*This is a user-submitted article by Mary McKeon*
As I’m writing this, I’m still reeling somewhat from the allegations of misconduct brought up against Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, DisneyToon, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter. This comes on the heels of a long string of accusations against men in film, television, and politics as well as a petition signed by dozens of women and gender non-conforming people in animation demanding an end to sexual harassment in the industry. Knowing that, as well as seeing that he himself admitted to “missteps” in a memo sent out explaining his leave of absence, it’s safe to say that the accusations against Lasseter are true. For a brief moment after I found out, I wondered if I’m still justified in my love of Disney and Pixar and my desire to work at one of those studios one day. But when women are discouraged from continuing to pursue their careers by sexism and workplace harassment, it only helps to keep the institutions in place that make powerful men think that this behavior is something they can get away with. I don’t want to be a part of that. I love Disney; I want it to be better.
So instead, I remembered everyone else who’s worked to make these movies as good as they are. What Lasseter did for the industry is admirable, but Disney and Pixar would never be what they are now if not for Darla K. Anderson, Lindsey Collins, Kori Rae, Jennifer Lee, Linda Woolverton, and dozens of other writers, artists, and animators whose work is among the two studios’ most successful and praised. John Lasseter has made good movies, but none of them are his alone by any stretch. Yes, we can “separate the art from the artist” and still enjoy these movies no matter how involved he was in them, but we should also remember the other artists and their connections to the art we love so much.
As a young woman inspired by movies like The Princess and the Frog, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and the Toy Story series to pursue a film degree, this was painful to learn, and there may still be some underlying fear of experiencing that kind of harassment when I do get into the film industry. But any work I may create won’t be potentially marred by me having done something awful, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s something to look forward to. John Lasseter let me down immensely, but there are plenty of other filmmakers at the Disney Company doing great things, and I still want to be one of them someday. My passion for movies started with, and is still fueled by, a special interest in Disney. It’s taken me this far; I won’t give up now.
Edited by: Kelly Conley