One of many nice privileges of maximum wealth is the flexibility to stay to your opinions. Whether or not an anti-gun, pro-choice liberal like Michael Bloomberg or a dedicated conservative like Charles Koch, countless billions insulate the wealthy from ever having to alter their minds.
Which is why the case of Abigail Disney is so confounding — and annoying. A granddaughter of Walt Disney Firm co-founder Roy Disney (and a grandniece of Walt), Abigail has made a tidy profession for herself as a dilettante film-maker dedicated to ending the scourge of financial inequality. Regardless of a private fortune estimated at $200 million — and a final title conferring immediate media fame and a focus — Disney spends most of her time dissing the wealthy and nepotistic. In different phrases, folks very similar to herself.
Her newest venture, as detailed in a latest New York Instances article, was the brand new documentary, “Jihad Rehab” directed by Meg Smaker, which has been canceled by wokey film-folk who’ve decried the film as anti-Arab, anti-Muslim propaganda perpetuating stereotypes by way of a “white, Western gaze.” Like with the latest novel “American Grime” — which instructed the story of a Mexican mom, however was written by a white creator — the critics of “Jihad Rehab” have paid notably shut consideration to Smaker’s race.
As a result of she’s white, Smaker has been deemed unfit to inform the story of former Guantanamo prisoners despatched to a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” facility to forsake their alleged terrorist pasts. By no means thoughts that Smaker — who’s additionally a former firefighter — lived extensively within the Center East, mastered Arabic and spent three years in Riyadh meticulously documenting her topics’ journeys. As with white feminine authors, evidently white feminine movie administrators like Smaker can solely inform the tales of different white females.
Disney’s function on this saga is especially spineless and craven. For one factor, she produced “Jihad Rehab,” and initially referred to as its premise of introspection and redemption “freaking sensible.” However now that the flick has been canceled from most main movie festivals, together with Sundance, she describes the film as a “truckload of hate.”
Regardless of Arab manufacturing companions and an elaborate vetting course of, “Jihad Rehab” was lambasted nearly instantly after it was introduced by Sundance and made out there for early evaluations — most of which had been constructive. However as a substitute of defending the movie she financed, Disney joined the hater-chorus with a degree of creepy performative contrition bordering on self-flagellation.
Disney mentioned she “failed, failed and completely failed” to grasp how the movie may influence Arab and Muslim viewers. Truthful sufficient. However slightly than merely give attention to her personal emotions — and permit others to reach at their personal conclusions — she was simply getting began. “I need to host mediated conversations to listen to the place I’ve failed and what I’ve not seen,” she bleated plaintively. “I’m soul-searching and analyzing my very own processes, assumptions, and shortcomings in order that I can do much less hurt.”
Expensive Abby — chill!
Disney’s self-indulgent mea culpa would nearly be humorous if it hadn’t been so damaging.
Due to her takedown, “Jihad Rehab” is DOA and the director is principally broke: “Ms. Smaker has maxed out bank cards and, at age 42, borrowed cash from her mother and father,” wrote the Instances.
In the meantime, Abigail Disney continues to be wealthy sufficient to afford the flowery eating places and designer sneakers she’s publicly mentioned she favors. Wealthy sufficient, the truth is, to fund extra vainness cinema efforts, together with her newest, “The American Dream and Different Fairy Tales,” during which she — but once more — takes on inequality, this time (cringe!) as perpetuated by her circle of relatives at Disneyland and The Walt Disney Firm.
Regardless of these very actual setbacks, odds are that Smaker will finally bounce again. Any lady who educated firefighters within the extremely patriarchal society of Yemen clearly has fortitude; whereas anybody who’s helmed a research-heavy opus like “Jihad Rehab” additionally has endurance. As for Disney, having achieved little by way of forging an precise profession, her title and cash are, basically, all she has to supply.
Like so many leisure business wannabes, Disney gave into silencing and outrage. She squandered one of the crucial enviable attributes of wealth — the flexibility to really suppose freely and stick to 1’s convictions. Although, having mentioned that, the Smaker story suggests she might not have any convictions in any respect.