Recently, news broke that Pixar head John Lasseter is taking a six-month leave of absence from Disney as a result of misconduct allegations made against him. Toy Story 4 writers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack reportedly left the sequel due to unwanted advances from Lasseter. Now, the writing team has released a statement, saying that's not true.
"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."
On the one hand, it's somewhat positive that a very damning allegation made against John Lasseter isn't true. On the other hand, this signifies a potentially bigger and deeper problem within Pixar and, for that matter, possibly Disney. John Lasseter released a statement following the allegations brought against him, in which, he apologizes to anyone who he made feel "disrespected or uncomfortable."
"It's been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected."
Even though Rashida Jones and Will McCormack have cleared John Lasseter from their own departure, in a sense, the problem goes far beyond a single accusation. Though nobody has chosen to be named, for fear of their careers, many former Pixar employees and insiders have reported misconduct at the hands of Lasseter, such as kissing and inappropriate touching. But adding on top of that the accusation that Pixar is not fair to women or people of color is a whole new layer of complication to an already troubling situation. Disney released this statement in regards to Lasseter's decision to take a leave of absence.
"We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John's candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical."
That statement goes beyond Lasseter's allegations. Given the statement released by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, via Entertainment Weekly, Disney may have to take a deeper look into how Pixar runs to ensure that "all employees are respected and empowered." Were that the case, it sounds like the original writers wouldn't have left Toy Story 4, which is set for release on June 20, 2019.