Hollywood is trying to change - but will audiences let it?

November 22, 2017, 1:10 PM · How did you feel when you read the news about John Lasseter?

I've heard this many times over the past month, but if 2016 was the year when so many celebrities we loved died, then 2017 is the year when our love for so many celebrities died. That love dies in may ways: in anger, sadness, apathy or remorse. I've seen Disney fans react in all those ways, and more.

I don't have any more details about how John Lasseter has behaved off camera over the past decades than what I have read in the Hollywood trade reports. Whatever happened, he has stepped aside. That might cause some Disney fans to mourn whatever loss that causes the company — whatever projects will not be advanced due to Lasseter not being there to contribute to them. That's a natural reaction when someone seemingly in the prime of his career loses his ability to work — for whatever reason.

But I think we miss an important part of the picture when we focus only on the loss of artists alleged to have intimidated, harassed, or abused others. Shouldn't we also lament the loss of work from people who have been intimidated, harassed, or abused?

What great creative visions never made it to the screen because someone didn't want to work in a noxious environment and could not find another path forward to getting their work produced? How much work suffered because artists in a harassing environment were thinking about that harassment instead of allowing their mind to flow freely toward inspiration? How many careers were lost because people who had the courage to speak up were shut down and shown out, instead? This isn't just about Disney and Pixar — it affects every single major creative business in the entertainment industry, including many more artists and managers whose bad behavior has yet to hit the news.

But this doesn't have to be a story about loss. We have an opportunity to hear some new creative voices now, as established ones either step or are cast aside. Stories that were not, or could not, be told under the old leadership in this industry might find a path forward now.

How wonderful was it 20-some years ago when Pixar started making movies? That was a fresh voice that no one knew we needed until we got the chance to hear and see it. If nature abhors a vacuum, new leaders will step forward to bring us movies, TV shows, books, and music that we will come to adore.

Like many other fans, I loved the work that John Lasseter did. It's still good work, IMHO. Yes, it's easier to divorce a creative work from its creator when that artist worked behind the camera. It's not like Lasseter was Louis C.K., working stand-up about his, uh, love life — bits that are just too difficult to watch, much less laugh at, now that the rumors about his misbehavior have been confirmed. Toy Story and Cars can stand up in large part because they reflect the work on hundreds of other people in addition to John Lasseter.

Now some of those people have another opportunity to step forward and assume greater creative leadership at Disney and Pixar. Maybe others, outside Disney and Pixar, now might see a fresh opportunity to challenge what had been that seemingly dominant combination. Even more important, maybe we will take this opportunity, as consumers of creative media, to look for some fresh new voices in entertainment.

I have been blessed to have been introduced through my children to some amazing young artists, working in film, music, writing, and visual arts. Do not worry about the loss of creative leaders, for there is waiting a new generation of artists to show us amazing work.

But it is up to us to be open to those new voices. It is up to us to be to open to hearing new artists who do not look, speak, act, or make us think the same was as previous generation of artists did.

Hollywood is changing. And that can be wonderful. But I hope that we do not forget to do what we can, as an audience, to make that change be for the better.

Update: TL;DR - Power enables people to harass and abuse others. In Hollywood, audience loyalty provides a main source of that power. (In politics, power comes from electoral and partisan loyalty.) If we, as consumers (and voters), withhold loyalty and remain open to alternatives, we can deny the power that others use to abuse.

Replies (26)

