Memo: To: Michael Eisner, Disney Inc.
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: I told you so!!
I'm not sure you saw the memo on the margin I posted here almost seven years ago, just about the time your management of the Mickey Mouse Industry began to slip. The financial writers who are covering your fight to remain in charge of Disney Inc. seem to have forgotten the decision of the Southern Baptists in June of '97 to boycott all Disney films and theme parks because of your decision to pump out films of prurience and violence to make more money for your shareholders. For all the money you paid yourself over the intervening track of time, Disney shareholders barely stayed even with a dart-board throw at the S&P 500. Remember the Baptists? I told you so.
June 23, 1997
Disney and the Southern Baptists
Memo To: Michael Eisner, Disney Inc.
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Baptist Boycott
This is a battle you will lose. At the margin, you will lose business because of this boycott, and as more people discuss the implications of what the Southern Baptists have done, your central role will become a symbol of hypocrisy and the moral rot in our society. There is no future in fighting the national religious community, as it will only grow in power in the months and years ahead. You should have noticed it in the Million Man March. You can see it in this boycott, which is part of the Great Awakening that follows the end of the Cold War. Iím not saying this as a religious zealot, but as a political analyst. Throughout the history of the world, long periods of war and monetary inflation have been accompanied by the breakdown of the social fabric. When long wars end, ordinary people mass themselves into private armies that demand economic reforms, an end to wartime inflation, and a return to traditional family values. This was true thousands of years ago, was true after the civil wars that wracked the Roman Empire after the assassination of Julius Caesar, and was true of the United States after the greenback inflation of the Civil War.
The only way to fight the trend back toward moral decency is to appeal to those whose interests you are defending, those who are fighting the forces of this moral ascendancy. The more you assemble these forces of moral rot in your defense, the more you will find the forces of ascendancy increasing in power. In the end, you will be forced to give way or be replaced by the Disney board in order to salvage some of the remaining good will in the trademark. Your only hope of victory will be to make major contributions to the politicians who are most identified with economic and moral decline, hoping they will be able to return the country to the horrible wartime, inflationary conditions in which devaluations of monetary and cultural standards are the dominant events.
What to do? Total retreat on productions that are outside the Disney tradition. Thatís the only thing that will enable you to cut your losses quickly. Mark my words.