After 15 years Whedonesque Shuts Down. Site was Inspired by MeFi.
August 21, 2017 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, Joss Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole accused him in a scathing editorial (published in The Wrap) of having multiple affairs with actresses, co-workers, fans and friends and of being a “hypocrite preaching feminist ideals.” Today, in apparent response, Whedonesque has been shut down by its founders/admins. Whedonesque turned 15 on July 29. The site was inspired by MeFi, and its design was based on an early version of Metafilter, with mySQL/Perl code reportedly tweaked by Mefi's Own prolific.

Founder Caroline van Oosten de Boer on Twitter: "In the year @mathowie sells @metafilter we end up shutting down. If you didn’t know, we were inspired by mefi."

In the site farewell, Simon notes:
The admins would like to thank the posters at this site. You made this site and we wouldn't have lasted as long as we could without you. So thank you. And if you want to mark our passing, please find a charity or organisation that deals with the treatment of Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) and leave a donation.
posted by zarq (324 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
The final post appears to still be accepting comments, if anyone wants to log in and say farewell. The Whedonesque Twitter account will remain active.
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


YAS! Thank you. And screw you, Joss-entitled-to-everything-wheaton. I always thought he was overrated.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

You know, absolutely would have pegged him as over-woke dude who cheats a lot, but that aspect is particularly shitty.
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2017 [22 favorites]


Joss-entitled-to-everything-wheaton

There was once a time when I would gently correct people who misspelled the man's name on the Internet. That time is no longer.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:16 AM on August 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


In the outer fringes of London, Joss Stone draws a red line through a name written in a notebook, closes it, and smiles grimly. "There can be only one," she says to herself.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:19 AM on August 21, 2017 [99 favorites]


He definitely seemed to have a "type" of woman he was interested in, Amy Acker, Summer Glau that made me wonder if he was a creeper. His "feminism" always seemed exaggerated.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2017 [23 favorites]


Better suited to Fox than I realized, then.
posted by jamjam at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


Not just a type of woman, but specific things repeated so often that I am pretty positive I can name the dominant threads in his private porn collection. I am eager for a day that we stop throwing dump trucks of cookies at dudes for being seen as feminists.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2017 [66 favorites]


Does this mean I can't like Buffy and Angel anymore ?
posted by Pendragon at 11:27 AM on August 21, 2017 [7 favorites]


There was once a time when I would gently correct people who misspelled the man's name on the Internet. That time is no longer.

But what if that mistake results in Wil Wheaton being mistakenly tarred by that brush?
posted by Four Ds at 11:29 AM on August 21, 2017 [34 favorites]


It sounds to me like they'd been thinking about sunsetting the site for some time, which...makes more sense. I can certainly see why, if you were already losing interest, you wouldn't want to have to try to mod the site today.

My impulse is to point out that cheating is not really an act that defines you as feminist or not feminist, merely as a (likely) jerkwad, but the language she quotes suggests that some of the cheating may have occurred in a way that would be exploitative/abusive, so...I'm glad I took a decision some time ago not to invest in creators as personal heroes.
posted by praemunire at 11:31 AM on August 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


Oh I totally misspelled it on purpose. (i wish)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am eager for a day that we stop throwing dump trucks of cookies at dudes for being seen as feminists.

LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit
posted by Fizz at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2017 [110 favorites]


Wil's a nice guy who has been the recipient of enough terribleness from mefites for one lifetime.
posted by zarq at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2017 [51 favorites]


Ever since I found out the extent to which Bertolt Brecht used women in his life as uncredited collaborators, I find myself profoundly suspicious of the success of men in general. Whedon seems to have an awful lot of women in his career, including, on Buffy, producer Gail Berman, writers Jane Espenson, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, and Marti Noxon, and just a massive number of women working on Firefly.

I guess I would have taken him more seriously as a feminist had their been a clearer history of him highlighting the importance of women he collaborated with, or evidence of him using his position to promote their work, rather than, say, firing Charisma Carpenter when she got pregnant.

Looking at his career, there are absolutely no projects originated by women that he produced or executive produced. He produced Parenthood for television which only had women direct four of 12 episodes.

This is often the biggest indicator for me of whether a man's feminism is talk or not. If he actually makes sure women get opportunities on his projects and public credit for the work they do. He does not have much of a history of doing this, except when it came to hiring actresses, and it seems that he saw them as potential sexual partners, which doesn't strike me as an especially feminist way to go about casting people.
posted by maxsparber at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2017 [117 favorites]


Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

You know, absolutely would have pegged him as over-woke dude who cheats a lot, but that aspect is particularly shitty.


Yeah having read it...he gaslighted his wife for fifteen years. That's abuse. That will damage a person.

What a piece of shit.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2017 [49 favorites]


Does this mean I can't like Buffy and Angel anymore ?

I dunno. Maybe think twice about making it the sole basis of your philosophy especially as regards gender relations?
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2017 [27 favorites]


Lots of people have known for years that Whedon is all talk (and even that, it took him a long time to even say he was a feminist and then when he finally did people fell at his feet about it. ick) and many of those - myself included - are still fans or feel nostalgically about some of his work. I will say my most recent rewatch of Buffy didn't make it very far because I am aware of a lot more than I was last time I tried it, and those things that were once "oh, that's maybe not the best..." have become "holy fuck, dude! what is wrong with you??". YMMV
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:38 AM on August 21, 2017 [21 favorites]


I guess I would have taken him more seriously as a feminist had their been a clearer history of him highlighting the importance of women he collaborated with, or evidence of him using his position to promote their work, rather than, say, firing Charisma Carpenter when she got pregnant.

And it's interesting going back and seeing what each says/does not say about the end of that working relationship.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:40 AM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Does this mean I can't like Buffy and Angel anymore ?

No, but definitely be skeptical of valorizing its creators and its own role in the positioning of women in entertainment. I was not happy with some of the storytelling decisions in the last few seasons of either show, and some of that overlaps with feminist concerns.

I have been a member of an online community that originally came together around Buffy for about 19 years, and yet even there we have grown weary and skeptical about Joss.

It is disappointing that talented people can be assholes, but I suppose should not be a surprise.

I hope Kai can find some peace going forward, and is not subject to too much harassment for speaking out. (I am not optimistic.)
posted by suelac at 11:40 AM on August 21, 2017 [21 favorites]


I never liked Firefly ever
posted by tzikeh at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2017 [34 favorites]


I love firefly (while recognizing its flaws) but I am SO GLAD it ended after one season. Whenever Whedon talks about the show or the characters or where he saw them going it's obvious that it was going to get a lot worse from just about every angle - especially his plans for the sex worker with a heart of gold trope.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:44 AM on August 21, 2017 [31 favorites]


Does this mean I can't like Buffy and Angel anymore ?

I dunno. Maybe think twice about making it the sole basis of your philosophy especially as regards gender relations?

I would think that the painfully unrealistic beauty standards displayed by the cast of main characters of both of those shows would have been enough to think more than twice about it, nevermind the author being a piece of shit.

I never really understood how shows with those kind of casts could ever be taken seriously as "feminist."

I never liked Firefly ever

You are not alone.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


And then there's his less-then-well-received Wonder Woman script.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2017 [20 favorites]


Office libertarian dude once barraged a coworker of Chinese ancestory with a long explanation of how swearing works in Firefly so there's that.

Dollhouse might be even less defensible now.
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2017 [17 favorites]


I never really understood how shows with those kind of casts could ever be taken seriously as "feminist."

Looksism is certainly an aspect of sexism but I'm not sure about automatically saying that a show with an attractive cast cannot possibly be feminist.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2017 [33 favorites]


Then later, after he confessed everything, he told me, “I let myself love you. I stopped worrying about the contradiction. As a guilty man I knew the only way to hide was to act as though I were righteous. And as a husband, I wanted to be with you like we had been. I lived two lives ... In many ways I was the HEIGHT of normal, in this culture. We’re taught to be providers and companions and at the same time, to conquer and acquire — specifically sexually — and I was pulling off both!”

EW EW EW EW EW GROSS EW
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:49 AM on August 21, 2017 [60 favorites]


Think about the level of contempt you have to have for women in general to justify fifteen years of emotional abuse and sexual exploitation of actresses whom you have significant power over. The quotes alone are gross, but when you realize that he did this over fifteen fucking years...
posted by schadenfrau at 11:49 AM on August 21, 2017 [29 favorites]


Can't he be a feminist AND a hypocritical asshole? I mean you can have beliefs and ideals and not live up to them.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:50 AM on August 21, 2017 [37 favorites]


Dollhouse might be even less defensible now.

Oh. Oh, god. The actresses are sex toys metaphor was ...not a metaphor.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2017 [46 favorites]


I've heard plenty of nasty stuff about Whedon over the years, including rumors that he wrote certain plots to punish actresses who'd displeased him. I've always gotten the creeper vibe from him, specifically that women like Acker and Glau are his sexual ideals and that a large portion of his creative output was authorial wish fulfillment. I was able to put that aside for a long time, but I could no longer ignore that the "feminist" women in his shows were actually just really good at things men are typically associated with. Fighting, being a mechanic, being a nerdy intellectual, etc. Once I came to terms with that, I stopped viewing him or his work as feminist.
posted by xyzzy at 11:52 AM on August 21, 2017 [23 favorites]


I mean you can have beliefs and ideals and not live up to them.

This is how I defend myself when I'm grilling a steak and someone says "Hey, I thought you were vegan"
posted by nickmark at 11:52 AM on August 21, 2017 [61 favorites]


Note: In real life I have never claimed to be vegan
posted by nickmark at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


I mean you can have beliefs and ideals and not live up to them

And how would differentiate that from someone who makes a declaration of beliefs for the cookies? Like why on earth would you give him the benefit of the doubt?

At some point feminist is as feminist does. Fifteen fucking years of abusing and exploiting women does not a feminist make.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2017 [49 favorites]


Dollhouse might be even less defensible now

Argh, I'd managed to forget about that show. I'm still peeved, because at the time it seemed like Dollhouse got renewed for a second season at the price of cancelling The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was far superior in almost every way. (Although it didn't have Enver Gjokaj.)

My complaint about Dollhouse at the time was that you don't critique exploitation by engaging in exploitation. (Also that nearly every other cast member was better than Eliza Dushku, who doesn't have the range to carry that part.)

But knowing now what we didn't then, Dollhouse definitely looks even worse in hindsight. Bleah.
posted by suelac at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2017 [19 favorites]


At some point feminist is as feminist does. Fifteen fucking years of abusing and exploiting women does not a feminist make

I don't think that's what he was arguing. I think it's more the idea that Whedon still considers himself a feminist, enough to attempt to put so-called "feminist" ideas into his works (as xyzzy astutely pointed out, using lazy writing and confusing the idea of a "strong woman" with being physically strong or capable, rather than having emotional resilience), and that, as such, he doesn't live up to his own professed ideals, which truly might be his ideals, but are apparently over-ridden by his sexual desires, especially when he had access to the young and pretty.

I don't think anyone else is gonna confuse this guy for a feminist, for sure.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:58 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


Can't he be a feminist AND a hypocritical asshole? I mean you can have beliefs and ideals and not live up to them.

Possibly. Was he even a good feminist?
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:58 AM on August 21, 2017


Joss-entitled-to-everything-wheaton

There was once a time when I would gently correct people who misspelled the man's name on the Internet. That time is no longer.


So far as I know Wil Wheaton doesn't deserve to have his name confused, though.
posted by Gelatin at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


In many ways I was the HEIGHT of normal, in this culture. We’re taught to be providers and companions and at the same time, to conquer and acquire — specifically sexually

The fact that he blames the patriarchy for the fact that he was a serial cheater reminds me of the scene in "The the Loop" where the callow assistant tries to claim he cheated in the hopes that somehow it might stop an impending war.

He is laughed at.
posted by maxsparber at 12:00 PM on August 21, 2017 [27 favorites]


I mean you can have beliefs and ideals and not live up to them

We are defined not by our beliefs, but by our actions. Nobody knows what is truly going on inside your head, but everyone can see what you do in the world, and what the effects are. A feminist is someone who works toward a world where men and women are equal.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:01 PM on August 21, 2017 [76 favorites]


Or in other words, a hypocritical feminist is not a feminist.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:01 PM on August 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


I guess I would have taken him more seriously as a feminist had their been a clearer history of him highlighting the importance of women he collaborated with, or evidence of him using his position to promote their work, rather than, say, firing Charisma Carpenter when she got pregnant.

Yeah. Hearing about this was huge for me in re-evaluating my personal stance about him as a creator and a person. That is just a low-ass thing to do. Real scumbag stuff. In light of that, I just feel wearily unsurprised to learn that he was abusing his actresses in other ways as well.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:05 PM on August 21, 2017 [10 favorites]


Especially since being hypocritical about feminism means you're not treating women and men as equals. I'm a hypocrite about Apple products because I think Apple stinks as a company and yet I own an iPad that I constantly use. But I'm not actively hurting anyone with my hypocrisy (more than I would be if I'd bought a different brand of tablet, anyway).
posted by Autumnheart at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


I joined Whedonesque five years earlier than Metafilter. I've traveled to Hollywood premieres, met life long friends, met my wife because of Firefly. But for many years now, as I've grown in understanding of feminism and anti-racism and intersectionality, his star has been losing its luster in my mind. And now so many things, so many rumors and stories from back in the day make more sense, solidify into a damning damning portrait.

Ugh.
posted by kmz at 12:08 PM on August 21, 2017 [20 favorites]


I wish I could say I was surprised by this. I wish.

His feminism always had a performative feel to it. I am sad to be right. I am also sad that this might retroactively spoil work I had previously enjoyed (while always knowing it was highly problematic).

I hope Kai Cole manages to heal from the years of abuse and manipulation. I also hope she isn't too much further scarred by the vitriolic attention her bravey will undoubtedly bring her way.
posted by Faintdreams at 12:10 PM on August 21, 2017 [20 favorites]


I always wondered why, when so many actors who've appeared in one of Whedon's works showed up in lots of them (and would often talk about how tight that whole crowd is,) Sarah Michelle Gellar appears to have moved to New York and renounced that whole social scene.

Now I'm not sure I want to know.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:10 PM on August 21, 2017 [39 favorites]




Does this mean I can't like Buffy and Angel anymore ?

Sarah Michelle Gellar. Alyson Hannigan. Charisma Carpenter. Michelle Trachtenberg. Amber Benson. Emma Caulfield. Kristine Sutherland. Eliza Dushku. Julie Benz. Juliet Landau. Clare Kramer. Amy Acker. Sharon Ferguson. Bianca Lawson. Robia LaMorte. Mercedes McNabb. Stephanie Romanov. Elisabeth Rohm. Sophia Crawford. Marti Noxon. Jane Espensen. Tracey Forbes. Elizabeth Craft. Sarah Fain. Rebecca Rand Kirshner. Ellen Pressman. Ashley Gable.

Just some of the women (and apologies for any omissions) who brought you Buffy and Angel, who contributed just as much or more to your love of these shows than Joss ever did. He may be trash, but you don't have to trash their work along with him. Hat tip to one of my fave twitter sociologists for this comment.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:14 PM on August 21, 2017 [112 favorites]


> “When I was running ‘Buffy,’ I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.”

"So, I asked myself...what would Zeus do?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2017 [57 favorites]


We are defined not by our beliefs, but by our actions. Nobody knows what is truly going on inside your head, but everyone can see what you do in the world, and what the effects are. A feminist is someone who works toward a world where men and women are equal.

That's a pretty profound observation there.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2017 [10 favorites]


Joss Whedon goes on about why he hates the word feminist

God, that speech was such a fucking mess and I hated it even back then. Just terrible, and made no sense.
posted by kmz at 12:31 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


I don't feel so bad about hating Firefly anymore. YAY!
Or at least the episode and a half that I made it through.

Is it too late to take Batgirl away from him? Just asking for a friend.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:32 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


>> “When I was running ‘Buffy,’ I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.”

>"So, I asked myself...what would Zeus do?"


Whistle a jaunty tune and change the subject often?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:33 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


"So, I asked myself...what would Zeus do?"

Can you turn yourself into a swan? Than get Zeus's name out of your mouth.
posted by drezdn at 12:37 PM on August 21, 2017 [15 favorites]


This morning I checked my Whedonesque feed and saw that someone had posted the article, then when I clicked on the link was gone and the site looked like usual. This is a surprise now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:38 PM on August 21, 2017


I didn't code the site, I can't code for toffee. No, it was Mefi's and W'esque's own milov who did it. The code has not changed (much) since we built it. I think it's a miracle the site's still running without too many problems.

It was high time we shut down, my heart hadn't been in it for a long time. I wish I'd had the guts to do it sooner, it's sad that this had to be the last straw.

I still love Buffy and Angel. I liked Firefly. Never was keen on Joss.
posted by prolific at 12:40 PM on August 21, 2017 [106 favorites]


!!!! Thank you for explaining, prolific.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


As for hating Buffy and Angel and Firefly (I love them all) remember that these shows aren't the work of one person, it's more like hundreds of people made them.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2017 [15 favorites]


I lurk here every day. The catch all threads are keeping me sane. Or making me crazy, I'm not quite sure.
posted by prolific at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2017 [34 favorites]


Thank you for Whedonesque, prolific & milov.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


I never liked Firefly ever
posted by tzikeh


I favorited that comment, because although I enjoyed Firefly, I found Buffy and Angel intolerable. I won't go into the details, but the overwhelming sense of tween snark that seemed to permeate the shows was a big factor.

(Tween snark is everywhere nowadays, but at the time, it was new enough that I was able to identify it as distinct, and know that I didn't enjoy it. That and the special, neurotic snowflakiness of each and every character in the show.)

So yes, I can come out of the shadows and declare my disregard for some of Whedon's work with impunity!

(But seriously, I did enjoy Firefly. Ron Harris, Alan Tudyk and Gina Torres were particular favorites on the show. Never much cared for Fillion's portrayal, though I appreciate, again, that this makes me a heretic among Firefly aficionados.)
posted by darkstar at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


shocked i am shocked
posted by entropicamericana at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think it's a miracle the site's still running without too many problems.

