After Pixar co-founder and animator John Lasseter left the company following allegations of sexual harassment, it wasn’t long until he got a new gig at Skydance Media. But the hiring didn’t sit right with Emma Thompson, who recently left the “large-scale” animated film Luck produced by Skydance because of Lasseter’s presence at the company.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Thompson officially withdrew from the project on January 20 but had begun conversations to withdraw ever since Lasseter’s hire was announced. Thompson sent the LA Times a letter she sent to Skydance’s management explaining her decision, in which she acknowledges that the situation is “complicated,” but asks these questions of management:
If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave “professionally”?
If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement? The message seems to be, “I am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It’s not easy.”
Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a “second chance.” But he is presumably being paid millions of dollars to receive that second chance. How much money are the employees at Skydance being paid to GIVE him that second chance?
If John Lasseter started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance. But any Skydance employees who don’t want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn’t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees don’t want to give him a second chance?
Skydance has revealed that no women received settlements from Pixar or Disney as a result of being harassed by John Lasseter. But given all the abuse that’s been heaped on women who have come forward to make accusations against powerful men, do we really think that no settlements means that there was no harassment or no hostile work environment? Are we supposed to feel comforted that women who feel that their careers were derailed by working for Lasseter DIDN’T receive money?
“I am well aware that centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies whether they like it or not is not going to change overnight. Or in a year,” she adds. “But I am also aware that if people who have spoken out — like me — do not take this sort of a stand then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.”
As Hollywood continues to allow men who’ve harassed women in the workplace continue to come back to those same spaces unpunished, and as men continue to take jobs that could possibly be given to people who actually respect women, then women like Thompson will and should continue to opt out.