November 22, 2017 at 1:22 PM · It's hard. Sarah Silverman just did a nice thing on Louis CK and how "a man I've counted as a friend for 20 years is everything I hate." I loved Kevin Spacey and his movies ("Usual Suspects" one of my favorites) but now marred by what he's done. It's just rough to see these men as not just flawed but truly wicked and makes it harder to judge their past works.
November 22, 2017 at 1:50 PM · Does your judgement of their work have to be colored by who they are as people? We separate that with the Founding Fathers. They owned people, but they also had some pretty good ideas about the basis of a nation. So many corporate CEOs are abominable humans, but their business creations feed and clothe employees and their families. I don't have an answer, really. I'm just asking the question. Bad people can do good things. We have to figure out how to reconcile that.
November 22, 2017 at 4:48 PM · I think its going to be a case of they'll take a few years out as "Puishment" then they'll be back "reformed".
November 22, 2017 at 5:42 PM · How come no one cared about this, when the motion pic industry gave roman polanksi an academy award. it was just a few years ago. Polanski was convicted. Yes. convicted, of child rape. Under a united states court of law with full due process. The united states gov, have seeked to bring him to justice, under both republican and democratic governments. No cooperation from the liberal European democracy, where he has lived for 20 or 25 years. why is the media, not shaming both the academy and that European government??????
November 22, 2017 at 7:39 PM · Lasseter being forced out is a net loss for all of us. The cream rises to the top. Exceptional talents are exceptional and cannot be replaced with mediocrities who live puritanical lives. I haven't read what Lasseter has done, but I can't help wondering why these issues have not been brought to a court of law if there is any merit to them.

Hollywood is experiencing a cultural revolution like China's disaster in the 1960's. Eventually, this fire will burn itself out when Hollywood recognizes audiences have zero interest in the garbage produced by the mediocre talents so eager to destroy a great talent like Lasseter.

November 22, 2017 at 10:02 PM · The title makes little sense. Hollywood hasn’t changed. It’s secrets are kept from the public. It’s pure hypocrisy. The audiences can’t do anything except boycott their increasingly strident leftist propaganda dressed up as movies. When their leaders are engaged in sexual harassment, rape, and the degradation of women and children, it’s contrary to what they claim they are. They project. They point their fingers at others when they refuse to notice their own secrets. Audiences can either continue to allow their patronage or stop going.
November 22, 2017 at 10:49 PM · Davedisney,

Poland is not a liberal European democracy.

Although it’s in Europe, it’s position in the EU is at risk due to the illegal and anti democratic measures by its government - a far right government.

I suppose one out of three ain’t bad.

November 22, 2017 at 11:07 PM · I wrote all I needed to about Lasseter already. I'm just disappointed some here have turned this into a political debate when we've seen from the past month that this is a problem that affects ALL walks of life.
November 22, 2017 at 11:44 PM · Focus Pictures, which is owned and basically part of universal studios, bankrolled roman Polanski's, movie the Pianist. Which won an Oscar, by the motion picture industry and the Hollywood/actors directors, writers, producers. google roman Polanski and rape. He was convicted, in a united states court and ran away from the charges. He is still a fugitive of the law.

Should we boycott, universal studios, for bankrolling him film? all of the actors (Female and male), who voted for him to win an Oscar?

Or does no one care, about a charge of rape, that has actually been proven in a court of law, with real due process? Or. does it serve justice, to concentrate on the cases, where no due process has applied?

November 22, 2017 at 11:58 PM · Chad H. I am very sorry to inform you, that you are guilty of racism, by assuming that Mr. Polanski lives in Poland, I was guess due to his ethnic name.
Mr. Polanski, left Poland in 1961 and has not lived there since. A simple google search, leads one in ten seconds, to several web sites to verify this. He lived in the united states, for a time. Where he commited the child rape. before and after that, he lived and currently lives in france.

On a side note. Although, on can argue it is very related. The USA today reports, that until last week, the age of consent in france was 11. Yes eleven, not a misprint. This week, the government of france is debating whether to raise it to 13 or 15. No major party, is proposing raising it above 15.
That gives some context, how france has refused to allow the U.S. to arrest Mr Polanski, for the last 35 years.

Different cultures, have very different standards, about the age of consent. It is also very low, in most Muslim and Asian countries.

We must practice diversity of thought, and accept foreign cultures as being valid, my university education taught me. I suppose, you would probably also consider Alabama a very foreign place, so this fits.

November 23, 2017 at 1:06 AM · Please if you are going to debate issues like this get your facts right.

