While Pixar’s Inside Out was enjoying a critically acclaimed bow at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, John Lasseter was there to talk about an issue that’s gradually being brought to the forefront: that of diversity in feature animation.
While progress has been made in terms of putting more female and racially diverse characters and backgrounds on the screen, John made a point of telling the press that there was more work to be done, especially where Disney and Pixar are concerned (following quotations taken from Screen Rant):
“It’s very important to us … to have female and ethnic characters. It’s grown in importance over time. As you’ll see in future films, we’re really paying attention to that… We have been seeing more and more women, and more and more people from all over the world starting to work with it. That’s exciting. I think it will get reflected in the characters.”
To that end, he pointed out one of Disney’s upcoming animated features, Moana. In particular, he highlighted the film’s Polynesian-inspired setting in comparison to the more traditional European fairy-tale setting:
“[‘Moana’ is] pretty spectacular. I guess most people think of fairy tales as European fairy tales. We’re trying to reach out and find origins of legends all over the world.”
As I’ve said before, there has been more of an effort to feature characters of different backgrounds and races. Last year gave us The Book of Life and Big Hero 6. The former had a Mexican lead character (Monolo) in a fantasy setting inspired by Mexico and the Day of the Dead holiday. The latter had a racially diverse set of characters in an equally diverse setting (San Fransokyo). This year even gave us DreamWorks Animation’s Home, which starred a African American teenager (of ambiguous age) as a lead protagonist.
If anything, I would say this is a subject that isn’t exclusively tied down to just Disney and/or Pixar. It’s an industry-wide issue, and the goals that John stated are definitely goals that could apply to any major animation studio.
So yes, we’ll definitely see more of these types of films, either as the demand becomes louder or as they become more successful at the box office.
What do you think? Is John correct in his assessment about the need to ‘do more’? What are your thoughts on this topic?
Edited by: Kelly Conley