John ‘Accused Sexual Harasser’ Lasseter’s Redemption Arc Continues With ‘Luck’ Trailer

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Apple TV+ is getting into the family entertainment game this year. The CGI Fantasy Comedy Chance stars Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg and Jane f**king Fonda in a story about an extremely unlucky girl who stumbles into the land of luck with a supposedly Scottish cat. It looks like pretty standard 3D animated shenanigans to me. The latest trailer includes the credit “From the creative visionary who brought you toy story and Cars.’ They just forget to name said accused sexual harasser.

The streaming giant has announced it will distribute animated films from Skydance, the production company founded by young wealthy David Ellison that has credits to the likes of Top Gun: Maverick, geostormand Star Trek Into Darkness. They made a point of spending a lot of money buying big names from Disney, DreamWorks and Pixar. In January 2019, they added John Lasseter to this list.

In November 2017, Lasseter took a six-month leave from his job as chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation after admitting “missteps” in his conduct with female staff members. It was detailed that women were warned about Lasseter’s wandering hands and mistreatment, which included “grabbing, kissing, [and] comment on physical attributes. His behavior was so well known that Pixar had “guardians tasked with containing his impulses”. Seven months later, in June 2018, Disney announced that Lasseter was leaving the company at the end of the year, assuming a consulting role until then. That he was almost immediately picked up by Skydance Animation to lead the studio was surprisingly awkward, but not particularly surprising.

Animation is an infamously tough industry for women, and Pixar’s old boys’ club has spent many years keeping female writers, directors, and animators at bay. Lasseter, who was always marketed to the world as the cuddly and caring uncle of the cartoon world, helped foster this toxic atmosphere, to the point where women were told to stay away from him. Yes, it certainly helps foster a creative workplace where everyone’s ideas are heard when not all women can talk to their boss without fear of being groped.

Apple has worked overtime to clean up Lasseter’s image. The Hollywood Reporter recently published an article about Lasseter’s comeback that reads like a press release. Lasseter is praised for “quietly building an independent animation studio inspired by some of the same principles that guided Pixar in its early days under co-founder Steve Jobs – namely the idea that excellence is the best strategy commercial”. Female directors employed by Skydance, including Chance director Peggy Holmes, praise their working relationship with him as that of a “great mentor” and a “master storyteller”. He’s also been touted for bringing in big names like his pals Alan Menken and Brad Bird. It reads like whitewash to me, with little room for those who have been hurt or who understand the toxicity of the industry he helped promote. A dissenting voice, Ashlyn Anstee, director of Cartoon Network, is insightful noting: “It’s more about letting a so-called creative genius continue to occupy positions and space in an industry that could begin to be filled of different people”. I would like the leaders above Lasseter to consider what they value and what they are willing to take a chance on.

The thing about declaring someone a “genius” is that you give them a bulletproof shield against legitimate concerns and a higher platform than anyone else to yell at them. The work Lasseter did at Pixar and Disney is forever elevated in importance over the women, his employees, who had to deal with his wandering hands. Not only that, but said “genius” is prioritized by the likes of Apple and David Ellison time and time again. They hired him ALMOST IMMEDIATELY after he was fired by Disney, and even then the latter company kept letting him hang around and being paid handsomely when so many women struggled to stay in a field that often seemed the to hate. Oh but we just have to hire the man who confessed to being a stalker because he can get all his buddies to hang out with us. Why bother looking for underserved talent who could benefit from our support? It’s too much work.


Kayleigh is an editor and managing editor for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to his podcast, The Hollywood Read.



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