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Geeks rejoice: a new Joss Whedon television series!
October 31, 2007 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Joss Whedon announces new Fox television series, with Eliza Dushku! "Echo (Eliza Dushku) [is] a young woman who is literally everybody's fantasy."

"She is one of a group of men and women who can be imprinted with personality packages, including memories, skills, language—even muscle memory—for different assignments."

Conceived of during a trip to the bathroom in the midst of a lunch Joss had with Eliza in which he was giving her career advice.

(The writers' strike would delay the project.)

Geeks and Whedonites everywhere, rejoice! (And Joss' Office episode airs tomorrow night.)
posted by WCityMike (121 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, Joss (and Tim Minear), you didn't learn from "Firefly" that FOX doesn't care about creative folks?

Premise is intriguing, though not as simple and resonant as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Great to see he can walk in and get offered a seven-episode commitment these days without the hassle of making a pilot, etc.
posted by crossoverman at 9:46 PM on October 31, 2007


If she gets reassigned to the car wash scene from Bring It On every week, they may just have something.
posted by brain_drain at 9:47 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


All you had to say was "Dushku" to know it will be a pile of garbage.
posted by SassHat at 9:47 PM on October 31, 2007 [6 favorites]


Sounds like The Pretender.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:50 PM on October 31, 2007


Geeks rejoiceth! And behold, the internet was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the nerdgasm shook and the servers were overwhelmed.

"And all of the sudden, it was locked in, and the rest was history, and we have this crazy, exciting bomb-ass new show."

If FOX airs anything out of order this time, violence is going to ensue.

It does sound like the Pretender. But I bet it'll be darker.
posted by Tehanu at 9:52 PM on October 31, 2007


I did enjoy her lightsaber battle with Yoda.
posted by brain_drain at 9:53 PM on October 31, 2007 [7 favorites]


Will each episode be Wheadonesque (ie, will each episode be 3/4 useless exposition)? Just curious. Kthxbye.
posted by dobbs at 9:56 PM on October 31, 2007


Eliza Dushku is already everybody's fanta

oh damn
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:58 PM on October 31, 2007


Do I need to watch teen-oriented television to understand this?
posted by davejay at 10:11 PM on October 31, 2007


Yay! But I'm not that thrilled with the premise.

I really, really liked Dushku as Faith, but I'm not that thrilled with her in general. Yes, I did watch all of the aired Tru Calling episodes, which were pretty mediocre. And that was a better premise than this one, frankly.

Hmm, I always thought that there should have been a Faith, the Vampire Slayer spin-off after Buffy ended where Faith was on the run from the police, and Xander acting as her watcher-in-training. That would have been good. I think Whedon had a Faith series in mind, and it might well have looked a lot like what I wanted to see. But Dushku had that Tru Calling deal and she wanted to break out of the Buffyverse, understandably.

So I'm really excited to see Whedon return to TV. But I'm nervous, because this particular project just doesn't sound that great to me, even though I like Dushku. But I just don't know if she has the, um, charisma to carry a series by herself. She hasn't shown it so far (which would have been a problem with Faith, but I hadn't seen her TC work when I was hoping for a Faith series).

A much better Buffy-alum that Whedon should be working with as co-producer and star of a series is Seth Green. He's got enough screen presence, and the writing and production chops to match.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:12 PM on October 31, 2007


Sounds like The Pretender.

Sounds like Alias.
posted by a. at 10:18 PM on October 31, 2007


I'm not sure "teenage girl fights vampires; drama and quirky humor ensue" would have hooked me at the beginning, either. It was the clever subversion of the horror genre and the character development that did that. Plenty of excellent premises are carried very badly, so while no, this isn't what I would have hoped for, I could see if going very well given the names involved so far.
posted by Tehanu at 10:23 PM on October 31, 2007


It's Pretender meets Alias meets La Femme Nikita meets Quantum Leap meets The X-Files meets The Matrix. By Joss Whedon & Tim Minear. I don't care what it sounds like, I just care what it turns out like.
posted by crossoverman at 10:25 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


Joss Whedon: most overrated writer/producer ever?

Yeah, sometimes his dialogue is mighty snappy. It doesn't make up for the piles of crap that dialogue is often buried in.
posted by Justinian at 10:32 PM on October 31, 2007


So there's a scifi element with downloadable personalities? It's not real clear there. But what the hell, Heroes has gotten hilariously crappy and HBO cancelled John From Cincinatti, so I'm in.

you didn't learn from "Firefly" that FOX doesn't care about creative folks?

I can't believe Whedon would ever have wanted to work with Fox again.
posted by mediareport at 10:33 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Not a premise that's really grabbing me.
posted by Artw at 10:33 PM on October 31, 2007


Heroes has gotten hilariously crappy

I take it thatit hasn't gotten better in the last two episodes that I didn't bother watching?
posted by Artw at 10:35 PM on October 31, 2007


It sounds more likely that he watched a recent episode of Heroes and thought "hrm, muscle-memory..."
posted by nightchrome at 10:35 PM on October 31, 2007


Oh goody. We get to watch Whedon talk more about his "feminist" cred as he plasters up female characters that are SO SUPER DIFFERENT because -- get this, ladies and gents -- instead of being a stereotype, they're TWO STEREOTYPES MASHED TOGETHER IN UTTERLY PREDICTABLE WAYS!

It's a preternaturally competent engineer -- but she's a FLAKE!

It's a teenage girl -- but she KILLS VAMPIRES!

It's a courtesan with a heart of gold -- but she's ALSO INDEPENDENT!

It's a traumatized teenage girl who doesn't speak -- but she's a KILLING MACHINE!
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:39 PM on October 31, 2007 [17 favorites]


Whedon on Fox:

Great chemistry and intriguing premise notwithstanding, you'd think that after Fox snuffed Whedon's Firefly and hung up on Dushku's Tru Calling, one or both of them would have been more than a little hesitant to get back into bed with the network. "Honestly? Walking back into that building was pretty damn strange," Whedon admits. But "I always had a good relationship with [20th Century Fox], and on the network end, it's a completely new bunch of people, and from what I’ve seen, a fairly impressive bunch."

Well, ok, if he says so...
posted by mediareport at 10:44 PM on October 31, 2007


I take it that it hasn't gotten better in the last two episodes that I didn't bother watching?

It's gotten horribly hilarious - laugh-out-loud dumb. I almost erased the last two weeks on the DVR and now wish I had my 80 minutes back. Plot lines that go nowhere just to take up time, characters being colossally stupid, villains getting away in the cheesiest ways possible, extended promises of revealing info that fade into smoke at the first commercial break...just atrocious, insulting writing. An 11-year-old would probably love it, so there's that, at least.

Whedon couldn't have come back at a better time. He hasn't disappointed me yet, but I'll try to keep my hopes in check.
posted by mediareport at 10:53 PM on October 31, 2007


Variety
Entertainment Weekly
TV Guide
LA Times
TV Week
[via]

From TV WEEK:

TVWeek: "Heroes" recently added a character who’s sort of like Echo, in that she can instantly learn any ability. Did that give you an "uh-oh" moment?

Whedon: I didn’t actually know that. I was fine until now. Thanks a lot. One of the first rules of a pilot, you will see everything you are doing somewhere else the year before you do it. I saw "Bionic Woman" and I was like, "Oh, I better change my thing." I like to think that means you’re smack dab in the middle of the zeitgeist. The real thing that’s important is what do you have to say about that person.


TVWeek: Every "Firefly" fan is going to wonder: Was there any reluctance to return to Fox?

Whedon: It’s a brand new day over there. It’s a completely new bunch of people and they seem really intelligent and supportive. Walking back into the building was a little strange. But no. It was absolutely the last thing I saw coming, but absolutely the right thing to do....

TVWeek: So they’ll air the episodes in sequence this time?