*glances at ColdFusion code*

It is the way of the Mefiverse.
posted by cortex at 12:49 PM on August 21, 2017 [47 favorites]


As for the hypocrisy and perhaps one motivation as to why Kai Cole made her statement this year, in May 2017, Mr. Whedon made a short film about the importance of Planned Parenthood. Imagine being Ms. Cole seeing him get praise and cookies for defending women's sexual and reproductive choice, when she know that he had purposely denied her, presumably the most important woman in his life, that choice for the duration of their marriage.

To tell your partner that you are monogamous with them when you are not is to deny them an incredible amount of sexual and life agency. Whedon prioritized his objectification of women, and his need to use their bodies for his ends, over the agency of his life partner. It's vile.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:50 PM on August 21, 2017 [94 favorites]


I'm a big fan of Buffy and Firefly in particular, and I'm sorry to hear the extent of Mr. Whedon's personal failings. I'm not going to criticize his ex-wife for outing him as a gaslighting hypocrite, but I really don't love that she included all those direct quotations from their personal correspondence. It just seems unnecessarily indecorous. I would believe her if she just described skeezy things that he said, I don't want to read his excuses to her any more than I want to watch a celebrity's leaked sex tape.
posted by desuetude at 12:56 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Well at least I can go back to being unreservedly grumpy about the Justice League movie.
posted by straight at 12:56 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


We should all just watch a lot of Cowboy Bebop.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on August 21, 2017 [30 favorites]


I loved Buffy, thought Angel was boring ("What if instead we had this dude saving women a lot, that would be different right?"), was indifferent to Firefly, enjoyed some of the possibilities of Dollhouse (but felt Eliza Dushku didn't have the range), had a weird love for Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog, and got so bored with all the Marvel stuff.

Because, look, for its failures, Buffy was pretty impressive and feminist for the time it aired. The problem is that JW took that as achievement unlocked and never progressed in the past 20 years.
posted by jeather at 1:01 PM on August 21, 2017 [35 favorites]


Sadly the explanation for the casting of Dushku is all too obvious.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


“When I was running ‘Buffy,’ I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.”

Ah yes, the sad helpless man held captive by his own wenis, truly an archetype for the ages
posted by Existential Dread at 1:03 PM on August 21, 2017 [92 favorites]


"Ron Harris, "

That would be Ron Glass, who played Detective Harris on Barney Miller.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:05 PM on August 21, 2017 [21 favorites]


"So, I asked myself...what would Zeus do?"

Why would you aspire to be a rapist on a cosmic scale

I mean come the fuck on you piece of shit
posted by schadenfrau at 1:06 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


Oh whoops. Now I get the joke.

RETRACT SNARK
posted by schadenfrau at 1:07 PM on August 21, 2017 [10 favorites]


I find myself profoundly suspicious of the success of men in general


Fixed.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:10 PM on August 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


Fair.
posted by maxsparber at 1:11 PM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


...I really don't love that she included all those direct quotations from their personal correspondence. It just seems unnecessarily indecorous. I would believe her if she just described skeezy things that he said, I don't want to read his excuses to her any more than I want to watch a celebrity's leaked sex tape.

Considering the society and culture we live in, where any woman making accusations is thought to be a liar (and worse) and any man's countering argument is taken to be gospel, I'm personally okay with there being as many details as possible. It might keep the mansplaining apologists at bay.
posted by zarq at 1:22 PM on August 21, 2017 [125 favorites]


Even though I have been a fan of BtVS, Angel, and Firefly to different extents at different times, people have been saying for YEARS that Whedon pours an uncomfortable amount of his own psychosexual hangups into his narratives, and it was super gross even when he was apparently happily married. The fact that he was using mainstream television shows and movies as a confessional space about his ongoing betrayal of his wife makes it MUCH worse.

I mean, the Warren arc, UGH. It reminds me of that AV Club interview with the actor who played him:
AVC: Who was the best Big Bad?
AB: Is Warren considered a Big Bad?

AVC: Yeah.
AB: Then I’ll say Warren because, to me, that’s the most frightening. A demon that’s evil for the sake of being evil because he was made that way is frightening, because you know it’s not going to stop. But the fact that it could just be that nerd you’ve been ignoring for the last couple years or could be that girl or guy you turned down to go to the prom and you think everything’s fine but it’s not, and how unchecked his feelings are and how unchecked he is as a person. To me, that’s frightening. Of all these demons, some of the most awful things that were ever done on that show where the least humanity [was] shown was from a human being, was from someone that’s arguably one of us. I like that a lot. I find that’s the most frightening, and I think it’s very prophetic when you look at Gamergate, and you look at Trump and all this stuff and how necessary it is to not be tolerant and to stop it when you see it, and the difference between locker-room talk and consent, which still since then has not been clarified clearly.

AVC: What do you wish your character had done that you didn’t get to do?
AB: Learn something. He does things that are unforgivable, but if you could learn something from it and share it, then at least there’s progress, or at least maybe somebody watching or even one of the gang could learn something about that. Or he could have, even before he gets his just deserts. With every instance, he really was clearly given these moments to make the right decision to do the right thing or to stop. Warren and Andrew and Jonathan were good friends, and they should have been able to keep each other in check. He could have relied on the friendship more and listened to them. He might have learned something, and he’s clearly powerful and capable of power, and that power could have used it for good instead of just the worst humanity you have to offer.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:24 PM on August 21, 2017 [35 favorites]


I learned how to have women friends from Buffy and the ladies I met through the show. I will go to my grave proud of that fact. Doesn't change the fact that Joss has always been less than perfect as a feminist and especially given the rumors about how things went down with Charisma Carpenter, I'm unsurprised by this. Disappointed and jaded, but not surprised.

I hope Kai can find peace and kindness.
posted by teleri025 at 1:24 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


"his mother raised him as a feminist, so he just liked women better"

oh no
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:31 PM on August 21, 2017 [38 favorites]


I am eager for a day that we stop throwing dump trucks of cookies at dudes for being seen as feminists.

or in general, just stop making the assumption that someone's politics are a clear reflection of their character
posted by philip-random at 1:37 PM on August 21, 2017 [19 favorites]


I am eager for a day that we stop throwing dump trucks of cookies at dudes for being seen as feminists.

LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit


Yeah, no.

OTOH, it sucks being reminded why we can't have nice things on my frigging birthday...
posted by Samizdata at 1:39 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


That would be Ron Glass, who played Detective Harris on Barney Miller.

D'oh - of course! Thanks for the correction. I enjoyed Glass in Barney Miller, too!
posted by darkstar at 1:42 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


My own In Retrospect I Feel Pretty Justified In This looking-back in new light is the relatively common choir of being deeply skeeved out by the whole Angel-Buffy "romance" angle. Dude is a century old and horning after a high schooler! I insisted back in the day that a better writer would have built to the reveal that the whole "no actually I'm a noble struggle because of my noble cursed soul fighting the demon but you give me something to fight for!" shit was just that: manipulative bullshit, and Angel's whole deal would have been that he got off on fucking with Slayers' heads on account of adolescents were fun and easy to fuck with, if you happen to be a vampire sadist. Metaphorical or otherwise.

Well, he was even less than a better writer than I'd presumed!
posted by Drastic at 1:45 PM on August 21, 2017 [13 favorites]


Dollhouse might be even less defensible now.

Yeah, although I watched it, I had a creepy little shudder at the base of my spine the whole time.

Oh whoops. Now I get the joke.

RETRACT SNARK


Too late. Once shots are fired, they cannot be unfired.
posted by Samizdata at 1:47 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hell if I know how to feel about this. I would have figured him as uh, "feminish" more than anything, i.e. not perfect and at times weird, but this is gross. I guess I'm just trying to figure out if I should be obligated to drop all of his works that I did like, a la Cosby, or if just cheating on his wife a bunch of times is just the usual level of Hollywood skanky man-ness.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2017


or in general, just stop making the assumption that someone's politics are a clear reflection of their character

I'm speaking of the problem of so called feminist men. AllJerksMatter or whatever, but this is a specific issue. It isn't a new thing - men who claim feminism or allow themselves to be rewarded for being seen as feminists and do so seemingly just to find a group of women to exploit and enriching themselves is a thing that needs to be addressed and not folded up in a general point about virtue signaling.

A part of this that doesn't get talked about as much as it should is the issue that many (most?) feminist women are harassed, preyed upon, taken advantage of, assaulted and/or abused by men who claim to be feminists. Social circles are built on shared values and so when feminist women discuss the ways men have treated them, a lot of the times they're discussing men who are or were seen as feminists. Good male feminists really understanding what that means would do a lot to help, I think.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2017 [51 favorites]


Dude is a century old and horning after a high schooler!

This trope's so ridiculous, and I really wish *someone* would subvert it. Whether Angel or Edward, or whatever. The ancient, immortal vampire finds a soulmate *only now*? And she happens to be 18 or younger?

You're right. A better writer would have the girl be justifiably skeeved. Maybe deftly poke fun at how he's a 300-year-old "broken stair" in the vampire community.
posted by explosion at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2017 [27 favorites]


Don't the laws of irony make this kind of thing inevitable?
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:57 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


This trope's so ridiculous, and I really wish *someone* would subvert it.

Brief derail: Karen Joy Fowler's "Younger Women" is a good short story with this theme.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:59 PM on August 21, 2017 [15 favorites]


I can't remember where on Mefi we were talking about this Grumpybear, but this feels similar to the Milkshake Duck phenomenon. Though in this case doesn't count as an excellent example of it because of the long burn before it became widely known.
posted by LegallyBread at 2:00 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was never a big fan of Buffy, and never watched it regularly, so I didn't pick up on a lot of the problems that people talked about. I loved Firefly - definitely despite its flaws.

Firefly is one of those shows where I could tell that the female characters were written by a man. There isn't a definitive moment that I can put my finger on - it's more about the choice of female archetypes.

Inara is basically a liberal white man's fantasy of what prostitution is like, for example. Then there's Saffron, the temptress who has to ultimately be humiliated and defeated. Mal's inability to resist her sexual advances during a certain scene is one of those things that raised an eyebrow before*, and is more disturbing now.

I actually like all of the characters, but yeah.

* Dudes assuming other dudes have no self-control and that good men can be "tempted" into immoral acts that they're not responsible for, rather than that being something bad men do... not that uncommon.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:04 PM on August 21, 2017 [33 favorites]


Can't he be a feminist AND a hypocritical asshole? I mean you can have beliefs and ideals and not live up to them.

You can ESPOUSE ideals and beliefs, but if you don't walk the walk, then no, you don't actually believe in what you say you believe in.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 2:08 PM on August 21, 2017 [16 favorites]


This trope's so ridiculous, and I really wish *someone* would subvert it.

What We Do in the Shadows tackled it.
posted by maxsparber at 2:17 PM on August 21, 2017 [57 favorites]


Just as a side note, the BBC series Humans seems to be a much better take on the Dollhouse concept.
posted by WCityMike at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


I've spent the past day being freshly grossed out by all this, in part because it has never been a secret. People knew at the time, all the times. And I know that some of it made the blind items and other gossip rounds, but it was so easy to gaslight that away and say, well, you know the tabloids are going to invent all this shit, he couldn't possibly be such a cliche right?

I was given a tiny grain of the dirt (by someone who would have been adjacent to one of the situations) a few years ago, and with that in mind found that there was a weird thing in a lot of last year's AV Club's Buffy Week interviews (like, you start to notice that multiple people give joke answers to some questions, which is normally a thing that's press-trained out of actors) where people were just really reluctant to talk about Whedon or engaged with the idea of him in a weird way. It seems a lot more obvious why now.

It's so shitty, and so awful to everyone who's worked for him...and everyone who's worked with those people in turn, now, who are going to have to wonder if their producer/writer/camera operator/costar thought it was okay or didn't think it was okay but was afraid they'd never work again.

I don't have any doubt that he generally espouses stuff like reproductive justice and social services, which is what passes for white male feminism, and knows that you can present women in a certain way and sell it as progressive. But I also think he loathes actual women. How could you not, yet behave like that?
posted by Lyn Never at 2:29 PM on August 21, 2017 [32 favorites]


Sarah Michelle Gellar. Alyson Hannigan. Charisma Carpenter. Michelle Trachtenberg. Amber Benson. Emma Caulfield. Kristine Sutherland. Eliza Dushku. Julie Benz. Juliet Landau. Clare Kramer. Amy Acker. Sharon Ferguson. Bianca Lawson. Robia LaMorte. Mercedes McNabb. Stephanie Romanov. Elisabeth Rohm. Sophia Crawford. Marti Noxon. Jane Espensen. Tracey Forbes. Elizabeth Craft. Sarah Fain. Rebecca Rand Kirshner. Ellen Pressman. Ashley Gable.

Amen. In a more general sense, although Auteur Theory is usually thought of as dead, people commonly treat people like Whedon as the sole creative spirits of their shows/films, when they're really the product of inspiration, decisions, and hard work that manifests itself as creativity by a large number of people.
posted by kersplunk at 2:29 PM on August 21, 2017 [12 favorites]


I started really having problems with Whedon's show-running with Firefly. I mean, I enjoyed the show but at the time, some things really bugged me.

1) it's a universe that posits a government of composed of the US and Chinese superpowers, such that Chinese words have entered the English vocabulary, but they couldn't cast a single fucking Chinese-American actor anywhere on the show. That bugged me so much.

2) Companions like Inara are supposedly highly revered in the culture and there's no problem with the work they do and her presence on the ship lends the crew prestige and *yet* almost everyone they run into treats her like a prostitute and Mal can't deal with what she does and makes a point of calling her a whore more than once.

He had such a failure of imagination in both cases as well as, you know, diversity and feminism.

Other critics had the Civil War comparison complaints about the show, which I never followed very well, but helped keep my radar up about Whedon and social issues.

And then there was the Charisma Carpenter stuff, and the Dollhouse (and Topher) issues, and fridging Penny in Dr. Horrible which really pissed me off, and so on to point where he had gone from someone I really admired in the Buffy days, to someone I really couldn't care about helming the first Avengers movie.

And then, more recently, I read up on that leaked Wonder Woman script of his. Whoo boy! What a stinker that was. Anyway. Musings of a former fan.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:40 PM on August 21, 2017 [27 favorites]


You can ESPOUSE ideals and beliefs, but if you don't walk the walk, then no, you don't actually believe in what you say you believe in.

I truly, honestly believe I would be better off if I ate healthily and exercised more. Yet, I remain a lazy sack of shit who eats crap.

(I don't criticize others for sharing those failings, and I never deny that I have those failings, which may be distinguishing points, but the fact is that I both hold those beliefs but utterly fail to walk the walk.)
posted by Four Ds at 2:43 PM on August 21, 2017 [13 favorites]


But I also think he loathes actual women.

I think it takes a lot more self-awareness and personal work for men to apply feminism to their own life, than to what they believe in the abstract. Because applying it in their own lives is hard and often means giving something up, whether it's sex, leisure time, status - or most importantly, power.

For example, I know one man who is just so painfully woke - but when it comes to where he sticks his dick, he has a huge blind spot regarding his own power and privilege. Like, the idea of remaining abstinent for a long period of time instead of risking taking advantage of someone was unthinkable to him.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:01 PM on August 21, 2017 [12 favorites]


Shit. Leaving aside the impact to the careers of women who have worked with Whedon, I wonder how it'll impact the men? Because while my fondness for Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk has waned a bit from its all-time height, I'm suddenly wondering if I've missed something major about them. Dudes who stay in the inner circle of other dudes who turn out to be kinda shitty are themselves very suspect, know what I mean?
posted by palomar at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2017 [34 favorites]


"Wokeness" is clearly utterly meaningless - that's the rub. I don't give a crap if you give a bunch of interviews where you talk about what a great feminist you are. If you don't act with equity and justice, it's nothing - then all the idiotic things conservatives say about "virtue signaling" are actually true, and you're really just flashing your fancy "FEMINIST!" badge for fun and profit with nothing real behind it.
posted by koeselitz at 3:09 PM on August 21, 2017 [16 favorites]


Dang, missed the edit window. I meant to say, "Because while my fondness for Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk has waned a bit from its all-time height, I still have a lot of fondness left for them and I'm suddenly wondering if I've missed something major about them."
posted by palomar at 3:16 PM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


I truly, honestly believe I would be better off if I ate healthily and exercised more. Yet, I remain a lazy sack of shit who eats crap.

Then you are somebody who believes in the ideals of healthy eating, but you are not a healthy eater.
posted by Lexica at 3:17 PM on August 21, 2017 [23 favorites]


Right, there's this step one of being a woke white man where it is like "wow, this shit is fun! I can ignore all the jock assholes and now all the really cool (and hot!) people think i am cooler! being a white male feminist is fucking easy and rad!" when in reality all you are doing saying "hell no!" to the tiny part of our racist patriarchy that (really does) negatively effects most white men, while ignoring the actual victims and problems.

Then you get drunk on power, lie to your wife, and fuck everyone, I guess.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


Lot of people seem very satisfied with themselves for having such Correct Taste as to never have liked [Whedon property X] in the first place, which is pretty insulting to the people who loved those shows and are also upset by this news. "Ha, you had an emotional connection to this work that turned out to have been made by a skeezey guy? Sucker! You lose ten wokeness points!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:21 PM on August 21, 2017 [96 favorites]


To tell your partner that you are monogamous with them when you are not is to deny them an incredible amount of sexual and life agency.

I'd like to understand this more because I think it's unfamiliar perspective for me. Is it a denial of agency because it induces your partner maintain the covenant of monogamy, under false pretences?

To be clear, I regard lying as a very big deal and generally avoid it in almost all circumstances. I don't lie to my wife because I respect for her and the relationship. But it sounds like you see a more specific harm from it than I do.
posted by Coventry at 3:22 PM on August 21, 2017


Dudes who stay in the inner circle

Depends on how you define inner circle, I think? As far as I know neither of them are known to be especially close friends of Whedon and haven't worked with him since 2008 and 2010 (Fillion, Tudyk), and both worked with him closer to the front/less visible end of their careers where they would likely have had a) little choice b) little advance warning, since nobody tells men about missing stairs. Taking a job, even a couple of jobs if you're a man who's unlikely to know the whole story, isn't the same as an endorsement.

Both of them seem like they mostly wish Firefly hadn't happened, anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:24 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Coventry, it's because you are robbed of the ability to maintain your own sexual boundaries, including exposure to STDs.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:24 PM on August 21, 2017 [50 favorites]


I'd like to understand this more because I think it's unfamiliar perspective for me.

