Joss was the Vampire.
February 10, 2021 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Charisma Carpenter accuses Joss Whedon of abuse. Charisma Carpenter alleges Joss Whedon “abused his power on numerous occasions” while she performed on Whedon’s series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.”
posted by leotrotsky (263 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
The mistreatment of Ms.Carpenter (and effective destruction of her character) due to her pregnancy was already relatively well-known, but the broader context post Me Too is significant.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:56 AM on February 10 [29 favorites]


previously
posted by bq at 11:58 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]




Skeptical that this chud will experience any negative career impact at all, but I'll be happy if I'm wrong.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 12:07 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


When I first watched Buffy, I did not like Cordelia (too close to my own high school experience at the time). On rewatch years later, Charisma Carpenter is the best thing about the show. She steals every scene she's in and gets a laugh every time. Part of the reason the show deflated in season 4 is because Joss poached her for Angel (which she was also easily the best part of).

Joss is the definition of the "nice guy" creep. He's Xander. It's scary that in the late 90s that was the model a lot of us guys aspired to. We have to do better.
posted by rikschell at 12:09 PM on February 10 [118 favorites]




Sarah Michelle Gellar comments, if somewhat elliptically. I have long wondered about her experience on Buffy and I have some pretty damned strong suspicions at this time that they were... not great, but I respect that her choice has been to move the hell on. I also respect that even if she doesn't want to talk about it, she's willing to make it clear which side she's on.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:09 PM on February 10 [46 favorites]


AFAICT, Whedon spent a decade or so receiving feminist accolades despite, uh, not actually being much of a feminist. I kind of never got that. I enjoyed some of his work, but it was usually dodgy at best on gender issues. Did he just coast along for years on Buffy being a Strong Female Role Model or something?
posted by jackbishop at 12:14 PM on February 10 [23 favorites]


ivanthenotsoterrible: "Skeptical that this chud will experience any negative career impact at all, but I'll be happy if I'm wrong."

He quit and/or got fired from his new show, The Nevers. HBO says:
“We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021,” a HBO spokeswoman said in a statement Wednesday.
posted by octothorpe at 12:14 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


Joss is the definition of the "nice guy" creep. He's Xander. It's scary that in the late 90s that was the model a lot of us guys aspired to. We have to do better.
posted by rikschell at 3:09 PM on February 10 [+] [!]


The past is a different country. The 90s looks a lot like today (except for the phones), but the amount of utterly toxic, cruel behavior that was normalized back then is horrible in retrospect.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:17 PM on February 10 [116 favorites]


Media is a great window on this. Most sympathetic males leads from 90s movies are just awful terrible people. Troy from Reality Bites? Screw that guy.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:17 PM on February 10 [34 favorites]


Whedon's whole thing is he likes to reverse the trope of the damsel in distress by turning her into a bad-ass, and fetishizing her strength. That can look like feminism or empowering women at first glance. The sequence that introduces Black Widow in the first Avengers movie is like a Joss Whedon thesis statement in one scene. I get the impression that his enjoyment of strong women is wrapped up in his ability to then control those strong women and humiliate them when they displease him. He's a manipulative weasel when you get right down to it. I wonder what it was like for Jane Espenson or Marti Noxon to work with him. They must have seen things.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:20 PM on February 10 [75 favorites]


The Browncoat in me has been wondering for a while whether I can in all good conscience introduce my teenage daughter to Firefly. The things we've learned about Joss over the past several years have ruined my experience of some otherwise very good shows.
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 12:22 PM on February 10 [28 favorites]


Buffy meant a lot to me as a teenager. I really looked up to the character, and seeing a feminine young woman kick ass actually DID feel empowering. It wasn't a common sight, to say the least. Both Buffy and Cordelia were (are) exceptional characters.

It breaks my heart that the people making the show had such a horrible experience, when the show itself meant so much to me (and honestly still means a lot to me).

I have never been a fan of Joss Whedon and haven't liked anything he's done since Buffy and Angel, but nevertheless, those two shows continue to be close to my heart and I think there is still a lot about them that's valuable. They are very much of their time, but that may be part of what's valuable about them, too.

I wish making the shows had been as empowering an experience for the actresses as watching them was for me, and hate that it wasn't.
posted by rue72 at 12:26 PM on February 10 [57 favorites]


This putz not only ruined Charisma Carpenter's career but he also ruined his own show (Angel) by killing off the character of Cordelia. He excised the only relationship that gave any real weight to the show and made those last couple of seasons damn near unwatchable.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:31 PM on February 10 [32 favorites]


It wasn't just about Buffy being strong. It was the first American tv show I can remember in which women had goals and roles beyond relationships, and also they had relationships among themselves that had nothing to do with boys or marriage. Even Xander was a definite side character, behind Buffy and Willow.

In other words, it passed the Bechdal test in spades.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:33 PM on February 10 [61 favorites]


I really loved Firefly when I first saw it in college, but rewatching it somewhat recently made me cringe. There's the orientalism, there's the racism (it's not a coincidence that the only dark-skinned Black man in the cast is named after a confederate general and threatens to rape the most innocent and pure white woman), there's the sexism (the Madonna-Whore duality of Kaylee and Inara, and literal Prostitutes With Heart of Gold). Plus Adam Baldwin. Honestly, I would avoid it. I don't think it holds up. And especially with this information coming out about Buffy, I really wonder about the experience of the women and people of color on set.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:33 PM on February 10 [82 favorites]


Also, Charisma Carpenter had completely spot on comedic timing during Buffy. Whedon was so petty he shot the Angel show in the face rather than let her skills shine. What kind of petty, vindictive schmuck does that.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:35 PM on February 10 [29 favorites]


I really think SMG should have sent that statement by someone else before she wrote it, because it's weirdly dismissive. The last sentence was enough. (That said, I don't see other Buffy/Angel actors except Amber Benson commenting at all, and David Boreanaz went protected on twitter.)

Like many other people my age, I felt Buffy was -- at the time -- a revelation. I know it wasn't perfect then; we all discussed that even as it aired. (I actually stopped watching Angel because the proto-feminism in Buffy was removed from Angel in a lot of ways.) And from 20 years on, I see problems I didn't see then, sure. But to say that in 2021, Buffy doesn't look feminist, why did anyone care in the 90s is not at all fair.

Whedon's work wasn't perfect then, but it was better than the alternatives. It's been clear that he felt he checked off whatever he needed to and hasn't updated anything since then -- his stories have been going over the same stuff since, and it looks more and more dated each time. And of course however good his show was, it doesn't excuse his behaviour, I just wanted to explain why Buffy was so important then.
posted by jeather at 12:40 PM on February 10 [25 favorites]


We are in a Buffy rewatch (just watched "Hush" Monday night) and it's weird that despite how good S4 was, Cordy was sorely missing. Rot in obscurity, Joss.
posted by Ber at 12:45 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


I've been thinking about this since the Phil Spector obit thread. There's this toxic thing in our culture of elevating shitty men because of some unique thing they bring to their field. Spector had his "wall of sound", but celebrating him alone discounted the brilliant work that had to be done by the people around him, the musicians, the singers, the recording engineers, all of whom probably did more to create the Phil Spector sound than he did by being a toxic dictator. I think the same thing applies here, where we can and should still celebrate the good parts of Buffy and some of his other work because there were a lot of other people involved who did amazing things under his now problematic banner. Auteur theory makes idols of shitty people and erases everyone else's contribution to the finished work.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:45 PM on February 10 [51 favorites]


Didn't James Marsters say that Whedon actually physically assaulted him once?
posted by Beholder at 12:52 PM on February 10


The things we've learned about Joss over the past several years have ruined my experience of some otherwise very good shows.

I'm coping with a similar issue but with a different celebrity (I super-duper-intensely love Call Me By Your Name, so the current scandal around Armie Hammer is....challenging), and I keep thinking of how Daniel Radcliffe handled yet another issue with yet another artist/creator. When J.K. Rowling revealed herself to be a transphobe, Radcliffe wrote a beautifully graceful post over at the Trevor Project Blog, during which he stated for the record that he disagreed with Rowling profoundly on this issue. But then he went on:
To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.
The whole notion of "cancel culture" or boycotting a particular artist after a given scandal is a little different than what you do with the stuff they did before. And sometimes...a fucknuckle can end up producing something that other people, innocent of the fucknukclery, find comforting or inspiring or such. But - the people are finding the content that was created to be comforting or inspiring, not the creator themselves. So I'm siding with Daniel Radcliffe here - if you found something in those shows at the time, at a time where maybe it told you something you really needed to hear or that helped you in some way, then that's between you and the show you saw, period. Joss Whedon isn't as responsible for that as the show itself (a loooooooooooooot of other people were involved in creating Whedon's shows, after all, and they had just as much, if not more, of a hand in shaping what you saw). So maybe, like, start thinking of Firefly as "Oh, that Nathan Fillion show" and overlooking Joss' contribution entirely. I'm already starting to train myself to think of Call Me By Your Name as a film where Timothee Chalamet starred opposite "some random dude named Sid who looks a lot like that creep Armie Hammer".

....Mind you, if you start to find fault with the show itself - which some people are also doing - that's different. That kind of "it was very much of its time, but today yechh" thing is something I have a harder time with....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:02 PM on February 10 [126 favorites]


It's been clear that he felt he checked off whatever he needed to and hasn't updated anything since then -- his stories have been going over the same stuff since, and it looks more and more dated each time.

Yep, exactly this. Buffy was deeply formative for me, but Joss has been coasting on his late-90s feminist laurels ever since. Even if he hasn’t actually become a shittier person since then (which tbh it seems he has), just standing still while everyone else works to do better leaves him way, way behind where he ought to be.
posted by nonasuch at 1:05 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


JW screwing over Carpenter because she got pregnant has long been known, so these additional details sadden but do not surprise me.

I really loved Buffy and had mixed feelings about Angel (I was breaking up with grad school at the time and spent a lot of time arguing with it to distract myself). JW had something to say back in the 90s, but it's not just that he got stuck there and the world moved on. He kept revisiting similar material, and each time he hit the harmful notes harder.

As for Firefly, it's never a bad time to link How Much Is That Geisha In The Window?
posted by praemunire at 1:08 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


I really loved Firefly when I first saw it in college, but rewatching it somewhat recently made me cringe.

In addition to all the problems with the show you mentioned, there's also the fact that the main characters are essentially former confederate soldiers. It didn't bother me when I watched it way back when, but now? It's like a sci-fi show for all the fuckwits waving the stars and bars.
posted by nushustu at 1:08 PM on February 10 [28 favorites]


I'm already starting to train myself to think of Call Me By Your Name as a film where Timothee Chalamet starred opposite "some random dude named Sid who looks a lot like that creep Armie Hammer".

I'm the same way about The Cosby Show. I fucking hate that Bill Cosby did what he did, but there is so much good in that show, due in large part to all of the non-rapists who were involved with the production, that I have to find a way to say "that man is terrible, but this show is still a good thing."
posted by nushustu at 1:10 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


Michelle Trachtenberg also commented.
posted by jeather at 1:11 PM on February 10 [21 favorites]


I've been waiting for this day, but please PLEASE don't forget that she spoke out to lend her support to Ray Fisher, who's been suffering abuse, racist or just plain fanboyist, from the DCEU crowd, because his allegations of the abuse Whedon perpetuated at work at the JL set. The antecedent to this current episode is important and it wouldn't do well if we fall into the same cliche of paying attention only when a white woman said something
posted by cendawanita at 1:12 PM on February 10 [107 favorites]


I watched it when it was first on and loved it* and told everyone to watch it, but tried to rewatch it in 2011 and just couldn't. It wasn't only Xander, the character that I had loved the most, Willow, was so awful. Even though I love shows where everyone is an asshole, it was disconcerting to watch a show full of assholes while being told they were lovable underdogs.

