The current state of Disney Animation is under scrutiny, with concerns about its direction and leadership. There is no doubt that over the past few years significant changes have taken place, leading to dissatisfaction among fans, employees and industry observers alike. In a recent exposé on Film Threat, allegations were made about the decline of Disney Animation, attributing it to decisions made by key figures, particularly Jennifer Lee. Lee, known for her involvement in successful projects like “Frozen, who” has been accused of prioritizing ideological agendas over creative excellence.”
The article suggests that under Lee’s leadership, Disney Animation has become mired in issues related to diversity, gender relations, and content quality. Concerns have been raised about the impact of these decisions on the creative process and the overall reputation of the studio.
With [John] Lasseter out of the way, he was replaced at Disney Animation by Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter at Pixar. Lee was the writer and co-director of the smash-hit Frozen, and Docter had been a creative force at Pixar for years, directing Up, Inside Out, and Monsters, Inc. At the outset, the choices appeared solid. Still, in the case of Disney Animation, radical changes needed to be made in the racial and gender makeup of its leadership and creative process. This change began with Raya and the Last Dragon.
[…] The initial directors were Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, with Adele Lim (coming off her success with Crazy Rich Asians) as the sole writer. Unfortunately, this trio was seen as being “Lasseter people.”
Rumor has it that Lee was gunning for Briggs and Wellins by foisting impossible tasks on them to either get them fired or, better yet, force them to quit. Being the veteran talent that they were, the traps didn’t work. Briggs was demoted to “co-director,” and Wellins was given a Disney+ series to direct.
[…] From here, Raya and the Last Dragon turned from being a traditional Disney animated production to slowly transforming into Disney’s first DEI test case. Step one was to load the entire project with female South Asian animators and talent from within the company, then female Asian animators, then female POC animators, and the rest. But that wasn’t enough. Rather than pull in other artists from within, a major recruitment push was made to hire more women from outside the company to reach a 50/50 male/female balance for equity’s sake.
[…] with Raya and the Last Dragon, the goal wasn’t to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion into the existing community of Disney animators but to replace it with a radicalized group of female activists completely. One female POC animator contacted us about her experience with WiA to further her career in animation. She was looking for mentorship and resources to break into the industry. While initial discussions were cordial, she was quickly ghosted by the organization because she did not live in Los Angeles and could not be helpful to their cause.
Additional reports from insider WDW Pro indicate a growing sense of disillusionment among Disney animators, with some expressing fear of reprisal for expressing moderate political viewpoints. There were also allegations of a toxic work environment, where dissenting voices are marginalized and creativity is stifled. Furthermore, there are doubts about Disney’s ability to produce high-quality animation in the future. Many believe that a complete overhaul of the studio’s leadership and practices is necessary to restore its former glory.
Alan Ng and WDW Pro discuss this situation here, calling Ms. Lee the “secret woman behind Disney animation’s collapse.”
It remains to be seen whether Disney will take decisive action to address these concerns and rebuild its animation division, but I don’t have much faith in them anymore.