Brad Bird wants you to remember there’s more to animator/filmmaker John Lasseter than a lengthy and damning legacy of sexual misconduct. While promoting Incredibles 2’s Oscar campaign, its writer/director wants you to know The Incredibles wouldn’t have been made if it weren’t for the support of Lasseter, who gave Bird a shot after The Iron Giant failed. There are two sides to the coin, of course. On one side, Lasseter was a supportive mentor who encouraged a string of (male) storytellers to craft a series of celebrated animated films. On the other side, Lasseter created a toxic corporate culture where women were dismissed as sex objects, kept out of meetings so Lasseter wouldn’t get distracted or fondle them, and sidelined repeatedly in favor or male co-workers. But hey, he wasn’t as bad as Harvey Weinstein! That’s seriously Bird’s defense.
In an interview with The Daily Beast that took place one day before it was announced Lasseter is joining Skydance, Bird was asked about the allegations against his former colleague. He began, “These times are not good for nuance. You’re either 100 percent for something or you’re 100 against something.”
Okay. So, Bird, are you 100 percent for or 100 percent against your female colleagues being sexually harassed?
Bird dove into an anecdote about how Lasseter believed him when the execs didn’t. Then he said:
“I don’t at all put John in a category with Weinstein. You’re navigating a world where men have acted a certain way for thousands of years. Way too late, but all of a sudden, they’re expected to change that on a dime and it’s necessary and it’s right. But it’s a little bit a gray area. It’s not as hard of a cut as people want to make it. I’m an old friend of John’s and I don’t see him in black and white. I see him as a person like anyone else. He was a person who was very protective of us at a time when we needed it. So my feelings are a little bit more complicated.”
Bird suggests we are being too hard on powerful men who shape industries. After all, how can we expect male workers not to make unsolicited lewd comments about female bodies, or make female employees spin around before their male colleagues to display those bodies for leering? Plenty of good guys are so notorious for groping that there’s a defensive move named after them, probably. And besides, men only learned that women are people in like 2002. So, there’s a natural learning curve that men like Lasseter, who’ve been working in filmmaking for 40 years, require. And sure, in those 40 years his old-fashioned views on women may have thwarted the careers and ambitions of an untold number of female artists, like Cassandra Smolcic who wrote about how Lasseter had ruined her dream job. But hey, look at that Hawaiian shirt! What a fun guy!
Lasseter arriving to first day of work at Skydance. pic.twitter.com/6inf5H8WGX— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) January 10, 2019
The above image is photoshopped.
H/T Amanda Wong
Header Image Source: Getty