Ever since Harvey Weinstein was outed for his disgusting behavior towards women, more people have found the courage to call out other celebrities who have harassed them.
This is ultimately for the betterment of Hollywood. I (and many others) have been saying for a long time that if we showed people in all walks of life that there were consequences for their actions, they would be less likely to commit these types of crimes, and this is the first step towards that vision becoming a reality.
Of course, supporting victims and denouncing criminals is easy, but that doesn’t make the news of someone you respected for 20 years turning out to be a terrible person any less shocking. I am obviously not equating how I feel with how the victims feel, but let’s be real: the sudden fall of our favorite celebrities is confusing, frustrating, and enraging for many film fans.
I honestly wasn’t planning on writing an article about these issues because I didn’t feel like I could add anything of value to the conversation, but the news about Pixar founder John Lasseter has shaken me so much (more than any other celebrity scandal) that I feel like I have to open up about it.
Louie C.K., Charlie Rose and Al Franken were upsetting, but I became fans of these people as adults so it wasn’t as difficult to dismiss them and move on. Lasseter, on the other hand, is more closely linked to my childhood, so the news about him has been particularly harder to hear.
I have felt close to the films of Pixar for a long time. Lasseter’s André & Wally B. (1984) was the first Pixar film I had ever seen, and I could tell that this studio was special even back then. Toy Story (1995), the first full-length computer-animated feature film, was all me and my family could talk about. You could not ask for a better, more hilarious feel-good family film. The spectacle of that movie was among a very select few things that me and my siblings all agreed about. To this day it remains a timeless film, just like many Pixar films.
What’s interesting is that I’ve never felt so strongly about remaining loyal to a film or series after I denounced its creator, and it feels unprecedented.
After I found out about Bill Cosby and Louie C.K., I asked myself if it would still be okay to watch The Cosby Show and Louie, but with Toy Story, a movie directed by John Lasseter, it’s different. For the first time in my life, I feel the need to protect the films made by the perpetrator. Toy Story is such a huge part of my life that I refuse to let the Lasseter situation make me feel guilty about liking it. This is a little surprising to write. I don’t even know if it makes sense, but I simply adore Toy Story too much to let anyone ruin it for me, and I feel there is zero-chance that I will change my mind about that because the film is responsible for too many happy memories from my childhood and too important to me.
What Lasseter did to those women is awful and he deserves to be fired. I do not support him. In fact, I hope he never comes back to Disney. And yet, to even suggest that I shouldn’t love Toy Story anymore is offensive to me, not just because of its artistic value but because of how special it is to me.
Initially I thought this was the first time I had ever loved something so much that I had willingly seperated art from artist, but that’s not entirely true.
Richard Wagner was a bigot, but he was one of the greatest composers in the world and I still enjoy listening to the Ring Cycle, as do many other fine people. D.W. Griffith made a pro-Klan movie called The Birth of a Nation and it was a masterpiece, and don’t get me started on all the classic Hollywood films before the 1960s that were probably directed by racists and homophobes.
I’m not saying you have to seperate the artist from his work – I’m saying that’s what we’ve BEEN doing for decades, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If we cannot seperate the art from the artist, we cannot enjoy anything, because there’s no such thing as a movie where everyone in the cast and crew is a saint. You should be able to watch whatever you want DESPITE who made it.
If you had asked a Pixar fan why they liked Toy Story before the Lasseter news, their answer would still be valid today. In fact, it would be more valid, because it would be more truthful than any answer filtered through an anti-Lasseter POV.
I get not wanting to give Lasseter or any other terrible person your money, but let’s not put too much significance on boycotting films, because it’s extremely self-serving, and my love for Pixar helped me realize that. The most important thing to do is believe these women who are coming forward and spread the word when you see predatory behavior. That’s how Weinstein fell. His downfall proves that social media can be weaponized for good.
In conclusion, I still love Pixar movies, and I don’t feel bad about it because I can watch any damn movie I want to and still be a decent man, because being a good person is about what you do for others, not what you do to make yourself feel good.
Good write-up! I too try my best to separate the artist from the art.
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Thank you! I feel it’s necessary. Especially for film critics like us.