Yesterday, Pixar CCO and Disney’s Head of Animation John Lasseter announced that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence due to allegations of inappropriate behavior towards female employees.
While yesterday’s report came with horrifying details that support these allegations, it’s not clear how many victims there are. However, it did speculate that Toy Story 4 writer Rashida Jones left the project due to one of Lasseter’s unwanted advances. Now, she is coming out to refute those speculations and to clarify why she left and support those who may have been victimized. More on the story below.
Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack sent a message to the The New York Times, which was later obtained by Variety. In it, she talks about how news outlets are reporting on naming the next perpetrator at “breakneck speeds.” However, she clarified that she did not leave Toy Story 4 due to unwanted advances made by Lasseter. Instead, she says “We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences.”
The two were named as writers for Toy Story 4 in 2014, with Lasseter being named as director for the sequel. He had already directed Toy Story and Toy Story 2. However, in 2015, it was announced that Josh Cooley would serve as director and Lasseter would be co-director. Two years later, Cooley would be named the sole director of the film.
Now it is important to mention this because it validates the animation studio’s reputation for being a boy’s club. Of the 19 films that have been released by Pixar, only one had been directed by a woman – Brenda Chapman, who co-directed Brave in 2012. But Brave came with its own set of problems as she was seemingly forced out of the project that she had worked on. If you see her Twitter profile, she points out that she is the original writer and director of the film.
In the same statement, the two encouraged those at Pixar to give everyone, including women and people of color, an equal voice, by changing their hiring practices:
“There is so much talent at Pixar and we remain enormous fans of their films. But it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice, as is demonstrated by their director demographics: out of the 20 films in the company’s history, only one was co-directed by a woman and only one was directed by a person of color. We encourage Pixar to be leaders in bolstering, hiring, and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders. We hope we can encourage all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past to feel empowered.”
Since the news broke out yesterday, there have been reports of Lasseter’s wildly inappropriate behavior occurring in Pixar and at social events. This includes unwanted “hugging” and “kissing,” as well as an unconfirmed report of his hand “traveling” up a female employee’s skirt. There have also been reports of him drinking heavily at social events and premiere parties. According to the reports, women knew when to turn their heads away whenever Lasseter was around.
[Source: The New York Times via Variety]