The potential for disease, the potential for *other people's* pregnancy, the drain on the emotional energy and time on your partner that is not disclosed... There are a lot of reasons why cheating on your partner is a betrayal of agency.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:25 PM on August 21, 2017 [35 favorites]


I'd like to understand this more because I think it's unfamiliar perspective for me. Is it a denial of agency because it induces your partner maintain the covenant of monogamy, under false pretences?

It's that the partner being cheated on doesn't know that they need to protect their body from potential illness brought by a partner sleeping around. I've known more than one woman who's contracted a STE from a cheating partner, and that's how they found out they weren't in a monogamous relationship.
posted by palomar at 3:25 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


Like, the idea of remaining abstinent for a long period of time instead of risking taking advantage of someone was unthinkable to him.

I know you know this, but a dude's espoused beliefs about reproductive justice don't make him any less of an immediate danger to the women around him unless he's literally a Supreme Court justice.

Just...not caring whether you're "taking advantage" of someone is...I mean, then they're doing it. And the problem is that at that point they don't have enough empathy for women for me to believe that they're not actually doing far worse. Like do you trust the guy who would write that letter to his wife to care about whether or not he's coercing a young actress or production assistant, let alone be honest with himself about it? Do you trust your friend to make that distinction?

Most men who hurt women don't think of themselves as the baddies. But they are. They definitely, definitely are.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:25 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Hmmmmmmmm - i read it - it didn't change my opinion of him much. I still like his work and I still feel my own feminism was changed for the better because of his shows. Turns out he's also a jerk who cheats on his wife - aren't they all?

/jaded
posted by double bubble at 3:36 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Depends on how you define inner circle, I think? As far as I know neither of them are known to be especially close friends of Whedon and haven't worked with him since 2008 and 2010 (Fillion, Tudyk), and both worked with him closer to the front/less visible end of their careers where they would likely have had a) little choice b) little advance warning, since nobody tells men about missing stairs. Taking a job, even a couple of jobs if you're a man who's unlikely to know the whole story, isn't the same as an endorsement.

Both of them seem like they mostly wish Firefly hadn't happened, anyway.


Oh, see, that's why I named those two specific dudes -- Nathan Fillion wrote a fawning preface to the Whedon biography that came out a few years ago, where he talks about what great friends they are and how much they hang out. Alan Tudyk's still working with Whedon in that he enlists Whedon's help for promoting his web series, Con Man, the plot of which makes it hard to believe he wishes Firefly hadn't happened. Fillion's also an exec producer and co-star on the series. And Eliza Dushku joins the cast for Season 2. I mean... I know that it's Hollywood, people work with people they already know on small projects like these, but... yeah. Just saying.

And no, double bubble, all men aren't jerks who cheat on their wife. Not even all powerful men. That's the thing about my own feminism... it doesn't let me think that all men are trash. I still think men can be expected to do better than this.
posted by palomar at 3:41 PM on August 21, 2017 [23 favorites]


Well, speak of the devil... Disappointing but honestly not too surprising. You're not allowed to be successful without getting some kind of mud on you anyway anymore, and like others have said, it always seemed a little too performative how he publicly approached feminism and gender issues. Don't know if they had kids, but I hope they're not picking up the idea this is how men and women should relate to each other, if so.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:42 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


People are complicated. People's lives get more complicated when they're in positions of power, authority and celebrity. When we make a bad decision and find that we've be rewarded for that bad decision, ie through sex, money, fame, it's easy to make that bad decision again, and then again, and again, until we lose our moral compass. Next thing you know, 15 years and a long history of more than questionable ethics have gone by.

I like to think that I'm a moral person who would never compromise my ideals or deliberately fail those that I love and that love me back, but when push comes to shove, I have no idea how I would deal the crazy entertainment machine. How do these people stay sane?

Personally, I don't question my liking the output of many of our questionable entertainers. I love Bill Cosby's comedy. I like much of Whedon's work. I like Gian Ghomeshi's work (although his personal life? Ick!!!!). I don't have to like the people, and if I met them I would have no problem telling them that they are horrible human beings. And that's the rub, isn't it? Like the work, hate the person. Like the work=reward the person, but they don't deserve it. Yet most of us (those of us who didn't have to work with and suffer under the tyranny of these entertainers) may have been enriched to some degree by the work.

Sigh. So complicated. And now I'm worried that I'm coming across as an apologist, which is far from the case. Sexual predators need to be outed and punished. The victims have every right to step up and publicly state their situation since it's not likely that it can be proven that the perpetrators have broken any legal laws.

I don't think I have the words to express how I'm feeling, but I sure wouldn't have a problem with human beings treating each other with respect, sensitivity, consideration, empathy, understanding and kindness.
posted by ashbury at 3:42 PM on August 21, 2017 [12 favorites]


And no, double bubble, all men aren't jerks who cheat on their wife. Not even all powerful men. That's the thing about my own feminism... it doesn't let me think that all men are trash. I still t

I try to separate the two in that I don't think that I think all men are jerks because I'm a feminist, but more because I keep getting disappointed by men. But maybe they are linked?
posted by double bubble at 3:48 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh wow.

Uhm Buffy's relationship with Spike and especially the interviews Joss gave about the reasoning behind it are OMFG so much worse now in retrospect.

::Shudder::
posted by Faintdreams at 3:48 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


Joss Whedon was never a feminist
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on August 21, 2017 [17 favorites]


> you can present women in a certain way and sell it as progressive. But I also think he loathes actual women.

It occurs to me that this is parallel to (maybe even the same as, psychologically) the phenomenon of people loving all mankind but loathing actual people (e.g., Lenin). In both cases, things don't work out so well for the loved ones.
posted by languagehat at 3:53 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Do you trust your friend to make that distinction?

To be clear, I wasn't using "taking advantage" as a euphemism for coercing someone into sex. I meant, for example, entering into a sexual relationship with someone with less power than you, and who has expectations or hopes for the relationship that you have no interest in.

But to answer your question, I don't and it's one of the reasons I didn't describe him as a friend. I'd place decent odds on him interpreting the situation to his advantage--to take a narrow definition of "consent" that served him.

I suspect that a lot of young men are drawn to the rhetoric of progressive change because they have a need to see themselves as a hero, positioned against an enemy that they can fight. I've met more than one young man like this. They are so much less willing to see themselves as an enemy to fight.

Like, they will say that everyone needs to work on themselves, but ... you don't see the evidence of them working on themselves...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:56 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


Bummed to hear about this but not hugely surprised. I've enjoyed his work a lot and and this definitely makes me feel differently about it.

I'd be hypocritical if I didn't admit to liking work by much worse people though. I'm a big fan of 70s "New Hollywood" films but after reading Raging Bulls, it's hard to name a male director from that era who wasn't a horrible human being. I don't know.
posted by octothorpe at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


it induces your partner maintain the covenant of monogamy, under false pretences?

False pretence sort of understates the problem, to my mind. Serial cheaters are projecting a false persona to their SO, and they'll gas light their SOs whenever something sets of alarms (I'm a feminist, I just like women better!). They're not just lying about being faithful, they're undermining their SOs sense of reality.
posted by ghost phoneme at 4:04 PM on August 21, 2017 [30 favorites]


Can you imagine all the art we've missed out on from the victims of these types of men? I totally get the intellectual argument of artist/art and where the line is, but every time I bump up against it anymore I get consumed thinking about what we've lost. Imagine how many perspectives and insights and humors and joys and sadnesses we've missed to hear yet another man control the narrative.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 4:05 PM on August 21, 2017 [61 favorites]


I don't have to like the people, and if I met them I would have no problem telling them that they are horrible human beings. And that's the rub, isn't it? Like the work, hate the person. Like the work=reward the person, but they don't deserve it. Yet most of us (those of us who didn't have to work with and suffer under the tyranny of these entertainers) may have been enriched to some degree by the work.

They do deserve to be rewarded, for their good work, and they deserve punishment too, for the rest of their behavior. It's not inconsistent to admire someone's artistic work and despise what they do with the rest of their day. Saying both parts doesn't lessen the truth of either one.
posted by value of information at 4:08 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


For those wondering how Brian Wood is doing, he's still putting out comics at a fair old rate, he's got ((())) round his handle in Twitter and apparently he blocked me at some point.

So anyway, I suspect Joss will be just fine.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


OhFuckingFuck How did I miss the Brian Wood news?

I have no doubt that Whedon will be just fine. Like they've all been fine. Like they seemingly will always be fine.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 4:17 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


With regard to the discussion board itself, which was obvously a cherished gathering place for a lot of people, I'm surprised nobody here has left one of these yet:

.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:22 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


I loved Buffy, I hated Angel, and I hated Firefly, but I've never expected people to see things my way, and I don't think people are jerks for not seeing The Truth about these shows the way I did. If I tried to do that, I'd be a hypocrite. I can point to stuff I didn't like, but for all the problems I had with his shows, and all the things other people have pointed out, I never thought Joss Whedon himself was an abusive piece of shit. I thought he was a lot of things, but not this.

What an asshole.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:27 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Hey, I know this ship kinda sailed a long time ago, but "gaslighting" and "lying" are not synonyms. Gaslighting is a specific form of abuse in which the abuser works to make their victim question their sanity, undermining their belief in their own senses and recollections. It's been done to me and it's fucking awful and it deserves to have its own term rather than just being lumped in with general deceitfulness. I know that it's tempting to use it that way because it sounds stronger rhetorically, but doing so dilutes the original meaning of the term and there isn't another good one out there. Can we try to be a little more careful, please?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:44 PM on August 21, 2017 [63 favorites]


Well, unlike apparently everyone else on Metafilter who saw this coming and always hated his shows and good riddance...I'm pretty devastated by it all. Buffy was the first show that I loved, the first internet community I found, my best friends and my husband are from that community. I loved that show, I loved Angel, I loved Firefly and I meh'd everything else after that but Joss Whedon was always someone I highly, highly respected because of everything he brought into my life.

Did I think he was infallible? No. Did I think he was by any means the perfect feminist? Absolutely not. But yes, I respected him, I appreciated what he was doing with his work and I always, always had a soft spot for him.

When I found out yesterday about this I actually think I went into a bit of shock. I was at work - no one would understand, but all my friends from our former Buffy community were exactly the same. We're all just working through all the various stages of grief. Anger, sadness, bargaining, betrayal. I guess that makes me dumb, or naive or whatever. I know not to put celebrities on pedestals, I know everyone will let you down eventually, but even so...I'm so angry and disappointed and so so sad.

I'm just a fan. I can't imagine what Kai has had to work through these five years to unravel the life and the lie that she had been forced to live for 20 years.

I just wanted one person to be better. Just one.
posted by liquorice at 4:50 PM on August 21, 2017 [84 favorites]


Well, shit. Men are the worst. Fame is a hell of a drug, but access is a shit excuse. That's why they call it temptation, asshole!

It doesn't make me appreciate Buffy any less, but it can't help but color how I'll see it from now on.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:51 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


OhFuckingFuck How did I miss the Brian Wood news?

Sadly not the only time more or less this story has played out in comics, the ultra-woke nerd who turns out to be a creeper almost being a cliche by now.
posted by Artw at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


Lot of people seem very satisfied with themselves for having such Correct Taste as to never have liked [Whedon property X] in the first place, which is pretty insulting to the people who loved those shows and are also upset by this news. "Ha, you had an emotional connection to this work that turned out to have been made by a skeezey guy? Sucker! You lose ten wokeness points!

The flip side for some (or at least me) is having soured on Whedon by late-Buffy and then definitely by Firefly being such a racist piece of shit and being shredded by fans and basically being told to turn in my fan card, or that I misunderstand geek feminism, for daring to besmirch The Great Joss's name... in particular the gymanstics around denying the racial problems of FF and his other shows was deeply hurtful. So yeah, I'm enjoying a bit of "told ya something was off" schadenfreude today, while feeling deeply enraged on behalf of his ex...
posted by TwoStride at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2017 [27 favorites]


"gymanstics", eh? Neat typo that I might have to use one day.
posted by ashbury at 5:01 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


"gymanstics", eh? Neat typo that I might have to use one day.

Ha! OMG.
posted by TwoStride at 5:04 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hopefully now people will stop insisting I have to watch Firefly.
posted by limeonaire at 5:04 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


They won't.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:05 PM on August 21, 2017 [28 favorites]


There's still a lot to be enjoyed about all of them, and Buffy in particular was very important to many people at the time, but I think we've been at the point where we could acknowledge that some of the early hero worship was misplaced for some time, and there's been a decided problematic whiff external to the work for a while.
posted by Artw at 5:07 PM on August 21, 2017 [7 favorites]


Especially since hero worship is a big part of the problem, or at least very, very enabling.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:09 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


Hopefully now people will stop insisting I have to watch Firefly.

Well, Firefly is pretty awesome. Flawed, but a great premise and good acting. Firefly is still as good as any of the other good stuff. IMO, YMMV, ETC
posted by ashbury at 5:15 PM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


it seems like there was a period of american pop culture after the absurdly racist and sexist shows/movies of the 1980s but before the current moment (maybe 1990 thru 2012?) where white dudes (both artists and the characters they created) could seem outwardly really progressive but ultimately and inherently were just bros. whedon's shows always felt like that to me. ostensibly, they featured strong female characters, but it was fairly clear that they were only made central because they were beautiful, mysterious, or sexy to men.
posted by wibari at 5:22 PM on August 21, 2017 [13 favorites]


Buffy meant a lot to me. Around mid-to-late 2002, I was depressed and directionless and the back-to-back episodes of Buffy on FX literally gave me something to do. They were something to look forward to each day. I really appreciate that.

I still love the show for what it meant to me, but after my last rewatch, I decided I was done. A lot its "feminism" feels extremely dated now, and problematic. It stopped feeling progressive and started feeling regressive. I absolutely get it was revolutionary at its time, but the older I got, the more disturbed I was by its message.

Whedon's behavior seems to be an open secret in Hollywood. I'm not surprised now nor would I have been surprised a couple of years ago. Yes, it's disappointing but I also feel like any man who declares he's a "feminist" (well, I know he ran away from that word) is one you need to run far away from. Too often, they're just using that as smokescreen to manipulate women.

I've seen other people comment (not so much here) that you can be a feminist man and cheat on your wife. And ... I kind of can agree with that, in principle. Relationships are complicated, certainly. But even if everyone were consenting adults, an older man sleeping with younger women in his employ is always going to have a power imbalance. And the fact it seems he blamed a lot of women (for ... I don't know? Existing?) is really pretty gross.

But I do think a lot of this was a long time coming. Maybe Kai Cole is manipulating the truth so people are on her side. I don't know, but I kind of doubt that. Her story seems all too real, and too honest.

I still appreciate a lot of Whedon's work but I'm absolutely not blind to its flaws. And his work has a lot of flaws.
posted by darksong at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


I see Whedon's feminism as one more step towards the feminism the world needs. Let's keep it moving in the right direction.
posted by double bubble at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


I don't think anyone should blame themselves (or others) for "not seeing" problematic tropes in Whedon's shows. His shows were no more problematic than anything else on television ever, and less than a lot. Consider what else was airing during the era of Buffy: Friends, Sex and the City, Baywatch, Ally McBeal, Xena, Charmed, Melrose Place...an era for fleshed-out female characters it was not, except literally. Tons of "strong women" whose strength happened to revolve around being beautiful and having a lot of sex and maybe some fighting and/or magic. Whedon gave some of his female characters a hint of brains, and it only underlines the low bar in the entertainment industry that this actually stood out enough to be remarked upon.

It is perhaps not surprising that Whedon turned out to be a Nice Guy(tm) who tries to feminist his way into everyone's pants, seeing as how this personality type is rampant in geek culture in general, but it sucks that he was revealed to not have the personal integrity that he claimed.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2017 [34 favorites]


Sarah Michelle Gellar. Alyson Hannigan. Charisma Carpenter. Michelle Trachtenberg. Amber Benson. Emma Caulfield. Kristine Sutherland. Eliza Dushku. Julie Benz. Juliet Landau. Clare Kramer. Amy Acker. Sharon Ferguson. Bianca Lawson. Robia LaMorte. Mercedes McNabb. Stephanie Romanov. Elisabeth Rohm. Sophia Crawford. Marti Noxon. Jane Espensen. Tracey Forbes. Elizabeth Craft. Sarah Fain. Rebecca Rand Kirshner. Ellen Pressman. Ashley Gable.

How many of those women did he pressure into having sex with him? I don't feel like I can watch his shows without wondering that any more.
posted by EarBucket at 5:36 PM on August 21, 2017 [20 favorites]


wibari: (maybe 1990 thru 2012?) where white dudes (both artists and the characters they created) could seem outwardly really progressive but ultimately and inherently were just bros. whedon's shows always felt like that to me. ostensibly, they featured strong female characters, but it was fairly clear that they were only made central because they were beautiful, mysterious, or sexy to men.

It's okay. You can say Aaron Sorkin.
posted by tzikeh at 5:53 PM on August 21, 2017 [39 favorites]


I know a lot of the actors who were involved in his projects continued to be involved in his projects (like, for instance, his Much Ado About Nothing), but it also feels like a lot of them found ways to work together that weren't with him (appearances on How I Met Your Mother, for example. Although Cobie Smulders got pulled into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's true).

I just wonder how much many of them liked each other rather than how much they liked him, even if they worked on his projects.

(I never watched Dr. Horrible because I was bitter Whedon killed off Kitty Pryde. Yes, it's comics and she's alive again but I am never letting that go. NEVER.)
posted by darksong at 5:56 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Even if every single thing she said was true, it doesn't invalidate Whedon's art. He's not on trial for trafficking little girls or something. He cheated on his spouse, allegedly. And if she really is making his private correspondence public, HOW IS THAT OK? This whole gross mess is none of our business.

Jesus, do you want him to walk around with a big scarlet A?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:57 PM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ursula Hitler: Jesus, do you want him to walk around with a big scarlet A?

Yes. And all of the others like him. Hollywood needs to learn how to shun.
posted by tzikeh at 6:01 PM on August 21, 2017 [24 favorites]


Hit post too soon--

if she really is making his private correspondence public, HOW IS THAT OK?

