A Brief Word on John Lassetter, and the recent string of events-

A lot of joy just got sapped from a lot of people.

Normally, animation is an incredible outlet for creativity and an escape of sorts from the harsh realities we experience in the world. The best productions take us to places and locales we could only dream of, with charismatic characters and incredible stories, waiting to unfold. Unfortunately, that facade can still be broken when a man behind much magic for countless minds over the years has been swept up into the ever-growing Pandora’s Box of misconduct in Hollywood that was often suspected, but never dragged out so openly in the public like it is now.

I write about animation, and I’m perfectly capable of shifting to a more serious topic involving my expertise, and I should start by saying this is *not* at all a defense of John Lasseter. If anything, the story just dropped within an hour of me writing this piece, and while the details haven’t emerged fully in all their detail, the fact that he decided to take a leave of absence himself suggests he was trying to get out in front of a landmine that was set to explode. You can read between the lines about what’s going to happen, and while the implications themselves are ugly, there are other parts of the fallout that are huge here as well: the well-being and security of people, specifically women, and what exactly this will mean for the twin titans of Western animation- Pixar and Walt Disney Animation- going forward.

On the former point, it has been said ad nasuem in other places and contexts, but the potential culture of harassment that may have existed at Pixar and perhaps Disney too as a result of Lassester’s actions is unacceptable and downright despicable. I don’t particularly take sides on “gender issues” as our society today defines them, but a safe work environment, free of fear and of backroom tactics is  key in nurturing positive change. In many ways, it seems the “old boys’ club” mentality still exists in workplaces, and what should be rejected as wrong is instead overlooked due to power, status and position. In Lassasster’s case, it does not matter how brilliant an animator or storyboarder he was- the consideration and acknowledgement of real human lives should always come first, in a culture that too often lacks true compassion for others. The latter point in particular is sickening given what Pixar itself stands for in movies- good, wholesome and downright incredible entertainment.

But it’s just that- entertainment. It’s not reality, much as it’s uniquely able to craft realities of its own- and the magic in those many amazing films became a bit tainted today. I’m not suggesting you have to chuck your copy of Toy Story out the window now, but the man influential in forming many a childhood dream and formative in the dominant decade of Pixar to open the early 2000’s has now been swept up in a growing scandal of powerful individuals that should serve as a warning to the values our culture holds and the sort of diligent watchfulness that should be cast upon those in positions of great responsibility.

Finally, this may in fact mark the end of the so-called Lasseter Renaissance at Disney. While a trivial point to the other aspects of this moment in time I’ve reflected on, it is of some importance in an animation context, as Disney had been rolling off hits since the man took over their struggling animation department back in 2008, and Pixar had still produced some fairly good films in the past decade despite the perception that they took a slight step back (which was more about the ridiculously high standard the studio set for itself.) Whatever happens next for these studios now is no longer connected with Lasseter though, but it will be interesting to see how a very promising 2018 turns out now for both Pixar and Disney’s animation studio.

Here’s hoping the truth continues to show itself, and the proper course of action continues to be taken.

Feel free to chime in on this issue, if you wish. Serious dialogue is the mark of a healthy republic.

Author: anibproductions

I am the founder and writer of AniB Productions, currently a blog with a focus on animated shows from both the East and the West. Love Buffalo sports, good political discussion, and an interesting conversation wherever I go.

6 thoughts on “A Brief Word on John Lassetter, and the recent string of events-”

  1. Oh man, even Lassetter is caught in this slew of harassment. I had to look up what he did exactly, and it is pretty horrible. It’s also ironic that his movies have a lot of female empowerment and beautiful showcases of other cultures, and yet Pixar themselves is denying those things in their own world.
    Oh gawd, if Disney restructures then we’d get crap like Home on the Range again. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s pretty awful on all levels. Of course my first concern was about people potentially involved, but my secondary one is the impact on Disney again. Pre-Lasseter, it was not pretty (and yes, Home on the Range is god-awful). Thanks for chiming in, TPAB!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s pretty saddening, but at the same time not that surprising. The “Good Old Boys” culture is a common and highly entrenched feature of many organizations, particularly at the highest levels. That some one was going to be found out at the “happiest company on Earth” was pretty inevitable.

    As for how this will effect the cartoon side of things, that will depend on who replaces Lasseter (since it’s all most certain he will be ousted). My optimistic side tells me that given all of the quality material they’ve put out lately there should be several worthy successors Disney could put in the position. On the other hand, there really is no obvious successor to Lasseter which means that we really won’t know until they are appointed, it’s probably going to be kind of a crap-shoot. Still i think it’s a little early to say that this is the end of the “new” Disney Renaissance yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m thankful that you don’t defend the horrific things that happened with Disney or how their works aren’t reality, so to speak. It’s infuriating how people in high places get away with these things or how fans defend them no matter what. I’ve had issues with Disney with their business practices, sexism, racism, and other things I’ve heard about. These things and other issues need to be called out. I hope Lassetter gets punished for what he did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s important to dissociate the works from the people and their personal lives. John Lassetter is a talented man, but of course it’s important to investigate what happened and make the appropriate moves. Appreciate the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just about to ask you if you separated the art from the artists next. For me, I have a really hard time doing so. Sure, cancel culture can be problematic, but I don’t like how selective people can be. Nate Parker was demonized when he made Birth of a Nation (2016) even though he was innocent, but Roman Polanski still has a career despite doing something horrific.

        As far as animation is concerned, there are two properties that I used to really like that became tainted. Rurouni Kenshin was one after when I found out what the creator Nobuhiro Watsuki did a few years ago. How he only got away with just a fine and not jail time and being on a sex offender registry is beyond me. The other one as you may know if you know me is The Lion King. Not just because of the existence of Kimba, but because of the trademark controversy, stealing African music, and some of the unfortunate implications with the hyenas and the elephant graveyard. It gets really hard for me to be a fan of something.

        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

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