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Pixar has always been a boys’ club

Rashida Jones is right: Pixar has failed to give women and people of colour as much creative control as white men.

Everybody loves Pixar films. How could you not? Toy Story is a stone cold classic, WALL-E is adorable, Finding Nemo is a perfect story. Don’t pretend you didn’t cry your little eyes out at Up and Inside Out. So what’s the problem?

Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter ran a story accusing John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios and director of several Pixar films, of misconduct, including “grabbing, kissing [and] making comments about physical attributes”. Lasseter later released a statement apologising for “missteps” (including “an unwanted hug or any other gesture”) and announced he would be taking a six-month leave of absence.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, several outlets jumped to conclusions about why Rashida Jones and Will McCormack – who had originally signed on to write the Toy Story 4 screenplay together – had left the film, with many falsely assuming Jones had been harassed by Lasseter. But the pair claim another kind of unequal workplace treatment caused them to quit.

“We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue,” the two wrote in a joint statement. “We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences. There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”

In the absence of inside knowledge of how Pixar functions as a workplace, looking at the credits on their films provides some back-up for Jones and McCormack: since its inception, Pixar has been a white boys’ club.

Pixar has released 19 films since 1995. Almost all of those films have been directed by white men. There are some exceptions: The Good Dinosaur was directed by Korean-American Peter Sohn. Brave is directed by both Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman. Filipino animator Ronnie del Carman is listed as the co-director of Inside Out, while Pete Docter gets the main directing credit (just “director”, without the “co-”). There are only currently white men attached as directors to upcoming projects.

Of the 109 major writing credits across Pixar’s films, only 12 go to women or people of colour. 15 of Pixar’s 19 films feature a white male voice lead.

In their statement, Jones and McCormack added: “We encourage Pixar to be leaders in bolstering, hiring and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders. We hope we can encourage all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past to feel empowered.”

Lasseter mentioned no such changes in his statement, instead saying, “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.” It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to start a radical culture change at the studio.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

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SRSLY #132: Lady Bird / Collateral / The Young Offenders

On the pop culture podcast: Greta Gerwig's film Lady Bird, the BBC police drama Collateral, and the Irish comedy Young Offenders.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

. . .or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s head of podcasts and pop culture writer. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

Lady Bird

The trailer.

The NS review.

Collateral

The show on BBC iPlayer.

Young Offenders

Watch it now.

An interview with the cast.

Book club

For our 27 February book club episode, we are reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Order it in print here or as an audiobook on Audible here.

Tweet us on #srslybookclub to tell us your thoughts as you read, and send us a voice memo with your review of the book at srslypod@gmail.com.

You can find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

Get in touch

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at]gmail.com, or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!