Because, barring certain legal or political documents, once you send correspondence to someone, it belongs to the person you sent it to, not you, and they can do whatever they like with it. Warning women everywhere about a Missing Stair with evidence that can't be called "he said/she said" is doing the Lord's work, and that's coming from an atheist.
posted by tzikeh at 6:05 PM on August 21, 2017 [75 favorites]


I really don't love that she included all those direct quotations from their personal correspondence. It just seems unnecessarily indecorous.

I fucking adore it, because many unpleasant people read "complex PTSD" as code for "borderline" and "borderline" as code for "hysterical liar." Many people would start that equivalence list way back at "ex-wife," or even "woman," even if she hadn't mentioned her own mental health in any way.

and I am not a couples counselor or a psychologist or a lie detector, I am just a reader and a very good one. and Cole's excellent and highly intelligent choice to selectively quote allowed me to have no shadow of a doubt that she told nothing but the truth, whether or not she told the whole truth.

because those are JOSS WHEDON'S WORDS. Decorum is not worth her having to tolerate anyone's suspicion that she's making any of it up, and the quotes put Whedon's spokesperson's harrumphing about mysterious unspecified inaccuracies in their proper perspective. I can pastiche up a whole bunch of fake Whedon crap if I want, and I'm sure a smart woman who was married to him for years could do it even better. but not perfectly. and that is perfect, absolute, unfakeable vintage Joss Whedon. That's him. those quotes are not just convincing, they are proof. for those who have spent enough time with his written words to know them when we hear them.

and not just the word choice, the content. the way "I'm just awful" is the greasy film over "and aren't I great to say so?" it would be artful, if he were a better writer.

I hate hate hate having to defend against any idea that I made up post hoc reasons to dislike someone's work just because they are an awful person, so I am just glad I had my Buffy epiphany years and years ago (which was: a full half of why it was great was Sarah Michelle Gellar; another 25 percent was all the other actresses and some of the scripts, which I took good care to never remember who wrote which ones; and the final 25 percent wasn't actually that great.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:07 PM on August 21, 2017 [71 favorites]


because those are JOSS WHEDON'S WORDS.

^^^^^^^^^THIIIIIIIIIIS^^^^^^^^^^
posted by tzikeh at 6:08 PM on August 21, 2017 [19 favorites]


I still checked in on Whedonesque a few times a month (mostly to find out when the next Buffy comic* was coming out) but certainly it had run out of steam a bit in recent years. Not by any fault of the owner/s or mods, just with people and culture moving and much of Whedon's output revolving around Marvel, there weren't usually many updates or comments. So I think this is probably a reasonable time for it to say goodbye, regardless.

I was never a commenter there, but it was a really great site and I probably read it daily back in The Day. So feh, whatever Joss Whedon, but vale Whedonesque.

* whose previous editor also turned out to be treating women like shit. Hmm.
posted by retrograde at 6:10 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


everyone can see what you do in the world, and what the effects are.

No they can't. If Kai had never gone public with this, would that change whether or not Joss was a feminist, based on what you knew about him? Millions of people will never hear about this - does that mean he's still a feminist because they know him as a guy who wrote some strong female characters and did a Planned Parenthood PSA? He is no more or less a feminist than he was three days ago, and whether you think he can claim that label is going to depend far more on your personal definitions than on any objective standard. It's probably going to cause less semantic debate to label his actions and their effects, rather than him as a human being.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:12 PM on August 21, 2017


Hollywood needs to learn how to shun

So scolding people for adultery is the progressive thing, now?

My original post wasn't great, and there's stuff I'd change if the edit window was still open. But this is some gross gossipy shit and I wanna get my nose out of it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:17 PM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


So scolding people for adultery is the progressive thing, now?

Holy shit have you missed basically every single point there is to miss
posted by tzikeh at 6:20 PM on August 21, 2017 [55 favorites]


But this is some gross gossipy shit and I wanna get my nose out of it.

does this tab you're reading have a little x at the top anywhere
posted by twist my arm at 6:20 PM on August 21, 2017 [57 favorites]


So scolding people for adultery is the progressive thing, now?

like... sort of yes?
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:24 PM on August 21, 2017 [16 favorites]



Sadly the explanation for the casting of Dushku is all too obvious.


that is a downright Whedonesque thing to say. if Cole had the grace not to name actresses in this piece because she knew where the blame belonged, speculation about which ones it might have been is deliberately compounding the damage he did.

people feeling free to laugh knowingly about how some actress must have got her parts by appealing to Xander Whedon's basic instincts is one of the worst things that happen as a result of showrunners creeping on "their"actresses. Plenty of people after Buffy were happy to watch ED read the phonebook to them in a monotone, which is basically what they got. if Dollhouse hadn't been so shitty apart from the acting, I would have even enjoyed it. she's like Jennifer Garner in having intense watchability, which is not talent and not acting skill but it's a thing. don't belittle her or any other actress because Joss is a Joss. his creepiness doesn't reflect on the women he touches, and it certainly doesn't reflect on women you speculate he might have, or might have wanted to.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:27 PM on August 21, 2017 [64 favorites]


So Joss Whedon got jossed by his ex-wife. Fitting.
posted by headspace at 6:27 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


I like to think that I'm a moral person who would never compromise my ideals or deliberately fail those that I love and that love me back, but when push comes to shove, I have no idea how I would deal the crazy entertainment machine. How do these people stay sane?

I think, you've already answered the question. They don't. Stay sane, that is. Showbiz is a mad world and the more successful you get, the more famous and powerful you become, the madder it all gets. Fame is a sickness, I'm pretty sure, and a weird one at that, in that it presents via some weird reciprocity. That is, it simultaneously impacts both the famous individual and the fan, tips both into an irrational realm. It's not good for anybody.

Reminds me, I've got to dig up Clive James' Fame in the 20th Century and give it another look.
posted by philip-random at 6:27 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


There's a special kind of disappointment that one can experience when real woke feminist dudes turn out to be scumbags. My soon to be ex husband crows all over the internet about his feminist bona fides but literally couldn't understand that he was a sexual harasser by ending the marriage via asking out an employee much lower on the org chart than him. Who turned him down. I have great sympathy for that woman (whose identity I don't know) who had to worry that her married "feminist" boss would torpedo her career if she said no.

So sadly this doesn't surprise me about Whedon. Not that I've thought this about him all these years or anything but I've learned that when a man trumpets he's a feminist (or loooves women since Whedon wouldn't call himself one) he is all too often practicing some misdirection so you don't notice the awful shit he's actually doing.
posted by We'll all float on okay at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


* whose previous editor also turned out to be treating women like shit.

As I understand it, it's mainly dudes that Scott Allie bites when he gets drunk as hell.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on August 21, 2017


Even as a die-hard Whedon fan that has given Joss the benefit of the doubt many times (far too many times than he deserved, it is now clear), as soon as I read Kai’s essay, I knew it was true. Those are Joss’ words, and yes, she did need to release them because without them too many people would be clamouring for actual proof.

This isn’t some private relationship business that no one else needed to know, we did all need to know. She did this to warn all those young women who had put him on a pedestal, who gave him all the cookies for being a male feminist because the bar for male feminists is so dang low. She did it for all the fans that hand-waved all his problematic stuff because his good outweighed his bad. She did this because the Joss that we (I) believed in, never actually existed, in the same way that the man she thought she had married never existed.

If that sounds melodramatic, it probably is. And while the world will still keep turning and I’d be hella shocked if this actually impacted his career in any way, he deserves to lose the benefit of the doubt. At least there will be a few less voices now trying to justify his problematic writing and actions.
posted by liquorice at 6:36 PM on August 21, 2017 [39 favorites]


I like Gian Ghomeshi's work (although his personal life? Ick!!!!)

I would question absolutely everything about the idea that a man's crimes are part of his personal life. Breaking the law is part of public life; it becomes so when you're found out, at least, even if you try to keep your criminal activity secret.

Workplace harassment is, also, public and not private behavior. Trying to make it private by making it difficult or impossible for its victims to report you is part of the offense. That's the other reason it was good of Cole to say this stuff in public, even though she'll get a bad reception from a lot of people -- any actress or industry person who didn't appreciate Whedon's attentions almost certainly did not and does not feel free to say so in a similarly public venue. The Wronged Wife is a role that gets you a fair amount of credibility even as it also earns you contempt and laughter -- she's doing a good thing for people outside of her own circle, whether that's her aim or not. and I don't find it too hard to believe that it is, actually.

(But of course you can like someone's work in spite of their crimes or other offenses. I do too.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:39 PM on August 21, 2017 [23 favorites]


I met my very first girlfriend on a Buffy board. I had my first - and last - experience as a moderator on that same board. I wrote my first novel length story because I loved Buffy but hated her yearly meltdown and wanted to write about a non-angsty heroine who loved having super powers instead of all that 'I wanna be normal' garbage.

Really, a lot of my views about how and why to criticize work that I enjoy, (instead of binary thinking about 'I love this or hate this but nothing in between'), came from engaging with his body of work in particular because it was more complicated than most of what else was on TV at the time.

Joss Whedon's work has had a huge impact on my personal and professional lives, is I guess what I'm saying.

It's heartbreaking to hear Kai Cole out him, but I'm glad she took that risk, and I hope she is successful both in healing from this, and in preventing him from abusing his position with others the way he has in the past. (And yeah, she was absolutely correct to include enough that fans would know he really said that stuff, instead of being vague. She's gonna catch a lot of shit for this - she was right to do her best to make her shot actually connect.)
posted by mordax at 6:52 PM on August 21, 2017 [30 favorites]


Seconding the grossness of speculating about which actresses Whedon may or may not have had an affair with. Tarring their names through their affiliation with him is disturbing.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:54 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


This trope's so ridiculous, and I really wish *someone* would subvert it. Whether Angel or Edward, or whatever. The ancient, immortal vampire finds a soulmate *only now*? And she happens to be 18 or younger?

You're right. A better writer would have the girl be justifiably skeeved. Maybe deftly poke fun at how he's a 300-year-old "broken stair" in the vampire community.


This. This (and well, Bella being a complete cipher) is what blocked me from any interest in Twilight. I mean, really, no insult to anyone here, but you are hundreds of years old, and a high school girl interests you in any way? You could be curing cancer or AIDS and enriching the herd, but, instead you're chatting up the weird high school girls?
posted by Samizdata at 6:59 PM on August 21, 2017 [10 favorites]


It's heartbreaking to hear Kai Cole out him, but I'm glad she took that risk, and I hope she is successful both in healing from this, and in preventing him from abusing his position with others the way he has in the past. (And yeah, she was absolutely correct to include enough that fans would know he really said that stuff, instead of being vague. She's gonna catch a lot of shit for this - she was right to do her best to make her shot actually connect.)

One might hazard a comment that generally if something is infected, it heals better if you lance it and drain the pus. Perhaps let a little air or sunshine hit the would...
posted by Samizdata at 7:03 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping so, yes.
posted by mordax at 7:05 PM on August 21, 2017


Hit the wound, even. Got distracted by that Younger Women story and missed the edit window.
posted by Samizdata at 7:13 PM on August 21, 2017


I think you can be both a feminist and a cheater or a nice person or a horrible person. To be a feminist all that's required is that you treat men and women equally abs believe they are equal.

I also think people are insane to be surprised. Whedon is a below average looking dude who enjoys the company of women, is interested in women and suddenly became very rich and influential in an industry full of beautiful, creative types. Of course he fucking cheated on his "normal" wife. Name one similar man who hasn't. Wasn't it Chris Rock who said a man is only as faithful as his options? If you want a marriage of equals don't marry someone with all the power. Lots of people do and are fine with the results but they are realistic about what they want and will accept.

See also: Chris Pratt, Robin Thicke, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods,etc
posted by fshgrl at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


You could be curing cancer or AIDS and enriching the herd, but, instead you're chatting up the weird high school girls?

it's a high school girl power fantasy! what do you want? it's not HIS fantasy.

my one and only moment of adult glory was a couple years ago when I defended the Twilight corpus on behalf of a sixteen-year-old to a late-twenties couple who were trying to bully her into admitting that she should prefer Buffy, despite her having never watched it due to being a generation below us, because Twilight was allegedly bad for girls and Buffy was empowering, in spite of anything she, a girl, might have had to say about it. might have, had she been allowed to talk by mr. insufferable there. even at that time and in that place, you could cut the irony with a knife.

anyway I had not then and never did read any Twilight because I tried once and it was boring. this was before the movie, I think. but I knew what went on it it because I was a worldly woman. and I said to the Buffy glibertarian that the whole deal in Twilight is that it isn't about the Wampire getting what it wants, there is no particular attempt to make a convincing case for why he wants anything. Bella gets what she wants and the Wampire is her puppet in the land of make-believe. The only people who are confused about whose power fantasy it is and think he is pushing Bella around and making of her a Bad Role Model are old people who don't read too well. a very pedestrian observation if you ask me.

but the hitherto sputtering and inarticulate teen looked at me like I was Wampire Jesus and said YES EXACTLY, SHE AND SHE ALONE UNDERSTANDS, EXPLAIN TO THEM WHY I DON'T LIKE BUFFY, NOW. and I said, Listen, Couple, it is because Buffy is for old people, like you and I, and nobody wants to watch shows to improve their moral character, even if it was going to do that, which Buffy assuredly is not going to do. a budding feminist doesn't watch Buffy because some old knowitall told her it would be good for her; she refuses to watch anything she's told to watch by some dude on principle, even if it turns out later it was very good and she missed out.

and I was Correct

one fatal flaw in Buffy that led to the later excesses of Angel is he (Joss) was always too concerned with what the Wampire wants.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:31 PM on August 21, 2017 [38 favorites]


Uhm Buffy's relationship with Spike and especially the interviews Joss gave about the reasoning behind it are OMFG so much worse now in retrospect.

Heh. What I remember from my time in the Buffy fandom is the misogynistic emphasis from too many people that the unhealthiness of Buffy/Spike was entirely due to Marti Noxon's personal issues. Boy, that's a bit of discourse I don't at all miss.

Just some of the women (and apologies for any omissions) who brought you Buffy and Angel, who contributed just as much or more to your love of these shows than Joss ever did.

Yup yup yup. I don't know...even though the BtVS fandom is the one that has meant the most to me over the years - and Buffy the character is still an absolute favorite of mine - I'm not finding the jerkitude of Whedon to be something that tarnishes the show for me. Maybe because I don't really think of Buffy as "his" - Buffy belongs to Noxon and Espenson and especially SMG as much as they do to anyone. And Buffy also belongs to the fans who loved her and analyzed her and wrote stories about her and continued to bring her to life beyond the confines of the show. Whedon's failings definitely lessen my admiration for him personally, but they haven't made me ashamed of still loving a show and character that have meant so much to me over the years.
posted by Salieri at 7:40 PM on August 21, 2017 [22 favorites]


Of course he fucking cheated on his "normal" wife. Name one similar man who hasn't.

I almost began to furnish a list of well-known men who have had apparently happy marriages that lasted decades. Then I remembered that I am also a man and thus totally a slave to my lusts and I have to run out and cheat on my wife right now bye
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:50 PM on August 21, 2017 [84 favorites]


Unless he was also fucking the men at work and gaslighting a male partner to C-PTSD, he wasn't treating men and women the same. My feminism says men can be better than everyone (yes, even Chris Rock) seems to expect of them.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:51 PM on August 21, 2017 [26 favorites]


Wasn't it Chris Rock who said a man is only as faithful as his options?

This is a shockingly toxic idea. A man is as faithful as he chooses to be, and there is nothing of course about choosing to betray and hurt somebody because you think a better option came along.
posted by maxsparber at 7:52 PM on August 21, 2017 [80 favorites]


congrars to the folks that are t surprised, but boy is it gross to see some of you basically excusing this because it's what men do. I mean, WOW, that is toxic as fuck.
posted by palomar at 8:19 PM on August 21, 2017 [35 favorites]


I found your whole comment rather off-putting, fshgrl, but seriously,

If you want a marriage of equals don't marry someone with all the power.

What is that even supposed to mean? Many of the women you're sneering at married those men *before* they had the careers they have now. I don't have any idea what happened between Anna Faris and Chris Pratt, but she had the better career when they first married. Do you mean Cole should've preemptively divorced Whedon when his career took off? Or...what even?
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:21 PM on August 21, 2017 [22 favorites]


I almost began to furnish a list of well-known men who have had apparently happy marriages that lasted decades. Then I remembered that I am also a man and thus totally a slave to my lusts and I have to run out and cheat on my wife right now bye

You're not a man who's been elevated to god like status after several decades of living life as a normie. In LA. Who can cast popular shows. There aren't many men or women who stay faithful once they achieve that status, believe me. I used to move on the very edge of those circles and it's not a secret. It kind of blows my mind that his wife had no idea tbh. Either people really liked her or they really disliked her.

Even in regular life when one partner has all the power in the relationship there is like a 90% chance of infidelity- that's what the quote about options means, it's not saying it's ok, it's saying that it's real. Because it is.

Which is why I never had any interest in marrying the guy I was dating back then who is still working in the business btw. I knew he'd cheat on me eventually. It's 100% socially acceptable in the entertainment industry. I received lots of frank advice from older women about having fun and making out in the inevitable divorce but it's not for me.
posted by fshgrl at 8:21 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Those are Joss’ words, and yes, she did need to release them because without them too many people would be clamouring for actual proof.

Let me emphasize: I believe her.

But I don't get why people keep saying this. Alleged quotes from an unseen document? She was married to him for fifteen-odd years, how dim and incapable would she have to be not to be able to sound like him? I know of hundreds of people who can sound like Whedon...they write fanfic for his work. Heck, I think I can pastiche him pretty well. As "actual proof," these quotes have very little value. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if they are what convinced you, you need to think really carefully about what your standard for "actual proof" is, because you're literally using the same standard a Trump follower is for believing what Trump says about, e.g., his relationship with the president of Mexico based on his own reports of their phone calls.

So I rather wish she hadn't included them. I don't need to read intimate correspondence between parted spouses. The key point here, the only reason I care at all, is likely exploitation of actresses. (I agree with those who say that cheating is not an inherently anti-feminist act, but in today's world, it sure often does play out that way, and it sounds as if it did here.) His unsubstantiated confession doesn't add anything to her own report (which, again, I believe) and by quoting private correspondence, but in an unverifiable way, she's going to give people an excuse to dismiss her as an etc. etc. etc.
posted by praemunire at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


I loved Buffy &c growing up, but Joss has been increasingly suspect to me since his character assassination of Natasha Romanov in Avengers 2. His outrageous Wonder Woman script sealed the deal.