Still, if you look at what was on US television at the time, Buffy does seem pretty feminist in comparison. No disrespect to Sabrina, but it seemed like every episode was about her boyfriend finding out she was a witch and then getting mindwiped; additionally, it turns out that her aunts were actually sisters and not a lesbian couple as I originally thought.


*I did spend some time at The Bronze and later TWOP complaining about how white it was for a show set in California, but that didn't keep me from loving it.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:12 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]




I think that wabbittwax and EmpressCallipygos have gotten to the gist of it. In particular, Daniel Radcliffe's message to the HP fans is especially pertinent. When it seemed like JKR was doubling down on the transphobia every week, lots of people were piping up with the unhelpful observation that, well, they never liked it, and trying to score pre-emptive cancellation points or something. I wasn't particularly into BtVS, but I have no beef with people who were.

I did have a bit of a problem with people who were all in on the Joss cult, of which there were no small number; I'm still a bit sore at the browncoats who insisted that I wasn't a real fan--of anything, apparently--if I didn't promote Serenity as assiduously as they did. But there's still some things of worth in his work; when I recently rewatched Age of Ultron, I was surprised at how much of it held up, particularly in the first half. And I think that it's quite possible to separate that out from the problematic aspects not only of some of the same work, but of the man himself. (Which doesn't mean that I'll be supporting his work in the future; I shan't.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:19 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Wow, this is a weird way to pop on to MeFi after nearly four years of absenting myself.

The incidents with Ray Fisher and now even more detail from Charisma has made me think about how much I loved the Whedonverse as a teen and some of my adulthood. It's like having a guy friend who you thought had your back has been gaslighting you for years. A generation of women grew up adoring Buffy and the Scooby Gang because, yes, there wasn't a whole lot going on in terms of television role models. And it's depressing to know that the female actors we admired were having such a shitty time of it all these years later. I suspect if you're a straight white male, you probably had a blast working with him. I mean, I LOVED Firefly and now I can't watch all these years later because of Adam Baldwin (ah, the day he called me a c***t on Twitter), and now the cringey Confederate tropes as well as soooooo much.

And while I guess it's great he got booted from his newest venture, it doesn't count as a victory as the entire idea of the series is very Whedon. (Tiny hot women who are sex workers and can fight! But in corsets because Victorian England.)
posted by Kitteh at 1:20 PM on February 10 [65 favorites]


I could only stomach two or three episodes of Buffy because I thought Buffy's physical strength and powers were a thin veneer over fragility, neediness, and dependency on men.

If you compare Buffy to earlier shows centered around female characters, Mary Tyler Moore had far greater power and agency in her world than Buffy did in hers, and Lucy of I Love Lucy was relatively a monster of force and dominant will.

Buffy actually represented a post-feminist regression in the status of women to previous ideals of helplessness and dependency.
posted by jamjam at 1:24 PM on February 10 [14 favorites]


....er....you know that "Mansplaining" isn't a magic word that can make opinions you don't like just disappear, right?

I actually do know what mansplaining is, thanks.
posted by rue72 at 1:41 PM on February 10 [64 favorites]


It's great that there were shows in the 50s-70s that had strong women whose lives weren't defined only by relationships, but Buffy started in the 90s and really can be best compared to other shows that were airing in the 90s. I don't disagree with the overall point -- there was a regression in how women were portrayed in film and tv -- but that's not relevant to how Buffy compared to other shows we could have been watching in 1997.
posted by jeather at 1:44 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


If you compare Buffy to earlier shows centered around female characters


I got two words for you:

GOLDEN GIRLS
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:45 PM on February 10 [21 favorites]


Who cares. It could be the most feminist show on earth, doesn't make abusing the actresses okay.
posted by all about eevee at 1:48 PM on February 10 [35 favorites]


Buffy actually represented a post-feminist regression in the status of women to previous ideals of helplessness and dependency.
Buffy is about living with trauma in a world that constantly continues to traumatize you. Abusers usually understand trauma very well. It's their bread and butter. And this is why we cannot separate the art from the artist.
posted by k8lin at 1:49 PM on February 10 [36 favorites]


I really think SMG should have sent that statement by someone else before she wrote it, because it's weirdly dismissive. The last sentence was enough. (That said, I don't see other Buffy/Angel actors except Amber Benson commenting at all, and David Boreanaz went protected on twitter.)

The vibe I read from it is, "I hate this guy and don't want to talk or think about him, so please stop asking me, but good on Charisma for speaking up."
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:50 PM on February 10 [78 favorites]


I specifically said that nothing excuses the abuse, that I am talking about why the show was meaningful for a large number of young women then.

The Golden Girls was off the air and was about elderly women, not teenage girls and their lives being taken seriously. It's a great show, but it filled a different niche.
posted by jeather at 1:52 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


I wonder if SMG can't say more because of a non-disclosure agreement?
posted by mogget at 1:59 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


The antecedent to this current episode is important and it wouldn't do well if we fall into the same cliche of paying attention only when a white woman said something

But equally, isn't it interesting that while his abuse of women has been well-known for years, it's only because of his behaviour toward Ray Fisher that all of this is gaining traction and getting out into the wider world? Sometimes it takes a man being abused, for women to be listened to. That sucks.
posted by crossoverman at 2:03 PM on February 10 [19 favorites]


I don't think I read SMG's statement as dismissive; I read it as a statement of support combined with boundary setting. And I think people who have come through situations orchestrated by abusive people should probably be encouraged to set boundaries around that experience, since abusers are so skilled at eroding those boundaries to begin with. I don't think SMG had any real power over the situation at the time, as she was 18 when the show started working for someone 15 years older and this was her breakout role; now she's in a different stage of her life entirely and she's not the person who needs to be held accountable here and spend time and energy making sure her statements are pitch perfect.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:08 PM on February 10 [81 favorites]


hey, jamjam, could you not? Whether or not Buffy meets your personal standards for feminist media isn’t really the point here. For a lot of us, that show was a lifeline, and ‘well it wasn’t even that good anyway’ isn’t really helpful.

I was twelve years old when I started watching Buffy, right before season 3 started airing. Willow was the first TV character who felt like a person I could be. Cordelia and Buffy showed me models of femininity that left room for strength and kindness, at a time when I was miserable from getting mean-girled in real life. Oz was, it felt at the time, the only good high school boyfriend on TV. The way Xander was so textually insecure (and the way he grew past it) helped me understand and protect myself from the boys who acted like him in real life.

I hate that the actors, who apparently did most of the heavy lifting to make these characters real, were being hurt by the thing that made my adolescence survivable. I’m furious about it. But I won’t say there was never anything good or meaningful in it; I just won’t give Joss Whedon credit for that ever again.
posted by nonasuch at 2:09 PM on February 10 [87 favorites]


SMG is the most private, and least interested in having a fandom or social media persona, person I can think of who was the lead of a beloved giant fandom-generating property.

I was actually pretty impressed by her statement that she doesn't want her name associated with Whedon, and I kinda feel like for her, this was the equivalent of shouting that he's a bag of dicks in the middle of ComicCon.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 2:16 PM on February 10 [92 favorites]


Yeah, whatever I am thinking about SMG's statement, she made one which is very firmly on Charisma Carpenter's side, a huge step above most of the cast.
posted by jeather at 2:22 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


The vibe I read from it is, "I hate this guy and don't want to talk or think about him, so please stop asking me, but good on Charisma for speaking up."

I wonder if it means, "I myself didn't have a terrible time working for Joss, but I understand and believe that other people did and I support them. Given this, it would be great if people could stop defining me as 'That actress who worked for Joss Whedon almost 20 years ago'."
posted by The Tensor at 2:37 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


It might be better if we don't go in circles trying to parse meaning out of a few words that we can't be sure the author put in there.
posted by ChrisR at 2:47 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


For context on that "How Much is the Geisha in the Window" youtube video praemunire linked, if anyone (like me) watched it on the pop-up and therefore missed the video description: "Summary: Fuck you Joss, you racist asshole—an ode to the invisible Asians of Firefly." I loved Firefly as a teenager but haven't revisited it, recalled it being problematic, but I'm still gobsmacked by the stuff this video points out. Y I K E S.

I also loved Angel as a young teen and recall being sort of mystified by how Charisma was written out of the show. I really lacked the context to understand what was going on and I think it imparted some really messed up ideas about what pregnancy means for a woman's life both in fiction (Cordelia) and in the real world (Charisma). Such a shame because I agree she was such an integral part of the show and I really liked a show featuring a platonic respectful friendships between a male and female lead.
posted by Emily's Fist at 2:48 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Media is a great window on this. Most sympathetic males leads from 90s movies are just awful terrible people. Troy from Reality Bites? Screw that guy.

This is very true. A couple of years ago I re-watched the Birdcage and was expecting to cringe through the Robin Williams and Nathan Lane parts. Instead...they were actually still pretty funny? The real problem was that the "audience stand-in" son was such an awful person he actually seemed worse than the conservative Republican politician character.

FWIW I've always thought Whedon was a little more interested in the genre subversion of "girl who looks like Victim #3 actually kicks ass" than the feminism angle, though he was certainly willing to play up his "feminist" credentials to benefit. I enjoyed many seasons of Angel and Buffy, and even stuck with Dollhouse long enough to get to the cool final season. Things I liked about Whedon shows then: big roles for female characters, humorous approach, great acting in genre fare, season-long arcs. These things have become commonplace, so it's possible people don't realize how rare it was to get all that 20 years ago. Learning that Whedon is a creep hasn't actually diminished my ability to enjoy the old shows (I always hated Xander, so that's nothing new), but it has significantly reduced my interest in him making anything new. Just go away, dude!
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:50 PM on February 10 [15 favorites]


Nice to see you again, kitteh. Sorry it's not under better circumstances.

I recently re-watched Firefly. I love it still for its cleverness, and I loved that about Buffy as well. But there's so much to be angry about, including the character of Xander, the total character assassination Cordelia underwent (after having had what I thought was a really wonderful arc to becoming a person of depth and character while still remaining true to who she had always been), the treatment of Willow, and so on. I could go on for a very long time.

I always tell myself it's Ok to like problematic content, but the weird fetishistic orientalism of Firefly (and especially the movie Serenity, with tripled down on it) goes beyond that—it makes me wonder, "What people I respect and care about might feel hurt by my love of this show?"

I'm not surprised to hear this about Whedon, because his treatment of Carpenter has been known in the past, and because some of what makes him an abuser and a sexist and an asshole is right there in his work.

The whole entertainment industry seems to problematic—work is scarce, and too many people have to put up with abuse of various kinds if they want to work. I'm sorry to hear about Ray Fisher's experience, and that he has chosen to leave the franchise rather than continue to work with Whedon.
posted by Orlop at 2:52 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Two things:

1) we have to separate art from artist, at least inasmuch as we can take meaning from the former without reference to the latter. That's what Radcliffe's getting at, it's why we can have Tosca and Puccini in the same breath. "This work gave me happies" and "that bloke should be buried head-down in an anthill" need not be in tension.

