It’s safe to say that every millennial’s childhood involves Pixar movies. When I was younger, I would watch the featurettes on upcoming movies that were shown during commercials. A lot of them revolved around the new films under the animation studio and the face of them was John Lasseter, who was the creative officer of Walt Disney Animations and Pixar (he also founded the latter) before he stepped down in 2018.
In 2017, Lasseter was accused of alleged sexual misconduct. The Hollywood Reporterreleased a report detailing several accounts of unwanted advances that included “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.” Lasseter later released a memo to apologize to “anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form.” He emphasized that it was never his intent to make anyone uncomfortable.
Lasseter later took a leave of absence because of “missteps” he’s made in his career and left the company at the end of 2018. But his name came up again when Skydance Animation—which is under the studio that made movies like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and World War Z—appointed him as their new head last January.
Varietyreported that Lasseter was grilled during Skydance Animation’s town hall meeting, which is meant for employees to ask pertinent questions to upcoming heads about certain issues. Young female employees reportedly asked him to answer questions about the sexual misconduct claims. A source said that he admitted to wrongdoing and insisted that he’s changed since the exposé. He also allegedly curbed some questions from employees.
Skydance’s decision obviously wasn’t received well. Time’s Up condemned Lasseter’s appointment, saying that the studio “endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence.” Actress Emma Thompson also dropped out of voicing a character in Luck as a move against the hiring.
As someone who grew up seeing John Lasseter as the face of my favorite Pixar films, this news disappointed me. It’s the same disappointment I feel with finding out about the misconduct of the directors and musicians I supported. The phrase “childhood ruined” may be a joke but it feels more real in this situation.
How will I continue watching Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and more when I know that Lasseter headed those projects? If I watch them, does it support Lasseter and his legacy, albeit already tainted and nulled by his Disney firing?
All this questions may be running through my head, but what concerns me more is the fact that kids will be watching the old Pixar films we grew up watching. Not only that, as long as Lasseter is with Skydance Animation, he will be the face of the studio’s upcoming projects for childhood consumption. He’s going to create films that’ll entertain children and try to gain their support. The last thing a lot of us want is to see him in the position of prominence in Skydance—the same one he ruined while he was in Pixar because of his behavior.
Time’s Up was right. The fact that Lasseter’s working as a higher-up is giving him more leeway to possibly be saved from punishment and not be held accountable. We’ve seen enough men who are still working in their respective industries despite being found out about their actions.