In googling Avengers 2 to make sure I hadn't hallucinated how bad it was, I found this quote from Joss on the topic of why there are so few female superhero movies:

Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, “My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,” and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.”

So, uh... interesting choice of quote. I might have given him the benefit of the doubt before. But is there any way to read that quote in which he isn't explicitly comparing women to monsters? The original Junot Diaz piece is excellent and has a lot more context/nuance, but the passage he chose just seems weird here. Ugh.
posted by Emily's Fist at 8:32 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


Well we can no longer like Buffy and Firefly. What else is there?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:32 PM on August 21, 2017


Maybe we need a higher bar for feminist than: makes money off of strong female characters.
posted by Toddles at 8:33 PM on August 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


Emily's Fist -- I've used the whole Junot Diaz quote before in teaching because I think it makes a point on narratives that is really useful.

Here's the thing in its entirety:

“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?" And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

I think Whedon was trying to prove that he was woke and not that women are monsters. It's part of the public performance of male feminist.

I'm admittedly posting this comment in defense of Diaz right now.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 8:43 PM on August 21, 2017 [19 favorites]


And apparently I missed the end of your comment where I would have seen that I didn't need to come to Diaz's defense.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 8:44 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


AThere aren't many men or women who stay faithful once they achieve that status, believe me

Why not just divorce early on and just openly date starlets then? It's still skeevy, but at least it's not lying.
posted by FJT at 8:51 PM on August 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


Bee'sWing: He definitely seemed to have a "type" of woman he was interested in, Amy Acker, Summer Glau that made me wonder if he was a creeper.

I... don't understand? Why is it problematic to be interested in Amy Acker and Summer Glau?
posted by King Bee at 8:54 PM on August 21, 2017


Why not just divorce early on and just openly date starlets then? It's still skeevy, but at least it's not lying.

Desire to keep the (not open) marriage going but keep having a string of illicit side relationships with younger women. As ever you've got to wonder how many thought he was going to leave her for them, as ever I suspect it was all of them because that bullshit goes with the territory. It's very cheesy and tawdry.
posted by Artw at 8:57 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


The ancient, immortal vampire finds a soulmate *only now*? And she happens to be 18 or younger?

Fun derail: I always wonder how vampires who are 100+ years old can freaking stand the immaturity of teenagers, or 20somethings, or even 30somethings. Wouldn't they want someone who understood what it was like to be around for the French Revolution or whatever? Wouldn't they find the concerns of younguns and their selfies and iPhones to be ridiculous?

Oh, right: men are evil horndogs who want to fuck teenagers. Never mind.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:02 PM on August 21, 2017 [15 favorites]


Well we can no longer like Buffy and Firefly. What else is there?

Eh. I'm not sure that's the lesson to draw from this so much as 'don't deify creators of stuff we like,' a phenomenon that has always creeped me out anyway. (I come from writers, so I've never had any illusions about great art meaning great people.)
posted by mordax at 9:11 PM on August 21, 2017 [13 favorites]


You're not a man who's been elevated to god like status after several decades of living life as a normie.

Well, not me personally, but I do have decades-long friendship with people this describes, including one Pulitzer finalist, who managed to keep their shit together.
posted by maxsparber at 9:36 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]



Well we can no longer like Buffy and Firefly. What else is there?

you do realize most people here like one or the other? It is a problem when men do things to harm the working environment for a lot of women, and why that is bad doesn't have very much to do with whether you like a particular TV show or not. Except that people who like the shows you named are extra mad about it, because women connected with those shows are some of those whose jobs and lives were affected. (Including Cole, who did do some amount of supportive and collaborative work with Whedon, most of which was and will be classed as supportive whether it was or not.)

It does my heart some good to see the relative unconcern over feminists forbidding anybody to like Angel anymore. it's true, nobody's allowed to like at least 80 percent of that show. but I've been saying that for years, it's got nothing to do with this.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:38 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


Look, if I could dictate what people were allowed to like or dislike, James Woods would be a fry chef and Angela Bassett would be the most powerful performer in Hollywood.
posted by maxsparber at 9:41 PM on August 21, 2017 [37 favorites]


Well, not me personally, but I do have decades-long friendship with people this describes

I don't even understand what the point of Whedon's deception was, or how someone can live like that for a decade. A marriage like that sounds like hell to me.
posted by Coventry at 9:53 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Does this mean I can't like Buffy and Angel anymore ?

Gosh, I hope not; not because I'm a fan of either (and while i mostly enjoyed Firefly, I think that it's hugely overrated), but because that standard would probably sweep out a whole bunch of people. Look up some of the posthumous revelations about Gene Roddenberry sometime. You can remind yourself that these people didn't create these franchises alone.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:11 PM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Much as I hate to quote a Twitter feed, I wondered what an author I like, Lani Diane Rich (who reviews Buffy episodes), was thinking today since she's a huge fan, but her personal life has taken a similar turn to Kai's recently.

People are flawed. All of us are flawed. We all screw up, and some of us screw up badly. I believe in the work. If the work is good, then let that be the promise, and a promise fulfilled. No one knows the truth of a marriage except the people in it. And hurt and betrayal are devastating, through the bone, to the soul. I empathize with her deeply. So deeply. I feel her anger, and her hurt. But it's not my business. My relationship is with his work. And I'm going to continue that relationship, because the work is good. When it's bad, then I'll stop.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:16 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well we can no longer like Buffy and Firefly. What else is there?

Of course you can like them because you're an adult who understands that human beings are complicated and not a 12 year old and Joss Whedon is not your Dad. No one should ever be that rich and famous people cheat, ok? Especially people who surround themselves with adoring fans. I mean, 90% of his uber-fans would do him if they had the chance probably. This can't be that big of a surprise.

Otoh, one of the big problems I have with the current craze for fantasy and nerdy things is that it encourages grown adults to act like 12 year olds so maybe it is that big of a surprise to many of them, I dunno. All those fandoms seem kind of fucked up to me, people are way too invested in their shows.
posted by fshgrl at 10:21 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


It's convenience. You get the kudos for a long term happy marriage, an on tap emotional support and house manager who is raising your kids and will be there when you tire of the affair of the moment, plus you get the high of the affair and the knowledge that you get to have all of it. No dealing with custody, alimony, dating, just a constant stream of adoration and sympathy from home and affairs. Plus you're a feminist and your wife is supporting your feminist work which is Very Important and your affair partners are all aware that you're a feminist who respects them. It's just complicated because you're a complicated man.

I love the fandoms around his material, but the material itself was second rate. The acting and the writing and the fans made his limited universes become far better than he could imagine. I think that's partly why his comics didn't do as well, an odd reversal to most when usually with genre tv, the comics get more creative and fun. Less Joss meant a wider world.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:21 PM on August 21, 2017 [17 favorites]


I've been thinking about Whedon's Waifs and how their power is always coming from a place of pain and violation (slayer powers are something a woman has no choice about, that's framed in terms of an original violation; River Tam was medically tortured into her current state; Echo is a frequently raped brainwashed abused "doll"), which lets him try to get feminist cred [bc it's hard to be a woman! people hurt women, don't you know!] while playing to his own fetish of women who are powerful but not in an intimidating way - they're fragile and vulnerable waifs he can imagine petting tenderly and having true power over too.

And I've been thinking about how much I love that Diana… is truly free. Her foremothers made her free from patriarchy. It's never crushed her spirit, it's never laid a finger on her. And she really wants power. She loves her power, she develops it. She is an athlete and a warrior. She wants to do good with power, but it's also pleasurable to her. Power is not simultaneously damage or weakness to her. It was not inflicted on her as a violation; it is not about her agency being stripped from her, it is not a metaphor for rape. It's just *power* and she glories in being able to protect and defend and stand against evil. She glories in herself and she should because she is glorious.

Part of the reason she's so fun to watch is THAT for me. There is no stinger, there is no "sure she’s strong, but…"
posted by twist my arm at 10:25 PM on August 21, 2017 [77 favorites]


It's convenience. You get the kudos for a long term happy marriage, an on tap emotional support and house manager who is raising your kids and will be there when you tire of the affair of the moment,

It's also possible to be someone who loves their spouse and is in a happy marriage but has the opportunity to have a no strings attached fling with someone who looks like a young Brad Pitt or Angela Bassett or whoever floats your boat. And thinks they'll just do it once and nothing will change in their marriage and then the next thing you know your wife is writing an angry public letter about your string of affairs and you're writing her a super lame excuse about how your always loved her and they meant nothing and it was a double life. Because you really did live her and you fucked it up and like Any Winehouse, you knew you would.

That kind of fame and money isn't good for anyone except some happy go lucky souls, people who are only temporarily famous and those who arrive already truly happy and grounded.
posted by fshgrl at 10:42 PM on August 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


I never understand the handwringing that emerges with the "You're saying I can't like X now?" thread when revelations about artists emerge. You can like problematic things. And people. And everyone makes their own decision about how they want to support/enjoy art. Whedon: an asshole, and these revelations, for some, shed light on or support critiques that have been made of some of his work. Roman Polanski and R. Kelly: criminals in a way that crosses a line for me, and I refuse to see/listen to/buy any of their works because, well, my opinions about men who prey on women like that completely overwhelms my ability to enjoy, on an aesthetic or intellectual level, any of their work. Other people--and clearly much of the entertainment industry, sigh--feel otherwise. But it's worth having the discussion and calling to light the many, many ways in which people in power--people who create art that we may adore--have often abused people on the way to producing these works.
posted by TwoStride at 10:42 PM on August 21, 2017 [10 favorites]


I... don't understand? Why is it problematic to be interested in Amy Acker and Summer Glau?
There's nothing wrong with liking Acker and Glau. They seem like lovely people. It's that he would cast women of this specific body type (extremely slim, very large eyes, soft voices) in infantilized roles where they would have vaguely skeevy relationships with older men, sometimes their mentors. Acker and Glau are just the most overt examples, but I'd argue that Dollhouse (Dushku) and Buffy (Gellar) also qualify. Basically, Tiny Sexy Ninja/Nerd who is wielded like a weapon by powerful men without any regard for their own agency or feelings. The re-appearance of this trope over and over in his work has always unsettled me.
posted by xyzzy at 10:52 PM on August 21, 2017 [46 favorites]


When Joss Whedon was lauded as a creative genius, a hero of the little guy during the writer's strike, a feminist icon for creating strong female roles, and made all kinds of sensitive and powerful statements in public, it didn't have any effect on my love or hate of particular episodes of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, etc.

Now that he's being vilified as a creepy opportunist who lied to the one person closest to him for fifteen years, I find it also has no effect.

When I think of artists whose personal failings destroyed my enjoyment of their work -- Woody Allen, Bill Cosby -- I find it's because they'd made their phony personas the focus of their work. Something to keep in mind, I guess, if you're a creative artist leading a double life, and hoping for some kind of legacy.
posted by panglos at 11:04 PM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


If you want a marriage of equals don't marry someone with all the power.

What is that even supposed to mean?


It means you can leave the relationship and immediately hook up with someone "better". Younger, better looking, more popular, more famous. That's winning the divorce. And the media feeds that and young people lap it up and it's on reality TV and becomes a thing. A super fucked thing one but a thing.

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt are a perfect example. She was more famous as well as rich and was extremely well liked (she is super smart) when they got together and he was on a niche comedy show. And kinda chubby. She was the higher profile celebrity, he married up. Then she got older than 40 and had a high needs kid and semi-retired and he simultaneously became Mr Hot Guardians of the Galaxy guy. And by all accounts started being a total dick to her as well as cheating on her. Do I think that's right? Hell no. But it's what happens. I bet she wishes he never took that role. It's gender neutral and not just famous people, many relationships don't survive winning the lottery or any major changes in circumstance. A friend of mine had her husband of 12 years walk away when he inherited millions overseas that she couldn't lay claim to. He's shacked up with some beautiful local girl 20 years younger than him, never would have happened in a million years if he hadn't inherited the money.
posted by fshgrl at 11:20 PM on August 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm naturally (for whatever that means) monogamous. I don't and haven't ever seen myself with someone other than my spouse. And it was pretty obvious to me within days of our starting to date that she was "the one". When I play the "what do you do if you were to win the Powerball" game I always end up thinking what we would do not what I would do. I find the trophy wife thing baffling. Of course now having made these declarative statements many people are going to assume via some sort of Trumps Mirror thing that I've been cheating on my spouse for 20+ years. Oh Well

fshgrl: "Even in regular life when one partner has all the power in the relationship there is like a 90% chance of infidelity- that's what the quote about options means, it's not saying it's ok, it's saying that it's real. Because it is."

I don't really dispute the %; but I'm amazed again how atypical my life experiences are. None of my long term friends have divorced or had affairs to my knowledge and we are mostly in our 40s. And I really hope that is actually the case rather than obviousness on my part.

restless_nomad: "I always wondered why, when so many actors who've appeared in one of Whedon's works showed up in lots of them"

Boy I really hope Tudyk and to a lesser extent Fillion don't turn out to be raging assholes too. I've really enjoyed their other work as well as Firefly.

Lyn Never: "Both of them seem like they mostly wish Firefly hadn't happened, anyway."

I don't know about Tudyk but Fillion has been a huge fanboy of the show.

Kutsuwamushi: "Mal's inability to resist her sexual advances during a certain scene is one of those things that raised an eyebrow before*, and is more disturbing now. [...] * Dudes assuming other dudes have no self-control and that good men can be "tempted" into immoral acts that they're not responsible for, rather than that being something bad men do... not that uncommon."

It's weird to see Mal described as a good man when to my mind he so obviously isn't; being a murderer, thief, con man, tax evader, smuggler (for money not humanitarian reasons), pirate and all around scoundrel. In fact with the possible exceptions of Wash and maybe Kayley there isn't a "good" person travelling on Serenity.

Lyn Never: "I've spent the past day being freshly grossed out by all this, in part because it has never been a secret. People knew at the time, all the times. And I know that some of it made the blind items and other gossip rounds, but it was so easy to gaslight that away and say, well, you know the tabloids are going to invent all this shit, he couldn't possibly be such a cliche right?"

This revelation sure has shifted my former wishy washyness on the regular "I found out my friend/acquaintance/co-worker/boss/sister/etc. is cheating on their SO; should I tell the SO" AskMes hard to always tell.
posted by Mitheral at 11:31 PM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Coaticass at 11:54 PM on August 21, 2017


I think Whedon was trying to prove that he was woke and not that women are monsters. It's part of the public performance of male feminist. I'm admittedly posting this comment in defense of Diaz right now.

No worries, even before I read the full context I assumed that Diaz had written something thoughtful which Joss was fucking up. It's one thing for a marginalized person to call themselves a monster while writing about how society makes them feel othered, and an entirely different thing for a person like Joss to just quote the part saying that society makes marginalized people into monsters.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:17 AM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


> Acker and Glau are just the most overt examples, but I'd argue that Dollhouse (Dushku) and Buffy (Gellar)

Not Buffy. But Faith and the Mayor.
posted by Leon at 2:33 AM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


His bragging about being the only guy on a feminism course at college definitely looks like over-compensation now
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:02 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


When I think of artists whose personal failings destroyed my enjoyment of their work -- Woody Allen, Bill Cosby -- I find it's because they'd made their phony personas the focus of their work.

Whedon very clearly objectified women, and certain body types and attitudes in particular, in most of his work. He's also used his power in the entertainment industry to try to destroy at least one woman's career while simultaneously engaging in a decade and half's worth of emotional abuse towards the woman he claimed to love. Maybe that doesn't matter as much to you, but let's not pretend he wasn't doing something similar here, and that using his supposed feminism makes it worse in many ways than a bog-standard asshole.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:18 AM on August 22, 2017 [24 favorites]


I was done with the adoration of Firefly (which I loved once upon a time) when Adam Baldwin not only outed himself as a Grade A Asshole but was kind enough to call me the c-word on my own Twitter feed when I expressed disappointment at how awful he was towards POC.

The fact that it appears as though the cast members are still buddy buddy with him despite his public stances on PoC, women, etc, means I am absolutely glad to no longer be part of that fandom.

As for Joss? It saddens me but I'm not surprised. My husband and I used to say that Dollhouse should have been called "Whores of the Future" because it was a weird messed up wank fantasy about essentially sexually assaulting women, but hey, they wipe their minds so it's almost like it's not real! (It's real.)
posted by Kitteh at 4:53 AM on August 22, 2017 [28 favorites]


Do I think that's right? Hell no. But it's what happens. I bet she wishes he never took that role. It's gender neutral and not just famous people, many relationships don't survive winning the lottery or any major changes in circumstance

Are you sure it's gender neutral? Why are you sure it's gender neutral? It is at least possible that the power dynamics of gender, that underpin so many aspects of intimate and familial life--domestic violence rates, effect of marriage on lifetime earnings, effect of marriage on life expectancy-- could also have some connection to the whole 'trade my wife in for a better model' dynamic you're describing. Maybe they don't, I don't know. Maybe wives trade their husbands in for younger models at an identical rate to men. Maybe the fact that men gain power in the entertainment industry as they age, and women lose power in that industry as they age, is a completely freestanding phenomenon, separate from the whole spouse-who-gains-power-immediately-ditches-spouse-who-loses-power thing. Maybe some percentage of women think 'husband' means a useful but basically interchangeable accessory or employee, which can be upgraded at will, or fired at will, and exactly the same percentage of men think the same about their wives. I don't know. But it seems like the kind of question that has a complex and depressing answer, worth more than a handwave.

It's also interesting that Whedon himself, from the quotes she gives--which, yes, ugh, that's him--doesn't share your view. He presents his cheating, and his exploitation of his younger colleagues and employees, as a 100% gendered phenomenon. That's presumably why he bangs on about feeling like a Greek god and whatever the hell that claim about being a conqueror + provider is about. That seems to be elabote Whedon code for "I did this because I'm a man / men are weak / women are irresistible temptresses/ boys will be boys". You can either believe in a version of gender essentialism that makes men less culpable than women for what they do, or you can be a feminist. You can't believe both these things. Whether cheating itself is inherently unfeminist is irrelevant, given how Whedon himself characterises what he did. The word "cheating" covers so many forms of dishonesty that it seems pointless to even discuss whether they are all exploitative of women. Obviously not, in every case, but I'm comfortable saying that Whedon's version absolutely is.
posted by Aravis76 at 5:22 AM on August 22, 2017 [42 favorites]


The ancient, immortal vampire finds a soulmate *only now*? And she happens to be 18 or younger?

