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More inspirational than Bill Cosby
May 29, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Joss Whedon speaks at Wesleyan commencement
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (41 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Transcript
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:43 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Loved this. "You are all going to die."

David Boreanaz also did a commencement speech for this term, at Ithaca College. (Transcript.) I think Jane Espenson did one too, but I haven't seen a transcript or video.

Related: Good Village Voice interview with Joss talking about the Much Ado adaptation. My favorite bit:
(He also won't take the bait when asked if his Much Ado can make Shakespeare "cool." "Yeah, yeah, and can you make Beethoven melodic, you arrogant prick?")
posted by kmz at 11:53 AM on May 29, 2013


Thank you EMRJKC'94. I liked his words on connectedness and contradiction.
posted by pointystick at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2013


His mortarboard is a leaf on the wind.
posted by jiawen at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nice! Thanks for posting this.
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on May 29, 2013


jiawen: His mortarboard is a leaf on the wind.

Too fuckin' soon, man.

(Though it fits his "You are all going to die" motif.)
posted by tzikeh at 12:12 PM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Of course it all makes sense now... the next Beloved Character Joss Whedon Will Kill Off is us.

But hey, at least he didn't turn into a giant snake and eat everybody. (Stolen shamelessly from elsewhere)
posted by kmz at 12:14 PM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


I ended up there accidentally—that is to say, I was there for my cousin's graduation and didn't know Whedon would be speaking at the event. I'm glad I didn't come specifically to see Whedon, since it was a surprisingly disappointing speech. Reading through the transcript now, it actually looks pretty interesting. But the delivery was awkward and unpolished. It seemed like something he had written on the plane to the event.

That said, he's Joss Whedon, so he can do what he wants.
posted by voltairemodern at 12:16 PM on May 29, 2013


Even Mia Farrow liked his speech.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:27 PM on May 29, 2013


But the delivery was awkward and unpolished. It seemed like something he had written on the plane to the event.

Whedon admits freely to being a lousy actor (hence his limited cameos in his own stuff).
posted by Etrigan at 12:31 PM on May 29, 2013


I'm surprised his commencement didn't get cancelled mid way though.
posted by littlerobothead at 12:37 PM on May 29, 2013 [25 favorites]


Am I the only Wheadon fan that's completely underwhelmed by this speech? Laughing in the background guy is cool, but what was he smoking? I didn't even chuckle. So wanted to like this, but all I can say is overrated.

Perhaps I would have liked it more if it had been canceled before the end. ;)
posted by HyperBlue at 12:47 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


all I can say is overrated

Maybe, but I'm still looking forward to the movie.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:02 PM on May 29, 2013


Officially sick of this guy.

That said, he's Joss Whedon, so he can do what he wants.

And herein lies the problem. When he is revealed to be a typical, if more talented, Hollywood cliche, people will have already forgotten the reason they liked him in the first place.
posted by cell divide at 1:04 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't hate the speech, but it wasn't as good as I expected when I clicked play.
posted by COD at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace.

I so very much wish that someone had explained this to me much earlier on. So much of my life has been spent fighting myself, my argumentative side, my bitchy side, or to frame it in Joss-land, my Cordelia. My urge to be polite often overwhelmed my ability to assert myself and when I did, I often went too far. My Cordelia seemed to have only a full throttle or dead quiet. Eventually I realized that I could listen and balance her words with the more quiet, easy going words in my head. I could listen to more than one version of me and I wasn't betraying either. I realized a few years ago that I need her, I need my Cordelia to keep me sane. Now granted, I can't listen to her constantly. Hell, I can't even let her talk too very much because some people don't understand that tact is just not saying what is true. But sometimes I need to be allowed to be not nice. I need to be allowed to rebel and do stupid things. I need, and I think everyone needs, to embrace the pain, spank my inner moppet and move the hell on.

Freedom is not freedom from connection.