Whedon [laughs]: One can almost guarantee.

posted by Tehanu at 10:55 PM on October 31, 2007


Whedon is fucking overrated.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:58 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


“Oh goody. We get to watch Whedon talk more about his ‘feminist’ cred as he plasters up female characters that are SO SUPER DIFFERENT because -- get this, ladies and gents -- instead of being a stereotype, they're TWO STEREOTYPES MASHED TOGETHER IN UTTERLY PREDICTABLE WAYS!”

He has pretty good feminist credentials, taking a minor's in Women's Studies at Wesleyan.

Regarding his characters, he's working in genre. The characters are supposed to be stereotypes. But the female characters are not stereotypical in one important respect: they take care of themselves. He was adamant in BtVS that Buffy would never, ever need a man to save her, or the day, and he pretty much never wavered from that. He subverts a lot of sexist expectations in other ways, too.

Are his female characters often sexy and fun to look at? Of course. That's a given in American television and film, with very few exceptions. And pretty much never the exception in genre work.

I believe that the scene in True Romance where Patricia Arquette beats up and kills James Gandolfini's character was a watershed moment in American culture. Women almost never beat up men in movies and TV and they never killed people unless they were the villains. When confronted with a gun, they'd wilt. When holding a gun, they would waver. It wasn't that long ago that a mainstream TV series with an ass-kicking teenage girl character, who fought with men and was beat up by men, and, in turn, beat them up, would have been unthinkable. Whedon deserves some of the credit for bringing us the change where women in American genre entertainment can kick ass and have their asses kicked just like men always have.

Is that important? I think it's very important.

When women in mass entertainment are allowed to fuck with as much abandon as men fight and fuck both, then maybe we'll be getting somewhere. Right now, though, I'm happy to see the changes I'm seeing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:00 PM on October 31, 2007 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Buffy may never need a man to save her, but we, the TV-watching public, still need nice feminist men like Joss to tell us what kind of women we're allowed to see on television. Thanks, massah! Lawdy, I's so grateful foah yoah attention!
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:11 PM on October 31, 2007


I'm pretty sure there's more than one channel on your television.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:14 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


we, the TV-watching public, still need nice feminist men like Joss to tell us what kind of women we're allowed to see on television

Wait, are you IB or IB's wife right now? We need to know - I mean, for consistency's sake.
posted by mediareport at 11:18 PM on October 31, 2007


OH MY GOD
posted by liquorice at 11:22 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, how do you, EB, get the "he won't ever let a man save her, or the day" out of, say, the Season 1 finale? Hey, look, she's drowned, but fortunately for her (and the day!) there's a man waiting in the wings to save her life! Hooray!

And I don't even want to get into the idea that genre characters must be stereotypes. That's...wow. Wow, seriously, wow. I just can't even bother arguing with something so fundamentally wrong. Genre characters do not need to be stereotypes. Additionally, a minor in gender studies typically requires 4-5 courses (I can't find information about a specific minor in feminist/gender studies at Wesleyan, only a major, but I'm going by my own college and other liberal arts colleges). I don't exactly consider that "feminist credentials." It certainly wouldn't be considered "feminist credentials" for a woman.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:25 PM on October 31, 2007


What the hell are you talking about InnocentBystander? Why are you typing strange words? "Foah"? "Yoah"? I really don't get what point you're trying to get across.

Joss Whedon isn't telling us what we're "allowed" to see. I didn't realise he had a hand on your remote control? Ýou're offended that he dare have different types of females - portrayals of which you may disagree with - on his OWN t.v. show?
posted by liquorice at 11:28 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


And also, give me a fucking BREAK. So once in a while Buffy gets a hand from the friends, some of whom happen to be MALE. Jeez, she can't be a feminist icon now because she sometimes needs help? I'm sorry, I forgot. Every woman I know does everything on their own and never fails at anything and is always awesome and perfect and right. Uh-huh.
posted by liquorice at 11:30 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


No, seriously, InnocentBystander, which of the two of you is making the comments about "nice feminist men" telling us what to think? Because if it's the hubby in this thread, isn't that kind of a contradiction?
posted by mediareport at 11:40 PM on October 31, 2007


I don't like things that other people like either.

*puts on sunglasses*
posted by Bonzai at 11:44 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do people actually watch Fox?
posted by Cranberry at 11:52 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think Whedon is a good writer. An old roommate was fanatical about Buffy, and I reluctantly but gradually started watching episodes. Occasionally I was really impressed. Same with Firefly--a show with a clever premise, some good scripting and dialogue, but it always felt like I was watching a TV show. It never transcended into something else, the way, say, The Sopranos did. Maybe budget was part of that, but it seems endemic to the writing as well. But whatever, it was TV.

So along came Serenity, and in the first 15 minutes I thought that Whedon was busting out, ready to make the big time. That opening sequence is so brilliantly written--revealing an only-talked-about event from the big...

Oh, and Eliza Dushku is hot, but not exactly an actress.

posted by zardoz at 11:57 PM on October 31, 2007


Has anyone said "Fantasy Island" yet?

Hold on, people actually followed "The Pretender"?

Wow. I think I'm out of place here. I'll just move on...
posted by converge at 12:00 AM on November 1, 2007


It's a preternaturally competent engineer -- but she's a FLAKE!

Kaylee is weird, but a flake? I think "preternaturally competent" and "flake" are somewhat at odds — would you prefer the far-more-stereotypical Competent Ice Queen [optionally Waiting For the Right Man to Melt Her Heart]?

It's a teenage girl -- but she KILLS VAMPIRES!

Can't comment here; I only watched Firefly.

It's a courtesan with a heart of gold -- but she's ALSO INDEPENDENT!

Well, I never could stand Inara.

It's a traumatized teenage girl who doesn't speak -- but she's a KILLING MACHINE!

I'm not sure what you want here. It's a revenge plot; the avengers (Count of Monte Cristo, Gully Foyle) tend to be damaged in this sort of thing. It makes them both more sympathetic and more badass.

Maybe Whedon is going around painting himself as some bleeding-edge über-feminist, in which case you've got a point. I don't know; I don't follow that sort of thing. But compared to most of what's on the teevee, I don't see what drives your animosity. Look at the typical male-female relationships in Firefly: you've got Wash and Zoe, and I think it's pretty clear who's protecting whom. I know who I'd rather have watching my back in a dark alley. You've got Mal and Inara; Mal acts like an obsessive 14-year-old boy and Inara acts like a grown-up. You've got River Tam and her brother; Simon sees himself as the archetypal male protector, but it's made abundantly clear throughout the series that his good intentions exceed his competence, and that River is more than capable of taking care of not only herself but him. You've got Kaylee, who views men as a means of sexual fulfillment and whose only reaction to finding out that Simon has an interest in her is to think, "Damn, you mean I could've been getting laid this whole time?" I don't really see a tool of the patriarchy here.

Then you've got Jayne and ... uh ... Vera. It's probably best not to go there.
posted by enn at 12:09 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


He couldn't do Wonder Woman so he decided to do Echo instead.
posted by straight at 12:14 AM on November 1, 2007


One day a MeFite logged onto Metafilter and saw that someone had posted a thread about a new TV Show/album/movie/book [delete as applicable] by a writer/band/director/author [delete as applicable] that the author of the FPP really liked but the MeFite personally hated.

The MeFite realised they had two real options. They could skip the thread entirely or enter the thread, politely state that they disliked the work of the writer/band/director/author [delete as applicable] and move on.

Instead the MeFite entered the thread and chose a hitherto unknown third option, namely dumping a massive verbal shit-bomb therein.

Several dozen MeFites followed and then they all used MetaMail to congratulate each other about how they totally pwned that fucking thread (one imagines).

Those who liked the writer/band/director/author [delete as applicable] would have been gobsmacked had this not occurred roughly one trillion times before when a new TV Show/album/movie/book [delete as applicable] had been announced on Metafilter.

Life went on...

