– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Yesterday afternoon, we reported on the leave of absence Pixar head John Lasseter was taking in light of sexual harassment allegations. In the initial report from THR, it was stated that the reason for writer-actress Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack left her work as a Toy Story 4 screenwriter at Pixar had to do with unwanted advances.

RELATED – John Lasseter Taking Leave Of Absence From Pixar In Light Of Alleged Misconduct

Jones and McCormack have since gotten in touch with EW to clarify the situation.

“The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. 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.”

This is definitely an unfortunate thing to hear — especially on the day of the release of Coco, a film that takes place in Mexico and takes pains to get certain traditions right. At the end of the day, it sounds like Pixar and most other studios in Hollywood still have a lot of catching up to do in terms of keeping and maintaining a diverse staff.

If there’s anything that the past several weeks have proven, it’s that progress has often been hampered by certain people in powerful positions wielding it inappropriately.

These accusations against Lasseter come on the heels of countless accusations in Hollywood, which all started with Harvey Weinstein.

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  • Mad Barchetta

    So, here’s a thought I’ve been having…
    I agree that our culture is long overdue in shifting towards giving more credence to those who report sexual harassment and assault rather than doubting, questioning, and even blaming them. For too long, people, especially women, have hesitated and avoided making reports for fear of being labeled as liars and painted as villains. Facing this kind of backlash simply multiplies the trauma and pain of the incidents and leaves them suffering shame. Often, their alternative was to suffer in silence, rather than face the slings and arrows of the public. We as a society have been dead wrong in how we’ve previously handled allegations of abuse for a VERY long time.

    Meanwhile, recent months have created a climate where every report is believed without hesitation by a significant portion of the public. In fact, it is EXPECTED that all are to believe all allegations without question, and to do anything else is to risk being labeled misogynistic or called an enabler. Again, I think this turn is an important milestone in our society, but it comes with risks.

    What’s happening now is a person may accuse another person of misdeeds and the accused immediately suffers professional, personal, and social repercussions. There is no trial. There is no investigation. A denial by the accused is immediately dismissed in the court of public opinion. We have witness people being fired or having contracts terminated, seemingly with little or no other evidence than the accusations. At least, it would appear so in many of these cases.

    In the case of Weinstein, it would seem that was one of the most poorly kept secrets in Hollywood and it wasn’t for lack of evidence that he was let go by the Weinstein Company. It was simply because his activities were now exposed to the light of day. Louis CK openly admitted to his behaviors. As a casual reader, I’m less aware of any other evidence against people like Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor and some others. All I have read about to incriminate them have been accusations.

    And, speaking in legal terms, the number of accusations against any individual, while they certainly can be considered as strong evidence, can also be somewhat meaningless. Similarities between stories isn’t as meaningful when said stories are all published for the world to see. Anyone can read someone else’s story and create a similar version without much effort.

    So, in the end… What is to stop someone from making a false accusation against an individual just to see that person suffer all the consequences mentioned about without ever even having to deal with the legal process? If the consequences are harsh, immediate, and without the benefit of the accused having a reasonable opportunity to defend himself (using the male form at this moment, as all the individuals in this kind of situation that I know of at this moment are male) or the recourse of a legal defense, then how does anyone protect himself from someone else who might dislike him?

    To be clear, I’m not saying I have any reason to believe any such thing has happened yet. I am saying that the potential exists. Only time will tell and I have no idea what to do about such an occurrence at this point.

    Meanwhile, I hope these events will contribute to a society where such behavior is no longer tolerated and, better yet, no longer happens. Probably too much to really be optimistic about the latter, but the former would be a very good thing.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Sadly, this is a question with no answer. At the end of the day, you could argue that not believing anyone is worse than believing everyone, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It is worth pointing out that none of those who were accused have ended up in jail, and pretty much everyone who was accused has stopped just short of admitting their wrongdoings. Am I saying it’s impossible for someone to wrongfully accuse? No. It is. But I fear that going forward with the mindset of doubting the victims has led to this hostile work environment. That’s just my opinion, and I know it doesn’t really answer your question, but few things in this world have clear-cut answers.

      • Mad Barchetta

        I think we pretty much agree on everything. The one part I wanted to respond to was the statement that no one has ended up in jail. That is correct, so far. Some may end up there yet, and it seems deservedly so. However, that’s the thing… Getting someone convicted in a court is hard. Having their life ruined in the public…not so much, it turns out. As long as all the allegations are truthful, I say no harm, no foul.
        It’s just that the current climate opens itself to situations similar to the Salem witch hunts and McCarthyism. I sincerely doubt anyone will be killed, so have no fear I’m taking it that far, but a lot of lives and careers were screwed up during McCarthyism and I think this has the same potential.
        Plus, it’s even harder to solve…being a Communist isn’t a crime, especially these days, and people are certainly allowed different points of view. Sexual harassment and assault are not about opinions. They’re just wrong. Period. I think being accused of that would be harder to come back from. Much harder.
        These comparisons are somewhat unfair because 1) clearly NO ONE was a witch and 2) many of those accused of being Communists were not and were only accused for superficial reasons. It’s reasonable to believe that ALL the people coming forth now actually WERE harassed/abused, so there isn’t the same air of falsehood. But then, if one person does come out and make false accusations, they are also much more likely to be believed.
        I guess I’m chewing on this a bit because of the potential for this progress to also be perverted by some for personal reasons (and humans always seem to find a way to pervert things), and also because a certain thought has occurred to me: I’ve never done anything of this nature to another human being and wouldn’t. But if someone came out and said I did, I can only think I would be screwed, both professionally and personally. And there wouldn’t be a darn thing I could do about it.
        Sure, if it came to charges, I could certainly defend myself in court well beyond a shadow of a doubt. But the newspapers really only make a big effort to report allegations/charges/etc. How often do you see stories about acquittals? Once it’s out in society, it stays.
        Just musing, really. And, as you said, I don’t think there is a good answer.

