This week, news broke that former Disney Animation’s chief creative officer John Lasseter has been hired as the head of Skydance Animation. However, many are not happy with the decision to bring him on board to the studio, including Paramount, which owns Skydance.
Lasseter was forced to resign from his position at Disney after accusations came to light from multiple sources that he touching staffers inappropriately and kissing employees without their consent. He’s been off the radar until this news surfaced, but it seems people have not yet forgiven and forgotten.
According to Variety, Skydance reached out to the Time’s Up group in order to see what moves they could make to address concerns. However, according to sources close to Time’s Up, they felt that the studio was looking more for a seal of approval rather than genuinely looking for advice. The group posted this when the news became official:
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) January 9, 2019
Lasseter released a statement about his new job, promising that he has taken his colleague’s concerns to heart and is ready to do better:
“I’m grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility. It is a distinct privilege that I will relish. I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.”
Skydance also held three town halls at its different locations to address employee concerns on the new hire. Still, many seem skeptical of the move and how it will effect the women at Skydance, wondering if Lasseter really has changed.
— Kim Masters (@kimmasters) January 9, 2019
What got glossed over in the #JohnLasseter harassment allegations was that @DisneyPixar deliberately kept women out of meetings w him, therefore short-circuiting their careers. Women at @Skydance animation may/probably will get the same treatment. https://t.co/V3tZWsWQkB
— D-Dub (@silkyd67) January 9, 2019
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) January 9, 2019
Being a woman in an industry where known repeated abusers are hired back to their high positions after a handful of months because they're "irreplaceable" is as terrifying as it is infuriating. I have no words.https://t.co/chpxSaYrLm
— faith, 🆒 kid (@faith_schaffer) January 9, 2019
In my personal opinion, while I don’t think rehabilitation is impossible, I don’t think Lasseter has done the work to prove he’s ready to come back to work. What he did hurt and ended the careers of several promising women in animation at Disney, and I am worried that it might creep into the culture at Skydance. And while I get the appeal for Skydance to have a (formerly) well-respected animator at the helm, I don’t see why they couldn’t have hired someone else, perhaps someone new who could have taken the studio in a new and exciting direction. Ultimately, it’s up to the studio to decide who sits on its creative board, but I think they could, and should, have done better than to hire someone who actively stifles new and rising talent.