I guess what I'm saying is, you can dislike something but if you aren't going to at least be pleasant about it, please skip the thread. Kthxbye.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:15 AM on November 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


I can imagine the pitch meeting: "Manchurian Recall, hmmm? OK, Joss, we're on board for seven."
posted by rob511 at 12:25 AM on November 1, 2007


For nine-year-old Joe can do anything, thanks to a fabulous electronic device which can transfer the brain patterns of those who are the greatest experts in their field. When he receives these brain patterns, Joe, with the aid of a special pair of glasses which have built-in electrodes, becomes a man in thought and deed... can become the greatest of all astronauts, a dare-devil pilot, an ace motorist, a brilliant brain surgeon or whatever else may be necessary for him as the most daring of all agents attached to the World Intelligence Network Joe 90
posted by alasdair at 12:26 AM on November 1, 2007


best news I've heard all day - I squealed like a post-feminist heroine when I saw the headline!

razzum frazzum your favourite tv writer sucks et cetera
posted by elphTeq at 12:26 AM on November 1, 2007


Honestly, Whedon can write very good dialogue, and I quite liked Firefly the series, but he has seriously overplayed his superpowered woman shtick. It brought down Serenity IMO since the cool backstory of River was revealed to basically be Buffy in space.

Just like how Kevin Smith should get someone else to direct his movies, I reckon Joss should get someone else to make up premises for him to write dialogue for.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 12:27 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love how having a strong female character is considered a "shtick". And by love I mean hate. Lots of hate.
posted by liquorice at 12:36 AM on November 1, 2007 [10 favorites]


“it certainly wouldn't be considered "feminist credentials" for a woman.”

I didn't realize that there were requirements for credentials before one could be a feminist. But, regardless, getting a degree with a minor in women's studies is technically some sort of credential and, anyway, it's hell of a lot more than most people who call themselves feminists can point to.

And four or five courses to make a minor? What kind of lame-ass college did you go to? Just glancing around the web for minor requirements, I'm seeing about 25 credit hours for a minor, on average. That's eight classes.

But this is a stupid discussion, anyway. You don't like Whedon's characters, fine. But you can't really argue convincingly that they're anti-feminist, because there's a whole lot of feminists who think differently. Many, many papers and articles have been written about the feminism in BtVS, for example. Here's a page which lists some of them.

As far as your claim that nothing could be more wrong than that genre film/fiction requires stereotypes characters...well, you know, there's a reason it's genre. It has plots and characters which conform to some standard, which is by definition stereotyped. That's what stereotyping is. The best genre work subverts stereotypes, but it still doesn't eschew them. It can make them seem new, or it can make us see through them. Either way, it's still got to work with the genre elements because that's what it means to work within a genre.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:43 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Silentgoldfish: "he has seriously overplayed his superpowered woman shtick."

"Why do you write such strong female characters?"

Because you keep asking that question
.

- Joss Whedon, from his speech to Equality Now

"Just like how Kevin Smith should get someone else to direct his movies, I reckon Joss should get someone else to make up premises for him to write dialogue for."

Those films are called Waterworld, Speed and Toy Story.

Of course, reducing the entire seven years of Buffy, five years of Angel, fifteen episodes of Firefly and his feature directorial debut down to an accusation of "predictable premises" is kind of mind-boggling.
posted by crossoverman at 2:21 AM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


The free-will of contrarian trolls is fucking overrated. Or is it?

*Pages Dr Pavlov*

And I'd like to consult him about this also: Posts tagged with drool | MetaFilter. Banjos! Excellent. Okay that was off-topic.
posted by Coaticass at 2:36 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


By the way, I am absolutely stoked! Woo!
posted by Coaticass at 2:38 AM on November 1, 2007


Ah, excellent! Too bad it's Fox.
posted by spiderskull at 2:44 AM on November 1, 2007


Taskmaster must be getting a bit tired of people copying his superpower.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:19 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn it, alasdair I was going to say Joe 90!

He has pretty good feminist credentials, taking a minor's in Women's Studies at Wesleyan.

I bet that's a great way to pull chicks...

Oh and I'm not really enthused by the idea
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:37 AM on November 1, 2007


The pretender? Miss Parker? Yum.
posted by maxwelton at 3:39 AM on November 1, 2007


Cool. Looking forward to it, though I'm not a huge fan of Dushku.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:46 AM on November 1, 2007


I must say though, I loved Buffy, Angel and Firefly and I think Dushku is hot. She was hot enough for me to sit through all of Bring It On (but obviously not hot enough for me to watch Tru Calling). But yeah, this premise that Joss apparently came up with while peeing dosen't sell well to me, at least not on paper. That said, I will tune in because Joss + Dushku = potential, and I'll judge the show on its merits once I've seen it, and not a minute before.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:54 AM on November 1, 2007


It's a great metaphor for a young actor's life and career, according to Ms Dushku. I'm inclined to agree with her.
posted by Coaticass at 3:57 AM on November 1, 2007


Who's this show being written for/aimed at? Young adults or adults? Buffy and (to a lesser extent) Angel worked because they were young adult shows that exceeded their briefs, but neither would have worked as well if they were initially created with an older audience in mind. Firefly sucked (in my opinion), because it was a young adult show that wanted to be a show for grown ups so bad, but Whedon and his team didn't have the chops to pull it off.

(Yes, I've seen the whole damn thing, in the correct order, blah blah blah. It didn't work for me.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:22 AM on November 1, 2007


"It's Pretender meets Alias meets La Femme Nikita meets Quantum Leap meets The X-Files meets The Matrix."

... meets Affleck and Thurman.
posted by Mike D at 4:53 AM on November 1, 2007


I watch about 2 hours of TV a year, so going to the E! Online website has given me severe culture shock. I had no idea there was a David Copperfield sex scandal. There was nothing about this in the papers at the grocery checkout line!
posted by MtDewd at 5:31 AM on November 1, 2007


It's a traumatized teenage girl who doesn't speak -- but she's a KILLING MACHINE!

It's an oversimplification - but it's got SARCASTIC CAPS!

Guess who:

He's a Mafia boss but he's CONFLICTED!

He's an anti-terrorist but he's got FAMILY TROUBLES!

She's a secret agent but she has METAL LIMBS!

She works in a fashion magazine but she's QUITE PLAIN, REALLY!

He's a private detective but has humourous OCD!

She's a hot-shot fighter pilot fighting for humanity's survivial but she OCCASIONALLY ACTS UNVIRTUOUSLY

extra for experts:

He's a mild mannered reporter but secretly THE MOST POWERFUL MAN ON THE FREAKIN' PLANET.

Did you see what I did there?
posted by Sparx at 5:55 AM on November 1, 2007 [18 favorites]


I like that the premise actually takes a couple sentences to explain. I'm a little skeptical that every episode will be a self-contained story, but I guess the growth of Dushku's character as series arc might be do-able. All that being said, I'm pretty down on scifi these days. I'd rather watch The Wire.

(And Paycheck doesn't equal Affleck and Thurman, it equals PKD!)
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:08 AM on November 1, 2007


I can say without reservation that she is literally not my fantasy.

Now, if Joss wants to talk to me about Nathan Fillion...
posted by fuse theorem at 6:28 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Conceived of during a trip to the bathroom

'Nuf said.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:31 AM on November 1, 2007


I want to get excited about this but I'm still pissed at Fox for terminating Firefly just as it was really taking off. Watch "Objects in Space" and then see if we don't agree that when the revolution comes, the Fox exec that canceled Firefly should be one of the ones lined up against the wall.
posted by Ber at 6:48 AM on November 1, 2007


Your favorite TV show which hasn't even premiered yet sucks.

Oh, and I always confuse Eliza Dushku and Elisha Cuthbert. Even though they don't look at all alike.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:03 AM on November 1, 2007


Discussion of sources is fantastic! But you folk complaining that the premise is derivative- have you ever read any literary science fiction? Have you ever come across a metaphor or an archetype which you didn't dismiss as unoriginal? This is a classic SF trope, if that's the right word. C.J. Cherryh, (in her Hard SF), Lois McMaster Bujold, William Gibson, and Phillip K. Dick (over and over, Mike D, not just in Paycheck!) spring to mind.

