#MovieWeek: Disney+ Scares Me and Should Scare You Too

While I like Disney stories as much as the next girl, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the new Loki series coming out, it’s getting harder and harder for me to like Disney as a corporation, these days.

Yes, Disney+ is bringing back Lizzie McGuire, but it’s also going to wreck the entertainment industry as we know it. While we don’t know what things will look like on the other side, we do know they’ll be dominated by one company, and, historically, that hasn’t been a very good thing for any industry.

To understand the issue, we’ve got to talk about integration for a second — vertical and horizontal integration, that is. As a working definition, vertical integration means that a company owns all the parts of one industry, from the production to the processing to the distribution. Horizontal integration means that a company controls one element across multiple industries.

If a company only controls things in one direction or the other, the economy around it can usually continue to function. However, when a company starts reaching into both vertical and horizontal integration, that’s when things get dicey.

Here’s an example:

Say there’s this company called, I dunno, Yensid, and they own intellectual property called Ricky Rat, or something crazy like that. Let’s say they produce Ricky Rat movies through their movie production unit, then break into comic books to push out Ricky Rat comics and then video games to make Ricky Rat games, then toys, then clothing and then lunchboxes…

You get the idea.

That’d be one thing, right? Just one big conglomerate called Yensid with fingers in every single media-producing or paraphernalia-producing market in the entire economy.

But then imagine if Yensid also started buying up the means of producing these things. Now, they don’t just own the writers, artists and production lots, but they’ve also bought out whole factories in foreign countries to make their toys and construction companies in the United States to build their sets. And they make exclusive deals with major media pipelines who have wild names like Charter Communications Company (as in the company behind all the Internet cables in the entire country), and now they’re rolling out a major streaming platform…

Do you see what I mean? Disney owns intellectual property across multiple production industries, as well as physical properties from the top-down within almost every single industry.

Now, you’re probably thinking 'why does this matter?' After all, Marvel’s been putting out some bangers lately, and god knows I want to see the Rogue One TV show we’ve been promised, but I’m asking you to separate your feelings about the content from feelings about the corporation.

Moves like this are seriously going to put competitors out of business, and Disney won’t leave room for new companies to grow. Not only does that make it hard for independent filmmakers, but it concentrates a lot of power in the hands of one company. (For more on shady legal stuff Disney has done to control the entertainment industry, see the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, aka The Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Or also, anything having to do with Net Neutrality.)

What should you do? I’m not saying pirate all those new shows you want to see. (Although, if you did, I sure wouldn’t snitch). I’m just saying that we, as a consuming audience, should stay wary of corporations using friendly cartoon faces as another way to dominate the industry. Also, try to support your independent filmmakers, if you have the chance. With the way things are going, they’re going to need it in the coming years.

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