Disney is apologizing left and right for what it says are its bigoted portrayals of many groups. It is also scrubbing its inventory clean of stereotypical depictions, offering disclaimers at the beginning of its movies. Yet its newly found sensitivity does not include Catholics, even though they have unquestionably been the most maligned of any demographic group.
Disney’s concessions to the cancel culture began in 2016 when activists complained about a Halloween costume. They objected to the depiction of Maui, a well respected figure in Polynesian oral tradition; he was a character in the movie, “Moana.” His costume was labeled akin to blackface. Disney immediately apologized and pulled this “offensive” costume, saying it wanted to “respect the culture of Pacific Islanders.”
Last year, Disney put disclaimers on several of its movies. “The Jungle Book” was said to perpetuate a stereotype of African Americans; “Peter Pan” was branded offensive to Indians; “Swiss Family Robinson” was criticized for depicting pirates as a “stereotypical foreign menace”; “Dumbo” was cast as racist; “Aladdin” was condemned for being anti-Arab; “The Aristocats” were deemed anti-Asian because a cat played the piano with chopsticks; and “Lady and the Tramp” was pulled by Disney Plus for offering a “culturally insensitive portrayal of Italian-American chefs.”
In February 2021, “The Muppet Show” was slammed for being racist. A warning was given to prospective viewers: the Muppet characters were designed to offer stereotypes of Native Americans, Arabs and East Asians. The disclaimer was a classic example of political correctness. “The program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.”
If Disney really objected to “negative depictions” and “stereotypes,” it would say something about the long list of “negative depictions” and stereotypical portrayals of priests that its movies and TV shows have featured for decades.
In 1993, The Walt Disney Company bought Miramax, a leading movie distribution and production company, from Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The first attack on Catholics came that same year when Disney/Miramax released “Priest.” It had so many negative depictions that not one of the five priests who starred in the movie was featured in a positive way. Every one of them was dysfunctional.
One of the priests had an affair with his housekeeper; another had sex with a male friend; one was a drunkard; the country priest was a madman; and the bishop was wicked. Disney wanted to open the movie on Good Friday but I stopped them. I took out an ad in the New York Times on April 10, 1995 asking, “What’s Happening to Disney?”
In 1999, Disney and its distributor Miramax released “Dogma.” The movie, which starred Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, was an irreverent look at Catholicism. It maintained that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations; Mary gave birth to a daughter who worked at an abortion clinic; God was played by Alanis Morissette; and a foul-mouthed 13th apostle was introduced. Reviewers noted its crude and obscene depictions.
“40 Days and 40 Nights” opened in 2002. It focused on a Catholic man who gave up sex for Lent but had his will tested by his girlfriend. One reviewer noted its “vulgar sex gags” and the Fort Worth Telegram commented on its opening during Lent, saying, “Pretty sensitive of Miramax to schedule a film mocking Lent during Lent, eh?” The “Catholic” themed film was rated R for “strong sexual content, nudity and language.”
Later in 2002, “The Magdalene Sisters” was rolled out. It was a lying, vicious depiction of nuns who worked with wayward young women in Ireland. Reports issued by the Irish government found a very different picture of these nuns than what this movie afforded. The film’s director, Peter Mullan, hated the Catholic Church so much that he compared it to the murderous Taliban.
The following year, just in time for Christmas, “Bad Santa” hit the big screen. Santa was shown as a chain-smoking, drunken, foul-mouthed, suicidal, sexual predator who soils himself in Santa’s chair. He is also depicted vomiting in alleys, having sex with a woman bartender in a car, and performing anal sex on a huge woman in a dressing room.
In 2006, “Black Christmas” was released. It showed the dark side of the Weinsteins: their relentless effort to discredit this holy day was on full display. In fact, this film, which depicted a wacko who terrorizes college girls at Christmas, opened on Christmas Day.
In 1995, Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC; the combined company was named The Walt Disney Company. The first attack on Catholics came two years later when ABC released “Nothing Sacred.” It featured a priest who was at war with the Catholic Church’s sexual ethics. He questioned whether God exits, refused to counsel against abortion in the confessional, and openly denounced the Church’s teachings on abortion, contraception, homosexuality and promiscuity, telling parishioners that he was tired of being a “sexual traffic cop.”
The Catholic League conducted a year-long boycott of the show’s sponsors. When “Nothing Sacred’s” ratings started going downhill, Disney/ABC kept moving the show to different time slots to see if it could jack up the audience (while cutting shows that had higher ratings). This wasn’t about money as much as it was ideology: Disney was hell bent on promoting propaganda against the Catholic Church. In the end, the Catholic League killed most of the sponsors and the show.