2) Wasn't there a whole thing about the Firefly characters being Really Extremely The Opposite Of The Good Guys, but the plot never got a chance to play out so we're left with cowboooys... iiiin... spaaaace...? I'm sure I remember that.
posted by regularfry at 3:30 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I suspect if you're a straight white male, you probably had a blast working with him

I do remember Boreannaz really circumspectly distancing himself from the Whedon love-in at the time. No Shakespeare readings in the garden for him. Making a point to say his social life was elsewhere, not with any of the cast and crew. And I remember wondering about that then.

I also remember being very uncomfortable with the super powerful yet fragile female who is also mentally fractured and just about helpless trope Whedon tends to wallow in, by the time I watched the Firefly film. It just seemed like a building someone up in order to destroy them more poetically sort of thing. And I did feel awfully sorry for Charisma Carpenter, who had watched castmates and Whedon himself have their own babies through their wives efforts in the middle of production, while she might have been wondering, in her mid-thirties, when she might get a chance to do so herself without being blamed for messing up someone's magnum opus..
posted by glasseyes at 3:48 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


There were bits of Buffy that were very, very good, but in retrospect the show's basis was that an older and more knowledgeable man required a young woman to literally sacrifice her life for others. She couldn't take breaks, she couldn't discuss her experiences except with other 'initiates', and any failure was a moral failure of the worst sort - people could die, the entire world could be destroyed. And Giles was such a nice guy: he didn't even bear personal responsibility for his instructions, because he was acting under the directions of the Patriarchy the Watchers.

There are times when this is subverted, but IMO not really. Over and over again, men are a moderating and controlling influence on women.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:57 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


Whedon's little Shakespeare house-parties have always rubbed me the wrong way and I have a hard time defining why exactly.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:58 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


> fragile female who is also mentally fractured

I loved most of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly at the time (some scenes were unpleasant), but this always bothered me. The tiny, not-quite-clothed, mentally ill young woman was such a wasted opportunity for a more interesting character.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:02 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


The Golden Girls was off the air and was about elderly women, not teenage girls and their lives being taken seriously. It's a great show, but it filled a different niche.

Well, yeah, I was mentioning it in response to the statement "If you compare Buffy to earlier shows centered around female characters"

As someone who grew up in the 80s and came to early adulthood in the 90s, I've only recently begun to see how regressive of an era it really was. I watched 9 to 5 for the first time in over 30 years recently. I loved the movie as a kid even though I didn't get much of it -- I just liked Dabney Coleman getting humiliated. Watching it now, I was struck by the ending, where the 3 female leads succeed in creating an equitable workplace: equal pay, diversity, on-site daycare for employees with kids, flex hours, accommodations for disabled employees. It's fucking marvelous. Of course, that movie came out in 1980, at the start of the Reagan-era and the conservative movement kicking the culture wars into overdrive, so now what seemed possible and just around the corner in 1980 is practically a pipe-dream in 2021.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:05 PM on February 10 [34 favorites]


My point being that Buffy was probably both a feminist beacon for many in its time and somewhat regressively chauvinistic.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:08 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I'm so glad Charisma Carpenter spoke up, before this and now, and I'm so grateful for Ray Fisher's courage. It's really too bad more of the co-stars and crew haven't spoken up, but it's also worth remembering that not every abuser finds a way to abuse everyone. I just hope we aren't in for another round of "Bbbbut he never abused ME!"

Firefly has a lot going for it, but the problems people have listed here are real. I don't know how you can do "it's like the Lost Cause myth, but these were the good guys!" without inherently implying sympathies for the Confederacy. And the idea of presenting a sex worker as someone with prestige and respect is great except for how the respect is a hand-wave while the actual dialogue is full of relentless slut-shaming of her.

And it's a small thing in comparison to all the rest, but I'm really, really glad Whedon never got another crack at writing Captain America in the MCU. He talked a big game about it but I don't think Whedon really understood the fundamental benevolence and humility of Steve Rogers. The one scene that gave real depth was the one he cut from the film. What shines through about Cap isn't Whedon's writing or directing; it's all Chris Evans and his co-stars. I suspect a whole lot of that can be said for Whedon's other work in Buffy, Firefly, and the rest.

Mightygodking made a good point on Twitter that none of Whedon's work is him alone, and it's perfectly fine to still love it and enjoy it for all the other creators and the work they put into it, both on screen and behind the scenes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:11 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


*sigh* Welp, I pretty much knew this day was coming. Joss has been circling the drain for awhile. I notice that he's been mostly out of the limelight since Ultron anyway. Good thing I got rid of my "Joss Whedon Is My Master Now" shirt awhile back.

I can't say I've been 100% in love with him and lord knows I'd say he's "feminish" rather than feminist. He never did everything perfect. There are weird moments here and there, such as Xander (mixed bag dude), and why if everyone speaks Chinese in Firefly, are there no Asian characters (I had the feeling that the Tams were supposed to be and then...????), Tara's ridiculous death and setting off a murder spree, the concept behind Dollhouse is just incredibly weird/has terrible implications, etc. And everyone knows he was shitty to Charisma for no good reason. Come on dude, everyone in Hollywood's had an actress get pregnant on them, just write her another magical pregnancy/abduction and grow up and be done with it. That was "I'm fucking my ex-girlfriend over" behavior, which as far as I know she wasn't, so why the hell was he so nuts about it? And then there was the stuff his ex-wife said about him banging others. I am actually surprised no witch hunting has happened as to people trying to figure out who he banged.

Buuuuuuuut....this is my version of JK Rowling, because I'm a mild Harry Potter fan at best, but in general, Whedon shows have been my shows. I love seeing a little weakling girl being able to kick ass because lord knows that doesn't seem to happen IRL and hell, Brienne of Tarth has to worry about being raped. He had a lot of empowering moments and I was inspired, a lot. Whether or not I can continue in the fandom/separate art from artist here, hell if I know.

I just hope we aren't in for another round of "Bbbbut he never abused ME!"

There's a few varieties of jerks of this nature:
(a) Person who's an asshole to EVERYBODY regardless of who.
(b) Person who's an asshole to those he can kick down, but is an angel to those who he is kissing up to/wants to sleep with/actually likes, whatever. It's entirely legitimate that a guy who was an asshole to some may have only been an asshole to some.

(Right now I'm thinking of someone I knew tangentially who died recently and was beloved by those whose asses she kissed, but everyone else....I'm sure those people are devastated by her death, but the folks I know that she treated badly aren't exactly crying and sad she's gone. But I presume both sets of people's experiences of her are valid because that's what they experienced of her.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:27 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


we have to separate art from artist, at least inasmuch as we can take meaning from the former without reference to the latter.

Except it's important to consider how the personality and background of the artist informs their work. And how that in turn, informs what the audience sees, what is popular, and why.

Consider the status of women in say, Asimov's work. People shrug and say "Well, that was the Golden Age", without going on to ask WHY Golden Age SF was that way, especially given the behavior of people like Asimov. Or consider asking why Orson Scott Card handles queer themes the way he does. Or, what drove Schneider to portray Superman the way he does in his movies.

I mean sure, it's possible to separate say experience from any context, but at a minimum it's removing it's impact- reducing viewing Goya's "Colossus" to saying "Whoah, big dude". At the worst, it's deliberately turning a blind eye, enabling and supporting people like Whedon.
posted by happyroach at 4:29 PM on February 10 [23 favorites]


I am currently rewatching BtVS and Charisma Carpenter has the best timing/delivery of ANY of the cast. One of the things that struck me most watching the show again after 20 years is just how flawless she was beginning with Ep 1 S1. I started to hate Joss when he sabotaged her character during the run of ANGEL. But even knowing Joss is a horrible, hypocritical, abusive, feminist poser cannot make me dislike the show. There were just too many wonderful people among the cast, crew, writing, and directing staff for Joss to totally ruin it and I will not let his supreme assholery tarnish all that was and is, good and glorious about Buffy. Bravo to Charisma Carpenter for speaking out on behalf of Ray Fischer. I fervently hope, and do solemnly pray, that I never have to hear or read about Joss fucking Whedon ever again until the day his obituary pops up on my timeline.
posted by pjsky at 5:08 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


Troy from Reality Bites? Screw that guy.
Oof. If anybody thought Troy was supposed to be a role model...
I think I might have bad news for you about say, Starship Troopers and satire.
Or that the answer for which character from Sex and the City are you? is not a compliment.
For a (only slightly) slightly less dated reference, here's the Troy type, for he is eternal, in song: But I Could - If I Wanted To.
There's relatable - Hey! It Me! - and then there's relatable - Oh no! It Me [shudder].
But then again, I've found myself incredulously explaining to people that yes, Scarlett O'Hara is the hero in her own story; but she is the villain in everyone else's.

I say this in regards to people who feel the need to wind their projected image of the artist up in and through the art. You're gonna have a bad time.
posted by bartleby at 5:40 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


The more I read about Buffy, Angel, and the Justice League stuff, the more I wonder about the Avengers sets. I wonder if Whedon was a shit there, too, or if the power dynamic was different enough that he didn't feel like he could get away with it.

Like I said above, abusers don't always abuse everyone. Conversely, I'm sure there are a lot of people behind the camera who are even more vulnerable & have even less power to speak up than the actors who have called him out.

I hope for the sake of the casts & crews that the MCU shop was safer than the others, but I'm also left hoping some of that crowd will speak up in support of the people Whedon has abused, whether they experienced anything or not.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:46 PM on February 10


"The more I read about Buffy, Angel, and the Justice League stuff, the more I wonder about the Avengers sets. I wonder if Whedon was a shit there, too, or if the power dynamic was different enough that he didn't feel like he could get away with it."

Scarlet Johansson seemed to be stuck with being the one having to champion Joss Whedon's writing of women at a lot of press junkets and I would be interested to know her actual, unfiltered opinion of him. That's not to ignore the fact that she herself has some problemmatic stuff concerning some of the roles she chooses to play and directors she has chosen to support. But that doesn't mean that she might not have something to add to the Whedon debate. But of course, no one owes anyone their stories.

There are a few women in the Whedonverse who AFAIK have never said anything publicly negative about Whedon but who've worked with him on multiple projects. When Whedon's ex-wife released her statement some years ago about his affairs, I couldn't help but think about all the stories we don't know about his behaviors on set. Will we ever get a comprehensive picture? But again, no one owes anyone their stories and I can live with that mystery.

But I hope Whedon never works again.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 6:00 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


The MCU set is also one I'm trying to parse with all the info i know, which is battling with my fondness for Avengers (for somehow executing the brief well, despite rewatching over the years that shows how deeply he doesn't get Captain America* as well as actually ruining Tony Stark by using him as a character proxy) and my hatred for Ultron (which, heh, 'finally', showed the Whedonisms that i had been bracing myself inc wtf that went on with Black Widow). I'm currently thinking it was also politics and executive control - he definitely had to play nice with Marvel and Feige (whose critical flaw mentioned by other creatives is the amount of control they have over the process) AND Marvel publishing since this was pre-disney and comics are his other revenue stream

By the time ultron started tho, they were really confident with him and were actively selling it as an auteur with a studio budget approach. So he had a lot more control. But! I know *he* was frustrated on set - both because he had to play by the longer arc requirements (which he did lazily, per the deleted scene with Thor) and also these were big stars who were keeping the set light with shenanigans which came thru very clearly during the on-set interviews (he was clearly not having it, but he can't exactly shout at them can he?).

Compare and contrast with who were the newbies on the JL set.

