Hey, now. I know what you’re thinking.
“Steve, the nerds are gonna get you for this one. You’re crossing a line.”
I’ve heard it before. I said Rick And Morty kinda sucks, too.
It’s okay for things that were once beloved to suck once new information comes out about them. In the case of Joss Whedon, however, it’s not exactly all new information.
The Behavior Of One Joss Whedon
Recently, Ray Fisher, who did his absolute best to give life to a wooden and substandard Cyborg in Whedon’s Justice League took to Twitter to let everyone know that he, too, thinks Joss Whedon
Fisher didn’t mince words, which is more than we can say for Whedon’s JL script.
Fisher says he can’t expand on his accusations because of his NDA, so we’re taking this unsubstantiated statement at face value. But, Fisher’s statements reflect a pattern of behavior.
Like, when Joss Whedon allegedly used his marriage to Kai Cole to shield infidelity while working on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Cole claims she received the following from Whedon after their divorce in 2015:
“When I was running Buffy, I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.”
Uhhhhhhh. There’s a lot to unpack there. Sure sounds “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable to me.”
Speaking of unprofessional, remember the time Charisma Carpenter got fired from Angel, and Whedon didn’t even tell her himself? Also, when you hear Carpenter tell it, she got fired because Joss just didn’t like her anymore.
This video (watch from about 5:40-9:12) shows Carpenter trying to walk a line between being critical of Whedon’s behavior and trying not to ruin a working relationship.
I haven’t been fired yet, but holy smokes, do I expect to hear from someone above me in the org chart and not from the Pioneer press. Sounds pretty unprofessional to me.
“But Steve, Joss Whedon is beloved for a reason. Separate the person from the art.”
Oh, cool. Joss Whedon’s art kinda sucks too, dear reader.
Separating Personal Awfulness From Artistic Mediocrity
Let’s take a look at Joss Whedon’s last few projects:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – An admittedly okay, but really kind of hokey superhero anthology that started sluggish and relied heavily on double crosses and superstar cameos to draw in viewers instead of quality arcs.
Justice League – A muddy mess driven by a poorly developed MacGuffin and with some of the strangest CGI choices moviegoers had seen in a hot minute
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Another garbled mess that squanders the talents of Aaron Johnson and James Spader and left us with an utterly forgettable and easily skipped installment in Hollywood’s top cinematic universe
In Your Eyes – Not a piece of art worth celebrating or salivating over. It has a 68% fan rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and if Whedon fans think it’s mediocre, it’s probably mediocre.
Much Ado About Nothing – Probably the last great thing Joss Whedon has done. MAAN came out the same year as Avengers, so it gets lost in the shuffle a little bit. Kind of worth pointing out that re-skinning Shakespeare in the 21st century is neither innovative nor the kind of thing that demands a cult following. It’s like pizza. Even if it’s bad
reimaginings of Shakespeare pizza, it’s still going to be pretty good.
The fact that we have to go all the way back to 2012 to find something better than mediocre makes me question why we’re still shelling out for this dude’s content. Give him the M. Night treatment, for Pete’s sake.
From 2012 back, Whedon’s catalogue is good, great even. The Avengers. The Cabin In The Woods. Dollhouse. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Angel. Buffy. Firefly.
But even in these beloved cult classics, we see flashes of Whedon’s personal shittiness. Penny can only realize her philanthropic dreams after she starts dating a superhero. Spike assaults Buffy so the writers could… make him hate himself? Mal slut-shames Inara.
It’s 2020. The Age of Accountability is dawning.
Cops. Presidents. Musical artists. Producers. Shitty people are being called out for their shitty behavior.
As geeks, we have a responsibility, to ourselves, to future geeks, to society as a whole, to police our own and hold people responsible when they behave in harmful, counterproductive ways.
Let’s stop throwing handfuls of cash at problematic white dudes producing mediocre content just because they wrote a catchy song about how cute Felicia Day is in 2008.