Director John Musker is the filmmaker behind some of Disney’s biggest animated films including The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, The Princess and the Frog, and Moana.

The guy has told one great animated story after another, and he proves that he knows how to tell a strong story. Well, the filmmaker behind these classic films recently shared his take on the studio’s current offerings, and he’s not a fan.

Like a lot of other vocal Disney fans, Musker believes Disney needs to get away from the political messaging in its movies, and this is something that even Disney CEO Bob Iger has hinted will take a backseat as they move forward.

During an interview with the Spanish outlet El País, Musker said: “I think they need to do a course correction a bit in terms of putting the message secondary, behind entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters. The classic Disney films didn’t start out trying to have a message.”

He went on to explain: “They wanted you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it. You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling.”

Musker, who introduced Disney’s first Black Princess, Tiana, in The Princess and the Frog, which was met with racist complaints, said of that film, “We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism.”

As for Disney’s live-action remakes of its classic animated projects, Musker said: “Companies are always like, ‘How do we reduce our risk? They like this, right? We’ll just do it again and sell it to them in a different form.’ Or they think, ‘Well, we could make it better.'”

When specifically talking about The Little Mermaid remake, he said: “They didn’t play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie, in a way. And the crab – you could look at live animals in a zoo and they have more expression, like with The Lion King.”

He concluded, saying: “That’s one of the basic things about Disney, is the appeal. That’s what animation does best.”

I’ve always said that the story and character development should come first. If you have a strong story, everything else will fall into place.

Joey Paur

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Legendary Disney Animation Director John Musker Speaks Out on Disney’s Political Messaging in Movies — GeekTyrant