When the Me Too movement started gaining steam, one of the biggest titans it felled was Pixar head John Lasseter, who had been groping female co-workers and giving them non-consensual kisses for years without punishment. When John’s behavior was exposed, he took a leave of absence from The Walt Disney Company, and a few months later that company terminated his employment.
One of the most hotly debated questions of the movement is this: how long is long enough for someone who abuses power to do their penance? One year….two years….nine? If this was a court issue, like it was with Weinstein and Cosby, the answer would be simple: as long as they’re in prison. Neither Lasseter or Louis CK are going to prison, so they’re free to attempt revivals of their shattered careers, whether we like it or not.
No one’s happy with the recent announcement from Skydance Media, producers of critically acclaimed movies like Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Annihilation and Star Trek: Into Darkness. They’ve been working on establishing a new animation division for a couple of years now, and they think they’ve found the perfect man to manage it….but he comes with a lot of baggage.
CEO David Ellison acknowledged giving John such a high position after he completely blew his previous one is a controversial move. “While we would never minimize anyone’s subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized,” Ellison said in a press release. “We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague.”
It didn’t take long for Time’s Up to release a counter-statement. “Skydance Media’s decision to hire John Lasseter as head of animation endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence….and offering a high-profile position to an abuser who has yet to [express remorse, work deeply to reform behavior, and offer restitution to those he harmed] is condoning abuse.”
2019 has only just begun, but if Skydance sticks to its decision, this is certain to be the most controversial news the animation community will hear this year, and it won’t go away. Whatever movie Skydance ends up producing will be mired in controversy simply by having John’s name on it. It’s not just immoral to boot this old perv back up into a fancy office, it’s also bad PR. But some organizations have to learn life’s lessons for themselves…