Hollywood is still reeling from the news that John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar and chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is taking a leave of absence in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Numerous outlets had extensive reports about Lasseter’s behavior which has been alarming brass at Disney for years, but about which nothing was done. However, one of the specific allegations has turned out to be untrue.
The Hollywood Reporter alleged that Rashida Jones, who had been hired with her writing partner Will McCormack to work on “Toy Story 4,” was subject to an unwanted advance by Lasseter. The story suggested that Jones left the project because of the incident. However, in a statement with McCormack to The New York Times, they clarify they left Pixar because an overall climate where there was a lack of diverse storytelling voices. Here’s what they had to say:
The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences.
There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.
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.
The statement by Jones and McCormack is an excellent reminder that an environment where Lasseter’s behavior is tolerated or actively overlooked would naturally lend itself to creating inequality in other areas of operation across the board.
Pixar’s “Coco” opens this weekend, and hopefully the studio will soon address the ways in which the culture will change in the office and boardrooms of the animation giant.