John Oliver rips 'morally bankrupt' Disney over 'Don't Say Gay' bill

Last Week Tonight
(Image credit: HBO / Screenshot)

Disney wasn't feeling the love from John Oliver last night.

The Last Week Tonight host discussed Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would ban teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with young kids, with a focus on Disney's response. Last week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek came under fire for remaining silent on the bill, though he soon reversed course and came out against it. Oliver, who worked for Disney in 2019 voicing Zazu in The Lion King remake, noted the company has donated to legislators who voted for the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

"Are they morally bankrupt for doing that?" Oliver asked. "Who's to say? I'll tell you: I am. I am to say! After all, I'm Zazu."

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Oliver went after Chapek for his response to the bill, saying he "made things worse" and dismissing his statement that Disney's films and shows are "more powerful" than lobbying efforts. "That is obviously nonsense," Oliver said. While he agreed that movies "can affect how people view the world," he argued Disney often does so in a negative way.

"You are the same company that's coded basically every villain in your movies as gay, stereotyped minorities to a breathtaking degree, and had something called a 'wench auction' in place at Disneyland until 2018," Oliver said. "So I don't know that you've had a 100 percent net positive effect here."

Oliver also slammed Chapek for claiming Disney doesn't know how candidates are going to vote on issues when donating to them. "That is such bulls--t, it is actively insulting," Oliver said. "Because that's just not how donating works."

Disney is currently working on a Lion King prequel, and Oliver suggested this segment may have made his involvement less likely.

"While I haven't been invited back for the prequel yet," Oliver joked, "after tonight, I've got a pretty good feeling about it."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.