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Early this March, Disney+ subscribers found themselves with the unpleasant surprise that Anastasia, the 1997 animated classic, had been removed without warning from the streaming platform’s catalog.
Disney+’s removal of Anastasia led to speculations that it might be a gesture of punishment to Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. The film is an adaptation of the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, that plays with the idea that the girl managed to escape her family’s execution by the Bolsheviks.
In the past, to think that Disney+ would have pulled Anastasia for this reason would have been a far-fetched idea. But given the role Disney is playing in the current cancellationl
culture, and the fact that in recent days there has been a worrying phenomenon of censorship and rejection of everything related to Russia, it was plausible that Disney+ would have withdrawn it for political reasons.
Disney itself had announced that it would postpone the Russian release of Turning Red, the latest Pixar film, just like Warner Bros did with The Batman.
In addition, this week we learned that the European Union removed Russian banks from the SWIFT financial system, except those receiving payments from the energy business; the Royal Opera House in London has cancelled its performances with the Bolshoi Ballet; Eurovision has removed Russia from the contest; the New York Metropolitan has fired diva Anna Netrebko; and an Italian university tried to cancel a course on Dostoyevsky, although they later refrained from doing so.
What’s more, FIFA (International Football Association) and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) have expelled the Russian national team and other Russian clubs from their competitions, and the video game company EA has removed Russian teams from its popular FIFA games.
As if this were not enough, the FIFe (International Feline Federation) has jumped on the bandwagon declaring that “no Russian-bred cat may be imported or registered in any FIFe pedigree book outside Russia, and no cat belonging to exhibitors living in Russia may be entered in any FIFe show, outside the country.”
First Anastasia, and now the Russian people, are both victims of an uncontrolled exaltation
This sort of mass hysteria of censorship fervor towards all things Russian must be denounced with equal impetus as the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being denounced. First, because none of the financial, political and sporting measures exclusively punish the Russian government, but rather make the people pay for the decisions of their leaders. Knowing how to separate a nation and its people from its government is a basic concept of justice that is of compulsory knowledge.
Secondly, because the testimonial cancellations are absurd, xenophobic and only serve the “ethical posturing” — virtue signaling — of Westerners who have fewer and fewer values to boast about, as is the case with the accelerated loss of respect for freedom of expression.
Moreover, these empty gestures in any case only harm the one who carries out the censorship, and in no way the Russian government, nor any Russian who might support Putin. Banning the study of Dostoyevsky only impoverishes, culturally and spiritually, the student who misses out ‘Crime and Punishment’ or ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’
Not being able to enjoy on Disney+ the excellent animated musical Anastasia is of benefit to no one, nor does it harm in any way those it is supposedly intended to punish.
Although Disney has assured that the withdrawal is not due to the political situation, but rather to legal and retransmission rights issues, it is undeniable that there is a persecution of all things Russian, fueled by the feeling of injustice generated by the invasion of Ukraine.
It is ironic that, at the time, the cruel murder of the girl Anastasia became a symbol of the uncontrolled exaltation and bloodlust of the Bolsheviks, and that now the situation seems to be repeating itself, with these reprisals towards Russia that we have witnessed in recent days.
To be carried away by this vortex of revenge is something that does not fit in with the values that the West is supposed to defend and, let’s face it, some of the measures are so ridiculous that they are embarrassing and, in Putin’s eyes, probably only serve to corroborate his contempt for the rest of the world.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm