In late 2017, Disney/Pixar Chief John Lasseter took a leave of absence after allegations of sexual harassment from multiple employees, one of whom later detailed and emphasized his “sleazy spin” and pattern of “open sexism.” He was later replaced, and these revelations, of course, arrived amid the wave of Harvey Weinstein-launched revelations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood. Well, Emma Thompson made industry waves in January by pulling out of a starring role in Skydance’s upcoming animation feature, Luck, after they hired Lasseter. The LA Times has now published the letter (released by Thompson) that she sent to studio executives to explain her decision.
In short, Lasseter’s employment with Skydance raised questions for Thompson that “made it impossible” for her to continue with the project. Although she praised director Alessandro Carloni, she openly wondered why Skydance would hire Lasseter, especially “given the present climate in which people with the kind of power” are being exposed for patterns of sexual misconduct. In her lengthy correspondence, she acknowledges that the situation is a complicated one, but she fires off several inquiries, including these:
If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave “professionally”?
If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement? The message seems to be, “I am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It’s not easy.”
While these questions drive to the heart of the #MeToo movement, Thompson goes into great length with more hard-hitting interrogation. She stresses the importance of not appearing complacent and as if the abuse-of-power issue with Lasseter (and many other high-profile men) has miraculously resolved itself because people aren’t talking about sexual misconduct as much these days. “If people who have spoken out — like me — do not take this sort of a stand,” Thompson ultimately states. “Then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.” In other words, change is still in process, and advocates must remain vigilant.
The full letter is worth reading here.
(Via LA Times)