So what if you've heard of something similar before? You might just as well dismiss Lord of the Rings as derivative. (Richard Wagner's estate should have sued! OMG, Orlando Furioso featured a magic ring! So did Plato's Republic!) Star Wars was derivative, Babylon 5 was derivative. The films of Sergio Leone: really, really derivative. Shows which have actors speaking words: derivative! Words, words, words: Shakespeare: derivative! (Is that like the genre equivalent of a Godwin’s law type argument? Am I off topic? Will I ever get any work done tonight? Does not having read all the cited works make me a wanker? Don’t answer that.)

I'm more taken with the criticisms (if that's what they are) of the comic book fan mefites: Interesting point, aeschenkarnos. And straight: Echo the comic book character? Wow, that's close. This thread is so educational; I know virtually nothing about comics. But these types of characters seem to be legion. Perhaps this is an ability which everyone possesses to a certain extent? “Monkey see, monkey do”, and if monkeys can do it, why not apes? Come to think of it “to ape” means to imitate, after all.
posted by Coaticass at 7:03 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


I have never, ever, ever read a thread and immediately thought about a handful of the posters: "[Redacted, because it's really rude and involves verbs no one should have to contemplate before noon]."

Until now.

Overrated? OVERRATED? The freaking Sopranos were overrated. Useless exposition? No such thing, given that he generally tends to tie it all together later on, whether it's one episode or ten episodes later. And the more times you watch episodes of Buffy or Firefly, the more you appreciate that. I've never been able to watch a Sopranos episode more than once without thinking "Gee, haven't I already seen this 15 times? Where's the remote?"

I'm with Ber -- though not a violent person, I would be the first person to spit in the face of the moron Fox executive who cancelled Firefly. What a dick. Ditto whoever kicked him off Wonder Woman. I would have shown up to the damn theatre in these for something that awesome.

If Whedon suffers from anything, it's being at the mercy of a bunch of jerkoff executives who wouldn't know a story line if it bit them in their pompous, fat asses.

Ok, I'm going for more coffee now. I'm cranky this morning.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:06 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Actually having teenage daughters makes the idea of watching a show like this unpalatable. Not that I'm in the target demographic anyway.
posted by tommasz at 7:08 AM on November 1, 2007


I second Zardoz: "Oh, and Eliza Dushku is hot, but not exactly an actress."
posted by stratastar at 7:12 AM on November 1, 2007


Can't claim to be an expert on Whedon, but I thought it was interesting that he's vocally supporting the writer's strike, since Firefly's is said to have a libertarian outlook. Am I wrong on that?
posted by condour75 at 7:21 AM on November 1, 2007


I think it's more Tim Minear, the big Heinlein fan that he is, with the libertarian sympathies, condour75. Whedon is on record (don't ask me to find it now though) as saying that he didn't necessarily agree with Mal Reynolds' politics, or words to that effect. Have you forgotten Buffy freeing the slaves from their underground hell at the start of Season Three by teaching them all about collective bargaining? (And her handy use of a sickle-like weapon, of course.)
posted by Coaticass at 7:31 AM on November 1, 2007


The freaking Sopranos were overrated.

That one thing is overrated does not constitute evidence that something else is not also overrated.

Can't claim to be an expert on Whedon, but I thought it was interesting that he's vocally supporting the writer's strike, since Firefly's is said to have a libertarian outlook.

There's nothing anti-libertarian about a strike, in and of itself. Under a libertarian philosophy, people are free to work or not to work as they please. They are also free to communicate with each other and all jointly decide not to work at the same time. It only becomes anti-libertarian if the force of law is used to prevent the struck-against industry from hiring scabs.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:33 AM on November 1, 2007


instead of being a stereotype, they're TWO STEREOTYPES MASHED TOGETHER IN UTTERLY PREDICTABLE WAYS!

Putting aside the triteness of this, which others have already addressed, what's the alternative? Real-life growth happens incrementally and with subtly. I'd say that you better subvert a stereotype with small changes than with big ones.

The big break with stereotype gives you the idealized figure that nobody believes, the flawless single mother, the single dad that chooses his kids over anything else - instead of the completely crippled stereotype we get the idealized stereotype.

I think this is all besides the point. What always made me appreciate Whedon's projects was that both the show and the characters evolved and progressed. The challenges Buffy or Angel faced in season one were different than season three as were the character's capacity to react to them. Compare that to serial drama like 24 where the extent of what's different in Bauer's life is how much he expects his life to turn to shit before it actually does.
posted by phearlez at 7:42 AM on November 1, 2007


I can say without reservation that she is literally not my fantasy.


Now, if Joss wants to talk to me about Nathan Fillion James Marsters...

:)
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:44 AM on November 1, 2007


I always love how I can turn to Metafilter for the latest in entertainment news and trends that really effect me.

Namely that it's apparently cool to dislike Heroes now. Thanks Metafilter!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:47 AM on November 1, 2007


I still like Heroes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:51 AM on November 1, 2007


Yes, but DevilsAdvocate, it's almost inevitable that anyone who hates on Whedon is going to pull the Sopranos straight out of their you-know-what as evidence of "good" television. The arguments, suchs as they are, are that predictable.

Let me throw something out there: if Brad Pitt made a television show that a lot of people thought were good, but a lot of other people thought sucked, and its fanbase was as rabid as the Whedon camp, it would be really easy to say "well, they just like it because Brad Pitt is hot."

Have you seen Joss Whedon? Adorable, yes. Brad Pitt, no.

There's got to be something going on that explains why the fans are as -- well, fanatical as they are. I say it's kickass writing, character development and an overall sense of wonder about what television is capable of. Shows like the Sopranos always seem to be trying too hard. Whedon's shows just work.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:52 AM on November 1, 2007


Why the fuck would you go back to Fox? How new can these new people possibly be. Fox loves to cancel good shows. That's their whole MO.
posted by chunking express at 7:59 AM on November 1, 2007


Oh, Christ. Terrible post, terrible premise for a show (isn't there enough about women literally fulfilling fantasies out there?), terrible discussion.

And Joss Whedon writes characters for Maxim feminists. Especially his abysmal comics work.
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 AM on November 1, 2007


Yes, but DevilsAdvocate, it's almost inevitable that anyone who hates on Whedon is going to pull the Sopranos straight out of their you-know-what as evidence of "good" television.

Is it really? Personally, I don't care for either The Sopranos or for most of Whedon's work (OK, I did like Alien: Resurrection), but perhaps I'm in a tiny tiny minority.

There's got to be something going on that explains why the fans are as -- well, fanatical as they are. I say it's kickass writing, character development and an overall sense of wonder about what television is capable of.

I say its the fact that they identify with Whedon's characters. Which leads them to overvalue other aspects of the show. Mind you, I'm not saying Whedon's work is bad, it's just not the best thing ever to appear on television as many of the fans seem to believe. I might even be persuaded to admit that the writing is above average, but I wouldn't call it "kickass."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:07 AM on November 1, 2007


Yes, Kitty Pryde is going to be on the cover of Maxim any day now. She's totally the type.
posted by Tehanu at 8:26 AM on November 1, 2007


Buffy was cool, though I didn't watch it regularly. But Firefly was too corny and predictable to keep me watching past the first couple of episodes. I don't really understand the legions of gushing fanboys/girls Whedon attracts. The premise to this new show sounds pretty silly, but that seems to be the norm in tv shows these days.
posted by Onanist at 8:37 AM on November 1, 2007


I'm surprised no one's commented on the "career advice from Joss Whedon" of it all.

She was hot enough for me to sit through all of Bring It On

"Sit through" Bring It On? What sort of monster are you?
posted by cillit bang at 8:41 AM on November 1, 2007


Conceived of during a trip to the bathroom

'Nuf said.