The age of consent in France is NOT 11. It is 15. This link shows you the ages across Europe.

European ages of consent range from 14 to 18. In an era when many young girls now hit puberty around 11 years of age it’s perhaps not an issue that merits debate on a forum like this as the issues are too complex and nuanced and require calm, careful and thoughtful discussion.

It’s actually the USA that is out of step with much of the world, not the other way round, but then the USA has always been a very conservative culture, (eg. Your alcohol rules).

November 23, 2017 at 9:00 AM · I think the hard question that nobody is asking is where do we go from here? Does John Lasseter need to go away for good? Is there anything he can do, or anybody else for that matter, to obtain forgiveness? On the surface, Lasseter did give opportunity to thousands of people and lead the team for some of the greatest animation work since Walt Disney.

While I agree with Robert's premise, I am not sure if he is guilty of stamping down talent. This is what makes him different from a Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein threatened to end people's careers and reputations if they didn't submit to him. I do not think that has been proven to Lasseter yet.

Is what Lasseter being accused of terrible? Absolutely and he should be held accountable, but we are really setting ourselves up for failure if we do not let our public figures be human.

November 23, 2017 at 9:35 AM · Davedisney,

I think you’ll find you’re wrong on many counts, but 2 in specifics I’ll address

1: me presuming that by the composition of his name that he was Polish
2: you not knowing that his extradition from Poland was rejected by the polish Supreme Court in 2016 https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/europe/roman-polanski-extradition-poland.amp.html

It’s even on his Wikipedia page it was Polish courts looking at it so you have no excuse.

A simple google search reveals many things... such as the fact you didn’t do one.

That he doesn’t live in Poland is immaterial. It’s the polish courts that decided, and the polish courts that would have triggered the EAW had the Polish prosecutor succeeded.

I would like an apology and a retraction of your allegation.

November 23, 2017 at 9:51 AM · David Brown---I got the french age of consent from the USA newspaper. Published yesterday. One of the most liberal papers, in the nation. So. If they are wrong (I will trust you, that they are), you can blame them.

If would be in a long line of instances, where liberal news sources, got their facts wrong.

Chad H.--I relied on a very long wikipedia article, that indeed said that he had left poland, in his twenties sometime. In the past, I have found wikipedia to be more accurate, than newspapers.
I found that from a google search---"Where does roman polanski live. wikipedia is first on the search list, based on google's judgement.

The large and recognized movie website IMBD.com, also list in his bio. "His friend Harrison Ford, flew to Paris to present polanski the award (oscar)"

November 23, 2017 at 10:06 AM · Chad H--How is it immaterial, where he lives? That is where you have to get extradition. Based on your info and mine. And, that he has joint french and polish citizenship, the US would likely need to get extradition from both countries. As, if you get it from one, he will simply catch a plane to the other.
November 23, 2017 at 11:17 AM · Disney probably can't afford the bad PR from Lasseter's actions, they need to protect their family image, so he's probably gone for good.

Actually to me, Pixar is overrated, my favorite Pixar movies are Toy Story 2 and 3, and Finding Nemo. I don't care for Wall-E, Up or Cars. Good but not great are Toy Story, Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, Inside Out, Finding Dory.

IMO Shrek, Ice Age, Lorax, Despicable Me are better than most Pixar movies.

Lasseter's leaving may indeed make room for other talent to step up. When Walt Disney died, the animators were so dependent on him because he WAS the company, he was the innovator and the catalyst that kept everything going. Although Lasseter was a founder of Pixar, hopefully the 'brain trust' can keep things going.