Fun derail: I always wonder how vampires who are 100+ years old can freaking stand the immaturity of teenagers, or 20somethings, or even 30somethings.


Fun derail response: I always kinda assumed that vampires were "stuck" at whatever age they were when they turned. So, Edward, despite being hundreds of years old, was mentally/emotionally always 18.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:31 AM on August 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


While the revelations about his treatment of his wife are new and appalling I feel like it's been known for a while that he isn't as feminist as he claims (thinks?) he is. This might be partly from exposure from Tumblr which to be fair is somewhat prone to crying "problematic" at times too easily but I feel like there's been a general acknowledgment for a while that Whedon thinks he scored enough feminist points with Buffy that he no longer has to prove anything and he's automatically a feminist and a good guy regardless of his actions.

I read some interesting commentary that compared Josh's 2006 Wonder Woman script to the recent film and talked about how ideals of female heroism have evolved:

"The idea of “prove the boys wrong” is one that has been done to death since my childhood. It’s a typical plot or subplot. Girl wants to do X thing, boys say she can’t since she’s a girl, girl proves boys wrong, boys learn their lesson. Here’s the thing: that is no longer feminist fantasy. Because that is real life for so many women, having to constantly prove themselves to men over and over and still be looked over next time due to being a woman and have to do it all over again. Feminist Fantasy has moved into the realm of Fury Road and Wonder Woman 2017–where the woman never has to “prove” anything, at least not to the men on her side. She’s accepted as a capable human without a whole arc proving herself such. "

As a married person I'm also appalled by the idea that cheating is inevitable if a person has enough attractive options. Maybe it says something about our societal attitude to marriage and is the result of people getting married who actually don't want to have a life-long exclusive monogamous relationship (which to me is fine as long as no-one is being deceived). I personally got married because I do want that monogamy and I'm as sure as I can be regarding another person's state of mind that my husband felt the same way. We might be painfully overoptimistic but I think that should be the aim. And if a person finds they aren't capable of making that commitment after the fact they have a duty to be honest with their spouse about that so the spouse can make informed choices about their own life (including whether to have children, reduce or give up working, allow their career to take a back seat to their spouse's, all of which Kai Cole appears to have done).
posted by *becca* at 5:39 AM on August 22, 2017 [36 favorites]


"And if a person finds they aren't capable of making that commitment after the fact they have a duty to be honest with their spouse about that so the spouse can make informed choices about their own life (including whether to have children, reduce or give up working, allow their career to take a back seat to their spouse's, all of which Kai Cole appears to have done)."

And someone who claims to be a great feminist should not find it difficult to grasp that he's being a shit by allowing his wife to disadvantage herself by making those choices without all the information (choices typically made by women in society and which very often cause those women to suffer when it turns out their partner is not willing to uphold their side of the agreement).

[Apologies for the double posting but I wanted to spell out clearly what I had implied before]
posted by *becca* at 6:00 AM on August 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I love Firefly, but I also realize that its racial politics are profoundly fucked up. I totally understand the romantic appeal of the Lost Cause, and I'm not at all immune to that appeal myself, but you can't rescue Confederate apologism by transporting it to space and pretending that the American Civil War wasn't about slavery. You can't rescue fantasies about savage American Indians by rewriting their supposed savagery to not be about race or imperialism or Manifest Destiny. I mean, you can. Whedon did. But I don't think it's ultimately defensible.
Fun derail response: I always kinda assumed that vampires were "stuck" at whatever age they were when they turned. So, Edward, despite being hundreds of years old, was mentally/emotionally always 18.
In the context of the Buffy-verse, I think that works for Spike but doesn't really work for Angel. When we meet Angel, he's had a soul for like a hundred years, which means that he's been able to experience the kind of emotions that lead to growth. But I also think that part of what makes it squicky is that Buffy was played by an actual teenager who looked like a high-school student, and Angel was played by a grown man who looked like a grown man. So even if we were supposed to believe that Angel was frozen in his late teens, we were looking at a guy in his late 20s supposedly sleeping with an underaged girl.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:04 AM on August 22, 2017 [15 favorites]


"All Hail Joss Whedon the Conquering Douchebag", Chumplady's take on the cheating and doublespeak.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:33 AM on August 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


They do deserve to be rewarded, for their good work, and they deserve punishment too, for the rest of their behavior. It's not inconsistent to admire someone's artistic work and despise what they do with the rest of their day. Saying both parts doesn't lessen the truth of either one.

This thread is filled with the debate we are all familiar with about the artist and their art. I was never a fan of his shows (I only watched Firefly), but I do understand why this news is deeply disturbing for people. I also know that the art/artist distinction is one that people feel strongly about. But I would argue that not all art/artist distinctions are the same, and that sometimes the artist's actions should be met with a rejection of their work.

In the case of living artists, separating the life and work is basically impossible, despite the general position in this thread. Joss Whedon is an industry. Buffy fandom is an industry which props up Whedon. (This is not the same thing as saying that it's monetized.) Not only did Whedon use the very shows we are talking about as a means to coerce less powerful women, his ability to do that after Buffy et al ended was still partly because of Buffy. I would argue that a measure of his power comes, even now, from Buffy and the fandom that has venerated the show and the man. I don't think simply not venerating the man anymore is sufficient to signal disapprobation and stop potential future abuses. What makes this so depressing is that he clearly used his fame and power specifically to creep. If he turned out to be writing racist screeds all this time under a pseudonym on Daily Stormer, a form of vileness not directly tied to his fame and power, then it would be a different situation. Separating art and artist might have more traction for me.
posted by OmieWise at 6:37 AM on August 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


> As a married person I'm also appalled by the idea that cheating is inevitable if a person has enough attractive options. Maybe it says something about our societal attitude to marriage and is the result of people getting married who actually don't want to have a life-long exclusive monogamous relationship (which to me is fine as long as no-one is being deceived). I personally got married because I do want that monogamy and I'm as sure as I can be regarding another person's state of mind that my husband felt the same way.

The point is that nobody knows how they'll behave under radically different circumstances. We all think "Oh, I would never change even if I won the lottery/became a powerful world leader/landed a hit role that made me famous," but the fact is we would. That's not to say we'd definitely cheat on/divorce our spouse or start treating the "little people" like shit—not everyone does—but it's overwhelmingly common, and not all those people were assholes just waiting for the opportunity. I'd say rather that we all have the capacity to be assholes, and the more opportunity we have to do that without consequences, the more work it is to keep from doing it.

When I went to college in 1968, there was (obviously) a lot of talk about the Vietnam War and what we would do about the draft. I told my roommate that I would refuse to go, not just because I thought the war was wrong but because I was afraid that if I found myself in that situation, with a gun and among a bunch of people who were supposed to kill the enemy, I would start using the gun and killing people. He looked at me goggle-eyed and said "But you don't believe in killing!" He didn't grasp that circumstances change people. I'm not sure how I grasped that as a teenager, but I did, and I've never lost sight of it. And I have no desire at all to be rich and famous.

> I would argue that not all art/artist distinctions are the same, and that sometimes the artist's actions should be met with a rejection of their work.

We've gone around the mulberry bush about this before, and I know we both like each other and respect each other's opinions and are never going to change each other's minds, but I have to provide counterpoint anyway: asshole artists do not know or care that you like watching their movies, reading their books, or listening to their music, and no artist is going to be kept from being an asshole by the thought that "OMG, if I treat my spouse badly OmieWise or languagehat isn't going to appreciate my art any more!" The two things have nothing to do with each other; I can understand the impulse to conflate them, because that's what we humans do, and I would never tell you you should appreciate art by artists you hate, but you in turn shouldn't present your own preference as a categorical imperative.
posted by languagehat at 6:59 AM on August 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


How are those two things being conflated? I'm pretty sure we all know rejecting some famous artist's work isn't the kind of news that reaches the artist, or that it's the goal of rejecting the work.
posted by agregoli at 7:18 AM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


"asshole artists do not know or care that you like watching their movies, reading their books, or listening to their music, and no artist is going to be kept from being an asshole by the thought that "OMG, if I treat my spouse badly OmieWise or languagehat isn't going to appreciate my art any more!" The two things have nothing to do with each other"

Not necessarily, but some assholes surely care, at least about some audiences.

For me the question is: how personal is the art? If it's highly personal and turns out to be consistent with repulsive personal conduct, then I feel I have to reject it. Everyone has to draw their own line.

Stuff like Whedon's work is an interesting case, because many people swear up and down that it made them more aware, is definitely feminist, and so on. I don't see it myself, because I never saw anything terribly feminist about being an adorable waif who is tormented into having to learn to fight, but it's also clear that people can produce work that enables others to pursue and live by better values than they themselves lived by (e.g., Thomas Jefferson, albeit not in the same line of work).
posted by caitlinb at 7:18 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's weird to see Mal described as a good man when to my mind he so obviously isn't; being a murderer, thief, con man, tax evader, smuggler (for money not humanitarian reasons), pirate and all around scoundrel.

Mal would describe himself as "all right." After he gratuitously stabs a guy a few more times just for fun.

I always kinda assumed that vampires were "stuck" at whatever age they were when they turned. So, Edward, despite being hundreds of years old, was mentally/emotionally always 18.

Good point. Or stuck at the age of well, fuckability.

Oh, I would never change even if I won the lottery/became a powerful world leader/landed a hit role that made me famous," but the fact is we would. That's not to say we'd definitely cheat on/divorce our spouse or start treating the "little people" like shit—not everyone does—but it's overwhelmingly common, and not all those people were assholes just waiting for the opportunity.

5 Scientific Reasons Powerful People Will Always Suck

Basically, power gets you high and everyone lets you do what you want. Of course you become an asshole.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:19 AM on August 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


Fun derail response: I always kinda assumed that vampires were "stuck" at whatever age they were when they turned. So, Edward, despite being hundreds of years old, was mentally/emotionally always 18.

I have long wanted to write a short story in which a personal shopper gets kidnapped by vampires, because people look at the way they dress and immediately know they are vampires, but she finds it impossible to buy new wardrobes for the vampires because it turns out that vampires don't just get stuck at the age they were when they changed, but also with the tastes they had.

Never wrote the story, but I'm writing the concept down here so that when somebody else uses it I can sue them.
posted by maxsparber at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2017 [24 favorites]


> For me the question is: how personal is the art? If it's highly personal and turns out to be consistent with repulsive personal conduct, then I feel I have to reject it. Everyone has to draw their own line.

Sure, that's all I'm saying ("Everyone has to draw their own line").

> 5 Scientific Reasons Powerful People Will Always Suck

Thanks for that, it's great!
posted by languagehat at 7:29 AM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I know of hundreds of people who can sound like Whedon...they write fanfic for his work.

that's the beauty of it. not beauty, but...something. there's having an ear and then there's knowing a man's heart. Because if I read those quotes in a fanfic I would send it back to its author with notes such as Yes OK I know you hate Xander, we ALL hate Xander, but you can just rely on the text for his entitlement level, this is kind of character assassination which is not necessary because he is already terrible, dial it back to 11 maybe? or at least get the person he's talking to to tell him come back down off the cross, we need the wood? Artistic diligence and fandom scruples require looking for redeeming qualities in a man's character that real life does not oblige him to provide.
-----
entirely unrelated fun fact every Buffy fan probably knew back in the day and so did I but I forgot because he's said so many awful things: when he was talking about casting Amber Benson as Tara in one of the DVD commentaries, he explained that he initially wanted someone "smaller" and less "womanly" for Willow's girlfriend and had to be convinced to give Benson a shot. is that the bad part? no, the bad part is how he explains his reasoning. he didn't want someone smaller than regular actress-thin for his own fucked up reasons, no, it was so she would seem "vulnerable."

I will never be on board with criticizing his actress's bodies for being too thin for the critics' tastes, and it makes no difference whether they got that way because he pressured them into it or because the industry did or because they already looked like that and were cast for it or were cast for something else and just happened to look like that. none of that is grounds for talking about them like they're props. but it is entirely possible to separate all that grossness from the documented fact that Joss Whedon thinks being thin means looking vulnerable, and he thinks being womanly is the opposite of both of those qualities, and that is reason enough to dismiss his feminist posturing even if he'd never laid a finger on anybody. he has always been mostly sincere, it shows, and it makes it worse.

Buffy is the best but he has always been the worst, even when I liked him

and I never looked it up to see what, if anything, he had to do with this plotline, so maybe nothing and maybe it is a horrible coincidence, but when David cheated on Darlene despite loving her because Darlene just wasn't weak and woundable enough to make him feel like a powerful man, it was exactly like Riley doing the same to Buffy. except for the shows' respective allocations of sympathy to the characters involved. that was very different.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:32 AM on August 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


I mean, really, no insult to anyone here, but you are hundreds of years old, and a high school girl interests you in any way? You could be curing cancer or AIDS and enriching the herd, but, instead you're chatting up the weird high school girls?

But he doesn't want to cure cancer, he wants to turn people into dinosaurs creep on high school girls.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:35 AM on August 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


A comment from the Chumplady link that dorothyisunderwood posted above, quoted here because it is truth:
I never realized how pervasive the standard response to infidelity was until I saw my feminist writer friends, who worship whedon's work, as I do, talking about this, saying she has no business airing their dirty laundry and if she knew he cheated on her she should have left so she deserved it and all of this. My God, one even said how is he controlling her body? It’s not like he coerced a pregnancy! Omg, they were really saying these things! I commented til my fingers were hoarse. Fifteen years of emotional abuse, of exposing her to God knows what, of making a fool of her (one friend said this was common knowledge in the LA private school scene) while forcing her to doubt her own mind and evidence such that she is now diagnosed with ptsd! And they can’t see it. If he’d stolen from her for fifteen years. If he’d beat her. No one would question her calling him a thief or an abuser. But because it was emotional and around Infidelity… It’s a “private matter” and she’s tacky for telling the truth.

Keep fighting the good fight, chump lady. We’ve got to change this narrative.
posted by palomar at 7:58 AM on August 22, 2017 [36 favorites]


As a married person I'm also appalled by the idea that cheating is inevitable if a person has enough attractive options.

It's not blanket inevitable. I'm sure lots of famous and powerful people don't cheat in other fields, but in Hollywood it almost is because of the culture. It's not only accepted, its encouraged.
posted by fshgrl at 8:10 AM on August 22, 2017


I'm sure it is very common in the culture in Hollywood. I still think that someone who is claiming the title feminist should have some passing understanding of the ways in which women are as a group adversely affected by the imbalances of power in society and relationships and make some sort of attempt to not let their wife fall prey to those imbalances.
posted by *becca* at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


(Oh, also, the complaint upthread about calling this treatment of Kai Cole gaslighting? Yeah, calling this gaslighting is accurate. What else do you call it when you're lied to consistently for 15 years and told that your gut feelings about certain situations are totally off base when the reality is that your gut was screaming truth at you?)
posted by palomar at 8:20 AM on August 22, 2017 [26 favorites]


If it's common, accepted, etc, then why lie about it? It seems to me that someone who wanted to treat their wife as an equal and respect her would be able to have a frank conversation with her about desires and expectations, rather than spending 15 years lying to her until she developed PTSD.
posted by n. moon at 8:22 AM on August 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


Look, people change, relationships end, I'm fine with that. fshgrl is right that I have never known a Hollywood relationship to survive success. It's the serial cheating I'm talking about, and that might be where the disconnect is.

15 years of gaslighting is decidedly uncommon.
posted by maxsparber at 8:28 AM on August 22, 2017 [15 favorites]


I am really puzzled by the focus on the cheating itself, especially as a Hollywood commonplace (which, come on, what kind of defense/handwave is that).

It ain't the crime, it's the cover-up.
posted by caitlinb at 8:31 AM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well, there's "cheating" and then there's "cheating and then lying about it" and then there's "cheating with people whose careers I have power over and then lying about it".
posted by tobascodagama at 8:47 AM on August 22, 2017 [33 favorites]


Yeah, calling this gaslighting is accurate. What else do you call it when you're lied to consistently for 15 years and told that your gut feelings about certain situations are totally off base when the reality is that your gut was screaming truth at you?

Thank you.
There were times in our relationship that I was uncomfortable with the attention Joss paid other women. [...] he told me it was because his mother raised him as a feminist, so he just liked women better. He said he admired and respected females, he didn’t lust after them. I believed him and trusted him.
His wife voiced discomfort about his interactions with other women and his response was, 'nah babe, I'm just, like, super feminist'. He not only told her her instincts and perceptions about his behavior were wrong, but did so in a way that made him seem honorable ('this is what platonic/non-sexual admiration and respect looks like--this is feminism and therefore good') and her questioning of his behavior seem potentially problematic.

She may not have used the exact word herself but it's clear that he undermined certain foundations of belief she had in herself and her ability to correctly translate what was happening and had happened.
He made me doubt my own instincts and watched me move further away from my personal values and social mores, trying to connect with him, never telling me it was impossible. By the time he finally confessed the truth, 15 years after his first affair on the set of “Buffy,” I was broken. My brain could not fit my experience of our life together, through the new lens of his deceit.

My entire reality changed overnight, and I went from being a strong, confident woman, to a confused, frightened mess. I was eventually diagnosed with Complex PTSD and for the last five years, I have worked hard to make sense of everything that happened and find my balance again.
Even this...
A spokesperson for Joss Whedon provided the following response, “While this account includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations which can be harmful to their family, Joss is not commenting, out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.”
It's all just continuing the narrative he has refused to give up of 'I'm actually a good guy even after you've written such mean things about me'.

Anyway. "Gaslighting is a specific form of abuse in which the abuser works to make their victim question their sanity, undermining their belief in their own senses and recollections."

Yeah, I'd say that applies.
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 9:02 AM on August 22, 2017 [44 favorites]


Bee'sWing: He definitely seemed to have a "type" of woman he was interested in, Amy Acker, Summer Glau that made me wonder if he was a creeper.

I... don't understand? Why is it problematic to be interested in Amy Acker and Summer Glau?
posted by King Bee at 9:54 PM on August 21 [+] [!]


