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Thompson vs Lasseter

The 5 questions Emma Thompson asked Skydance are damning in their simplicity

Emma’s letter to Skydance has been made public.

EARLIER THIS MONTH news landed that Emma Thompson had pulled out of her role in ‘Luck’ – an animated feature produced by Skydance Media.

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The reason behind this was due to the fact that the company had hired John Lasseter, a filmmaker who had been accused of, and admitted to, inappropriate workplace behaviour.

After leaving Pixar and Disney, Lasseter asked Skydance for an opportunity to prove himself, saying: “I’m not expecting anyone to forgive me in this room. But I am asking for you to give me the chance.”

By extending John Lasseter that chance, the company lost Emma Thompson.

The actress, who officially removed herself from the project in January, addressed her decision in a letter to Skydance management at the time, and this week the letter was made available to the LA Times.

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The 59-year-old expressed concern over the hire, writing: “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.”

Emma then requested that the company consider five simple questions she has regarding the situation.

Question 1

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”?

Question 2

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.”

Question 3

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?

Question 4

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?

And finally…

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?

Emma concluded her letter by expressing deep regret that she has been forced to withdraw from the project, but hopes that her decision will work towards a more positive future. 

The actress maintains that the climate will only shift if people are courageous enough to take the steps needed, writing: “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.

The letter has reached millions this week, and Twitter is awash with praise for the acclaimed actress.

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