You know, I pity those who don't think of stuff either on the way to, in, or on the way out of a bathroom. I mean, given I don't get nearly as much satisfaction out of bodily evacuation as I do with most other activities I'd like to get something done during that time.
posted by Green With You at 8:42 AM on November 1, 2007


...TWO STEREOTYPES MASHED TOGETHER IN UTTERLY PREDICTABLE WAYS!
...
It's a teenage girl -- but she KILLS VAMPIRES!


Somehow, I'm not familiar with the prejudice that most women are 15 and/or kill vampires.
posted by dsword at 8:46 AM on November 1, 2007


This is great news. With his Wonder Woman movie never working out, I was beginning to fear that Joss was going to spend the rest of his days surfing somewhere with Chris Carter.

Condour75, Firefly definitely had a libertarian streak (and some odd messages overall, but I'm definitely an Angel/Buffy girl), AND I'm glad he's supporting the (possible) strike.

And Eliza? One of the famous mormon vampires.

(and the idea that Joss is a fake/poseur feminist is just absurd)
posted by armacy at 8:50 AM on November 1, 2007


Mad Men is a good show.
posted by I Foody at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2007


I don't like things that other people like either.

*puts on sunglasses*


You meant to put on this shirt.
posted by sparkletone at 8:58 AM on November 1, 2007


Oh, Christ. Terrible post, terrible premise for a show (isn't there enough about women literally fulfilling fantasies out there?), terrible discussion.

And Joss Whedon writes characters for Maxim feminists. Especially his abysmal comics work.
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 AM on November 1


I thought the premise was more about acting and the nature of identity. A bit like Peter Sellars' great film Being There. With explosions! (Presumably.) What do you mean by Maxim feminists and to whom are you referring? People who want collagen injections in their G-spots? The audience? Stupid misguided fans who don't know what's good for them? The cast? And what's it to you, if I might inquire? *not a Maxim reader*
posted by Coaticass at 9:06 AM on November 1, 2007


The premise isn't grabbing me at all. Then again, all of Joss Whedon's shows sound fucking awful on paper. Whereas the actual shows tend to be pretty good.

(Not "best ever," not "orgasm in my brain," not whatever superlative you'd like to apply -- pretty good, occasionally moving over into pretty damn good. I'm sorry, but if you really think "Buffy" or "Angel" or "Firefly" are better than, say, "Six Feet Under" or "Deadwood," you're just wrong, and that has nothing to do with genre snobbery, because I loooooove me some nerd TV. Whedon's work does not generally "transcend the medium," though individual episodes do. For the most part, though, Whedon produces regular-ass TV that tends to be worth watching. Nothing wrong with that.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2007


"There's got to be something going on that explains why the fans are as -- well, fanatical as they are. I say it's kickass writing, character development and an overall sense of wonder about what television is capable of."

That's a mistake. People get fanatical about shit like The King of Queens, Carebears or late-period Adam Sandler movies.

"I thought the premise was more about acting and the nature of identity."

Wow, like, identity, is, like, mutable, man.

There's very little in this to point to any unique or interesting insights on identity or acting.

"What do you mean by Maxim feminists and to whom are you referring?"

Well, Sarah Michelle Gellar would be a good start. Or people who think that a strong female character has to also conform to fairly traditional "sexy" body types. It's the same eye-rolling I do every time I hear Lara Croft held up as some sort of feminist icon—hot bodies plus violence is just combining two male titillations and says little about a female character qua female.
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


hot bodies plus violence is just combining two male titillations and says little about a female character qua female awesome
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:02 AM on November 1, 2007


I'd rather have Firefly back.
posted by atayah at 10:03 AM on November 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think I will neatly sidestep the never-ending discussion on whether Joss Whedon eats babies or grants new life to the dead, but I will mention that it looks like it wasn't Whedon's reputation that got the new series in the can—it's Eliza Dushku who's got the production deal with Fox. That means all the headlines about Whedon signing Dushku for "his" new show aren't really all that accurate; he wouldn't have a show to run if not for her.
posted by chrominance at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2007


http://www.eonline.com/gossip/kristin/detail/index.jsp?uuid=972f7d73-e0a2-43ea-abad-0abf6afba1f3

it's nice to see that some websites are not buckling to the pressure and producing human readable URLs. Fight the p0w3r!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:28 AM on November 1, 2007


I clicked this hoping it would be more Firefly. :(
posted by Lizc at 10:54 AM on November 1, 2007


Whedon's new Fox series, called Dollhouse,

Well, there's your problem right there.

I won't watch it. Fox and I are done.
posted by quin at 11:58 AM on November 1, 2007


Joss Whedon posted to Whedonesque.

hot bodies plus violence is just combining two male titillations and says little about a female character qua female.

I agree. It's why I like Whedon's work-- he develops the characters. Buffy wasn't an ass-kicking pinup.
posted by Tehanu at 12:13 PM on November 1, 2007


In the last few years I've developed a television-watching strategy. I ignore everything until it has been on a minimum of 3 seasons. Then I grab the DVDs and play catch-up. I'm tired of investing in shows that are yanked after a few episodes. I figure I'll let'em play their marketing games ... I'll find something to do in the meantime. (I watch VERY little TV these days).

On the plus side, I'm pretty much willing to give Joss the benefit of most any doubt. Some things are just out of his hands, so I'll still wait for the dust to settle.
posted by RavinDave at 1:14 PM on November 1, 2007


Meh.
posted by apiaryist at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2007


Sounds like The Pretender.

Which sounded like Joe 90.

This will suck.
posted by tkchrist at 2:19 PM on November 1, 2007


Buffy wasn't an ass-kicking pinup.
Well. I can agree with that.

In that Buffy did not kick ass. Nor was she "pin up" quality. Unless the poster was for Bulimia Awareness.
posted by tkchrist at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2007


Well, Sarah Michelle Gellar would be a good start. Or people who think that a strong female character has to also conform to fairly traditional "sexy" body types. It's the same eye-rolling I do every time I hear Lara Croft held up as some sort of feminist icon—hot bodies plus violence is just combining two male titillations and says little about a female character qua female.

Huh? You're judging a character on the actress that plays her?

Also. You're just plain dead wrong when you lump Joss with the people who adhere to traditional beauty types.. Here's a massive (but well worth the read) quote from a Q&A I attended with Joss Whedon.

"JOSS: There are a few people out there who understand that, you know, there are some fairly chubby girls who are *wicked hot* and that there is nothing wrong with that, but like, it is unbelievable how much resistance those people meet. And, I'm talking about me, I'm talking about some other people too. I literally had executives who, you know, themselves might have fit that description, fighting against it. Like, it is a disease in LA, I've seen girls who were perfectly well proportioned start to lose weight, I've seen it over and over again. They look at themselves on the camera and they think they're fat. It was-- I mean I went to Canada to find somebody who was even remotely, you know, zaftig, and actually, Jewel was just eating a lot because I asked her to, and then of course by the time the movie came around she'd stopped, and she was very nervous when she came back, and she lost all that weight, and I was like "Sweetie, you're Kaylee, there's not a lot I'm gonna do now." But, it's a fight, it's a weird thing that it's a fight, but it is. If I want to have a character like that, I have to have so much power that I can't be shouted down by a network or a studio, because they're gonna shout, I don't know why. I don't know why, I know there are guys out there that are waiting for this, I know there are girls out there that need this, and I know there, you know it's, I mean-- It's ridiculous to me, that this is even remotely a stigma, because it's, you know, so much a part of us. It's like - are these girls who are all made up of elbow, are they hot? Is that a good thing? Are bicycle frames sexy? Did I miss something? It's just, you know, it's just I can't explain it, it's like, a sort of, you know, pure(?) misogyny, and it's just, you know, the homophobia that, just, the most liberal, and decent, right-thinking and artistic people in the world that you're hanging out with suddenly hit you with, and you can't believe just how, stuck in Hollywood culture it is. It's a fight, it's a battle, it's one that I've failed to win, twice now, as you know, not that you were saying I failed, you were very nice, but that's basically the case. So, but, you know, I'm out there, and I know there's other people that are, so you know, just give us time. We'll beat 'em down. "

Link

And you're also dead wrong if you think all that Buffy is, is a hot chick who can fight. Or have you never heard of developing a character? That was the premise.* The seven seasons that followed turned her into much more than that.