I also wish someone had shown me, like Joss has shown me, that needing people for support isn't weak. That you can be strong and powerful and capable of saving the world and still need someone to lean on. Some of my darkest times have been made easier through connections to random people that are just there. I'm still working on letting myself need others, but I've learned a lot in the last few years. And as sad and nerdy as it sounds, so much of what I've learned about how to be a healthier person has come from Joss Whedon and his world.
posted by teleri025 at 1:18 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Freedom is not freedom from connection. Serial killing is freedom from connection. Certain large investment firms have established freedom from connection. But we as people never do, and we’re not supposed to, and we shouldn’t want to. We are individuals, obviously, but we are more than that.

This, like Firefly and Serenity, are probably some of the best arguments for the American brand of Libertarianism that I've ever seen.
posted by dubusadus at 1:27 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This, like Firefly and Serenity, are probably some of the best arguments for the American brand of Libertarianism that I've ever seen.

Really? I thought it meant the exact opposite.

I liked watching Joss's outfit escape his body. If the speech had been twice as long he'd have ended it nude.
posted by Peevish at 1:30 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This, like Firefly and Serenity, are probably some of the best arguments for the American brand of Libertarianism that I've ever seen.

This requires elaboration.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:32 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't Libertarianism predicated on progressive social agendas? At least from what I'm led to believe, most Libertarians think that the world are full of awesome, self-actualized individualists (ie the crew of Serenity) who could be a lot nicer to each other but really don't need meddling from corporations or the government. Because the only thing corporations and governments are good at are killing people on the mass scale and taking away their rights.

Similarly, when I watched Serenity, it was difficult not to keep in mind the anti-fluoride social movement that was backed by a lot of Conservative and Libertarian interests (and the crazies to boot).
posted by dubusadus at 1:35 PM on May 29, 2013


And this essay of Whedon's is pretty much all about self-actualized individualism predicated on humanism. He returns to the 'road less traveled by', which I've always read as very romantic rendition of American individualism a la manifest destiny. When he talks about the connection you need, it's more about your friends and your family who keep you good but depending on a bigger force like government institutions for help is bad because that would mean dumping money into the maw of a hungry, dehumanizing beast (ie the Alliance).
posted by dubusadus at 1:39 PM on May 29, 2013


And finally, none of this is to say that it's bad. Whedon's works are all ostensibly about close groups of highly individual outsiders who take down conspiratorial, government-backed regimes that are sometimes perpetuated by well-meaning people. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this but I've always seen it as being very political, in the same way that a show like the West Wing is political because of how it advances a gradual reform-minded liberalism.

God, that definitely could've taken a single comment! What kind of person has comment posting anxiety anyway. I'm done, I'm out, sorry for hogging the thread!
posted by dubusadus at 1:46 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not really familiar enough with Whedon's other work to opine on whether or not he's a libertarian or promoting libertarian values across his stuff, but Firefly was a Western, and in Westerns the federal government is often a distant and menacing presence, threatening to erase the life the settlers have made for themselves on behalf of its its big-city industrialist constituents. I don't think modern American libertarianism has anything to do with humanism or particularly cares about human outcomes when weighed against freedom of capital to do whatever it wants.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:46 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's pretty good I guess, but what about how kids these days don't zoobidy bop with the floobidy flabbity?


(God, I am so ashamed.)
posted by gohabsgo at 1:46 PM on May 29, 2013


He returns to the 'road less traveled by', which I've always read as very romantic rendition of American individualism a la manifest destiny.

Not only is your interpretation of The Road Not Taken strange to say the least, you must have missed the part where he talk specifically about how in life you really take _both_ roads.

When he talks about the connection you need, it's more about your friends and your family who keep you good

Yep, sure.

depending on a bigger force like government institutions for help is bad because that would mean dumping money into the maw of a hungry, dehumanizing beast (ie the Alliance).

This is less radical reinterpretation of the text and more making text up out of thin air.
posted by kmz at 1:47 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is less radical reinterpretation of the text and more making text up out of thin air.

