Wow. Eh tu, John Lasseter?
The head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, brands known for family friendly quality, is taking a leave of absence right as the new film "Coco" hits theaters. Lasseter wrote a memo to staff today, taking ownership for "missteps" connected to sexual harassment allegations made by his own employees.
As he wrote, "It's been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. [...] 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. "
He doesn't plan to leave permanently, writing, "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."
Sources are coming out to add some context to what's going on, with one Pixar employee telling The Hollywood Reporter Lasseter was known for "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes." Apparently he was so known for being physical, women some women used a move they called "the Lasseter" to stop him from putting his hands on their legs. According to Deadline, women also used the "head turn" when Lasseter moved in for an unwelcome kiss, so it went to their cheeks instead. "He was like a creepy, geeky uncle who was inappropriate," one woman told Deadline.
Here's Lasseter's full memo, via Deadline:
"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.
"Coco" opens in theaters November 22.
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