*= technically not the premise, rather inverting the stereotype played constantly in horror movies, of the little blonde chick that always gets killed off.
posted by liquorice at 2:34 PM on November 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Are bicycle frames sexy?"

And somehow everything comes full circle...
posted by dixie flatline at 2:58 PM on November 1, 2007


"It's like - are these girls who are all made up of elbow, are they hot?"

Look out, Joss, the thin women of America will be on your case for that one!

(Spoken as a curvy woman who's been accused of -- and I quote -- "hating thin people." This is so absurd it hurts, given that as a freaking designer it is in my absolute best interest to design a product that fits as wide a range of sizes as I can manage. If I really hated thin people, I'd write all my patterns for size 16 and up only, wouldn't I?)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:05 PM on November 1, 2007


"... Many, many papers and articles have been written about the feminism in BtVS, for example. Here's a page which lists some of them. ..."
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:43 AM on November 1

I think no better epitaph for academia has been written in this young century, EB. I shall quote you with relish (and perhaps mustard), when next I have the opportunity.
posted by paulsc at 4:30 PM on November 1, 2007


I think no better epitaph for academia has been written in this young century, EB.

Because academia shouldn't study popular culture or because you think Buffy isn't a worthy feminist text?
posted by crossoverman at 5:20 PM on November 1, 2007


In that Buffy did not kick ass.

Huh. Must be some radical, new definition of "kick ass" that I'm unfamiliar with. I mean, I saw Buffy as an intelligent, powerfull, admirable, essentially heroic character who could kick the ass of most things without breaking a sweat, but maybe "kick ass" dosen't mean that anymore these days.
posted by Snyder at 6:02 PM on November 1, 2007


“I'm sorry, but if you really think ‘Buffy’ or ‘Angel’ or ‘Firefly’ are better than, say, ‘Six Feet Under’ or ‘Deadwood,’ you're just wrong, and that has nothing to do with genre snobbery, because I loooooove me some nerd TV. Whedon's work does not generally ‘transcend the medium,’ though individual episodes do.”

I agree with this, even though I'm a huge BtVS fan and it's my favorite TV show of all time. Though I'm not so sure I agree about SFU, because even though I thought the first season was amazing, after the beginning of the second season it started to feel like an only slightly imaginative soap opera with occasionally really good writing. But Deadwood? Yeah, that was one of the highest quality TV series, ever. Not to mention The Wire and The Sopranos, the latter of which I think would qualify as the best series of all time if you left off the last three seasons or so.

So, no, Whedon's series aren't that high quality. Which is unfortunate because the series themselves have an undercurrent of high quality, if you get my meaning, and they have individually very good episodes. I think that The Body is extremely high quality television, one of the best single TV episodes ever. Not to mention Once More with Feeling that, though having some flaws, was courageous and extremely well-done and a lot of fun.

It's a shame that people overpraise Buffy because it leads people to have far too high expectations when they approach it for the first time in the form of an individual episode. There's a lot of really cringeworthy episodes that are some very bad TV and people will see them and compare them to the hype and decide that Buffy and Whedon are incomprehensibly overrated. And then they'll come to places like this thread and say the things people are saying.

It was the cumulative effect of some of the individually extremely high quality episodes and just watching an entire season that finally hooked me. And, perhaps most importantly, the moment when I saw that Buffy legitimately had a subtext when Buffy's mom first discovers that Buffy is a Slayer and questions her and is very uncomfortable and hoping it will go away and the whole conversation could have been between a mother who's trying to be sympathetic but having difficulty and a teen who has just come out of the closet as gay. I hadn't read criticism of Buffy at that point and I wasn't prompted by expectation to see the subtext—it was legitimately there, and once I saw that, I began to see other things. That's when I realized the show had honest-to-God depth.

Also, I think that the quote from Whedon someone posted above about the trouble he's had in his attempts to cast not-skinny actresses demonstrates that the people criticizing Whedon for being a fake feminist on the basis of just what they superficially see in the shows simply don't know very much about what they're talking about. Joss fights a lot of feminist battles in his shows, on the screen and behind the scene, some of the latter he doesn't win. And, again, this is popular entertainment in the form of genre fiction—he has no choice but to work within the popular audiences expectations and preferences. What he can do is seem to accept them and then subvert them, which he did with Buffy. Even we diehard fans complained about Buffy's characterization in the last two seasons—but the thing is, Buffy was an independent woman who was in charge of her life who in many ways was not a sympathetic character, she wasn't the simpering, lovely, huggable girl that the audience may have preferred. She was what people call “bitchy” that probably would have been tolerated in a male character but never is (unless its comic relief and an antagonist) with a female character.

“I think no better epitaph for academia has been written in this young century, EB. I shall quote you with relish (and perhaps mustard), when next I have the opportunity.”

Please do. And recall that I went to easily the most educationally conservative college in the US, where we studied only books that have been certified by the relevant authorities as Great. Yes, I think there's a lot of silly research and a lot of silly classes offered these days. Sometimes Matt Yglesias will mention in his blog something he took as part of getting his philosophy (!) degree from Harvard and I thank the gods that I went to SJC and Harvard. Even so, popular culture is a legitimate object of academic study and knee-jerk put-downs on the basis that it is not are just ignorant.

After all, Homer and Shakespeare were the popular culture of their day, too. I'm not saying that Whedon is comparable to either of them. But the blanket condemnation of serious study of popular culture is, really, oddly (though predictably) narrow minded when you think about it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:28 PM on November 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if you really think "Buffy" or "Angel" or "Firefly" are better than, say, "Six Feet Under" or "Deadwood," you're just wrong, and that has nothing to do with genre snobbery, because I loooooove me some nerd TV.

It's almost impossible to compare network television to premium cable content. For one, Buffy produced 22 episodes a year and Six Feet Under produced 12/13. Buffy had a schedule to keep and Six Feet Under was programmed as it fit best with production.

In my mind, those two shows are equally good. Though Buffy suffered from a couple of weak seasons, while Six Feet Under merely suffered weak episodes. The major difference of the two series is genre versus straight drama - but both worked with similar themes about death and family. Both were equally successful at balancing an ensemble cast and making recurring characters as interesting as the leads.

Whether you prefer one or the other really depends on personal taste. For me, they are both incredible on different levels. Nothing on Six Feet Under was quite as daring as "The Body" or "Hush" from Buffy, but then no singular sequence of Buffy quite managed the highs of - for example - the second half of 6FU's "That's My Dog" or the final episode's closing montage.

Both series hit me on a very primal, emotional level at times. Whedon and Ball both know where the anguish button is. The writing on both series was superb, most of the time. (The acting calibre on 6FU was much higher, I grant you. But I put that down to age of the ensembles.)

I don't think all of Whedon's work is quite the calibre of the best of Buffy. Deadwood is easily better than Angel. Firefly is a half-season of greatness, but how can that be compared to anything else that actually managed to create a fully cohesive season of television?

Of course, the examples of Buffy and Six Feet Under are personally in my top three series of all time. Only topped by Twin Peaks.
posted by crossoverman at 7:52 PM on November 1, 2007


I love love LOVE firefly. I'm a HUGE Buffy fan. I can appreciate the weak episodes. But the main thing I love is how much Whedon loves his characters. He gives them great dilemmas, difficult things to triumph over. He clearly loves watching them go.
Here's the best thing I can say about those who populate Whedon's brain:
I'd like to hang out with every one of his characters.

