Rashida Jones Leaves Pixar Because They DON’T Discriminate on Race & Sex
The Parks and Recreation star refutes claims she left because of sexual harrassment, instead citing “philosophical differences”.
BAILEY T. STEEN | JANKS REVIEWS | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2017
You know, it was once the progressive and heroic decision to leave a studio because executives discriminated based on racial and sexual lines.
These days, discrimination, in favour of any particular group at the expense of another, is the new normal.
Rashida Jones, co-screenwriter for Disney Pixar’s upcoming Toy Story 4, has denied The Hollywood Reporter’s claims that she left because of sexual misconduct at the hands of former boss John Lasseter.
Behaviour that described him “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes,” towards women at the studio.
Instead, Jones cited her departure was due to “philosophical differences” over Pixar Animation Studios’ hiring process, which she said don’t benefit groups she considers to be “diverse”.
“We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances,” Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack told The New York Times in a joint statement. “That said, we are happy to see people speaking out about behaviour that made them uncomfortable. As for us, 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 colour do not have an equal creative voice.
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.”
There’s a few assumptions in Jones and McCormack’s statement which should cause mental short circuits.
The first is that Pixar specifically hire white men based on them being white men.
To call this a gross generalisation would too kind.
There are millions are factors that go into the hiring practice. They could hire directors and writers based on politeness, intellect, humour, their consistency in work ethic, their filmography, many attributes that I’m sure went into Rashida Jones’ own hiring on Toy Story 4.
Jones’ own hiring breaks her narrative on this front, considering she is the progressive black female archetype she wants to see hired at Pixar.
The second assumption is that equal outcome, based on the ethnic and gendered lines, should be the highest virtue in culture and film production. Not creative freedom, not equality of opportunity which allows filmmakers, regardless of biology, to enter the industry and have a fair go.
No. Jones and McCormick hold a forced even split between groups as fundamental.
To hold this belief is to buy into someone’s racial and sexual traits as exceptional, and that a person from the other group can’t understand or relate because of these differing traits.
Not only is this antithetical to creative freedom, where individuals of types come together to make art, but is consistent with the racist and sexist logic made by white surpremicists and misognists, only told with a guilty tone.
People of the alt-right view men and women of colour as inferior in society, therefore, they view their own group as surpreme, continuing to discriminate based on these views.
People like Jones and McCormick view men and women of colour as inferior in society, therefore,they need Pixar to be the white saviour that hire tokens, specifically because they’re inferior tokens, out of the kindness of their heart.
These arguments negate the notion that males and females of all kinds are individuals with their own merits and faults. It only puts them into groups and discriminates between them in the job process accordingly.
Over the years, Pixar has been the target of criticism due to their deficit in female directors.
Over 19 feature films, only one of them, “Brave”, credits a female director. And she just so happens to be Brenda Chapman, who was fired halfway through production after production clashes with Lasseter.
After joining DreamWorks Animation in 2013, Chapman told The New York Times that “you can butt heads here and not be punished for it, unlike at another place I could name.”
“Animation directors are not protected like live-action directors, who have the Directors Guild to go to battle for them,” she writes, paired with emotional rhetoric. “We are replaced on a regular basis — and that was a real issue for me. This was a story that I created, which came from a very personal place, as a woman and a mother. To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels.” Chapman pointing out her “vision” remains in the film, and that she is “very proud of the movie”.
Ultimately, this leaves using the example of Chapman of Pixar’s sexism on questionable grounds. We have no proof she was fired because she was a woman. No details on how the two clashed in a creative capacity. And yet stands by the film’s merits, despite being directed by a man. Making no indication she was fired because she was female, but instead giving her own personal view that by virtue of her replacement being a man, the decision was even more sexist, cruel and the film would potentially not be the same. Whereas the available reality points to this view only being her opinion, and her removal being the result of complicated work relations.
However, Pixar have capitulated to these demands of making films based on racial and sexual motivations in regards to their character, with Lasseter telling The Guardian in 2015 that the studio planned to produce more films featuring “female, ethnically diverse characters”.
Pixar’s latest film Coco, an animation which takes place in Mexico and stars the studio’s first non-white protagonist and non-Asian protagonist, opens in US cinemas this week and Australian cinemas on the 26th of December, 2017.
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia. To support this content, and more to come like it, the options include Patreon and Paypal, where I hope to keep this content free.
My content has been graciously published on Trigtent, Janks Reviews, Newslogue and right here on Medium. For updates and contact, the best place to touch base is on Twitter and Facebook, and the comments below.