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John Lasseter Getty Images 2.jpg

The John 'Accused Sexual Harasser' Lasseter Redemption Arc Continues with 'Luck' Trailer

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | August 1, 2022 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | August 1, 2022 |

John Lasseter Getty Images 2.jpg

Apple TV+ is getting into the family animation game big time this year. The CGI fantasy comedy Luck stars Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, and Jane f**king Fonda in a story about a supremely unlucky girl who falls into the Land of Luck with a supposedly Scottish cat. It looks like pretty standard 3D animated shenanigans to me. The latest spot trailer includes the credit ‘From the creative visionary who brought you Toy Story and Cars.’ They just forget to name said accused sexual harasser.

The streaming giant announced that it would be distributing animated films from Skydance, the production company founded by rich kid David Ellison that has credits on the likes of Top Gun: Maverick, Geostorm, and Star Trek Into Darkness. They made a big point of throwing around a lot of money to pick up big names from Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar. In January 2019, they added John Lasseter to that roster.

In November 2017, Lasseter took a six-month leave of absence from his job as the chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation after admitting to ‘missteps’ in his conduct with female members of staff. It was detailed that women were warned of Lasseter’s wandering hands and mistreatment, which included ‘grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes.’ His behavior was so well-known that Pixar had ‘minders who were tasked with reining in his impulses.’ Seven months later, in June 2018, Disney announced that Lasseter was leaving the company at the end of the year, taking a consulting role until then. That he was almost immediately picked up by Skydance Animation to lead the studio was astonishingly cack-handed, although not particularly surprising.

Animation is an infamously tough industry for women, and Pixar’s old boys club spent many years keeping female writers, directors, and animators at an arm’s length. Lasseter, who was always sold to the world as the cuddly benevolent uncle of the cartoon world, helped to foster that toxic atmosphere, to the point where women were told to basically stay away from him. Yup, it sure helps to foster a creative workplace where everyone’s ideas are heard when all the ladyfolk can’t talk to their boss without fear of being groped.

Apple has been working overtime to clean up Lasseter’s image. The Hollywood Reporter recently published a piece on Lasseter’s return that reads like a press release. Lasseter is praised for ‘quietly building an independent animation studio modeled on some of the same principles that drove Pixar in its early days under co-founder Steve Jobs — namely the idea that excellence is the best business strategy.’ The women directors employed by Skydance, including Luck director Peggy Holmes, praise their working relationship with him as being that of ‘a great mentor’ and ‘master storyteller.’ He’s also heralded for bring over big names like his pals Alan Menken and Brad Bird. It reads like a whitewash to me, with little room given to those who were hurt or who understand the toxicity of the industry he helped to foster. One dissenting voice, Ashlyn Anstee, a director at Cartoon Network, is savvy in noting, ‘It’s more letting a so-called creative genius continue to take up positions and space in an industry that could begin to be filled with different people. I wish the leadership above Lasseter would take a look at what they’re valuing and what they’re willing to take a chance on.’

The thing about declaring anyone a ‘genius’ is that you give them a bulletproof shield against legitimate concerns and a higher platform than anyone else to bellow at them from. The work Lasseter did at Pixar and Disney is forever elevated in importance over the women, his employees, who had to deal with his wandering hands. Not only that but said ‘genius’ is prioritized by the likes of Apple and David Ellison over and over again. They hired him ALMOST IMMEDIATELY after he was let go by Disney, and even then, the latter company just kept letting him hang around and be paid handsomely while so many women struggled to stay in a field that often seemed to hate them. Oh but we just have to hire the man who admitted to being a harasser because he can get all of his mates to come hang out with us. Why bother looking for underserved talent that could use our nurturing? That’s too much hard work.

Kayleigh is a features writer and editor for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.

Header Image Source: Jason LaVeris // FilmMagic via Getty Images