And it's true, they do get better with repeated watchings. The entire "Glory" season of Buffy is fucking brilliant.
I don't think I'd want to be in the same room as most of the cast of Six Feet Under on most days. I'm not saying it's not a great show.
Even though I thought that SFU tanked *hard* after the first 1 1/2 seasons, I still think that it's a bit silly to compare Buffy to it or to Deadwood. By most any metric, we're talking about some of the best shows on television.
Talking about Whedon not being a feminist? Have you watched television lately?
(I know I'm rambling-- let me finish)
You know what I love about MeFi? That when I'm halfway through a thread like this, and I read something that needs addressing... I'll sit there and try and muster up the energy to respond, but I'll read the rest just to make sure...
And then, a few posts later, is a reply so well articulated, and well reasoned, and far more to the point that I'm usually able to be.

It's very satisfying.
posted by asavage at 9:46 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It's a shame that people overpraise Buffy because it leads people to have far too high expectations when they approach it for the first time in the form of an individual episode. There's a lot of really cringeworthy episodes that are some very bad TV and people will see them and compare them to the hype and decide that Buffy and Whedon are incomprehensibly overrated. And then they'll come to places like this thread and say the things people are saying."

But why would I ever bother to watch full seasons when the only thing that I've ever seen are those cringe-worthy episodes? Hell, I think I enjoyed Charmed more (though really, I only liked to watch the last incomprehensible 10 minutes before the beginning of Law and Order reruns).

"Also, I think that the quote from Whedon someone posted above about the trouble he's had in his attempts to cast not-skinny actresses demonstrates that the people criticizing Whedon for being a fake feminist on the basis of just what they superficially see in the shows simply don't know very much about what they're talking about."

I know Whedon primarily from his comic book work, where he isn't bound nearly as much by the outside forces of network casting. And his characters are still facile, still skinny, and still shallow. He captures the rhythms of teen speak well, but his comics are so goddamned predictable that it's hard for me to respect any claim of character development or innovation.

The other thing about reading his stuff, especially in trade form, is that you can see his production notes on sketches from the artist. And they're always young, hot women wearing cargo pants and random belts. Oh, and big, tough-but-good-hearted guys. They're clichéd and seem ultimately pandering.
posted by klangklangston at 8:16 AM on November 2, 2007


I know Whedon primarily from his comic book work, where he isn't bound nearly as much by the outside forces of network casting. And his characters are still facile, still skinny, and still shallow. He captures the rhythms of teen speak well, but his comics are so goddamned predictable that it's hard for me to respect any claim of character development or innovation.

Based on what I've seen of it, Whedon's comics work is, I must agree, pretty lame. (By his standards; relative to other mainstream comics, it's not too bad.) Mind you, I've yet to read any of his Buffy comics. But Fray and his Marvel work...meh. In his defense, though, his control over the appearance of the characters is somewhat limited in the former case (I'm sure he picked the artist, but it's not as though Whedon drew the book himself), and in the latter, I figure the look of the characters can't really deviate but too far from what's already been established. The character development (or lack thereof) really is on him, though there again, these are corporate comics -- not a good showcase for a creator's personal vision. From what I've read, it sounds like Whedon is about done writing work-for-hire comics, which is probably for the best.

(PS: Beginning with EB's reply above, there's some awesome if chat-filtery tangents I would love to follow up on, and would were I not in the grip of a flu that seems to be robbing me of my higher function faculties, none of which are necessary to discuss Joss Whedon's X-Men comics. Suffice it to say, though, I agree with asavage's assessment of where the thread has been going.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:37 AM on November 2, 2007


I know Whedon primarily from his comic book work, where he isn't bound nearly as much by the outside forces of network casting. And his characters are still facile, still skinny, and still shallow. He captures the rhythms of teen speak well, but his comics are so goddamned predictable that it's hard for me to respect any claim of character development or innovation.

I haven't read any of his Astonishing X-Men run, but what I have read (Fray, Serenity, Buffy and Runaways) seems to still hold up in light of this view. For one thing, as kittens for breakfast illustrated, these comics deal with pre-existing characters where the "look" had already been shaped. Changing the look of Buffy would have been pretty much unthinkable, in my opinion.

In regards to Fray, I quite enjoyed it, actually. I'll pay that he could have developed on the characters looks a bit more but that isn't entirely in his hands. Yes, he isn't bound as much as network casting but I think he'd still have trouble portraying women and men in a different way than they've been carved out for the past 50 years in comics. And of course, it's still far, far better than the sexism still rife in other comics today both in writing and art. (Duh.)

I'm not really sure what all this vitroil towards Whedon is about, though, to be frank. I don't think I could ever muster up so much energy in disliking a creator of some t.v. shows and comics. It's almost like people can't stand that others could love something that they really don't. Why is that such a problem?
posted by liquorice at 2:32 PM on November 2, 2007


It's almost like people can't stand that others could love something that they really don't. Why is that such a problem?

It's a form of adolescent posturing--by dissing something that's popular, you try to demonstrate that you're above it and thus part of a more select group.

One would hope most people would outgrow that kind of thing by adulthood, but that's not always the case.
posted by dixie flatline at 3:29 PM on November 2, 2007


Adolescent posturing is so last week!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:57 PM on November 2, 2007


“It's a form of adolescent posturing--by dissing something that's popular, you try to demonstrate that you're above it and thus part of a more select group.

One would hope most people would outgrow that kind of thing by adulthood, but that's not always the case.”


The funny, and sad, thing about the Internet is that it reveals how much adolescent behavior is, contrary to belief, retained into adulthood. People here say things they don't really believe in order to “win” arguments. People here try to make people they're arguing with feel personally insecure. People here cynically think other people are always posturing so that they appear smart or get other people to like them or get laid or make people respect them. People here form cliques that band together and viciously attack outsiders that intrude and spend a lot of time complaining about how, generally, all out-group people are stupid and annoying. Teens are casually homophobic, so are people on the Internet. Teens are casually sexist, so are people on the Internet.

Adolescence is when humans act quite a bit like packs of highly sexually aggressive, violently aggressive, and competitive chimpanzees who masturbate obsessively, throw feces when they're angry, and form small mobs which gang up on unaffiliated individuals and tear them to pieces. This is also how people behave on the Internet.

Why? I don't know. It'd be nice if they didn't.

I think it's because people still believe that social interactions on the Internet aren't “real”. It's like a fantasy, or, more accurately and appropriately, a computer game. Just like the majority of computer games involves physical violence that almost none of us commit in real-life but nevertheless enjoy doing it in simulations, we do all these destructive things on the Internet because it seems like we can do so without it actually hurting anyone else.

The sad part is that it does hurt other people because it's not an unreal social environment. It's attenuated, but it's still real.

As I wrote at more length in a MeTa thread in October, that this is a transitional phase we're in and that it will soon come to an end. I think that as we invest ourselves more and more in the Internet, the more obvious it will be to us that this is an environment in which we socially interact just like others. It's as real as anywhere else. As we realize this, social etiquette and other rules of behavior, as well as a sense of personal responsibility will begin go to much more strongly regulate people's behavior such that it much more closely resembles off-line social interaction. I think that the subject of my argument about this in the MeTa thread was privacy—I think that the social norms concerning privacy that apply in the offline world will come to apply in the online world. We'll learn that just because it's technically possible to learn something about someone—an offline world example is reading your roommate's mail because it's sitting there opened and on the kitchen table—it's just not something people normally do. It's a serious faux pas and an invasion of privacy to read that letter, and the same will come to be said of things that are technically available to everyone in the world to read on the Internet, but that it's implicitly understood that only certain people are allowed to read it.

Some people think this is naive of me, that if people can get away with finding out anything they want about someone on the Internet, they will. But I think that it's interesting that in the offline world we have enormous amounts of practical opportunities to invade other people's privacy without getting caught and yet we mostly don't do so. Right now, a few keystrokes seem like an irresistably easy thing to do, but I think picking up that letter from the table and reading it when your roommate isn't home is also “irresistably” easy. Yet we resist the temptation.

This applies to all the bad behavior we see on the Internet. It's “irresistably” easy to insult someone viciously, so we do. But given that there's laws against physical violence, there's really not much stopping us from viciously insulting people in the offline world, either. It's difficult facing their anger in person, but I think that it will become nearly as difficult to face people's anger online as we come to believe that online social interactions are just as real as offline social interactions are. And we're going to be forced to believe this because we're going to be spending a great deal of our social and interpersonal lives online.

