has a right to profit in this capitalist machine of ours. In any rise to the top, it is inevitable companies will use questionable tactics to succeed. The question is, are the tactics used by Disney any worse than those used by comparable companies?
There aren’t any comparable companies, and that is the problem. Disney has sought to become an entertainment monopoly. In the past handful of years, they have scooped up some of the largest intellectual properties in existence: Marvel, Star Wars, Alien, and even The Muppets (to name but a few.) I had thought them acquiring Star Wars and 20th Century Fox was splendid news at first. Finally, the entire Star Wars filmography was going to be under one umbrella. Once Disney dug its talons in, they took one of the most beloved imaginary universes in movieland and crashed it right into the ground.
Alien has become a pretty but hollow shell. The recent prequels look great and all. Yet, entire YouTube videos detail the veritable cornucopia of plot holes they contain. Disney has ruined both franchises. Star Wars has always been near and dear to my heart, and Alien is my favorite movie of all time. To say I’m distressed to see them transformed into the storytelling equivalent of smoking craters is an understatement. They bought these IPs to milk their fan bases. Nothing more.
Alan Dean Foster has both his detractors and his fans. Say what you will about the man, but he’s a true veteran of publishing. He cut his eyeteeth on movie novelizations back in the day when watching movies at home wasn’t a thing. He wrote both novelizations for the original Star Wars and the never-filmed sequel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Also, he wrote the novelizations for Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3. And Disney never gave him a red cent in royalties. They have taken on the rights of the contract but not the obligations. Mary Robinette Kowal, the head of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, has come forward in an unprecedented show of openness on the matter. Disney is acting like the silverback gorilla they have sought to become. It appears as if they hope that ignoring Mr. Foster’s attempts to contact Disney will cause him to fade into the background, just one of the tiny shouts among a multitude.
What should we do? First off, we need to bring attention to this problem. If you could, please post about this matter to any and all social media with the hashtag #DisneyMustPay. Furthermore, I believe if Disney will not give Mr. Foster his money, we shouldn’t give Disney money either. I will conduct my own personal boycott, and you are all welcome to join me. While there are many lists of Disney owned businesses, there is a distinct lack of a comprehensive list of all the IPs they own. I believe this is by design. If someone could point me to such a list, please post it to my discord at the link below.
Also, to those creatives who might work with Disney, I suggest you strike the house of mouse off your list. If this is how Disney treats its contractual obligations, how much would you enjoy them owing you money? Imagine the horror when you realize the Mickey of South Park is real.