*kinda glad he also flamed out of developing Superman for that reason
posted by cendawanita at 6:08 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Like, simply the concept of Dollhouse was creepy enough for me to sort of entirely reverse course on my until-then "he's one of the good guys" opinion about Whedon. Like, how does anyone with a healthy attitude toward women even think up a scenario like that, let alone get it realized as a personal vision on a major television network?

Yeah, I'm sorry he actually IS a creep and not just a mental creep. I hope all of his victims find or have found peace.
posted by hippybear at 6:09 PM on February 10 [18 favorites]


Dollhouse was kind of the moment he unequivocally told everybody who he was. But since nobody watched it, we didn't pay attention.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:12 PM on February 10 [20 favorites]


I'm still a bit sore at the browncoats who insisted that I wasn't a real fan--of anything, apparently--if I didn't promote Serenity as assiduously as they did.

There were parts of Serenity I liked (Chiwetel Ejiofor nails the bad guy you love to watch who is also terrifying imo) but the Big Sad Thing That Happens always felt to me like... it wasn't necessary to the story, it wasn't "hey life is cruel sometimes," it wasn't even the fiction thing of "torture your characters."

What it felt like to me was Joss Whedon saying "I can hurt you if I want to. Yeah, you, in the audience. I'm gonna hurt you right now so you never forget that I can."

And, y'know, basically fuck that.
posted by taquito sunrise at 6:30 PM on February 10 [37 favorites]


FYI: Emma Caulfield hasn't done her own post on Instagram but has shared SMG's post to her story and endorsed it, with the caption, "in the wise words of my friend @sarahmgellar"
posted by wabbittwax at 6:30 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


oh & the thing where Mal thinks he gets to have an opinion about whether or not Inara is a highly respected well-paid girlfriend experience sex worker when they're not even in a relationship, & the show's like "This is a normal part of their contentious flirting & this guy's still the hero of the show?" fuck that also
posted by taquito sunrise at 6:38 PM on February 10 [25 favorites]


The MCU set is also one I'm trying to parse with all the info i know, which is battling with my fondness for Avengers (for somehow executing the brief well, despite rewatching over the years that shows how deeply he doesn't get Captain America* as well as actually ruining Tony Stark by using him as a character proxy) and my hatred for Ultron (which, heh, 'finally', showed the Whedonisms that i had been bracing myself inc wtf that went on with Black Widow).

Yeah, the “language” quip at the start of Ultron is a great example. Cap isn’t some prissy goody-two-shoes, he’s just deeply and profoundly decent. His behavior is rooted in his values. When his values conflict in the face of a complicated world, that produces the narrative momentum that drives his stories. Like in Winter Soldier or Civil War.

That Joss was unable to parse fundamental human decency is meaningful, I think.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:39 PM on February 10 [23 favorites]


Speaking of Ultron, who was it that came up with the "prima nocta" line that Tony Stark says when trying to lift Thor's hammer? Was it just an ad-lib by RDJ or did Whedon write it? Regardless, it stayed in the film and I really hate that "joke."
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 6:53 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


man, remember also the various defenses the fandom (myself very much included) had over Loki's line to Natasha in the first Avengers?

for me the scales fell off my eyes with Firefly, since I couldn't elide over the faux-Chinese part at all, unless with jokes, so it really became clear. Avoided Dollhouse as well because I couldn't get on-board with the premise. And then just hearing the on-set rumours regarding Carpenter (and also Amber Benson!) and trying to understand what I was watching with the various conventions and panels over the years, especially the ones where CC appeared on.
posted by cendawanita at 7:02 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


It's not Whedon's major work, but Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog wasn't my idea of fun. As nearly as I can tell, Penny died because she happened to catch the attention of a couple of irresponsible men.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:03 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


at this point in my life i've come to just assume that any white cis man with power is an abusive asshole until proven otherwise. i know that's a wide fucking net that's gonna gather up a lot of innocent people too but who cares.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:14 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


I feel like even though Dr. Horrible might not have been a "major work", it was one of the things that's been really pushed hard by Whedon fandom as proof that he's some kind of "genius auteur", like only the Great Joss Whedon could do all these important TV shows AND comic books AND major motion pictures AND oh yeah this oddball internet dramedy musical thing. (I've never watched it.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:26 PM on February 10


in retrospect the people i've known who have loved joss whedon products the most ended up being the most toxic
posted by logicpunk at 7:55 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


dude was always clearly gross
posted by StarkRoads at 8:04 PM on February 10


I feel like even though Dr. Horrible might not have been a "major work", it was one of the things that's been really pushed hard by Whedon fandom as proof that he's some kind of "genius auteur"

The Dr. Horrible praise wasn't because he was an auteur, but had to do with the 2008 Writers' Guild strike, and was about finding a way to do a production which didn't cross the picket lines but which gave work to a production crew so they could get paid. The way it was made and released and the money it raised to help support some people during a time when their work had otherwise run dry.

Whedon is a land of contrasts, and this was in a lot of ways a very good thing he did. I mean, the production and the money raised. Penny was totally shortchanged of her life in order to deliver Yet Another White Guy into Being A Supervillain because His Heart Was Broken.
posted by hippybear at 8:13 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


Was it just an ad-lib by RDJ or did Whedon write it?

It was reprehensible and it sounded like a Whedon thing. RDJ's ad-libs did happen but they were far more quippy, like the nicknames for other Avengers and stuff like that. “That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn't notice. But we did.”
posted by Ber at 8:25 PM on February 10


I reread the previous MeFi threads about Joss. Some people mentioned how at the time Charisma was written out of Angel the popular speculation was that she was "difficult" or the writers were forced to because she had a drug addiction. Jesus. Imagine you're her, suffering what she has suffered, hearing those rumors that you're the problem. In her tweets Charisma discusses how Joss's abuse impacted her physically and emotionally, the ways it destroyed her self-worth, how it alienated her from the rest of the cast, and how she "coped in isolation and, at times, self destructively."

I think this dynamic was depicted very pointedly on Bojack Horseman. In that show Bojack seriously injures a co-star, Gina. He goes to rehab and moves past it. But Gina develops PTSD. She gets jumpy and upset on another set when a similar scene triggers her and people think she's a diva. Casting agents discuss her promise but someone mentions that they heard she was difficult, and so she is quietly passed over. Her career dies.

This story must happen over and over again. Abusers like Joss continue on while the people they hurt suffer for decades, branded as "difficult" because they're traumatized and suffering in silence, thinking they're the only ones. So grateful Charisma was able to recognize the injustice she suffered and was willing to name her abuser for what he was.
posted by Emily's Fist at 8:38 PM on February 10 [57 favorites]


Michelle Trachtenberg also commented.

One footnote in the interest of giving more attention to shows run by women: Michelle Trachtenberg is also the star of Diana McCorry's short animated 'edgy' sci-fi comedy series Human Kind Of, available free on, uh, Facebook. Among other things, Joss Whedon is a good example of why genuine representation matters in the industry. Along those lines, maybe another positive note: "‘Star Wars’ Series From ‘Russian Doll’ Co-Creator Leslye Headland in the Works at Disney Plus" (The Acolyte), etc.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:52 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Oh wow...

So I have a thing for reaction videos and one reactor I follow has been watching Buffy/Angel. He just uploaded Buffy 4x7 "The Initiative" episode today and I decided that I would still watch it (I haven't fully figured out if I'm ever going to rewatch Whedon stuff outside of reactions but that's a separate issue from what I want to write about here).

There are multiple terrible things in this episode but there's one scene I want to focus on. So this episode is the one that introduces the concept of the vampire Spike having a chip put in his head that prevents him from attacking people. If you're familiar with the scene, he attempts to bite Willow in her dowm room only to discover he can't because of the chip.

And this scene is so hard to watch because it begins as a college dorm room sexual assault allegory (even happens on Willow's bed) but cuts to the "comedy" of Spike's "impotence." And then Willow starts to talk about how she gets overlooked and isn't desirable to vampires and there are so many layers of ick that I can't deal. I hate that I used to find the scene funny. It's been a long time since I've revisited the show but watching this right in the midst of this JW conversation and it's like there are sirens happening inside my brain.

I haven't figured out where I go from here wrt Whedon's work because these shows meant so much to me. But that's a personal thing for me to figure out and I don't need to do all of hat processing in public.

But god damn that's gross
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 9:00 PM on February 10 [14 favorites]


at the time Charisma was written out of Angel the popular speculation was that she was "difficult" or the writers were forced to because she had a drug addiction.

This is extra super double gross because of what happened with Glenn Quinn, who the cast and crew have always insisted was a joy to work with and definitely wasn’t written out in a hurry due to the heroin addiction that killed him like two years later.
posted by nonasuch at 9:06 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


(The fan speculation around Quinn was also pretty shitty, though.)
posted by praemunire at 9:15 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


in retrospect the people i've known who have loved joss whedon products the most ended up being the most toxic

Everyone’s mileage will vary, of course, but this is the opposite of the experience I had in Whedon fandom. It’s also worth noting the reactions on Twitter from (mostly women) discussing how formative a thing Buffy was for them. Life is at least somewhat more complicated than “he was bad* and his fans were bad”.

*He was bad, it’s turned out.
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:26 PM on February 10 [27 favorites]


But god damn that's gross
It's also Doug Petrie; credit where credit's due.
posted by bartleby at 9:32 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Looking back on Buffy:

I was obsessed with it. I bought the idea that it was feminist, and I, an intellectual, was not sold on the “girl power” of the contemporaneous Spice Girls. I also knew American Beauty was a disgusting dirty-old-man wet dream, and people blaming the pretty cheerleader for seducing her friend’s dad (and having normal areolas) was a load of misogynistic crap. The ‘90s really were another planet that way.

But this day I have so many friends who are “team Angel” or “team Spike” or “team Xander’s whiny-nice-guy™️ BS.” And all I can remember thinking is, Buffy’s men were a parade of abusive, self-pitying creeps.
posted by armeowda at 9:38 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I've wondered about some of the Angel writers' view of all this, since they were the ones who had to implement JW's ideas. Tim Minear, for instance, who has gone on to some success.
posted by praemunire at 9:39 PM on February 10


And sometimes...a fucknuckle can end up producing something that other people, innocent of the fucknukclery, find comforting or inspiring or such. But - the people are finding the content that was created to be comforting or inspiring, not the creator themselves.

