The animation world was rocked this week when John Lasseter, Disney and Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, announced he would take a six month sabbatical for “hugs” and “missteps.”
In part of a statement, Lasseter said he wanted 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.”
A lot has been said about John Lasseter over the last few days. Some have written him off as a powerful white male who was not so secretly also a sexual predator. Others have expressed shock that allegations of sexual misconduct would even be in the same sentence as John Lasseter. But I think it’s important for us to focus on what we know.
- Some unnamed sources at Pixar have accused Lasseter of unwanted hugs and kisses, grabbing, and making comments about physical attributes.
- Lasseter is one of the most powerful men in animation and is directly responsible Disney and Pixar’s dominance in the field for roughly the past two decades.
- Lasseter admitted to both “missteps” and “unwanted hugs” in his statement and I’ve seen him hug several individuals – male and female – at awards shows and on stage at D23.
- Lasseter also admitted to having “difficult conversations” over the past few days with at least a few of the individuals who were directly involved.
That’s about it.
As important as it is to hear these allegations and take them very seriously, it is equally as important to not read in information that we don’t know. One of the things that I’ve found troubling about the news coverage surrounding Lasseter’s admission is how much journalists are reading into this without having any additional facts.
So far there is no line of accusers like there has been for Harvey Weinstein. Lasseter hasn’t tried to shift the focus like Kevin Spacey or discredit accusers like some politicians. He listened to criticism, admitted his faults and is taking a step back to reevaluate. It’s probably taken way too long, but this response cannot be overlooked precisely because Lasseter is one of the most powerful men in the animation industry. If he wanted to, he could have made this all go away. If nothing else, that speaks to his character and willingness to change behavior that he may view as “benign.”
I will always have more sympathy for victims than I do for perpetrators. Hopefully, this story doesn’t grow to include dozens of victims through the decades. It may happen, but we aren’t there yet. Right now, it looks like we have an executive that is realizing where has gone wrong in his career and working to make it right. As Ed puts it in the Podcast, John Lasseter lives by the golden rule – treat others how you want them to treat you – but he forgot the platinum rule – treat others how they want to be treated.
Lasseter will have six months to work on perfecting that rule.
For more on this story, check out the Podcast episode below.