I thought it was more like elaboration on a premise regarding more than just the text (specifically, Firefly/Serenity), in service of a specific request to do exactly that.
posted by MoTLD at 2:01 PM on May 29, 2013


American individualism a la manifest destiny.

This came up in the Pinterest Quote Mocking thread too. Manifest destiny has nothing to do with individualism; it was a political doctrine asserting that European-American colonists/conquerors as a group had a god-given entitlement to grab up everything from the Atlantic to the Pacific and do whatever the fuck they wanted with it.

And while there is a progressive/anarchist/lefty flavor of American libertarianism, the biggest and loudest US libertarians are typically far-right anarcho-capitalists and the like.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:20 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Both Whedon and Shakespeare have been notable in their times for writing well-rounded female characters.

I know what all of the individual words in this sentence mean, but put together like this they Just. Don't. Make. Sense.
posted by Spatch at 2:21 PM on May 29, 2013


At least from what I'm led to believe, most Libertarians think that the world are full of awesome, self-actualized individualists (ie the crew of Serenity) who could be a lot nicer to each other but really don't need meddling from corporations or the government.


Ha. IMX, Libertarians will inform you that they are more highly evolved beings who, by dint of coming to the realization that they are Libertarians, are entitled to sneer at us "sheep" who do not declare ourselves Libertarians.

(Which sounds a lot like this "evolution to a higher state of being" happens automagically when you accept Libertarianism as your personal savior).

I suspect that Libertarians are quite a mixed bag, but, again IMX, their single most identifiable characteristic as a group is that they do not give a rat's ass about the problems of other people.

IOW, they're into the "freedom from connection" thing (as Whedon describes it) in a major way.
posted by caryatid at 2:33 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


tzikeh: "Too fuckin' soon, man."

Woman, actually. (In Whedonesque fashion, the women get as many zippy lines as the men.)
posted by jiawen at 2:41 PM on May 29, 2013


America's greatest Libertarians are the Koch Brothers. Seriously, Libertarians in the Corporate World hate Corporations too, as they limit their ability to own everything and control everything by themselves. It's not about Personal Freedom, it's about Personal Power and tearing down anything and anybody that stands in your way. It's the political expression of pure selfishness, even in its so-called Liberal form (because the Liberal issues involved always are about your own desires and pleasures). Of course, there are more perfect Libertarians than the Koches... Mexico's Drug Lords.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:00 PM on May 29, 2013


Sorry, ducking in again because holy hell, manifest destiny had everything to do with individualism and it was most definitely not a coherent policy! You don't even have to look further than Wikipedia for that elaboration. Ask any history major or a poli-sci major or high school history teacher worth his or her salt.

In any case, paintings from the era of Transcendentalism, the romantic embodiment milieu of manifest destiny, had huge swathes of romanticized wilderness with elements of humanity peppering it. Even the writing featured much of these same elements: Thoreau, sitting in his woods, contemplating his individual identity within the place of nature, predicating ultra survivalist clubs all across the US. Frost's image image of the woods is a motif ripped out of works from the Transcendental era (ie this one and this). Modern libertarianism takes Frost's rugged individualist and replaces the American Dream with sustainable living, eco-friendly, pro-social practices, and so on, at least insofar as every actual non-talking-head Libertarian I've ever met was concerned.

Westerns, too, have been argued as being inherently Libertarian:
I’ve often described the Western as the philosophical genre par excellence, because it depicts a world in which social functions that modern society treats bureaucratically and abstractly are realized physically and immediately, as in the early chapters of Plato’s “Republic,” where Socrates creates the “city in speech” from nothing. Libertarians are nostalgic for the Wild West, for a world of first-person action and for a society that seems radically cut off from the world—a kind of City on the Hill that looks to itself alone for physical, moral, and cultural sustenance.