It's a comforting thought, but the content was created in a context and discovering new things about that context can really change how you feel. Can you reread a scene in which naked adolescent boys grapple in a shower without considering OSC's later role in the National Organization For Marriage? If authorial intent is important to you then discovering more about the author is discovering more about the work -- and sometimes discovering that it meant something very different to the author than it meant to you.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:39 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


and sometimes discovering that it meant something very different to the author than it meant to you

That's important to me for judging the author, but it doesn't invalidate my good-faith reading of the work.
posted by praemunire at 9:41 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Re: Spike

He tried to rape Buffy and that was, just, ok? That could have been an amazing storyline, in the hands of someone who is not Joss Whedon. Around that time, I was also in a sexual relationship with a man who raped me during our first encounter. I chose to go back, and when I later confided in a “friend” about the nonconsensual truth about that night, I lost an entire friend group in a coordinated public attack. It would have meant so much to see this complicated relationship with abuse. To see a strong woman brought low by a very human monstrosity and how she built herself back up. But what we got was a woman who stepped back and a monster man elevated to a hero. Fuck. That.
posted by Ruki at 9:45 PM on February 10 [20 favorites]


"people blaming the pretty cheerleader for seducing her friend’s dad (and having normal areolas)"

I don't remember a great deal about the conversation around this movie when it came out but...what? Was there some big backlash about what Mena Suvari's breasts looked like? I don't really want to google this so was just asking for clarification as to what this meant.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 9:52 PM on February 10


Josh Whedon's wife's account:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thewrap.com/joss-whedon-feminist-hypocrite-infidelity-affairs-ex-wife-kai-cole-says/amp/

I think read somewhere that his mother was a feminist. He knew all the lingo and he convinced a lot of people, even the people he was hurting.
posted by subdee at 10:04 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I've been waiting for this day, but please PLEASE don't forget that she spoke out to lend her support to Ray Fisher, who's been suffering abuse, racist or just plain fanboyist, from the DCEU crowd, because his allegations of the abuse Whedon perpetuated at work at the JL set. The antecedent to this current episode is important and it wouldn't do well if we fall into the same cliche of paying attention only when a white woman said something

Yeah, I noticed in some of the fannish places I visited today, there were people who doubted Fisher's story who suddenly think there might be something to it now that Charisma has spoken up again. It's not a good look.
posted by creepygirl at 10:58 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


>Some people mentioned how at the time Charisma was written out of Angel the popular speculation was that she was "difficult"

fwiw, as someone who followed the show at the time, I always heard it was Whedon's revenge on her for getting pregnant without permission, so it seemed pretty shitty even then, though I could also see how your lead getting unexpectedly pregnant would be annoying and expensive if you already had a different story written out.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:16 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I'm just tired, y'all. Joss has been a known asshole for years but no one cared because he had hits. Only after he helms a flop (or really fails to course correct a flop) does the studio step in and start listening. You think if Justice League had gone well, anyone would have listened to Fisher?
posted by muddgirl at 11:51 PM on February 10 [22 favorites]


though I could also see how your lead getting unexpectedly pregnant would be annoying and expensive if you already had a different story written out.

But counterpoint to that: Scully's alien abduction plotline on the X-Files, which was running around the same time. I have many things to say about Chris Carter, and being the other half of a 2-person show must count a lot, but if Carter can do it, and also it wasn't even an unusual thing to write around. Lucy Lawless was also at least pregnant once during Xena's run right? And I'm in the middle of a Babylon 5 rewatch, talk about a show where the showrunner planned escape routes for various charas which he did have to use, and that's an actually plotted 5-year course. Whedon honestly had no excuse.
posted by cendawanita at 11:55 PM on February 10 [26 favorites]


A slight detail.

On the most recent mini-episode of The Flop House podcast, the hosts had a talk with Joel Church-Cooper, the creator of Brockmire, about how he spoke with one of the stars, Amanda Peet, about her role on Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Studio 60 is -or was- famous among comedy writers for being a laughably inaccurate depiction of a sketch comedy show, and to Church-Cooper’s chagrin he discovered that Peet had no idea about this and had only fond memories of her time on set. There’s a particular awkward phone conversation between her and Bradley Cooper on the show that people find funny, but that to Peet is only notable because Sorkin was accommodating her pregnancy by writing the scene this way. Hearing about Carpenter’s firing from a beloved show is such a stark contrast from Peet’s treatment on this categorically worse one.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:18 AM on February 11 [8 favorites]


Just a reminder for everyone comparing Whedon's work to Orson Scott Card or Asimov or whatever, a book is written by one person. There were literally hundreds of people involved in B:tVS, including the writers and actors, who all poured themselves into their work in addition to and in defiance of Whedon. I think it's personally totally reasonable to rewatch the series and enjoy the work of all the other people involved while still being aware that Whedon himself is a shitbag. I mean can you imagine Hush without the makeup on the Gentlemen? Or Once More With Feeling without the excellent choreography and music? Whedon is not responsible for all of that alone.
posted by Jilder at 3:45 AM on February 11 [21 favorites]


If authorial intent is important to you then discovering more about the author is discovering more about the work -- and sometimes discovering that it meant something very different to the author than it meant to you.

But my point is that one can decide that authorial intent is not important to them. Particularly for a piece of work which was especially emotionally resonant for them for reasons they can't explain, and particularly if their own interpretation differs from the authorial intent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:53 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


Let's not forget, in the first Avengers film he has Loki refer to Black Widow as a "mewling quim" which is super gross.
posted by crossoverman at 4:04 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


This is why auteur theory is bullshit. Buffy The Vampire Slayer was both remarkable for its time, and full of red flags. It was made by hundreds of people working together and some of them were trash, some were victims, some were bystanders, some couldn't have had any idea of what was going on.

This from earlier in the thread hits the nail on the head for me:
I wish making the shows had been as empowering an experience for the actresses as watching them was for me, and hate that it wasn't.

I would not be the woman I am today if it weren't for Buffy. I hate that it came at the expense of anyone I was looking to for inspiration and representation. I would have loved to share it with the young women in my life, but it will have to be a guilty pleasure I keep to myself I think.

The DC stuff went by me because it's not my fandom. But I'm glad to hear there's investigations going on, and I hope they lead to real change to protect workers from showrunners, or anyone with power in the industry.
posted by harriet vane at 4:25 AM on February 11 [24 favorites]


You think if Justice League had gone well, anyone would have listened to Fisher?

I mean, they’re not listening to him now. He’s been booted from Flash and is out of the DCEU
posted by leotrotsky at 5:16 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Let's not forget, in the first Avengers film he has Loki refer to Black Widow as a "mewling quim" which is super gross.

I just rewatched the first Avengers movie last week, and when that line came up, at first I was really surprised, and then I remembered that Joss Whedon wrote it.
posted by amarynth at 5:17 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Ooh, edgy
posted by glasseyes at 5:25 AM on February 11


stupid silly feet-of-clay man. Well, much more than feet
posted by glasseyes at 5:26 AM on February 11


I have zero interest in defending Whedon here, but I am a bit surprised by the piling on at an interpretive level. Representation of a thing is not the same as endorsement of a thing, and meaning is derived at least in part from narrative context.

Loki calling Black Widow a quim is not a reflection of authorial inclinations, it's the villain trying to be most-villain like, lashing out while in a cage, only to discover a few lines later that Widow manipulated him into his outburst, and into giving away information about his escape plan.

Spike is not a human being in the horrific scene in Season 6 where he attempts to rape her, and he isn't supposed to be the good boyfriend. It's also worth noting that Marsters has talked about how much that scene sucked to film, how much the scene was written to show that charming isn't the same as good (a more extreme version of the lesson from the Parker character in early season 4).

Dollhouse is trickier, but the villains in that show are the people running the dollhouse, and it might make more sense to think of it as an allegory for the way Hollywood treats its actors (especially, but not exclusively women). This can certainly reflect an underlying, almost inadvertently confessional element on Whedon's part (though I think I read a long time back that the premise for the show was actually originally Dushku's idea), but it isn't as simple as an endorsement.

The interplay between people's intent and people's actions is tricky, and I find the impulse to retroactively decide that Whedon's bad behavior is definitively enshrined in his work (as if it was, entirely, "his" work) feels really problematic to me. There's no doubt that a show like Buffy is of its time, but that's in part a reflection of the limits and potential of that time period (the conditions of its emergence), as much as it might also be a reflection of the people involved (the conditions of its possibility).
posted by hank_14 at 6:58 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


Whedon honestly had no excuse.

I only just learned that Cara Gee was 8 months pregnant in a significant portion of her scenes in this last season of the Expanse! I never would have known if I only had the show to go by. Pregnancies can be worked with or worked around. Whedon did what he did because he wanted to, and believed he would get away with it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:17 AM on February 11 [11 favorites]


The interplay between people's intent and people's actions is tricky, and I find the impulse to retroactively decide that Whedon's bad behavior is definitively enshrined in his work (as if it was, entirely, "his" work) feels really problematic to me.

That’s fair, but for me it’s hard to ignore the pattern that emerges when you look at his body of work. “Entitled nerdy man who’s just misunderstood and therefore deserves the love and attention of a significantly hotter woman” is a character type that he keeps on writing, over and over.

“inadvertently confessional” sounds about right to me, actually. I’ve wondered how much self-awareness went into characters like Dr. Horrible and the s6 trio, and I guess we have our answer now: none.
posted by nonasuch at 7:21 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


I mean, they’re not listening to him now. He’s been booted from Flash and is out of the DCEU

Fisher also accused rightly higher-ups at WB of enabling Whedon, so they throw them both under the bus. But Whedon is only suffering professional consequences after a box office bomb.
posted by muddgirl at 7:29 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


> The interplay between people's intent and people's actions is tricky, and I find the impulse to retroactively decide that Whedon's bad behavior is definitively enshrined in his work (as if it was, entirely, "his" work) feels really problematic to me.

That’s fair, but for me it’s hard to ignore the pattern that emerges when you look at his body of work.


The beauty of being a consumer of media is that we can all each look at the same piece of media and each get different things from it. And our individual reaction to a piece of media can continue to change and grow along with us.

One person may find that the cumulative effect of Joss Whedon's oeuvre just feels icky now; that's partly because of Whedon, but it is also partly because of growing awareness of the double-standard and how women have been depicted in media and how that can be problematic. Another person might look at the same thing, but they may remember how a given speech from the Buffy Episode The Body came out a week after their best friend was killed in a car crash, and it was the first thing that seemed to put into words the pain they were feeling and it helped them at a difficult time, and they simply can't overlook that. Still another person may not give two shits about the debate over "Whedon - feminist or no?" but never got into Buffy anyway because they have a phobia of vampires.

Sometimes even the time you see something matters. I'm a Buster Keaton fan, and was looking forward to watching his film The General for the first time, as many critics called it his masterpiece. However, he plays a footsoldier in the Confederate army in that film - and I was watching it two days after the Charlottesville Riots, so I had a real problem watching. If I'd seen it three days earlier I may have just rolled my eyes and accepted it; if I try to watch again in a few years I may feel the same. But that soon after just made my skin crawl.

So for one person it is indeed hard to ignore the pattern that emerges when you look at Whedon's work, and that's fine; for another, they may be well aware of that pattern but also aware of the boons some of it has brought them, and that's also fine. No one reaction is more "correct" than another.

...The whole notion of each of us bringing our own filters to the media we consume is something I've thought about for several years now, and it's a fascinating thing to contemplate. It's also, I stress, separate from whether the way Whedon treated many of his actresses was abhorrent - which it was.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on February 11 [22 favorites]


In the interest of recognizing both my probably-undying love for BtVS, and recognizing how problematic it is (between Whedon being a shitbag in general, the lack of BIPOC representation, and basic "nineties shows age poorly" stuff), I need to mention that yesterday also saw the release of Buffering the Vampire Slayer's long-awaited episode on "Once More With Feeling."