It's perfectly normal to be interested in them, the problem is when you are a person with the power to hire, and you hire a particular type. The best example I can think of is the many blonde women on Fox news. It's a symptom that something is going on.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:12 AM on August 22, 2017 [5 favorites]




I've thought about some of the things Scalzi writes about. Of course, I'm not Scalzi, so I don't have to worry so much about my personal brand. But I think it is important to be vocally, publicly feminist.

As to all the responses from women saying things like "This shit right here is why I'm super suspicious of men who make feminism part of their 'brand.' It's a glass escalator women can't ride."

Totally fair. I know it feels like it sucks to be treated suspiciously because you're a dude who espouses feminism, but that's not women's fault. It's the fault of so many men who have been publicly feminist and privately sexist. And I will also privately fail on this, as with everything, because we all fall down on our best intentions, and we live in a world in which sexism is the air we breath, the food we eat, the language we use, and we all have blind spots.

So women have every right to be suspicious. But men have to be feminist anyway, because that's our responsibility, that's our part in this deal, this is a sexist world made by men and must be unmade by men.

The truth is, if you're a man and you're publicly feminist, even when, like Whedon, you go on weird rants against feminism, you get a lot more plaudits than complains, even when, like Whedon, you are substantially not actually feminist.

But when women feel like they have been betrayed, and they do and they are, they have every right to shoot gimlet eyes at the next dude who might be privately awful, because so many are. And if you're the dude who is getting the gimlet eye, blame the other guys, and suck it up, because we're not in this for women's approval anyway.

We're in it because men made a shitty world that benefits us, and so it's our job to unmake it.
posted by maxsparber at 9:56 AM on August 22, 2017 [39 favorites]


Friends, Sex and the City, Baywatch, Ally McBeal, Xena, Charmed, Melrose Place

I know this was awhile back, but the feminism of some of these shows actually holds up pretty well. Try finding an episode of Friends that doesn't pass the Bechdel test, for example. Xena's characters dressed ridiculously but their depiction of female friends (and enemies!) always felt more real than most of the friendships on Buffy. I can't stand SatC but it made it acceptable for women to talk about sex on TV.

I'm still not sure if there's a Perfect Feminist Show out there (Steven Universe? Maybe?) so I like to appreciate what shows do right, even if it's not much. And I still love things about Buffy while thinking Xander is gross and now, that Joss is too.
posted by chaiminda at 10:28 AM on August 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


Gaslighting is a specific form of abuse in which the abuser works to make their victim question their sanity, undermining their belief in their own senses and recollections. It's been done to me and it's fucking awful and it deserves to have its own term rather than just being lumped in with general deceitfulness. I know that it's tempting to use it that way because it sounds stronger rhetorically, but doing so dilutes the original meaning of the term and there isn't another good one out there. Can we try to be a little more careful, please?

Read the essay. This is exactly what he did to his wife for fifteen years. That's how she got C-PTSD. He's an abusive monster who still thinks of himself as a good guy who made mistakes.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:36 AM on August 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


I was never a fan of Joss Whedon, mostly due to lack of general interest rather than any strong dislike (I haven't seen enough to have an actual opinion) but I was aware of and always suspicious of his "feminist" branding. As I am of any man who has positioned himself as a public Feminist.

Personally, I would be very uncomfortable labelling myself (or being labeled) a feminist. In an interview from the 80s Samuel Delany fields a question about his own feminism by pushing the idea that men cannot be feminists. That we can be supportive of its ideas and purposes but that's as far as we can go. Good ally is the best a man can strive for. Feminism is a women's movement.

I'm not sure if I completely agree but I think it's important to make the bar extremely high for male feminists. Basic decency and using the right language is not nearly enough to pass. Allowing men to have easy access to the term and movement dilutes it's message. After all, how can men lead in the dismantling of their own power without skewing the results to leave at least a little intact? Certainly there's work for men to do (a lot of work) but it mostly involves learning to cede power and feel comfortable in supportive/passive social roles. Only women can lead and direct the course of action.
posted by AtoBtoA at 10:39 AM on August 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


One of the things that I haven't seen mentioned and it might be because it would be reading too much into the negative space of the information we've been given -- but it appears that Cole put her artistic career on the back burner to support his artistic career. It's a really common pattern for heterosexual couples where both partners are involved in highly competitive artistic practices. However, it's one of those weird places where sexism that gets touted as being progressive. I had a friend recently announce that he is quitting his day job to follow his art and (eventually) be a stay at home parent. Lots of our mutual friends were falling down over themselves to praise this subverting of gender roles. And it was all I could do to not scream into the void -- because they met each other in their MFA program -- and guess who is going to no longer do the artistic work?

Architecture is a high stress, high hours career. There's 20 years of a professional life that she isn't going to get back. And it's such a common story among artists I know -- I really do weep for all the female artistic careers that never had the chance to get off the ground because supporting a spouse's career was more important.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 11:00 AM on August 22, 2017 [46 favorites]


I love a lot about Buffy, and even Angel, and Firefly. I'm even in the midst of a re-watch of all of Buffy (alongside my boyfriend who has never seen it). What's weird, I guess, is that I never even really knew who Joss Whedon was until maybe 5 or 6 years ago? I guess because I never got into the fandom stuff and never went to message boards or the internet, I just watched TV shows I liked and maybe discussed with IRL friends but honestly didn't pay too much attention to who the showrunner was.

Now, this is not to say I haven't identified problematic tropes and themes and writing in those shows - oh have I, especially as I'm doing this rewatch now. But while finding out that Whedon was a gaslighting, cheating dickwad is disappointing, it's not super emotional for me because I never thought about him when I was first enjoying his work. I never cared about him, just about his work.

Of course, other people are more than allowed to have an emotional reaction to this kind of news. My way of engaging with this work is not the only way. I just wanted to share my experience - one of really loving Buffy (despite its flaws) but never thinking much about the man behind the curtain. It's not more or less correct than other folks' experiences; just different.

I'm also listening to the Buffering the Vampire Slayer podcast right now - I'm quite a bit ahead of them because I can't hold back to just one episode per week, but it's fun. I'm intrigued to hear how Jenny and Renee will address this on their podcast.
posted by misskaz at 11:45 AM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't find this particularly surprising actually. That said, I still like works of various media by far worse people than Joss Whedon so...

Dollhouse is still better than Firefly even if this makes it 10x as creepy.
posted by Justinian at 12:26 PM on August 22, 2017


15 years of gaslighting is decidedly uncommon.

NO.
posted by sutureselves at 12:48 PM on August 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's weird to see Mal described as a good man when to my mind he so obviously isn't; being a murderer, thief, con man, tax evader, smuggler (for money not humanitarian reasons), pirate and all around scoundrel.

Well, yes - if you make a list of Mal's actions and present them outside of their narrative context, Mal isn't a good man. But Mal's a character who exists in a narrative, and it's not just about a literal list of his actions. It's also about how that narrative treats them.

Mal's a common archetype: the asshole scoundrel with a heart of gold. He has a strong moral center despite his criminality.

With characters like Mal, there are lines that the writers don't cross because it would conflict with this characterization and lose audience sympathy. Mal is a smuggler, but is honest when he makes deals. Mal is a murderer, but only of antagonists who threaten him first and their henchmen. Mal is a thief, but when he finds out he's thieved badly needed medical supplies, he returns them. Mal is an asshole to his crew, but also fiercely protective of them to the point of self-sacrifice. The narrative is very careful to make Mal out as a good man in a bad world, and to avoid giving him victims.

Which is why it's interesting that Mal "giving in to temptation" with Saffron wasn't seen as one of those lines that shouldn't be crossed. For me, that's on the other side of the line - it would be like Mal keeping those medical supplies. But for the writer, it didn't conflict.

And, when you put it together with Whedon's statements about his own lusts for the "beautiful, needy, aggressive young women" around him, it's like another peek into the mindset.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:18 PM on August 22, 2017 [26 favorites]


Man, the Willow/Tara arc in S6 looks even worse in retrospect (I've always hated it, but now it's even more skeevy.)

Willow wipes Tara's memory, twice, and has sex with memory-wiped Tara. Pretty much a supernatural form of gaslighting your partner.

What we didn't see on the show:

1. Any explanation of how the memory spell affected Tara (like Tara questioning the integrity of other memories, or her memories of Willow). This pissed me off so much I wrote fanfic.

2. Any acknowledgment that there were consent issues with the sex when Tara's memory was wiped.

3. Any on-screen apology from Willow for the memory spells.

4. Any on-screen acknowledgment from Willow that the memory spells were wrong.

What we did see:


1. Tara swooping in to defend Willow's choice to refrain from magic, and later telling her how to manage her magic sobriety, because apparently Willow is incapable of managing her own problems.

2. Tara forgiving Willow Just Because.

3. Tara doing all the emotional labor (reassuring Willow when she's upset that Buffy didn't tell her about Spike), and Willow providing nothing in return except physical affection.

Maybe Joss's avatar isn't Xander, it's Season 6 Willow.
posted by creepygirl at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


I've always thought the two Dollhouse episodes that were set in the post apocalyptic future (I think the final episodes of each season) were better than the rest of the show combined.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:40 PM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Tara forgave Willow because the script said to and she had to die next week to set off Willow's temporary evil and that's more affecting if it happens after they bang. Not well done there. (Or on The 100 either.)

Mal is a smuggler, but is honest when he makes deals. Mal is a murderer, but only of antagonists who threaten him first and their henchmen. Mal is a thief, but when he finds out he's thieved badly needed medical supplies, he returns them. Mal is an asshole to his crew, but also fiercely protective of them to the point of self-sacrifice.


I feel the need to look up an alignment chart now.

Mal goes on his personal morality, which kind of boils down to Robin Hood. Steal from the rich, give to the poor.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:47 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mean, really, no insult to anyone here, but you are hundreds of years old
I feel personally attacked.

Can we let go of the whole idea that we would all sleep with anyone if we had the access he has? I'm a monogamous woman who wears a wedding ring and I've been propositioned and hit on lots of times. I could cheat if I wanted to. I don't. Joss made a different choice, a bunch of times, and lied about it. He wasn't forced to by someone's hero worship.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:48 PM on August 22, 2017 [29 favorites]


I agree. It seems like an inaccurate, harmful and unnecessarily bleak view of human motivations, to me.
posted by Coventry at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


Man, the Willow/Tara arc in S6 looks even worse in retrospect (I've always hated it, but now it's even more skeevy.)

Also throws some new light (from a couple different gross angles) on Amber Benson not coming back in that one later season episode where other dead characters do. Whedon said something at the time about not being able to write the character anymore, if memory serves.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:02 PM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think the actress turned down the offer at the time to return, something about it might be hurtful to fans?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:06 PM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


FWIW, Marti Noxon was the showrunner on the last two seasons of Buffy, not Whedon.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:20 PM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


FWIW, Marti Noxon was the showrunner on the last two seasons of Buffy, not Whedon.

Yeah. This retrospective thing where people are picking apart the later seasons of Buffy and judging various plot/character points through the lens of Whedon's personal failings is weird to me, since it was generally acknowledged in fandom at the time that Joss was off spending a lot of time playing with his new toys (Angel and, especially, Firefly). In my experience, fans were more focused on what Noxon and writers like Jane Espenson, David Fury et al. were doing with the show.

Not that Whedon wasn't still involved, because he was. But for a show that was such an ensemble effort on the writing/production side, I think it's a mistake to try to attribute too much to him. And frankly, it does a disservice to the other writers (and showrunners) by treating them as if they were just extensions of Whedon's ego. One of my favorite things about the show was seeing how the different writers really dug into different parts of the same characters. And of course, that led to lots of discussion among the fans about which writer "really got" your particular fave. During the Season Six Spike Wars, I remember how much shit poor Marti Noxon got for acknowledging that she based part of the messy Buffy/Spike relationship (especially the Spike part, I think) on a past failed relationship of hers where she hadn't behaved particularly well.

Man, writing this up is reminding me of how much I miss this fandom.
posted by Salieri at 3:46 PM on August 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


A slight clarification to my comment above: I wasn't trying to say whether I think Joss's behavior counts as gaslighting or not. I was more responding to some of the ways the term was being used in this thread, which struck me as a little farther afield.

It's a sore point for me because, as I said, I once had a partner who did that stuff to me—and not to cover for other misbehavior, but solely to make me doubt myself, undermine my self-confidence, and make me more controllable. Possibly also for the entertainment value. Several years later I still have not fully regained my ability to trust my perceptions and memories, despite the fact that I now clearly understand what she was doing to me and why. Learning the term "gaslighting" was the key moment that crystallized that understanding for me, and helped me see that relationship as not merely dysfunctional but as deeply and pervasively abusive. Having a label for what was being done to me (well, one of the things) was key to my escape and recovery. It's a useful term that I'd hate to see lose its meaning.

Again, I wasn't trying to judge whether or not it can be applied to Joss's behavior, just asking for people here in this thread to please use it with care.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:47 PM on August 22, 2017 [5 favorites]




people can produce work that enables others to pursue and live by better values than they themselves lived by (e.g., Thomas Jefferson, albeit not in the same line of work)

intriguing to me: the US as a (flawed) "work" by the founding fathers that many of us happen to live in
posted by kliuless at 4:53 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Strangely enough, the writer’s outspoken support of gender equality and his commitment to writing strong female leads is being called into question because he may be a serial adulterer.

It's less about the cheating than it is about the lies. It's less about the cheating than it is about the lies. It's less about the cheating than it is about the lies. (Also the apparent exploitation of female coworkers and employees, but that's not as sloganizable.)

ARGH.

Also, I'm seriously side-eying this claim that being feminist means you should be okay with somebody cheating on their spouse. No. Being feminist does not mean that I'm okay with somebody breaking promises they've made and deceiving the person they profess to hold most important.

As a feminist, I support people having monogamous relationships and consensually non-monogamous relationships. I feel ZERO obligation to support people having non-consensual non-monogamous relationships. That's lying. That's deceit.

This "being feminist means you shouldn't disapprove of or shame people who've had affairs" attitude is bizarre.
posted by Lexica at 5:02 PM on August 22, 2017 [45 favorites]


Being feminist means not treating either female partners or female employees as objects for your own gratification.
posted by EarBucket at 5:11 PM on August 22, 2017 [27 favorites]


This "being feminist means you shouldn't disapprove of or shame people who've had affairs" attitude is bizarre.

I don't think she says that -- she does say he's a world-class bullshitter and a shitty husband. I thought the point was more that adultery doesn't necessarily reflect misogyny or a lack of commitment to feminist values.
posted by Coventry at 5:15 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Strangely enough, the writer’s outspoken support of gender equality and his commitment to writing strong female leads is being called into question because he may be a serial adulterer.

Oh. Another article that reminds me most people are disappointingly bad at nuance.

I thought the point was more that adultery doesn't necessarily reflect misogyny

And I don't think anyone is wasting their energy on that as a blanket rule. They're arguing that Joss Whedon's serial adultery, the types of people he cheated with, and his lying to and gas-lighting his supportive female spouse indicate that Joss Whedon is a shitty feminist, who used feminism as a cover story to exploit women.

But yeah, the number of people coming out of the woodwork to cheerlead for cheating has surprised me.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:35 PM on August 22, 2017 [20 favorites]


"Feminist" loses all coherent meaning if you find yourself stretching its definition to include men that gaslight and cheat on their wives simply because you've enjoyed the work they've made that seems to treat other women with a level of respect that's absent in other media. If you can't find other ways to defend the work, other than pulling feminism down a notch, maybe it's not worth publicly defending. You're still allowed to enjoy it.

Treating women with respect does not, by itself, make you a feminist. It makes you a decent person. I feel the popular use of "feminism" almost completely erases the fact that it has a history full of writers, artists, and thinkers. Turning it into this almost boundaryless thing, with open admittance, limits its potential and power. It's hard to believe the term hasn't been gutted with purpose. If Joss Whedon (the man) is an indispensable pillar of your feminism then your feminism is functionally meaningless.
posted by AtoBtoA at 6:00 PM on August 22, 2017 [29 favorites]




Coventry, I was referring to comments in this thread, not to the original article.
posted by Lexica at 6:59 PM on August 22, 2017


Well, I read - and enjoy - Lovecraft, so I'm pretty sure I have a sufficient capacity for "enjoying things from problematic creators", so I think I'm okay, here.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:28 PM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I mean, he's nicely dead, but if you like his stuff it does limit your capacity to be too judgey. On the other hand I think it's a good idea to be aware of exactly who he was and how it affected his worldview and his work. And, you know, maybe not shape any major Fantasy awards like his head.
posted by Artw at 8:30 PM on August 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


As for me and 80s Frank Miller, well, fucked if I know.
posted by Artw at 8:31 PM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

This song seems appropriate, I might need to listen to it on repeat a few times.
posted by Coaticass at 2:49 AM on August 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well, I read - and enjoy - Lovecraft, so I'm pretty sure I have a sufficient capacity for "enjoying things from problematic creators", so I think I'm okay, here.

Yes, the author who has been dead for 80 years is exactly the same as the writer/producer who is still getting high profile work and whose ex-wife, whom he abused, is very much still alive and suffering.

But please, continue to be a self-satisfied prat about enjoying things from problematic creators. Well done.
posted by crossoverman at 4:17 AM on August 23, 2017 [11 favorites]


I think part of the difficulty of assessing male feminists is the range of the word as it's used combined with the insidious nature of societal/structural misogyny.

On one level a feminist is anyone who believes that men & women should be treated equally. In 2017 this should be a minimum expectation although unfortunately MRA etc has shown that is sadly not. This definition has the advantage of positioning feminism as a default, reasonable expectation and therefore positioning people who don't agree as extreme in their viewpoint. Of course men should not get credit and applause for clearing this very very low bar. However the problem with this viewpoint is that it's very easy to casually subscribe to it, think it's 2017 and it's all OK and be blind to societal misogyny.

If you are a feminist by the above description it's very easy to say "cheating is not anti-feminist" because you start by assuming men & women have equal power, agency and are treated equally by society so cheating is "merely" a relationship issue.

