Perhaps the reality of the Disney Corporation, as opposed to the fantasies it creates, is an apt metaphor for what has become of our culture.
Like all good parents with the financial means, my ex-husband and I took our daughter to Disney World at age 14. They had a great time, while I couldn’t have been more eager to get out. Call me crazy, but my idea of fun isn’t being strapped into a stationary “chair” while a simulator hurtles me out into the Universe at warp speed.
My limited preferences aside, for most Americans all things Disney are national icons. So it’s particularly troubling when an icon turns out to be anything but admirable.
In 2000, Prentice Hall published Peter and Rochelle Schweizer’s “Disney: The Mouse Betrayed: Greed, Corruption and Children at Risk.” The book detailed how Walt Disney put safety first. Not so with the current company operating in his name. The Schweitzer’s investigated how current management allows Disney World to have an injury rate twice the industry average; how it became a partner in the nation’s largest pay-per-view pornography distributor; revealed its rampant pedophile and sexual abuse problem; highlighted its preference for cover-ups and inexpensive solutions; exposed the weird message Disney sends when employees are caught peeping on – even filming – coworkers and guests in their dressing room; spotlighted how it thwarts efforts of local law enforcement at its theme parks and, last but not least, how Disney licensees have been repeatedly charged with violating federal child labor laws.
As if its apparent disregard for decency in its lust for money and profit weren’t enough, now comes a shameful story of its blatant disregard for corporate integrity, employee excellence and loyalty all in the name of…wait for it…profits.
A former Cast Member (the in-house term for Disney employees), with 10 years in Disney’s IT Department, has penned a damning expose of how Disney jettisoned hundreds of its top performing, long-term employees with virtually no notice in order to bring in foreign workers under the H1-B guest workers program.
Writing of his experience, the Cast Member explains: “After having worked grueling on call shifts, hundreds of middle of the night and weekends work sessions in addition to a barrage of problem phone calls around the clock for many years, they were going to simply throw us out for their financial benefit.”
Not only were the dedicated and highest performance-rated Cast Members summarily terminated, they were forced to stay on for 90 days and train their foreign replacements or forfeit a severance package!
This past January, a bill in introduced by Presidential hopeful Senator Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would triple the number of foreign H1-B guest workers increasing the problem threefold.
So, this is how it works now in America.
Disney, the private or public sectors screw American workers, and safety at home, for the benefit of foreign workers be they legal or illegal. Keep seeking financial gain with no regard for whether or not your organization has lost its moral compass. Count on politicians to exacerbate the problem because they are in on the take too and their first priority is personal gain at the expense of their constituents. That would be us.
It turns out there’s a metaphor within a metaphor to be had here.
Yes, the Disney Corporation is a metaphor for our national soul. But so is that moon ride I was strapped into, hurtling me out into the Universe at warp speed with no way to defend or protect myself from all that was rushing towards me. Welcome to the United States of America 2015.
Disney lost its way. We have too. The protections we had in place to defend ourselves have been overridden by Executive Order, pushed aside in favor of retaining political power and buried in the hubris of the Supreme Court.
My only suggestion is that you do what I did that day on the moon ride at Disney World. Scream at the top of your lungs that you want out, get off the damn ride as soon as possible and hightail it out of Fantasy Land as fast as your feet will carry you.