It is a musical podcast episode, with great songs, digging deep into the episode, featuring a ton of special guests, made with tons of love and tons of legitimate criticism. It's two hours long and worth every minute. Please check it out.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:00 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Loki calling Black Widow a quim is not a reflection of authorial inclinations

I barely follow Buffy in the spuffy era and like I said, I don't follow Dollhouse etc. I will tackle this because I've been neck-deep in the fandom AND like i said, i also defended the authorial choice, swayed by what I thought to be persuasive arguments. It didn't take me yesterday to only change my mind - i've by now long seen this as a Whedonism, and to be frank much like the rest of the characters as written by him, really was out of character for MCU!Loki, who at that point had only appeared in the first Thor movie - and if that reflexive sexism was such a key trait to his characterisation, then how come it's never seen nor heard from again, not even in a lampshading kind of way? (hell, this would absolutely be a Waititi authorial choice in Thor 3) Then, I consider how Whedon has consistently used the threat of sexual violence or denigration in speech as a key trait of how HE writes his characters. And so, much like he writes Steve Rogers as an out-of-time Angel but with serum instead of vampire blood, and how he did Tony Stark as Xander or that guy with dinosaur puppets in Firefly but richer, and Bruce Banner is just Giles or Booker, then... *shrug* it's just us trying to square with that piece of dialogue in-universe, but I'm pretty happy with my position that it was a bad call.

But if you look at my comment history with the MCU stuff, you'll note I've not had much good to say about his character work ever since... Ultron (if I even commented here, it was so bad).
posted by cendawanita at 8:09 AM on February 11 [16 favorites]


One more thing about Dr. Horrible, and I'm not sure how much to blame Whedon and how much to blame the era.

As I recall, that was when people were mistrusting how virtue was portrayed, so we got The Dark Knight Returns with Superman and Batman as equally bad, not to mention sympathy for orcs.

So, we have a situation where the aspiring supervillain is a sympathetic fellow, and the superhero is a bullying ass. And the idealistic young woman just gets killed.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:10 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Cendawanita, just so I understand: is your claim that Whedon's version of Loki/the villain is misogynist and acts as such and that other writers'/directors' versions of Loki aren't, and that Whedon's inclusion of that misogyny is a bad choice because the inclusion of it is something Whedon must endorse, or else it wouldn't be in his version of the character?

I understand that you're linking this to a broader assessment of how Whedon writes characters, but I am trying to understand what you're saying specifically about that moment re: Loki and Widow.
posted by hank_14 at 8:17 AM on February 11


Yes, your summation is my opening premise with one exception, but the argument continues. If he chose a sexist slant and other writers haven't, which is the aberration for the character is one question. Either he didn't write the character well or others didn't. To answer that needs additional info/context. To my mind the context is then: ok, then how did he write the other characters in the same property, and is this something he's known to do across other properties?

The exception to your summary is that i have no opinion whatsoever if what Loki said was something Whedon endorsed - a foolish thing imo to ask anyone doing a creative piece of work. But he does like to use sexual denigration as a character beat, which is a choice and i don't care either way, except when it's being employed for characters that never exhibited it. So why is that?

In any case, this needn't need to be a debate of him as an author. I'm only responding because I don't resemble the description of someone who's only changed her mind with these revelations. And in any case, perhaps my case can be one example why there were people who looked at his works and saw red flags. Turns out they weren't just flags for narrative preferences* but rather personal behaviour.

*Like i deeply dislike JJ Abrams storytelling tics, but even if he is a nepotism hire esp in the early days there has never been any news of him being a despicable person.
posted by cendawanita at 8:31 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


As I recall, that was when people were mistrusting how virtue was portrayed, so we got The Dark Knight Returns with Superman and Batman as equally bad, not to mention sympathy for orcs.

There's still some of this, because "what about the ancillary damage heroes cause" is a question people are interested in. (I recently enjoyed the book Hench, which was about this.) There's a lot of nuance -- I mean, even Buffy did some of it with that plotline with Faith.
posted by jeather at 8:48 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I find the impulse to retroactively decide that Whedon's bad behavior is definitively enshrined in his work

I have to tell you, there were plenty of people who thought at the time that the premise of Dollhouse was skeevy and who wondered why Whedon seemed to feel the need to go back to that particular set of wells again.

Sorkin has his own misogyny problems, but at least the sex worker in SportsNight dumped the "nice guy" boyfriend who couldn't get over her occupation. Poor Inara.
posted by praemunire at 8:51 AM on February 11 [22 favorites]


Got it, and I see what you mean about tendency vs endorsement. That said, this is the sort of interpretive frame that doesn't make sense to me, and while i do think EmpressCallipygos makes a good point about the idiosyncrasy of filters, I'm not sure that all of them have equal purchase on validity. Like I think we can agree that there are multiple meanings inherent within a text, for a variety of reasons, but not a number equal to the size of the audience. Literary critics tend to separate the idea of polysemy (many different meanings) from that of polyvalence (many different valuations), and while I think everyone can derive their own value (or lack thereof) from Buffy or Avengers or whatever, I still don't understand how you separate the character from the narrative so easily.

If we just highlight the two examples of Spike's attempted rape of Buffy and Loki's aggressive dismissal of Widow, we're talking about characters that are simultaneously charming and deeply evil. They are not, at that time, characters that are even close to their real redemption arc. Some of that happens with Loki in Thor 2 and then again in Thor 3, but that's not part of Whedon's Avengers movies. Spike's redemption arc involves attempting to get his soul back, and while I think there are some issues with how that's handled, we are not supposed to see Spike's attack or Loki's "quim" as productive, positive moments for those characters, in those narratives.

So when you talk about looking at the trend for how Whedon likes to use sexual denigration in his characters, at leas tin thse instances, we're basically noting that Whedon tends to write his villains as if they are also and often overtly misogynistic, while others either don't or skip over this.

I don't want to derail, but some of this reminds me a bit about the debate over rape in George R.R. Martin's work, which he argues is a function of the reality of the system in which those people exist, even as it's an individual choice. He's not aligning himself with it, he's acknowledging that it makes sense within the world of the story. We can value that world very differently, obviously. We can hate the depiction, hate the world, but it doesn't mean the character's don't make sense within that narrative.

I mean, does it make more sense to you that Loki as a villain (not as a comic foil, as in Thor 3), resentful as he is of his brother's fame and favored status, and who thinks human beings are beneath him and require his rule, would be somehow egalitarian regarding human gender roles? That scene can happen without the quim line, but the dialog shows him to be smart, clever, but not evil. When he gets to that point in the scene, he is so convinced of his superiority over Widow that he enjoys how aggressive and total his dismissal of her is. That's the moment where he goes from antagonist to villain. Of course, we find out within a few lines that Widow is basically the one manipulating him and his ego, wanting him to get to a state where his sense of superiority results in him letting his guard down and accidentally revealing his escape plans. I think just highlighting the quim line without the broader context of which character serves which role within the narrative, and how they relate to each other, does the work a disservice.

I mean look, if we want to critique the way Whedon is reflected in his work, I'm all for the idea of the "dorky older guy who somehow always wins the attractive, damaged girl" being a reflection of how Whedon likely saw himself. In which case it's Xander/Anya or Banner/Widow that I think we can point to to as a sort of softer version of the same misogyny, and I think we can debate how problematic that is compared to the more explicit and violent misogyny sometimes enacted by some of his antagonists.
posted by hank_14 at 8:59 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


jeather, there's a difference between "look at the damage heroes cause" and "there is no such thing as virtue and/or virtue always loses". I'm not sure whether I was clear about that.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:59 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Nancy, what is the difference between those two? I mean isn't the first the consequentialist view of the latter?
posted by hank_14 at 9:04 AM on February 11


I thought Loki's characterization in The Avengers was disappointing all around. He's supposed to be a trickster character but he mostly just seemed like a bog-standard villain.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:10 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


hank_14, I'm gonna wait until we get a post where we can discuss in the comments Whedon's creative contribution.
posted by cendawanita at 9:14 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Fair :)
posted by hank_14 at 9:15 AM on February 11


who thinks human beings are beneath him and require his rule, would be somehow egalitarian regarding human gender roles?

A similar question would be: why does Loki, infinite being and shapeshifting god, give enough of a shit about gender to craft an insult around it? Out of all the words Whedon could have put in that immortal god's mouth, that's the one he chose.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:15 AM on February 11 [19 favorites]


A boot doesn't give the slightest care about the sex or gender of the ant. That particular line was absolutely some telling deep structures showing through.
posted by Drastic at 9:21 AM on February 11 [8 favorites]


EatTheWeak (great handle, btw), I think he chooses it because making the insult personal and aggressive and gendered is why we dislike Loki so much in that moment. He's already berated Widow for her past, for how much bad she's done, for how unworthy she is. He's explained how he's going to make Hawkeye kill her, and then, in the midst of what appears to be his total verbal victory, he goes way too far. Widow is tearing up during that scene, looking shocked and shamed, goading him, inviting him to see him as dominating her, and then gets him to do so. That moment of going too far is what sets him up to slip up a moment later.

Again, we can value the scene differently, but if we're suggesting Whedon gave him that line because Whedon just enjoys writing the denigration, I think we really have to ignore a lot of what happens in that scene and why.
posted by hank_14 at 9:26 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I don't want to derail, but some of this reminds me a bit about the debate over rape in George R.R. Martin's work, which he argues is a function of the reality of the system in which those people exist, even as it's an individual choice. He's not aligning himself with it, he's acknowledging that it makes sense within the world of the story.

The worlds were created by Whedon (not MCU, but the others were) and Martin. They chose to make worlds where that made sense.

jeather, there's a difference between "look at the damage heroes cause" and "there is no such thing as virtue and/or virtue always loses". I'm not sure whether I was clear about that.


I didn't see Batman vs Superman, so I was mostly going off Dr Horrible, sorry (which had a lot of problems, but was trying to do some interesting things). But I do think that, despite the overuse of grimdark stuff for a while, there is a good way to question whether superheroes are heroic, and what heroism means, what villainy means, the ancillary costs, etc.
posted by jeather at 9:26 AM on February 11


My own opinion: Loki calls Black Widow a quim because Whedon knew he could get away with it because anyone overseeing him looking for that sort of thing wouldn't recognize it. It was purely for his own amusement.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:27 AM on February 11 [31 favorites]


I'm not as familiar with all the source material as people here (although I should have been into BTVS, I never was). But the question of creator and material is one that grabs me a lot.

That line for Loki stood out for me as weird when we were rewatching/watching all the MCU movies during the first lockdown (I pretty much only come to Marvel through the MCU). And I pretty much come up with that a) no one could be bothered to come up with a better line, which is really lazy or b) someone just wanted to use the c-word and couldn't. Neither of which is a great look.

And that's sort of where I come out on the creator/work line too...we're all flawed humans, and flaws will come out in our work to greater or lesser degrees depending on the themes we're working with, our self-awareness, the people around us that help us edit things, and sheer dumb luck.

The lack of self-awareness and the flaw in that one line isn't much out of context (enough though, that I think it actually does hit people who are practiced at thoughtful narrative and dialogue as discordant even on a relatively casual viewing) but in context you're like...well, there you go.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:30 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Right, and Martin's counter to that is that given the historical reality of sexism and sexual assault, writing a medieval world in which everyone is noble and nice and deeply respectful of gender is problematic. It romanticizes the idea of nobility, of good men acting well, untouched by the corruption that comes from power. That can be a compelling story, but it's also one that works by pretending that gender doesn't play a role in political or cultural formations, other than the default that most of these good men are, you know, men.

There's a big difference between what Martin is doing and what someone like Goodkind was doing, where rape is heavily fetishized and relied upon every time he needs any female character to be in or near jeopardy. And I think it's spot on to suggest that Goodkind had some real issues (which are weirdly consistent with his love of Ayn Rand, who also has some fucked up ways of depicting sexual consent).
posted by hank_14 at 9:37 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


My own opinion: Loki calls Black Widow a quim because Whedon knew he could get away with it because anyone overseeing him looking for that sort of thing wouldn't recognize it. It was purely for his own amusement.

