Recently, John Musker, who directed many Disney animated films like “The Great Mouse Detective”, “Aladdin”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Hercules”, “The Princess and the Frog”, and “Moana, spoke with El Pais to promote his new short film, “I’m Hip” at the Animayo International Summit in Gran Canaria, Spain.

During the interview, John revealed some details on the release of “The Princess and the Frog” and the criticism that it had, which is still plaguing the franchise all these years later.

“We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism.  The classic Disney films didn’t start out trying to have a message. They wanted you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it. You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling.”


The director also had some issues with the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid”, especially one of the major story points:

“They didn’t play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie, in a way.”

That movie also got lots of negative feedback for being “woke”, following the decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel, though the movie still went onto make over $570 million at the box office and became a huge hit on Disney+.

Disney has come under a lot of negative feedback over its content going “woke”, resulting in Disney CEO Bob Iger talking openly about how the company needs to focus less on messaging and more on the story, which is something John Musker also said Disney needs to do.

“I think they need to do a course correction a bit in terms of putting the message secondary, behind entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters.”

Roger’s Take: Without a doubt, Disney is changing its focus, as the failure of many films at the box office and shows on streaming not performing as well as they would have liked because a large percentage of the audience has been turned off from Disney content for a variety of reasons.  Diversity and inclusion are essential, especially in creating entertainment for a global audience.  It’s not going to be an easy balancing act for Disney to crack, but it’s hard to argue that focusing on the story as the priority should make more entertaining films and shows for everyone.

Do you agree with John Musker’s comments?  Let me know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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