November 23, 2017 at 12:14 PM · They should out a John Lasseter AA in Pirates of the Caribbean auction scene!
November 23, 2017 at 12:15 PM · They should put a John Lasseter AA in the Pirates of the Caribbean auction scene!
November 23, 2017 at 1:01 PM · All we can say is we can admire the person for who he is due to his work, not that he turned out to be.
November 23, 2017 at 1:12 PM · Pixar are in a fortunate position having nurtured brilliant talent from the onset and have Brad Bird, Pete Doctor, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich in their ranks so a temporary or permanent leader is in the wings, waiting for that opportunity. However, with Disney playing the PC card at every opportunity these days don't be surprised if Darla Anderson jumps to the top of the list.
November 23, 2017 at 4:24 PM · If you're going to get political, be prepared to back it up with facts. Polanski has French citizenship, and lives there mostly. The US has attempted to extradite him from there in the past, and was declined. This was not because its a "liberal European democracy", it is because France like many other countries does not extradite their own citizens. The "liberal" public support his extradition (60-70% do), but they never extradite their own. This is not a "liberal" law they apply on a case by case basis.

As for hypocritical leftist Hollywood allowing this stuff to occur, let's talk about hypocrisy. The President of the US has had at least 15 allegations of sexual assault or harassment brought against him since the 80s. He has also been recorded bragging about it. He is currently backing a person who has had multiple sexual abuse allegations made against him, including with an underage person (he says he didn't do it though, and there's a democrat running against him).

Hollywood is currently in a purge of this behaviour, very publicly (without secrecy) , but believing that it is isolated to the entertainment industry is ignorant. It's like saying that cycling is the only sport with doping.

November 23, 2017 at 4:51 PM · >>>Chad H.--I relied on a very long wikipedia article, that indeed said that he had left poland, in his twenties sometime. In the past, I have found wikipedia to be more accurate, than newspapers.

In which case you didn't read the parts about extradition.

>>>On 30 October 2015, Polish judge Dariusz Mazur denied a request by the United States to extradite Polanski (a dual French-Polish citizen) for a full trial, claiming that it would be “obviously unlawful."[140] The Kraków prosecutor’s office declined to challenge the court's ruling, agreeing that Polanski had served his punishment and did not need to face a U.S. court again.[141] However, Poland’s national justice ministry took up the appeal, arguing that sexual abuse of minors should be prosecuted regardless of the suspect’s accomplishments or the length of time since the suspected crime took place.[142] In a December 2016 decision, the Supreme Court of Poland dismissed the government’s appeal, holding that the prosecutor general had failed to prove misconduct or flagrant legal error on the part of the lower court.[143]

The US wouldn't need both. The EAW would cover in any EU country.

November 23, 2017 at 9:17 PM · so glad you ruined this discussion!
November 24, 2017 at 9:15 AM · Trying to get us back on topic here.....

As for us, Theme Park Insider, Lasseter was the Chief Creative Officer which means that he really called the shots on the Theme Parks as well. His role was basically what Walt Disney did. He fostered the creative talent for the movies, shows, and parks. It isn't a coincidence that there are all the Pixar attractions popping up.

In our realm, this will be the part that is affected. I think Pixar is a large enough company with many layers that his departure would be very minimal, but this blows a huge hole in the Theme Park Business, the most profitable of the arms known as the Walt Disney Company. I would also argue likely the most competitive.

November 24, 2017 at 11:44 AM · If fox is smart, they will start an animation division, and hire lasseter to run it. Last time, disney fired lasseter (when he was a young animator), it cost them huge bucks, to buy the company he worked for an get him back.

By the way, I believe the credible allegations of abuse by his ex wife, against Mr. Depp came out, before filming the last Pirates. Didn't they? I generally like his movies, but disney needs to be consistent.

Truth is when an allegation comes out. 20 or 30 hours (at least) of sworn testimony under penalty of perjury is required to even have a decent chance of finding out the truth.

I am not coming down one way or the other on Lassiter or anyone else, where, there hasn't been the sworn testimony.

An america without due process, is an America that is NOT FREE. Someone named Martin Luther and jefferson and adams, and kennedy believed this.

November 27, 2017 at 12:46 PM · I genuinely thought we could have a dignified conversation here. However, I was wrong. Thank you, Robert, for starting the conversation. The rest of us - let's attempt to actually contribute to the dialogue instead of continuing to call each other racists. Sheesh.

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