Proof by counter-example: if Loki's line had been c*** (the insult used in the US involving female genitals), my sense is that reaction would have been immediate and negative. As it was, it slid by because of US unfamiliarity with the term and its severity.
posted by bonehead at 9:41 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer, I find your dedication to decoding authorial intent bizarre. I honestly don't know if you're being serious. Do you apply the same standard to other producers or writers or directors? Like if a woman gets killed in a horror movie, is it because the creators wanted to get away with depicting some fantasy of how they want to murder a girl? Does it go both ways? Like if a character says something really nice or does something awesome, is that a reflection of some really good quality on the part the writer? What about when Cap says there's only one God and acts pretty devoutly Christian for a moment early in the Avengers, is that Joss revealing his own religious belief, but getting away with it in a Hollywood that doesn't tend to tolerate more conservative Christian views? Or is it a Joss Whedon is such a dick thing, that it's just that one line, and that one thing, and it makes total sense that he wanted to do it and thought he could get away with it, so there?
posted by hank_14 at 9:47 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


[Hi hank_14, officially going to ask you to take a step back from the thread. In a thread about how Whedon is accused of abuse and Carpenter's talking about her own experiences, it's out of place to aggressively steer toward an old chestnut of "but the Very Important Artistic Reasons To Focus on Rape/Make Misogynist Characters, don't you know about art" stuff. Give people more credit and also stop taking up all the air in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:52 AM on February 11 [39 favorites]


hank_14: I don't know if all of that was actually meant for me or not. What I'm saying is that Whedon thought it was funny to smuggle in a word that would be shocking to some people but that would fly over most of his audience's (and Disney's) heads. This isn't even a question of authorial intent or characterization, I don't think. It's just him inserting his own little mischievous in-joke (and my guess is that even he doesn't understand the "severity" of it, as bonehead says, because it just doesn't carry that weight in the U.S., if it's recognized at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:52 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


FWIW Loki has one of the few character progressions that I can truly get behind, including the first Avengers movie where it was established that a) Loki was playing a role at the behest of Thanos and b) Thor 3, where they doubled down that Loki really liked acting. I can take a bit of psychopathy with my tricksters, so the notion that Loki caused a bunch of chaos while doing his villain panto-schtick is fine for me. But the "mewling quim" thing...look, you can come up with Watsonian explanations for days, but the Doyleist reason is that Whedon thought getting a less-common, but still pretty ugly gendered insult into a kids' movie would be funny. It's gross. Not movie-breaking for me, and definitely not as gross as firing an actress for getting pregnant, but it's like 90% of strip club scenes. You can come up with all the in-universe explanations you want for why your characters "needed" to go to a strip club, but the camera's focus on faceless T&A that have nothing to do with the movie tells me everything about why the creators of the scene decided the characters needed to be there!

(Sorry mods -- delete if this is too far off topic)
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:56 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Either Whedon intentionally selected a misogynist word because he wanted to come up with something super-nasty for Loki to say, or he un-intentionally selected that word because he's in the habit of using it himself, or he un-intentionally selected it because he's clueless as to the ramifications.

Neither of those options is a good look.

Even if you want to try the "oh, but no, he deliberately chose a hot-button word in order to make Loki look like even more of a dick", argument, anyone who's been in this business as long as he's been would have thought "oh, but that's probably gonna backfire on me out of context, maybe not" like five seconds later, which brings us back again to "intentionally meant to say it" or "unintentionally said it because of ignorance or habit".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


All good, I apologize for derailing.
posted by hank_14 at 10:05 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


oh god, i completely forgot: circling back to my comment how whedon was visibly stressed during the filming of Ultron, and all this talk about BW in Avengers, ScarJo was pregnant at the time. Here's a link talking about it including a publicity still of the pre-fx BW. By then what happened to Carpenter was an open secret in a lot of fandom circles, so a lot of the black humour we girlfriends were trading was how much work Whedon had to do since he can't write her off. Of course, that makes the whole Natasha-is-infertile-for-her-superpowers even more... dubious. Since Cordelia basically died* after having a demon baby.

*oh sorry, ascended. In exchange for that pregnancy.
posted by cendawanita at 10:18 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


20 Years Later, and the Women of Angel Still Deserve More - originally posted in Oct 2019, and updated yesterday. Lord I completely forgot how much pregnancy as a Whedon plot point is rarely good news.
posted by cendawanita at 10:21 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


hank_14:

"jeather, there's a difference between "look at the damage heroes cause" and "there is no such thing as virtue and/or virtue always loses". I'm not sure whether I was clear about that.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz"

Nancy, what is the difference between those two? I mean isn't the first the consequentialist view of the latter?

No, a "hero" is a particular sort of person doing good, or presented as doing good. Heroes are generally framed as doing drastic things while taking personal risks, so they may also be causing a lot of collateral damage.

However, there are other ways of doing good. Diplomacy may lead to a better solution than war. Sometimes people take serious personal risks and save people without causing collateral damage-- see Hotel Rwanda or the many people who saved Jews during the holocaust.

Sometimes people do good without taking major personal risks-- like inventing the polio vaccine.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:44 AM on February 11


jeather, I was mentioning The Dark Knight Returns, which isn't the same story as Batman vs. Superman.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:46 AM on February 11


I don't think I even heard of that one, I am sorry I misread you.
posted by jeather at 10:49 AM on February 11


jeather, no problem.

Joke version: I found my popular culture had become unmanageable.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:51 AM on February 11


I started a brief rant about how much better The Expanse is than Firefly in every way and it is now a 9-and-counting paragraph essay. Oops? Anyway, watch The Expanse, kids!
posted by chaiminda at 10:57 AM on February 11 [10 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos wrote...
But my point is that one can decide that authorial intent is not important to them. Particularly for a piece of work which was especially emotionally resonant for them for reasons they can't explain, and particularly if their own interpretation differs from the authorial intent.


I'm right there with you, authorial intent means virtually nothing to me; I believe stories are discovered rather than created. But there are people close to me for whom authorial intent is the only thing that matters and for them discovering something new about the author requires a reinterpretation of all their works.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:33 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


scaryblackdeath: The more I read about Buffy, Angel, and the Justice League stuff, the more I wonder about the Avengers sets. I wonder if Whedon was a shit there, too, or if the power dynamic was different enough that he didn't feel like he could get away with it.

cendawanita: circling back to my comment how whedon was visibly stressed during the filming of Ultron, and all this talk about BW in Avengers, ScarJo was pregnant at the time. Here's a link talking about it including a publicity still of the pre-fx BW. By then what happened to Carpenter was an open secret in a lot of fandom circles, so a lot of the black humour we girlfriends were trading was how much work Whedon had to do since he can't write her off. Of course, that makes the whole Natasha-is-infertile-for-her-superpowers even more... dubious.

Holy shit, I had no idea. Given that there is nothing in the comics I'm aware of that would support this storyline in the first place, learning this detail makes me wonder what the timeline was between Whedon discovering one of his stars would be pregnant during the shoot, and this bizarre subplot first entering the draft of his screenplay. Now that I know a little more about his coping methods while working, it really does put a different light on all those very public stress complaints he made back then. Seems to me that directing actors who could tell him "no" and make it stick might have been part of what had him so bothered.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:50 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


“Entitled nerdy man who’s just misunderstood and therefore deserves the love and attention of a significantly hotter woman” is a character type that he keeps on writing, over and over.

On a recent MCU rewatch I was struck by how poorly the Whedon films are aging. It's tough to write and direct a huge action ensemble with multiple heroes and set pieces and expect solid emotional character development at the same time. But it seemed that he flattened each Avenger into a shallow, high school archetype: the Cool Rich Kid, the Goody Two Shoes, the Jock, the Hot Chick, the Cool Black Principal. Other commenters alluded to this above.

The character who seemed better written was Bruce Banner. The uncomfortable super smart guy with anger issues. He gets to kick the shit out of the Bad Guy in the first movie. And then what happens? He gets the Hot Chick in the next Avengers film. I'm not familiar with the comics, but I looked it up and can't find where it's canon. So unless I missed something, Whedon wrote that.

I hope his absence makes room for better stories to be told. He did some interesting things, but women in Hollywood don't need this brand of adolescent "body armor and weapons for the gents/spandex for the ladies whose bodies are trained weapons because STRONG WIMMENS=FEMINISM" crap. And that doesn't even touch on the racism. The world is evolving, he is not.

(Also, one of the most misogynistic men I've ever known who also claimed to be a strong woman-loving feminist but was really stuck in adolescence? Huge Whedon fan.)
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 11:52 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I'm right there with you, authorial intent means virtually nothing to me; I believe stories are discovered rather than created. But there are people close to me for whom authorial intent is the only thing that matters and for them discovering something new about the author requires a reinterpretation of all their works.

*shrug* If that's what blows their dress up, so be it. Let them do them, and by extension they ought to let you do you.

I mean, like anything, if y'all can have a friendly discussion about it without anyone calling the other person's opinions wrong or anything like that, great, and you all may find your opinions are richer as a result. My ultimate point is that when it comes to a piece of art itself, a viewer can't always control how they react to it, or why - so it's not fair to say someone's reacting the wrong way or anything. If I hear you're reacting differently to a piece of art than I do, I may ask you what lead to your own reaction, but that's more out of wanting to understand what makes you tick in that way.

It's a different franchise, but I found myself having such a conversation with a good friend who super-massively-intensely loved The Big Bang Theory. I didn't like it - I found it formulaic and simplistic, and that it poked occasionally mean-spirited fun at science and "geek culture" and that turned me off. So when he surprised me with his love for the show, I gently asked "um....why?" And as it turned out, he simply enjoyed that it was a super-formulaic comedy that was making references to Star Trek and Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy whereas most other sitcoms made references to PTA meetings or nosy suburban neighbors, and in some small way this was enough to make him feel seen. And we left it there. He didn't push me to come around to the Big Bang side, and I didn't argue that "but it's an insultingly written sitcom", and we let each other like different things.

You've not said whether your friends who are doing a massive authorial analysis are trying to use that as a critique of your own opinions; if they are, I'd argue that it's their pushing you that's more of a problem than what it is they think. If they left you alone to think what you think, that'd be different.

Note, too, that this kind of gentle probing into "tell me what it is about [x] that you like" would also let you discover whether people like things for more problematic reasons. I'm not suggesting that if a friend says "I love how Angel is arguing that the legal system is ultimately pointless and therefore the only real outlet for the downtrodden is to work with a vigilante" that you just say "well, alrighty then!" If my friend had babbled something about using the character of Sheldon as a model for the only correct system of human behavior, I'd be sitting him down all "yo, dude, let's rethink that."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:59 AM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Brief off-topic: I always felt like I'd heard all the jokes on BBT before, but I guess that explains the love for that show.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:07 PM on February 11


20 Years Later, and the Women of Angel Still Deserve More - originally posted in Oct 2019, and updated yesterday. Lord I completely forgot how much pregnancy as a Whedon plot point is rarely good news.

I was reading this yesterday and thinking about how awful and bleak Fred's death was.

This shot really sums up the gender dynamics. A woman suffering/victimized so that her ignoble death can fuel the character growth of a room full of men. Bleh.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:37 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


If you're familiar with the scene, he attempts to bite Willow in her dowm room only to discover he can't because of the chip.

