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Here's why Disney releasing rainbow Mickey Mouse ears for Pride Month is a bit of a cop-out

Disney are happy to sell and promote LGBTQI+ merch, but not characters.

DISNEY RELEASED PRIDE-THEMED Mickey Mouse ears this week, costing $17.99 (€14.80) at all their US parks.

The ears, officially known as the “Mickey Mouse Rainbow Love” hat, have been seen by social media users including YouTuber Joey Graceffa, who posted a video wearing them on Monday.

Obviously some people are delighted with the acknowledgement of the month by a corporation as large as Disney, allowing a marginalised and oppressed group to freely express themselves through a brand they love.

But, to paraphrase comedian Tony Cantwell, it’s not what they did, rather the way they chose to do that.

Ok, what’s the issue?

The issue, as raised by Nick Duffy of Pink News, is that Disney is happy to engage in “pink capitalism”, but isn’t that happy about providing LGBTQI+ representation throughout its roster of movies and TV shows.

Stall the ball there – wtf is pink capitalism?

Pink capitalism is a term used to describe, from a critical perspective, the incorporation of the LGBTIQ movement and sexual diversity to capitalism and the market economy. In layman’s terms? The practice of companies sticking rainbows or tagging the word ‘pride’ on to a product or service for sale, in an effort to garner sales.

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LGBT media advocacy group GLAAD gives Disney a consistent “failing” rating for LGBT inclusivity in film on its Studio Responsibility Index, noting:

Walt Disney Studios has the weakest historical record when it comes to LGBTQ-inclusive films of all the major studios.”

… Which brings us to the issue at hand. Disney are more than happy to pander to LGBTQI+ audiences and fans if it means there’s money to be made – why does this not translate into onscreen representation.

It’s not as if the demand isn’t there from fans – Star Wars stans have been petitioning for a romance between male characters Finn and Poe since the release of The Force Awakens.

There have been some efforts made to make Disney movies more diverse, but all were quashed before they say the light of day. A scene in Thor: Ragnorok confirming that superhero Valkyrie was bisexual was shot, but mysteriously edited out. The Black Panther comics have depicted a lesbian relationship between warriors Ayo and Aneka – but a scene hinting at the romance was allegedly dumped from Ryan Coogler’s 2018 film adaptation.

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Listen, there’s nothing stopping you from buying the hat if you so desire. That’s your prerogative. But consider what you’re contributing to on a larger scale next time you’re lured in by a pretty rainbow.

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