Wednesday, November 22, 2017


John Lasseter’s full leave-of-absence letter:

I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.

I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want 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.

In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.

I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.


Animation is not, as everybody thinks, a “fun” job.
While the challenges are enjoyable, it is mostly very hard work.
But for women it’s not only hard work
because, along with the glass ceilings and rampant sexism,
it’s also a hostile environment
where even the most timid of males feels free
to insult and humiliate female workers with impunity. 

Animation is a boys’ club culture 
where women’s looks are constantly remarked on, 
where they’re routinely groped, dismissed, ignored, 
patronized and underpaid. 

If a woman stands up for herself 
she will be told: “If you don’t like it, leave.”
And if she doesn’t leave, she will be
ostracized, blacklisted, slandered, her
character assassinated and her career destroyed.

This misogyny started with Walt Disney 
and pervades the animation industry worldwide.
That it persists today is shocking.
While the art of animation is cutting edge, 
the culture is primitive and backward,
the self-serving language of the above memo notwithstanding.

In a master stroke (they've been handling sexual harassment for decades)
Disney lawyers carefully re-drafted Lasseter's folksy memo, using euphemisms and omissions which successfully allowed the studio to slither out of *firing a man who is more important to them than providing a safe place for women to work.

Allow me to interpret the memo from personal experience:
for "trust & respect" and "vibrant, respectful culture" read patronizing dismissiveness disguised in formal corporate-speak towards women.
"if any members of the team don't feel valued" meaning women
Women are not valued or respected in the animation industry generally
and especially not at Disney. Young female animators hesitate to get into
the industry because this.
"conversations" This self-righteous letter is not, as is suggested, the 
result of his own spontaneous soul-searching. Lasseter's behavior being 
well-known, Disney would have met with lawyers, called him in and had 
him take this leave of absence to pre-empt an actual scandal.
Did any women actually speak up, lodge formal complaints? Former Pixar employees suggest they did.
If so, were they forced to sign NDAs?
Why do we not know their names?
You'll note the use of the lawerly "IF I've let you down".
"unwanted hug" or "mis-steps" - This means groping women's upper thighs during meetings, pressing himself against women in the guise of "hugs", inappropriate kissing and touching, making inappropriate remarks about 
their appearance and more.
"My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity 
to start taking better care of myself" - As though his health were the issue.
Notice women are never mentioned in the entire memo
Neither is harassment. Using euphemisms and omissions, it repeatedly suggests the harasser has been hurtfully misunderstood and his good intentions mis-interpreted.

The most powerful thing Disney has going for it besides its size, 
is its squeaky-clean brand.
Nobody wants to believe anything bad goes on at Disney.
Come on, folks, this is the real world not fairyland.
Very ugly things go on all the time at Disney and
one of them is misogynistic harassment.

And John Lasseter is not the only one. 
There are DOZENS more harassers still operating with impunity
at the studio, probably hundreds more in the overall animation 
culture that condones such behavior.

I'm hoping Disney women will find the courage to stand up for themselves 
or, not only will these unpleasant working conditions persist at Disney, 
but this clever ploy will embolden other companies to do the same 
and women everywhere will continue to suffer the indignities of 
harassment. The fact that no-one at Disney dares speak out 
and no-one anywhere else dares say anything, tells you 
how afraid people are of this powerful company.
Mickey smiles and smiles but carries a very big stick.

November 16, 2017 - Jon HEELY, a Disney music executive, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing two underage girls. Disney SUSPENDED him. As far as we know he still hasn't been fired. 

February 21, 2018 - Thomas SHUMACHER , theatrical executive, was accused of lewd conduct and harassment by four people. Disney didn't even bother with a memo this time and Shumacher didn't even bother issuing a statement.

May the 4th 2018 - John LASSETER's six months are up and it seems  Disney is reconsidering having him back. If John goes back, it will kill women in animation,” a former Pixar insider told T.H.R.  

January 9th 2019 - John Lasseter hired by Skydance 

February 26 2019 - Emma Thompson refuses to work with Lasseter