'Shadowhunters' fan's Open Letter to Disney: 'To say that I am disappointed in your company and its network is an understatement'
I have been a longtime fan of Disney and its products. Some of my earliest memories are of curling up on the couch to watch Disney animations, attending showings of Disney films at our local theater, and dressing up as Disney characters for Halloween. I have been fortunate enough to visit Walt Disney World a few times and have found new reasons to love it every single trip. As I got older, I was pleased to see that your company seemed to go out of its way to not only create magic on screen, but also tried to spread positivity and happiness throughout the world as well. It made me happy and proud to support it.
All of this history with Disney makes the reason that I’m writing this letter that much more disheartening.
For You - Xfinity Stream - Google Chrome 12_15_2018 4_10_43 PM.mp4— bobbi (@bobtwo999) December 16, 2018
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On Saturday, December 15th, Freeform aired 'Toy Story' as part of their '25 Days of Christmas' event. Special pop-up messages were added to provide bits of trivia and fun notes that had to do with the plot, characters, and film overall. In the middle of a well-known, family-friendly, children’s program, a special message was added for 'Shadowhunters' fans, a part of Freeform’s – and by extension, your – audience. Overlaid on a moment when Woody picks up a Magic 8 Ball and asks, "Will Andy pick me?", a message popped up that read, "Will Freeform save 'Shadowhunters' if I keep tweeting about it?" The Magic 8 Ball’s response, "Don’t count on it," appeared on screen directly beside it.
#Shadowhunters: Note to Freeform: When you feel like trolling someone, it's best you don't attempt to troll the largest fanbase in the world.@ShadowhuntersTV @ShadowhuntersWR @NephilimUpdates @BasicShadowStuf @baneandlewis #SaveShadowhuntershttps://t.co/JiXHMrct9T— MEAWW Entertainment (@meawwofficial) December 16, 2018
This indirect slight is incredibly disrespectful to the cast and crew of 'Shadowhunters', who still have half a season to air on your network in Spring 2019. This is the same cast and crew who Disney used to successfully rebrand the ABC Family and who Freeform has used left, right, and center to promote other shows and events on the network. A cast that includes Isaiah Mustafa, who Freeform has nicknamed Freeform Santa and used to promote their programming for '25 Days of Christmas' and, by extension, this airing of 'Toy Story'.
It is also extremely disrespectful to fans who have been campaigning to save 'Shadowhunters' for the past six-and-a-half months.
They have been fighting for a show that breaks stereotypes and creates positive representation for women, people of color, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community — all of which are so desperately needed in the media right now.
Fans have accomplished many feats all around the globe, ranging from collecting over 160,000 signatures on a petition and tweeting #SaveShadowhunters over 19 million times to sending letters and emails to networks and streaming services and funding multiple promotional campaigns.
You are stronger than you know 💗 Remember that we're here to support you 24/7 at 866.488.7386 or text/chat at: https://t.co/hxtScqt870 📲— The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject) December 15, 2018
🎨 art by recipesforselflove 🎨#lgbtq+ #trans pic.twitter.com/o2p9Nr4tsO
But their largest and most meaningful initiative has been channeling their pain into raising awareness. In six months, fans have raised over $32,000 in an ongoing set of fundraisers for 'The Trevor Project', 'Girl Up', and 'Together Rising'. They have taken what has been a monumentally negative situation and tried to create something positive that reinforces elements of what makes 'Shadowhunters' so important.
The show has literally changed and saved people's lives, inspiring them to take action in an attempt "to create the future they imagine". In doing so, they are embodying the goal of Disney ABC Television Group’s own statement of corporate social responsibility. They are showcasing just how successful 'Shadowhunters' really is.
Despite this, everyone connected to Disney has largely ignored the 'Save Shadowhunters' campaign. While Freeform has acted questionably several times over the last few months, even going so far as to delete links to the campaign’s fundraisers, they have not publicly commented on the campaign.
To do so a way that seemingly mocks fans' efforts and minimizes their accomplishments on a national scale is incredibly meanspirited and unprofessional. To say that I am disappointed in your company and its network is an understatement. I have been disappointed in Freeform’s handling of the situation for months. However, I never expected this kind of unethical behavior.
Not only have they alienated an entire segment of their audience; they have used a classic Disney/Pixar movie in order to do it, thus alienating them from 'Toy Story' as well. And you have enabled it to happen and – so far – have allowed it to go unanswered.
Your company had a large influence in my childhood. I associated Disney with positivity, happiness, and hope. But as an avid 'Shadowhunters' fan and a member of the 'Save Shadowhunters' campaign from the very beginning, I can no longer say that.
If you have a positive story about how 'Shadowhunters' changed your life, or would like to share fan pics and videos, please DM us on Twitter @meawwofficial or email firstname.lastname@example.org.