Iiiiiiiiiiinteresting. Weeks after alleged serial sexual harasser John Lasseter left Disney/Pixar for a studio where he hadn’t yet fostered a boys club culture that made it difficult for female creatives to thrive, Pixar is releasing a new short that seems like it might be throwing shade his way.
“Purl” is the first short film released for Pixar’s new animation program SparkShorts. Written and directed by Kristen Lester and produced by Gillian Libbert-Duncan, it features a bubbly, bright pink ball of yarn named Purl, who’s trying to succeed in the testosterone fueled-environment of B.R.O. Capital.
In the short, we’re told Purl is by far the best candidate for the job she secured. Nonetheless, she’s immediately disrespected for not looking like the rest of the gray-suited BROs, who then regard her like she’s carrying the plague. They won’t even give her a place at the table during a big meeting! (Could that maybe be a reference to how women were left out of meetings with Lasseter to avoid him misbehaving?) To fit in, Purl mimics the aggressive bro-havior of the men around her. She joins the boys club so as not to be bullied by it, even if it means compromising her identity. Still, it seems like a path to success. But then, another ball of yarn appears at the office, urging Purl to reconsider and imagine a new path that celebrates their differences instead of pressuring conformity.
Is this a commentary on the corporate culture that grew under Lasseter’s (allegedly) lecherous leadership? Is the finale of “Purl” intended as a hopeful sign of things to come with him being booted? Well, in a behind-the-scenes video about the making of this short, Lester confirms “Purl” was inspired by her experiences working in animation, though she never mentions Lasseter specifically. And she does not call out the studio who produced her short.
“My first job I was the only woman in the room,” she explains, “So, in order to do the thing that I love, I sort of became one of the guys. And then I came to Pixar and I started to work on teams with women for the first time. And it made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”
Here’s hoping with Lasseter gone, the creatives at Pixar can continue to grow and not need to hide their lights under a bushel or female employees from a handsy exec.
SparkShorts will be play on Disney+, Disney’s upcoming streaming service.
Header Image Source: Pixar