      • secretAGENTman

        There are many accused who unfortunately whomever they are wherever they are or wrongly accused. Whether it was malicious or accidental. Just because these famous individuals have not gone to jail does not mean there are victims out there who have been accused become victims of their own right. To be clear though, I have no tolerance from any male or female in a place of power of any kind who abuses or victimizes anyone else. They should get harsh punishment.

        • Joseph Jammer Medina

          It’s a difficult topic. One one hand you have the potential for wrongly accusing (as with any crime), but on the flip side, you have a crime that’s humiliating for its victims, and they’re often led to believe it’s their fault by society. There’s no way they can prove their claims, so when they do come forward nothing really happens. It’s a breeding ground for misbehavior and mental anguish. I just don’t see a solution apart from not taking anyone’s word for it and reverting to the status quo.

      • Moby85

        At the end of the day we live in a legal system where it’s “innocent until proven guilty” and that should affect these women, as it affects all other areas of accusations in life. You need evidence. Anyone, including myself, can say anybody else did this or that to me years ago. Acceptance of people’s accusations with no corroborating evidence is the wrong way for our society to go.

        • Mad Barchetta

          But that’s my point. Weinstein, Spacey, Lasseter, Bill o’Reilly, are all people who (to my knowledge at this moment) have been accused but have neither admitted to it nor had any other evidence presented to a court and are already suffering consequences. For at least two of them, their careers are likely over, and one is being divorced. O’Reilly has a new show and Lasseter is on a leave of absence and likely will be fired by Disney.

          No courts involved. No evidence, defense, jury, judge. People can be taken down with a tweet or two these days. Court actions are secondary.

          In cases where the accused actually committed the offences, then some form of justice reaches them, even if the accusations couldn’t be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. IF false accusations occur and the same happens…it’s a different kind of tragedy.

          In the past, the accuser was usually not believed. Now, it seems the public sentiment is that they all be believed, which is power that some can (and most likely will) abuse.

          Like Mr. Medina, I don’t have the answer that will achieve balance.

          • Moby85

            It’s a good point. And I wasn’t arguing against you, more trying to debate Jammer.

    • secretAGENTman

      Well said.

      Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That way no matter who’s wrong and who’s right and who’s good and who’s bad we all get the same equal measure. That is the way the system should work, hopefully we will course correct to victims being heard, accusers having their day to speak their defense, and justice will be done for all.

      • Mad Barchetta

        So, stray thought here…the law process already keeps the names of victims of sex crimes out of the public. This was not traditionally been done for the accused. Would it make sense to require that any accusations of sexual misconduct be reported to police first so that the accused is also provided confidentiality until/unless convicted? And…should we eliminate, or at least extend, the statutes of limitation?

        • secretAGENTman

          Interesting. Your suggestion at first blush, might buffer or mitigate false accusation in regards to the accused. Playing Devil’s Advocate, succinctly, I would probably look to the aspect of previously accused and/or convictions for a multi-structure response system. If one were previously accused and was convicted, privacy might be required to be flexible. Perhaps a public listing online etc. as a ‘Public Safety Service.’ Much lik me registered sex offenders in general. But perhaps there would be a sliding scale on severity of previous climes to bring to the public’s attention. It’s a very delicate circumstance for those accused who have not been convicted, and of course it’s always of the most sensitivity, required for those true victims of such circumstance.

    • Victor Roa

      that was well worded
      but I do feel a lot of this is really people getting together to speak out. I’m not sure if everything is a witch hunt. Some of the time it can be more “hey, don’t be an asshole we all work as a team.” And if we can get to a point where there aren’t cliques with adults who have to pay for car insurance, I guess that’s what everyone wants.

    • Moby85

      I’m a hard @ss and while I’m sympathetic towards women I find “stigma” is too often used as a smokescreen to excuse inaction in all possible ways – it protects the offender, by him or her not being prosecuted, and it can reduce in some people’s minds the credibility of someone who speaks out later because the masses are suddenly doing so. As in this case with Hollywood.

      Sure, we need to create a culture where people report sex crimes and harassment immediately. But at some point we actually need to start creating that culture. All we do right now is yell “Shame! Shame!” not doing anything to actually fix the core problem.

      • Joseph Jammer Medina

        The core problem is bigger than Hollywood or any industry. It’s a social problem, and getting to the root of that is very difficult. But implosion is a step in the right direction.

      • Mad Barchetta

        I’m inclined to think that, if more people start experiencing serious and public consequences for their actions, then that might be a first step towards changing our culture. Bringing what was once secret out into the light is akin to someone admitting that they have a problem. Now, it can be talked about openly, which is more likely to lead to change.

    • Danny B

      As shitty as all this is, i’d still like to have some sort of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach to most of what is said etc

      • Mad Barchetta

        As would we all. Problem is: in these cases, there is actually societal pressure to 100% accept the accusations as true and skip the “innocent until proven guilty” part. At least in the public forum. The courts are a secondary thought at the moment.

  • secretAGENTman

    we must also be cognizant and aware of the fact that sometimes not always not painting with a broad brush here but sometimes those of the differing cultural and or other background can often feel isolated or slighted or outside and perceive behaviours that otherwise would be Innocuous as other and more then. Just because she herself has stated that she didn’t feel inclusive does not necessarily mean that was behaviour presented truly to her.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    Oooh Rashida
    Walking down the street
    10 times a week
    I read it
    I said it
    I stole my mommas credit
    I’m cool.
    I’m ho
    Sock you in the stomach
    3 more times

  • Victor Roa

    better then most damage control I’ve seen “if I said anything that offended anyone.”

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.