Ron Paul and the Paradoxes of Freedom
And Whedon, he's not every Libertarian talking head; he can and he does support liberal policies very much in the way a political science 101 course says that he should. If he supports Obama it's because these social policies matter much more to him than anything else and that makes a lot of sense. His individualism cherishes the human being, each one as capable of self-actualizing as the next. His freedom is the ability to recognize institutional forces that have us dehumanizing one another and his connections are the day-to-day empathy that keeps us from being too much of a nihilist or an egoist. It really doesn't seem that far removed from DFW's This is Water though it's a bit vaguer and its suggested path is paved by those traditionally Libertarian values.

And I mean, I disagree with it all at a fundamental level, personally but hell, who wouldn't give anything to be part of a Whedonesque group of fearless and rugged individualists? Just because Whedon might be a Libertarian is no cause to hate him; judgemental prejudices that you have about particular political parties is a kind of baggage that's specific to you and it's something that shouldn't prevent you from loving the things you love.
posted by dubusadus at 3:23 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just because Whedon might be a Libertarian

I agree that there was a tinge of libertarianism to Firefly, but that more likely came from Tim Minear, one of the executive producers of the show and a self-identified libertarian.
posted by zixyer at 4:22 PM on May 29, 2013


David Boreanaz also did a commencement speech for this term, at Ithaca College . (Transcript.)

As big of a fan I am of Bones, what kind of advice could David Boreanaz give? How to look like Ted Danson? How to cheat on your former Playboy Playmate wife who is heavily pregnant with your second child while you juggle one of Tiger Woods's mistresses? How to be a dick on set?
posted by discopolo at 4:33 PM on May 29, 2013


David Boreanaz also did a commencement speech for this term, at Ithaca College

I enjoyed Angel quite a lot when I got around to watching it last year, but then I saw Boreanaz on Craig Ferguson a few months ago, and he was such an oaf, and it made me sad. It's infantile to want actors to be as witty and likeable in person as they are in roles you enjoyed them playing, I know, but I'm just a big baby sometimes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:38 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Somewhere in the middle of the speech I found my mind wandering...his delivery is not the greatest.

But the last three minutes tied things up nicely. I liked the speech. And I like his idea of being the filter that life passes through. This was not something I had thought about before, and it is something I will be mulling over today.
posted by Thistledown at 4:17 AM on May 30, 2013


Loved this. "You are all going to die."

Since Steve Jobs included this thought several years ago in his commencement speech I believe that line is all but required now. Not that Jobs was the first, but its become quite the trite remark ever since. Dear speakers, time to come up with something else 'deep'.
posted by justgary at 5:24 AM on May 30, 2013


I saw Boreanaz on Craig Ferguson a few months ago, and he was such an oaf,

It does seem plain that Boreanaz is at his most natural when playing Angelus.
posted by fleacircus at 7:16 AM on May 30, 2013


Loved this. "You are all going to die."

Since Steve Jobs included this thought several years ago in his commencement speech I believe that line is all but required now.


Perhaps inspired by Shatner.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:28 AM on May 30, 2013


America's greatest Libertarians are the Koch Brothers. Seriously, Libertarians in the Corporate World hate Corporations too, as they limit their ability to own everything and control everything by themselves. It's not about Personal Freedom, it's about Personal Power and tearing down anything and anybody that stands in your way. It's the political expression of pure selfishness, even in its so-called Liberal form (because the Liberal issues involved always are about your own desires and pleasures). Of course, there are more perfect Libertarians than the Koches... Mexico's Drug Lords.


What you are doing is saying outlaws=libertarians and also confusing libertarianism and objectivism. They are not the same thing AT ALL and most people get over obsessing/hating/loving Ayn Rand shortly after they get over being a teenager.

Please note: Not all objectivists are libertarians. Not all Libertarians are objectivists. However I will say that pretty much all objectivists=assholes.
posted by bartonlong at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2013


I normally don't give a shit about graduation speeches, but he had an interesting point about duality there. Much as I'm sick of being conflicted about shit, that never does stop.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:09 PM on May 30, 2013


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