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I Never Liked Joss Whedon

Holy crap, did everybody see the giant Vulture piece on Joss Whedon?

I just want to say—this is one of Don Rickles’ lines, but I totally mean it—I never liked him.

I’m not saying I predicted he was a harasser and a terrible human being, just that I didn’t like his work.

Years ago I used to hang out at Shane Black’s house—sometimes, I was even invited. Buffy was appointment television there.

I watched it once...and I didn’t get it. I know a lot of people loved it. (I am married to one of them, though she doesn’t care about it anymore.)

I thought it was stupid, annoying, smug and shallow.

In 2008, I was visiting home for a month as my beloved stepfather was dying—great story, huh?—and my brother Tyler brought a DVD set of Firefly, “Luke, you gotta check this out!” (As kids, we were always into Star Wars and Robotech together.)

We watched all of Firefly...and yeah, I got it. It obviously had a slickness and a vision and real entertainment value. It had characters and a sense of family. The creator clearly was hugely talented.

But there were things that rubbed me the wrong way. In one episode, Mal is interrogating some captive bad guy, the bad guy refuses to cooperative—so Mal kicks him, and the guy is sucked up and killed in the ship’s engine.

And it’s just a joke. They’re like, haha—what a loser, aren’t we frustrated at what he dick that guy was? Okay, we’ll be on our way now.

Well...I don’t mean to be a square, but this isn’t an Airplane! movie. It was funny and shocking—but mean-spirited. Are these the good guys or not?

I was also turned off by the kind of faux-Southern valorization of the rebels, a la the Confederacy. Just...weird.

And what do you know? Turns out Joss Whedon is a two-faced creeper who was tormenting everybody under his command, especially the women—all the while taking credit as a feminist champion.

It’s more complicated than that, and the piece paints a good and nuanced picture.

I was completely shocked by this passage:

“When he was 5, a 4-year-old boy, the son of family friends, disappeared on his parents’ property upstate. Eventually, his body was found; he had drowned in the pond. Years later, as a teenager, Whedon remembered he had called the boy over to the pond to play with him. After getting bored, he had walked away, leaving the boy alone by the water. ‘I didn’t think it was my fault,’ Whedon said. ‘I knew I was 5. But it doesn’t just disappear as a thought.’ It took him another 30 years, he said, before another thought dawned on him: Even after the incident, his parents never taught him to swim. ‘There was no structure,’ he said. ‘There was no safety.’”

Holy crap, did I read this right? Joss Whedon committed manslaughter—or criminally negligent homicide, whatever the least-serious classification is (help me, Law & Order)—as a five-year-old?

That’s horrible. Heartbreaking. I mean, a five year-old is not responsible for his actions.

When I was 11, a boy I played with on a youth soccer team drowned under the ice on the Vineyard. I remember when we heard about it—it made national news—and we were all shook up.

I barely knew that boy—but even now, 37 years later, I can still picture him in his soccer uniform. (I think we were the blue team that year.)

And...I think I retain more emotion over that boy’s loss than Joss showed in this piece.

I’m not qualified to psychoanalyze this and it’s not my place to comment even if it was—but this is some heavy-duty trauma.

So I guess Joss Whedon has been canceled? He didn’t do himself any favors with this piece.

Every remotely P.R.-savvy person knows that the only way back into the good graces of the culture is complete and abject contrition, and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court.

And wow, was he defensive—and foolish. Picking a fight with Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman, by accusing her of not speaking English well enough?

Colossal unforced error!

Even better than a proper apology is never to get yourself in that position in the first place.

How hard can it be not to have an affair at work? I mean, really, you’re married and somebody’s boss? “Stick with the wife!”

I guess I can be accused of piling on. I usually don’t criticize famous people in this blog, because it’s a small community and I don’t need to be sabotaging my own future.

It looks like Joss is done, but even if he is not...I don’t really care.

And it really comes down to the thing I said in the first place: I don’t like his work.

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1 Comment

Coco ThreeOneFour
Coco ThreeOneFour
Feb 10, 2022

"It was funny and shocking—but mean-spirited"

Similarly, that sums up for me why I don't like Quentin Tarantino's work, despite the man's talent.

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