In 1998, the same year “Nothing Sacred” crashed, ABC aired “That’s Life” during Holy Week. It was one long assault on virtually every aspect of Catholicism.
The Church was condemned for its treatment of women [odd given that more women go to church and work for the Church than men], and for its teachings on abortion and homosexuality. Priests, of course, were depicted as molesters. Worst of all was a vicious mockery of the suffering and death of Jesus. “Imagine the blood comes spurting out of [his vein] like a hose. I mean, whack, whack, whack….”
Bill Maher was the star of “Politically Incorrect,” a show that bashed the Catholic Church on a regular basis beginning in 1999. Maher, and his guests, became patently obscene in 2002, relentlessly assaulting Catholic sensibilities. Confession was mocked, the Immaculate Conception was the subject of vile remarks, Jesus was trashed, the Eucharist was demeaned, and priests were depicted as rapists.
In 2002, ABC ran the season preniere of “The Job.” It depicted a detective dressed as a priest and a stripper dressed as a nun. The nun stripped in front of one of the male detectives as the other three watched. The nun also put her foot on the crotch of one of the male detectives while being interrogated; she did the same to a female detective. The confessional was denigrated in another scene.
“Pope Joan” never existed, but that didn’t stop ABC Primetime in 2005 from pretending she might have. “On the Trail of Pope Joan,” narrated by Diane Sawyer, focused on the alleged female pope from the 8th century. Sawyer relied on two discredited sources to float this lie. No serious scholar has ever validated this tale, but feminists pressing for female priests love to promote this myth.
We could fill a book with all the anti-Catholic comments made on “The View” over the years. The worst episodes took place in the 2000s, all with the blessings of Barbara Walters; she was both a co-producer and a panelist. Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck—all raised Catholic before they turned against the Church—offered non-stop attacks.
These mean-spirited women not only slandered priests with abandon, they ridiculed the Eucharist, subjected Baptism to scorn, mocked the Crucifixion, and said anti-Catholicism was justified. Had such invective been targeted at any one of the protected classes, they would have been run off the air. But because they concentrated exclusively on Catholics, they were received with open arms by Disney.
On June 12, 2007, I published an op-ed page ad in the New York Times, “What’s Happened to Barbara Walters?” I took particular exception to Walter’s tolerance for Rosie O’Donnell’s incredibly bigoted remarks. The good news is that after this ad ran, the panelists began to cool their jets.
“The Real O’Neals,” which debuted in 2016, featured a stereotypical Irish-Catholic family that was inspired by veteran anti-Catholic bigot, Dan Savage. In the first two episodes, an overzealous mother is shown abusing statues of the Virgin Mary: one was used to stop her son from having sex; the other was placed above the toilet as a reminder to put down the seat. Regarding the latter, one of the sons, who comes out as gay, flushed his girlfriend’s unused condoms down the toilet under the watchful eye of the Virgin Mary.
On February 29, 2016, I published an op-ed page ad in the New York Times, “Shame on Disney-ABC,” that questioned its decision to loosely base the show on Dan Savage, one of the producers. Savage, I pointed out, has made many filthy remarks about Jesus, Our Blessed Mother, and two popes. As I said in the ad, Savage’s “maniacal hatred of Catholicism is so strong that it would be as though David Duke were hired to produce a show about African Americans.” The show bombed after a few seasons.
In 2017, ABC aired its miniseries on the gay rights movement, “When We Rise.” Its opening episode was an all-out assault on Catholics. Stereotypes about prudish nuns and equally prudish Catholic parents were featured.
The most vicious attack centered on a women’s march in Boston. “We get beat up by the very cops that refuse to protect us,” one character said, “in a city run by Catholic cops.” So typical. There were no negative comments about “Jewish bankers” or “gay hairdressers” or “black criminals.” Just corrupt Catholic cops.
“The Kids Are Alright” was aired on ABC in 2018. It depicted kids putting a microphone in the purse of their mother so they could hear what she said when going to confession. The skit proceeded to mock the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Disney owns 20th Century Fox and “Family Guy” is one of its shows. One portrayed priests as molesters, one trashed the Eucharist, and the other mocked both the Eucharist and Baptism.
Disney gets good press by giving millions to “social justice” organizations that represent black, gay, and Asian interests. It has never contributed to, or consulted with, the Catholic League.
We are submitting this synopsis of Disney’s anti-Catholic history to the Walt Disney Company Board of Directors, along with a note from me. If they can apologize to the Polynesians about “Moana,” perhaps they can apologize to Catholics for decades of abuse.