So, in a way, people act like teenagers on the Internet for sort of the same reasons that teenagers act like they do in real life. Teens are solipsists. While they are very sure about their own existence and the importance of their own feelings, they have difficulty understanding that other people are real. So it's easy to treat other people like they are cardboard cutout to be manipulated for one's own personal satisfaction. Right now, people on the Internet see other people on the Internet as unreal, cardboard cutouts that they can “play” with. We're literally teenagers on the Internet because our social development is in its adolescent phase on the Internet. We learn to see other people as real in the offline world from experience. The Internet is so young, we still haven't collectively acquired enough experience to fully understand this about the Internet.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:22 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


asavage : I'd like to hang out with every one of his characters.

That is a fantastic way of describing it. I was selling a friend on watching the Firefly DVDs a while back, and they were about halfway through and commented "I really don't like Jayne though, he doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the crew well."

I then explained that once you've watched the series a couple of times, you will one day decide to watch it with Jane as the hero character, and you will love the show all the more for it being possible.

And that's just it, Jayne is completely unlikeable in many scenes, and in many others, he's completely competent and exactly the man for the job. He's the guy you could get a beer with, even though you don't much like him all the time.

Not many storytellers can craft a character like that.
posted by quin at 4:27 PM on November 2, 2007


"I'm not really sure what all this vitroil towards Whedon is about, though, to be frank. I don't think I could ever muster up so much energy in disliking a creator of some t.v. shows and comics. It's almost like people can't stand that others could love something that they really don't. Why is that such a problem?"

As the last, lone hater, I guess it falls to me to respond to this and the treatise by EB.

First off, there's not really a lot of vitriol here towards Whedon. Saying that he's over-rated isn't vitriol, and it's that missing sense of proportion that increases the intensity of the rhetoric, at least in me. I think that the work of his that I've seen is lame, and I don't understand (emotionally) the love for it. That's not vitriol, that's honesty.

Second off, it doesn't take any more energy to hate something than to love it. And it takes only slightly more energy (joules, emotional, whatever) to dislike or hate something than it does to ignore it.

Third, I do really hate the line of reasoning that if someone dislikes something popular it must be because of the popularity and not the simple fact that they dislike it. That might be true every now and then, but really, is it likely here? Or is this more a disingenuous complaint because something you like is being criticized? As much as it may be fair to say that the detractors don't always engage the works on their merits, it's even more fair to say that the defenders of works often don't engage the criticisms on the merits of their criticisms.

"It's a form of adolescent posturing--by dissing something that's popular, you try to demonstrate that you're above it and thus part of a more select group.

One would hope most people would outgrow that kind of thing by adulthood, but that's not always the case."

And again, I have to roll my eyes. This is the same as flatly declaring that kids only bully because they're really unhappy at home. In the absence of actual evidence regarding the emotional state of the detractors, you have to ask "Is this the most likely case?" And the answer is no, it's more likely that you're saying that to make you feel better—comparing something to adolescent posturing is a powerful rhetorical technique, especially amongst the nerdy here on teh intarwebs.

I'm going to elide most of the rest of your comment, EB, and focus on this: "I think it's because people still believe that social interactions on the Internet aren't “real."

I don't believe that's true at all, especially not here. The reality isn't the issue, except for a few folks like solid-one-love. The issue is how much any of us should have our behavior constrained by the notion of social interaction. When you, say, declare something the stupidest Metatalk ever, or what have you, are you doing that because you don't feel that the person you're dealing with is real, or are you doing that because you don't believe that their feelings should be your priority at that moment? A rejoiner or an insult, even online, isn't per se motivated primarily by different social structure.

Further, the very assertion of sensitivity can be read (and often enough rightly) as a rhetorical dodge. You'll no doubt recoil, as you TRULY and SINCERELY feel the way you do, and purport no armor here, but it's a way of painting those who disagree as louts and bullies, and imposing an unnecessarily reticent mien upon the discussion.

And of course, this is not a blanket statement on rudeness and civility, or on internet hating—it's too broad, it's too nuanced, it's too context-laden. But I feel that you were attempting to make a blanket statement. If you weren't, we share in the misconception; I misconstrued and you failed to communicate clearly.

I also felt like you were making the blanket statement from the position of one aggrieved by these uncouth folks stinking up your internet. I could almost imagine you in spats, penning a lyric defense of the milquetoast.

But your feelings are ultimately your responsibility, and I'm annoyed (my responsibility) by the attempts to shift the onus of your pathos to me. This isn't some horrid extension of adolescence, nor another lamentable moment of man's inhumanity to man, this is two clashing sets of aesthetic identities, and attempting to build it up into a thesis about who perceives what as real is over-stretching into the bathetic.

I generally respect you, but that doesn't mean that I don't believe you to be a mealy-mouthed Casper every now and then, and while I would hope that you could respect me (though your on-point statements have gone explicitly the other way), that doesn't mean I'm not an abrasive prick every now and then.

This isn't the internet, this is people—I am actually like this, and I've taken you at your word that you are as you are here. Attempting to ground that in cut-rate speculation about youth or background is both futile and distracting.

I don't mind arguing over this because I know that by reading what you write, I'll have to think about what I believe and formulate an answer (or not. Frankly, I've been trying to let things drop more often, but I'll at least think about it).
posted by klangklangston at 5:35 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


“Third, I do really hate the line of reasoning that if someone dislikes something popular it must be because of the popularity and not the simple fact that they dislike it. That might be true every now and then, but really, is it likely here?”

Interesting that you would argue this when it's the same sort of reaction/reasoning that you are defending in that other thread. The assumption that people only like something because it's popular and the related assumption that people only dislike unpopular things because they are popular is a very adolescent sort of thinking, pretty much exactly like what we are arguing about in that other thread.

You'll notice that I've not accused anyone of disliking Buffy or Whedon simply because they are popular.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:50 PM on November 2, 2007


Well, in general answer to your comment, my long comment on how people behave on the Internet was a direct response to the comment I quoted and not a response or critique in general of the people here in this thread who don't like Joss Whedon. You should also note that I started it by saying that it's a shame that some people—not all people or most people—don't stop behaving like adolescents. I wasn't making a claim, implicit or explicit, that most people do and that the people here in this thread are. I think that generally you misunderstood my comment by taking it as being directed at you personally, or as part of the naysayers here, when it wasn't. I think the fault is mine because it's only natural that you would think that, being that my comment was here in this thread. So, I apologize.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:56 PM on November 2, 2007


"Interesting that you would argue this when it's the same sort of reaction/reasoning that you are defending in that other thread. The assumption that people only like something because it's popular and the related assumption that people only dislike unpopular things because they are popular is a very adolescent sort of thinking, pretty much exactly like what we are arguing about in that other thread."

Well, yeah, which is why I was trying to get at the distinction between "possible" and "likely," both here and in the other thread. Based on my experience, I think it likely that people who disavow affirmative action are either speaking from self-interest or racism, though I don't argue that it's possible that they're idealists (or given to over-simplification, if I'm being uncharitable). Given my set of data, I find it likely that men enthusing on the internet about cunnilingus are generally lechers, though I don't argue that it's entirely possible that they just like the taste or what have you.

"I think the fault is mine because it's only natural that you would think that, being that my comment was here in this thread. So, I apologize."

Well, and this is one of those reasons why I tend to respect you even when I disagree with you.

I apologize for misreading.

(Though I'd argue that the continuing adolescence seems to have less to do with the internet and more to do with the fact that most people don't have a crucible moment in their lives that forces them to forgo adolescent behavior anymore. )

(As a separate parenthetical, I wonder how much of our relative feelings about sensitivity are related to family dynamics—though this feels weird to say, you being undoubtedly older than I am, your position reminds me of my little brother's.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:26 PM on November 2, 2007


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