If you take account of the known issues that viewpoint changes:
*Although men & women have equal rights to continue their careers after children in cases where one partner reduces or stops working it's still overwhelmingly the woman who does so, reducing her earning power & status
*Women's societal value and "attractiveness" decreases in a way that men's does not as they age
*Women have historically been socialised to think of & care for others (see the Emotional Labour thread), men have historically been socialised to "conquer and acquire — specifically sexually" in Whedon's own words

So the total effect of these biases is that men are more likely to have the opportunity to cheat and that women are more likely to have made life choices that leave them disadvantaged financially in a divorce. Men who want "extra credit" for being so terribly terribly feminist do not get to ignore these biases and maintain their extra-credit feminist kudos if they cheat and then lie to their spouse, allowing them to make life choices that disadvantage themselves.
posted by *becca* at 4:17 AM on August 23, 2017 [25 favorites]


It occurs to me... in a year or so I bet we'll see a few good academic papers showing up from media studies folks on the shifts in Joss's work over the years as he dug himself deeper into hole of deceit. As mentioned above, a whole lot of plotlines from his work just got much much creepier.

As for me and 80s Frank Miller, well, fucked if I know.
I hear you. (I wish I could find the webcomic I saw a few years ago - IIRC, it was two people holding a seated Miller at gunpoint in front of a typewriter saying "WRITE A WOMAN WHO ISN'T A PROSTITUTE OR DEAD" while Miller sweats bullets.)

It is really, really time the nerd girl community started to do something about sexual predators.
I think we're starting, on small scales, but Hollywood is a much bigger target to tackle. It's an industry built on and built by sexual exploitation of women. And any women who come forward with stories of harassment or quid pro quo career advancement for sexual favors are going to be marked as toxic and hard to work with and gosh, let's just cast the other one instead - this one's trouble. I hope there are women willing to take that risk and step up and air laundry that isn't just dirty but downright illegal (Cole doesn't indicate that any of the women were underage, but if any of them are, I really hope they do feel safe coming forward).
posted by rmd1023 at 6:24 AM on August 23, 2017 [10 favorites]


Actually writing women who aren't prostitutes or dead is probably the perfect reaction to 80s Frank Miller.
posted by Artw at 6:28 AM on August 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


Frank Miller's Whores
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:29 AM on August 23, 2017 [9 favorites]


So question about the gaslighting: is there any scenario where a serial adulterer/cheater isn't gaslighting? I'm not talking about someone who's honest about their affairs, I'm talking about the more common scenario where affairs are hidden.

(I'm not trying to make a point about whether or not Whedon gaslit his wife, just trying to get a better understanding of gaslighting, and if that means all instances of serial adultery include gaslighting.)
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:22 AM on August 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Gaslighting is where you deny the target's direct experience: In the original movie, the abuser would flicker the gas lights to make his target think she was crazy. So in Gottman's original use of the term, a serial cheater could be gaslighting if they denied observations which betray the cheating.

Gaslighting as Gottman meant it was more along the lines of conversations like "You're saying that to make me feel bad." "No, no, it's just an objective observation..."
posted by Coventry at 8:31 AM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


BTW, there were two Gaslight movies, one at the start of WWII, the other near the end. They're worth watching for the contrast in the propaganda. It's much more blatant in the second one.
posted by Coventry at 8:33 AM on August 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I suppose if the cheated upon spouse never suspects or questions anything, there might not be gas-lighting.

What happened to me, and Kai Cole as well from examples from her article, is I would say (total paraphrase and summary of a muli-year dynamic), "I'm very uncomfortable with the dynamic between you and PersonX. Can we talk about how I think your boundaries are inappropriate with her?" and my partner would say, "Heeey, PersonX is my perfectly innocent friend! You're crazy and seeing things that aren't there. Your jealousy will ruin our relationship."

But they were fucking.

So yeah, on the face that's just lying. But it was also lying that over time undermined my confidence in my observations and my gut and my own boundaries, and basically I did end feeling really crazy and erased as a person. When I ended the relationship, I was at my lowest ever emotionally and borderline suicidal, which I would not have been if he had just dumped me the first time he wanted to fuck someone else.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:57 AM on August 23, 2017 [40 favorites]


And to add, what I posted does not meet the strictest definition of gas-lighting that you'll find, because my ex didn't set out a campaign of gas-lighting me with the main goal of making me crazy. He fell into it because he was a shit weasel and those were the best lies, that disarmed me the most, and he was instinctively that manipulative.

But I work under a definition that includes instinctive gas-lighting, as well as purposeful, because it hurts as much either way.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:55 AM on August 23, 2017 [9 favorites]


FWIW, sounds like gas lighting to me.
posted by Coventry at 10:06 AM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


> sounds like gas lighting to me.

Me too. Any definition of gaslighting that excludes your experience is some nitpicking #notallgaslighters shit.
posted by languagehat at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2017 [19 favorites]


There were gas lamps. He lit them. And put them out. And lit them. To shine you on, and leave you in the dark. Repeated the process. His intent was to discredit your experience. That's gas lighting.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:00 PM on August 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


My husband and I used to say that Dollhouse should have been called "Whores of the Future" because it was a weird messed up wank fantasy about essentially sexually assaulting women, but hey, they wipe their minds so it's almost like it's not real! (It's real.)

I think comparing it to Westworld makes it clear how true this is. WW isn't perfect but it takes the same concept (what would it be like to be used as a doll for someone else's fantasies) and then does key things differently. It (1) shows how traumatic that would actually be, (2) centers the experiences of women, (3) doesn't intersperse that idea with "fun sexy spy missions!!", (4) specifically builds up and then undercuts the idea that the nerdy nice guy is going to save the day.

You can tell that Westworld takes the ideas of trauma, consent, and agency (and understand the gendered implications) a lot more seriously than Dollhouse.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2017 [16 favorites]


Veyr far from perfect, but yeah, trauma is front and center in one and oddly missing in the other.
posted by Artw at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


zombieflanders Whedon very clearly objectified women... He's also used his power in the entertainment industry to try to destroy at least one woman's career... Maybe that doesn't matter as much to you...

It matters a lot. I used to admire him, now he appalls me, in much the same way as Bill Cosby or Woody Allen do. I can't even think about my formerly-favorite Bill Cosby bits anymore without recoiling inwardly. I can't watch "Manhattan" (with its subplot of a middle-aged man dating a teenage girl) at all anymore.

But unlike them, my opinion of Whedon hasn't much changed how I feel about his work. I never liked that a lot of it lamely disguises lust as respect (the treatment of companions in Firefly, most of Dollhouse, several Black Widow subplots). But I always liked the snappy back-and-forth dialogue, and I still do. I liked Zoe and Mal's relationship. I still enjoy "Doctor Horrible."

I wonder why this is so, and my best guess is that Whedon isn't really present as a character in his own stuff.
posted by panglos at 1:07 PM on August 23, 2017 [3 favorites]




It might also be because Cosby is a serial rapist and Woody Allen is a (probably serial) pedophile rapist. I think it's ok for people to decide on degrees of badness before they cut artistic works out of their lives. I am still going to watch Whedon stuff, but I am glad that more people have learned how public so called male feminists need to not be given free passes because they can write snappy, seemingly sometimes women friendly, dialog. I also hope this moves us closer to getting more women to run huge franchises where women's stories are told.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:37 PM on August 23, 2017 [11 favorites]


Dollhouse is a sign of how fast values have shifted on these issues, for sure. I remember thinking about it briefly last year, and concluding that it'd never fly today.
posted by Coventry at 1:50 PM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


The first comment on a previous discussion of Dollhouse.

Welp. That link makes for some interesting re-reading.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on August 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


Dollhouse, according to Whedon though I can't find the exact quote now, was in reaction to another show which he described but didn't name that was pretty clearly Alias as he seemed miffed about JJ Abrams success at the time. The intent being, I gather, was for Dollhouse to illustrate the problems with shows that use women as he saw Alias doing, and then have that system overthrown during the run of the show. Unfortunately for that idea, Dollhouse sucked, was almost cancelled and only saved when Whedon decided to pull an Abrams and radically reshape the show for it's second season (whether as ironic protest or without thought of Abrams I can't say.)

That isn't a defense of the show, but it did, seemly, have some goal in mind beyond its starting point.

Firefly and Whedon were likely done a huge favor by being cancelled when it was since it was likely to only reveal deeper flaws than its most obviously implicit one, the CSA callback, and its explicit troubles with Mal and the show's relationship with/to women.

Firefly was, seemingly, created in reaction to Star Trek's Federation ideology, intending no doubt to show the importance of stand up individualism in the face of a monolithic government power. One of Whedon's major artistic flaws is tied to one of his strengths, which is he's a clever writer, but without much skill in plotting. He also relies heavily on trope inversion as a key element of his plotting, which means he's essentially a parodist, relying on what others do then altering it for an opposite meaning in making his own work. When he tries to be more original, he isn't as successful and falls readily into cliches of his own on the larger scale.

That isn't to say he didn't have some real strengths as well, or that one need throw out or dramatically alter one's feelings towards all the things he was involved in, but that's a more involved discussion.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:20 PM on August 23, 2017 [21 favorites]




-Dave Chappelle Responds To Claims He's Transphobic

Yes. Every fucking gig, and it only ever gets worse.
posted by Artw at 9:41 PM on August 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


re: fallen 'creative heroes'
-Dave Chappelle Responds To Claims He's Transphobic
-Tig Notaro: Louis C.K. Needs to 'Handle' His Sexual-Misconduct Rumors


Seriously, I was having a good night, Universe. Why do you have to go fuck it up for me? WHAT THE FUCK DID I DO?
posted by Samizdata at 12:06 AM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Firefly was, seemingly, created in reaction to Star Trek's Federation ideology, intending no doubt to show the importance of stand up individualism in the face of a monolithic government power.

As Star Wars did, decades earlier, without invoking Lost Cause mythology, and even arguably Star Trek itself, with the introduction of the Maquis in DS9 and Voyager, although the bulk of those shows' sympathies obviously still lay with the Federation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


Let's not forget Dave Chappelle's ever present and absolutely rank misogyny, either. For some reason no one gets on him for that, but it is...pronounced.

And fuck YEAH Tig Notaro. There have been a couple of women in comedy who have just had enough in the past few years, and they are shining a light on all the bullshit. (Beth Stelling comes to mind too.) But you know how when you finally turn the light on in that dank, rank basement you've been avoiding for years, the first thing you see is how much fucking mess there is to deal with?

That.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:37 AM on August 24, 2017 [10 favorites]


Lost Cause mythology

I mainly think he wanted to go for an Outlaw Josey Wales type vibe, though the more you know about that the less advisable it seems.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on August 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


Lost Cause mythology

I mainly think he wanted to go for an Outlaw Josey Wales type vibe, though the more you know about that the less advisable it seems.


The whole Western genre has managed to become fairly well-divorced from the realities of the origins of the Old West, but Whedon was absolutely and obviously aware that most "outlaws" were Confederates who had essentially been exiled from the South. Mal and Jayne in particular might as well have had Alabama accents.
posted by Etrigan at 10:23 AM on August 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


but Whedon was absolutely and obviously aware that most "outlaws" were Confederates who had essentially been exiled from the South.
It's explicit: Mal and Zoe fought on the losing side of a war that was about whether there should be a centralized government or whether each settlement should be self-governing. They lit out for the frontier after the centralized-government side won, because they're trying to stay away from the long arm of the state. Whedon has always acknowledged that he was inspired by The Killer Angels, a novel about the Civil War. There's no question that Mal is a bitter former Confederate. It's just that in this universe, the civil war was about the role of government, rather than slavery.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:42 AM on August 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


Yeah, there's no question Whedon was drawing from the Confederacy for the show. Why he could possibly see that as a good idea is beyond me. I don't know if he thought having Ron Glass and Gina Torres in major roles would inoculate him from the obvious problems or if he got so caught up in the wrong set of iconography to see clearly or if he's really just didn't care, but it's unquestionably the frame of reference he wanted.

The anti-Star Trek thing goes beyond the opposition to the Federation. It's everywhere in the show, from a small achievable universe to no aliens of any sort and no grand optimism of purpose. Why Star Trek caught his ire as something needing that kind of opposition though is also beyond me.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:47 AM on August 24, 2017 [10 favorites]


Welp. That link makes for some interesting re-reading.

Seriously. It also called my attention to something else Whedon said in the past:

I have actually wanted to do a book [about a gay male character]. I have one in mind. It's not on the front burner. You write enough lesbians and you start to realize: This is just a guy. This isn't feminism. This is Cinemax. I think it's time for a little equal opportunity. Besides, who doesn't love cock?

In one fell swoop he managed to call lesbians dudes *and* sexualize us by comparing us to porn, like it's not his own damn fault that he writes lesbian relationships to explicitly cater to the "I'll be in my bunk" male gaze, all in service of humblebragging about how open-minded he is for a straight dude.

His conclusion wasn't, "wow I'm basically writing lesbians like I would write straight men, and also I'm making them into porn. That's messed up, I should change how I write gay women." it's... "time to get equal opportunity and exploit gay men, too!" Ugh. This guy.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2017 [14 favorites]


Genre fic probably does need more cock tho.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


an Outlaw Josey Wales type vibe

yeah, about that
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:33 PM on August 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Ut, sorry Artw, just saw that you covered that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:35 PM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


After this horror show and the litany of so-called male "feminists" being outed for being abusive jerks this year (one of whom was a indie political podcaster/comedian I admired), my husband was like, "Ugh, I don't have a hero worship thing, but, like, if Paul F Tompkins, Scott Aukerman, or Louis C.K. turn out to be jerks too, I'm gonna be so mad."

I replied, "Baby, I have some bad news about Louis C.K."
posted by Kitteh at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2017 [15 favorites]


Outlaw Josey Wales the movie, in isolation, versus knowing about Asa Earl Carter makes for a great illustartion of why that mythological landscape is compelling versus maybe that mythological landscape is vile propaganda for things that are awful.

Still love that movie though, can absolutely see what is appealing about in-spacing it.
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on August 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


Somewhere right now, Paul F Tompkins is murdering Scott Aukerman.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on August 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


Somewhere right now, Paul F Tompkins is murdering Scott Aukerman.

And making eight different podcasts about it.
posted by Etrigan at 12:58 PM on August 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


My favorite thing about Paul F Tompkins: you can tell that on his improv podcast Spontaneanation, he tries to have at least one woman and/or POC on every episode, and frequently has episodes that are entirely women/POC/both. It's how I've found most of my favorite improvisers.

Unlike many comedians he does not really include sexual assault, sexism, or racism in his improv, except sometimes to say something like "white people are terrible!" It's very jarring if a guest (looking at you, Scotty Auks) ever does make an improv character rapey or awful in that way.

In both cases, PFT doesn't really draw attention to himself as doing these things, or talk about what a great feminist/ally he is for it. He clearly just believes it's important, and so he does it. Someone else had to point them out to me before I noticed.

Very good model for a white male ally and I agree if he ever turns out to be a terrible person I don't know what I'll do.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:06 PM on August 24, 2017 [14 favorites]


Oh man, I just went off about Josey Wales for, like, 3000 tweets.
posted by maxsparber at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


As for Aukerman, in the last year he's exec produced both his wife Kulap Vilaysack's Bajillion Dollar Properties and Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher's Take My Wife, so he is at least supporting nonwhite and nonstraight women realize their visions.

I agree that doesn't push back enough on guests' offensive comments or bits on the CBB podcast, and I've mostly dropped the show at this point I think semiconciously for just that reason.

PFT is one of the few personalities I've ever encountered whose fundamental joy and goodness are crystal clear to me. I'm long done with hero worship but if it ever comes out he's a baddie I'd be shocked and crushed.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:07 PM on August 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well, he's got a block named after him in Mega-City One now, so he better stay good.

(Artist's doing, not mine)
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on August 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Listen to PFT's episode of The Mental Illness Happy Hour, in which he talks about how he used to be kind of a dick and then slowly came to realize that it was not a good way to be. Man I love that guy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:52 PM on August 24, 2017 [8 favorites]


I don't know if he thought having Ron Glass yeah, that wasn't helped when he decided to make Shepherd Book the Magic Negro of his show.
posted by TwoStride at 5:41 PM on August 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


Just reading this thread now as it's taken me a while to process this news. I'm not into hero-worship, never have been. And I knew Whedon wasn't perfect, and neither was his work. But reading that article, with the quotes from him that absolutely sounded exactly like the writer I've admired for nearly 20 years... I just didn't expect him to be such a fucking loser. Sad Literary Boner, Nerd Edition. Fuck. What a waste.

Thankyou everyone here for digging into the nuances. At least some of us will learn something from this, even if he won't. Here's hoping Kai recovers and kicks arse in her life from now on. She deserves all the support she needs, and as much success as she wants.
posted by harriet vane at 9:10 AM on August 26, 2017 [13 favorites]


I am a huge fan of BtVS. I am deeply and profoundly saddened by this revelation. I suspected Whedon was a prick, just from his constant comments reminding everyone about how fucking humble he is. Cheating on your wife for 15 years is unforgivable. The cruelty of lying to your spouse for 15 years through multiple affairs disqualifies a person from ever claiming the mantle of feminist. OR even "decent human being." Fuck Joss Whedon and his engorged ego. Long Live Buffy. And may Kai Cole find peace and happiness. She deserves it.
posted by pjsky at 10:43 AM on August 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


Because Louis C.K. was mentioned in the thread, I wanted to link this really impactful piece by Emma Healey - Truth in Jest?

I think it also speaks to the Whedon issue, or rather, the issue of our shared disappointment when us women learn, as Healey says, "Now, it makes me feel like I got tricked by another man who’s only willing to engage with this stuff at arms’ length, and only for as long as it makes him look good."
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:02 AM on September 6, 2017 [13 favorites]


That Emma Healey piece is really good; I was planning to excerpt a paragraph or two, but it's all connected and it's all good. Just go read it. And thanks, I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! —I'm glad you were here today.
posted by languagehat at 1:24 PM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I too am glad you were here to post that article, it's a really powerful read that made me by turns angry and think carefully about my own privilege.
posted by *becca* at 5:53 AM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Thanks a lot for that Healey piece. It does good work at trying to understand what's particularly galling about his C.K. thing.
posted by OmieWise at 1:23 PM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Mitheral: "I don't know about Tudyk but Fillion has been a huge fanboy of the show.
"

Example.
posted by Mitheral at 9:04 PM on September 20, 2017


I wonder which friend he lost along the way - Adam Baldwin?
posted by liquorice at 9:56 PM on September 20, 2017


My guess would be he's talking about Ron Glass' death.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:42 PM on September 20, 2017


Ah, damn. Of course.
posted by liquorice at 10:51 PM on September 20, 2017


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