Saturday, April 13, 2019

Crime And Punishment And #MeToo


John Lasseter and Emma Thompson

I have no idea how reliable Radio Free Asian is-- though I would guess not very. Last week they reported that "North Korean authorities staged a public trial and shot two female fortune tellers to death last month, forcing tens of thousands of people to watch, in what appeared to be a resumption of public executions. The executions of the two women took place in March in North Hamgyong’s Chongjin city, and were aimed at forcing officials to stop patronizing fortune tellers and engaging in other 'superstitious' behavior, according to two sources who spoke to RFA’s Korean Service on condition of anonymity... 'They pronounced sentences of death and carried out public executions immediately,' the source said, adding that two of the three women put on trial were executed by shooting, with the third sentenced to life in prison.

John Lasseter is not a fortune teller-- nor was he executed. A big-time Hollywood filmmaker, until recently he was the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He won two Academy Awards for his films and those movies of his have made over $19 billion, making him one of the most successful filmmakers of all time. That's a big deal and gives you a lot of moral and ethical leeway, especially in a place like Hollywood (or New York or in DC, as a matter of fact). Lasseter, the father of five sons, is a pig. He molests women employees and Disney was forced-- kicking and screaming-- to fire him. He admitted he had made some "missteps" with employees. Half a year later-- last January-- Skydance Animation hired him. In theory, he's lucky he doesn't give in North Korea-- but just in theory; the #MeToo Movement hasn't quite reached that part of the Hermit Kingdom yet.

Friday night I heard NPR interviewing actress Emma Thompson. She quit a movie she was working on for Skydance after they hired Lasseter. And then she wrote a letter about why, a letter that has been called "the Magna Carta of the #MeToo Movement." This is the letter, which was originally published by the L.A. Times:
As you know, I have pulled out of the production of “Luck”-- to be directed by the very wonderful Alessandro Carloni. It feels very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct given the present climate in which people with the kind of power that you have can reasonably be expected to step up to the plate.

I realise that the situation-- involving as it does many human beings--— is complicated. However these are the questions I would like to ask:

If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave “professionally”?

If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement? The message seems to be, “I am learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It’s not easy.”

Much has been said about giving John Lasseter a “second chance.” But he is presumably being paid millions of dollars to receive that second chance. How much money are the employees at Skydance being paid to GIVE him that second chance?

If John Lasseter started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance. But any Skydance employees who don’t want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn’t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees don’t want to give him a second chance?

Skydance has revealed that no women received settlements from Pixar or Disney as a result of being harassed by John Lasseter. But given all the abuse that’s been heaped on women who have come forward to make accusations against powerful men, do we really think that no settlements means that there was no harassment or no hostile work environment? Are we supposed to feel comforted that women who feel that their careers were derailed by working for Lasseter DIDN’T receive money?

I hope these queries make the level of my discomfort understandable. I regret having to step away because I love Alessandro so much and think he is an incredibly creative director. But I can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising.

I am well aware that centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies whether they like it or not is not going to change overnight. Or in a year. But I am also aware that if people who have spoken out-- like me-- do not take this sort of a stand then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.

Yours most sincerely,

Emma Thompson
Too bad she wasn't around to talk to the U.S. Senate before they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Not too late, though, to send a copy of the letter to Nancy Pelosi-- maybe to shame her into ending the shameful coverup she perpetrated for Los Angeles Democratic Congressman Tony Cárdenas.

Labels: ,


At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to impel Pelosi to act, shame is not ever going to be an approach that will ever be fruitful.

You'll need to come up with a few million dollars for her superpac. More if you want something actually useful from her.

If you want impeachment, it'll probably take a few 10s of Billions.

If shame worked with her, the shellacking her party took in 2010 would have done that.

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like all whistleblowers, Emma Thompson is now on the anathema list. What studio is going to hire her now that she's pulled out of a production and causing a great deal of the preparation for this film to be redone? What women call the Patriarchy only cares about money. So if a film calls for a nude actress, she's considered a perk for the executives to enjoy when the camera isn't rolling as well.

There are plenty of actresses who will put up with this abuse just to take Thompson's place on the film. As Screen Writer Captain Steve Skrovan just told David Feldman, the Actor's unions tend to be about 90% unemployed. Money talks. Morality walks.

It is claimed by some that Hollywood taught Trump how to be what he now is, in part. If true, a situation like Lassiter's is how he learned.

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what this proves is that Emma Thompson is a fully-formed human being with actual... what's the word... PRINCIPLES!

We americans... no frame of reference for such things. All our leaders, including Bernie and Elizabeth and, yes, AOC, have great flexibility when it comes to principles.

(AOC supported Pelosi for speaker)


Post a Comment

<< Home