And this scene is so hard to watch because it begins as a college dorm room sexual assault allegory (even happens on Willow's bed) but cuts to the "comedy" of Spike's "impotence." And then Willow starts to talk about how she gets overlooked and isn't desirable to vampires and there are so many layers of ick that I can't deal. I hate that I used to find the scene funny.


I'm a bit late to this, but as I recall that scene (and it's been many years), doesn't Willow kind of shake herself awake at the end of the conversation, while Spike is assuring her that he would, like, totally bite her, etc., and whack him over the head with a lamp? Yes, I laughed at that. A lot. Like others here, I am torn by multiple reactions to the realities of what Joss made those he created Buffy with suffer, and have written him off personally. But I still caught chills during the Buffy finale when she activated all the latent slayers in the world, I still love Willow and Tara for being the only lesbian couple anywhere on television at the time, and have attended sing-along get togethers celebrating Once More With Feeling and would again. Trust the art, not the artist, accept that nothing is purely good, extract what gives you joy from what may in retrospect offend. There are lots of kids who watched Buffy and saw it as a lifeline; pre-internet, it was a lot harder to discover the things that helped to make you strong and find yourself. Buffy did the job for many, and shouldn't be written off entirely because the instigator was an asshole. Nearly all people in Joss' position, with that kind of power, are.
posted by jokeefe at 12:39 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


I still love Willow and Tara for being the only lesbian couple anywhere on television at the time

I'd respect this a lot more if it hadn't come with a side of blatant bisexual erasure. Willow was a very plausible bisexual character at a time when there weren't a lot of them. She had an organic, apparently healthy relationship with Oz for a good while there, and she would've worked fine as bisexual inclined towards women without really changing much at all. Instead Oz gets put on a bus out of town and we have a few seasons worth of Willow explicitly taking the effort to mention on a regular basis that, no really, she doesn't like men romantically or sexually at all, full stop. Urgh.
posted by jackbishop at 1:32 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


So, okay.

BtVS and Angel was a major part of my early 20s. I was buried deep in the fandom, spending a lot of time on alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer, alt.tv.angel, and Television Without Pity. I took over one of the biggest fanfiction archives. I didn't write the first f/f slash story in the fandom, but it was pretty darn close.

And Charisma Carpenter was...oh. She was everything. So many people went for Buffy, or Willow, and, yeah, okay, Faith was a major thing for the tough girl wannabe I was, but Cordelia, oh, always so smart and strong.

And you heard things. You heard about things being tough on the set. About the "Network Execs" not liking her tattoos. About "them" not liking her hair. About how "they" really pushed back against her pregnancy.

I'm not remotely surprised it wasn't just this amorphous group of men in suits. I'm sure they were there, but, yeah, it was all him, that man who kept on being praised for having a feminist mom and changing feminism, but it was just like that dude who kept on going on about women's studies while asking all the girls if they wanted back rubs, and I'm...

I'm not surprised. I'm not even disappointed. I'm exhausted and furious and now I can't even look at the original show again without being angry. I haven't looked at the show in a long time (mostly because I burnt myself out on it, I got into too many flamewars, too much drama, just too damn much), and I don't know when I will again.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:41 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


But I hope Whedon never works again.

He'll never work again for now.

Charisma was always my favourite part of any episode of Buffy or (especially) Angel she was in. Solidarity.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:47 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Willow was a very plausible bisexual character at a time when there weren't a lot of them. She had an organic, apparently healthy relationship with Oz for a good while there, and she would've worked fine as bisexual inclined towards women without really changing much at all. Instead Oz gets put on a bus out of town and we have a few seasons worth of Willow explicitly taking the effort to mention on a regular basis that, no really, she doesn't like men romantically or sexually at all, full stop. Urgh.

Totally agree. Worst example of it was "Him," which was already pointless because they'd already done that idea/episode, and then Willow had to turn the guy into a girl. WTF? Bi is fine, y'all!
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:52 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


And then what happens? He gets the Hot Chick in the next Avengers film. I'm not familiar with the comics, but I looked it up and can't find where it's canon. So unless I missed something, Whedon wrote that.

Completely original to the films, and potentially interesting in the hands of another writer. Whedon had the spark of a great idea here in putting the two together because it's so out of left field and maybe that's why it makes sense--it goes against Natasha's patterns in the comics, and presumably in the films--but then he just did his weird angsty nobody-can-ever-actually-be-happy stuff with it, with that big side of "what is Natasha/Whedon really saying about infertility?" mess (which I'm not inclined to be charitable about).

Whedon undercut several of the characters in relation to comics canon, particularly Natasha. In the comics, she's almost as old as Cap, only there's no suspended animation--she had longevity drugs. A major reason she's super-hero-level bad ass is that she's got buckets and buckets of experience in espionage and other shenanigans. Whedon (and the Russos) ignored all that for no discernible reason. (I'm kinda hoping her film gives her a retcon here.) At the time, I could not understand why Joss Whedon of all people would want to water down a character like Natasha, and I wasn't a Whedon fanboy. Knowing what we know now of his treatment of women in real life maybe puts some new perspective on that.

Whedon's Hawkeye is also a wild turn from the comics, and I gotta say it's a major downer. The "wholesome life on a farm with a family" thing has its uses, but comic book Hawkeye lives in a condo with a bunch of oddball neighbors who could've done all that same work with much more originality and fun. Comic Book Hawkeye is a spectacular human dumpster fire with a heart of gold. Whedon's Hawkeye, as you say, is just kind of the Jock.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:55 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


I'm never going to stop loving Buffy, or parts of Angel, or hell, Roseanne, but I really would be happy if Joss Whedon was exiled to space.

I wrote down my Expanse/Firefly thoughts on tumblr but the tl;dr is that The Expanse has a lot of what I loved about Firefly without the racism, misogyny, disrespect of sex workers, and, let us not forget, horribly inept world-building.
posted by chaiminda at 1:59 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


While I've been a fan of his stuff for many years, at this point I'm ready to believe Whedon is an asshole. But... it's all really weird and confusing, because for many years the actors involved in his productions were so effusive with praise for the guy. Like, it didn't just seem like Hollywood ass-kissing. It really seemed like they liked him and were kind of in awe of his talent. Didn't they all used to get together at his house and do Shakespeare readings and stuff? The Buffy cast did a reunion for Entertainment Weekly in 2017 and they all gushed about what a great experience it was. I've heard plenty of stories of Whedon being lovely to fans and doing charity stuff. It's hard to square that Whedon with this monster I'm hearing about now.

Knowing Metafilter, I worry that people will say I'm somehow taking Whedon's side or that I'm dismissing his accusers. I'm not doing either thing, at all. Really, I'm ready to write Whedon off. Too many people are saying he's awful. Amber Benson has always struck me as a really decent person, just very smart and kind and honest, and if she says the Buffy set was "toxic" I believe her. But... until just now, I'd only ever heard her speak glowingly about her time on the show. Last I'd heard, it seemed like even Carpenter regarded the Angel situation as an unfortunate end to a good working relationship.

So what I don't understand is, if so many people thought that Whedon was a garbage person, why did they praise him so much, for so long? Some cynics would say that they were all hypocrites who didn't want to piss him off because he was powerful in Hollywood, but I don't buy that. I don't believe they all secretly despised him then, but I also don't think they're lying now about how awful he was. For years they all talked about him like he was this wonderful little teddy bear of a man, and now they say he was always abusive. It's like... both things seem like they were true, somehow? Was he mostly a charming boss, but he had a monstrous side they only gradually became aware of when they shared their stories with each other? Did they all buy into some cult of Whedon, and now they're all wising up at the same time?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:24 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]




I never heard about what Michelle Trachtenberg referenced -- that sounds like an absolute f*cking nightmare! -- but I'm not surprised actors have generally been positive talking about the show. The ones who work steadily don't want to seem "difficult," especially back when Whedon held major influence casting MCU and the DCU properties. The ones with less active careers probably make a lot of their income doing convention work, aka selling nostalgia. I think there's a sense that when someone comes to say that watching the show changed their lives, the show stars are generally not going to respond "well it was hell for me."

And....well, who knows what the set was like, actually? If you worked on something successful that was a pretty good experience 90% of the time but absolutely unacceptable the other 10% of the time, how do you frame that to other people? How do you think about it yourself?
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:38 PM on February 11 [17 favorites]


If you worked on something successful that was a pretty good experience 90% of the time but absolutely unacceptable the other 10% of the time, how do you frame that to other people? How do you think about it yourself?

Hahahahah, I have a situation like that in my life and hell if I know. The amount of periodic hell I get is truly awful, but there's a lot of good reasons to put up with it as well too, especially since ditching the situation has been a nonstarter. Work sometimes is just like that. If you're on a show that's really helping your career, are you going to burn that shit to the ground at the time? Especially if you're female and that would end your career?

I do think that Joss probably wasn't awful to every single person he worked with, though, so some people having good experiences--most likely dudes--again, may be legitimate.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:45 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


If you worked on something successful that was a pretty good experience 90% of the time but absolutely unacceptable the other 10% of the time, how do you frame that to other people?

Also, there was probably a significant portion of the cast/crew who never saw the unacceptable stuff, because that's how predators work. They are often socially adept, and they isolate their prey, and they're really nice to everyone else, and so you get the standard reaction of "I never saw any of that/he was always really nice to me!"

That, plus the fact the people have to keep getting work, and JW was in a position of power? Yeah, people mostly kept their mouths shut in public, but there was probably a whisper campaign about the missing stair on a JW set. I wouldn't be surprised if someone from BTVS/ATS/FF quietly reached out to Johannsen at some point to give her a heads-up...
posted by suelac at 2:46 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


Just a minor clarification on some details above: Superman was not in The Dark Knight Returns, and Whedon did not write Batman V. Superman.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:52 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Don't know if this has anything to do with it, but the EW Buffy reunion spread was published in March 2017. Multiple reports about Harvey Weinstein came out in October of that same year. The Me Too phrase was coined and in use before then, but mid-October 2017 was when the movement got big enough that news outlets (and Hollywood) started paying attention.

Also, that Michelle Trachtenberg statement. Rage.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 2:53 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Also, there was probably a significant portion of the cast/crew who never saw the unacceptable stuff, because that's how predators work. They are often socially adept, and they isolate their prey, and they're really nice to everyone else, and so you get the standard reaction of "I never saw any of that/he was always really nice to me!"

Anthony Head seems to be in the "didn't see the unacceptable stuff category"

"I've been up most of the night just running through my memories, thinking, 'What did I miss?'" he said. "Because, and this is not a man saying: 'I didn't see it, so it didn't happen'.

"I am gutted, seriously gutted, because one of my memories, my fondest memory [from Buffy] is the fact it was so empowering. Not just in the words in the script, but the family feel of the show."

Head continued: "I am really sad that if people went through these experiences – I was sort of like a father figure – I would hope that someone would come to me and say, 'I'm struggling, I've just had a horrible conversation'.

"Admittedly, the first post by Charisma was when she was working on Angel, and I was long gone. But there are other posts subsequently that are making me think, 'How on earth did I not know this was going on?'"

posted by creepygirl at 2:56 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


In 2021 are we going to keep being shocked that awful people are capable of making friends and convincing their victims that they should keep quiet and keep their head down?
posted by muddgirl at 3:02 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


"And this scene is so hard to watch because it begins as a college dorm room sexual assault allegory (even happens on Willow's bed) but cuts to the "comedy" of Spike's "impotence." And then Willow starts to talk about how she gets overlooked and isn't desirable to vampires and there are so many layers of ick that I can't deal. I hate that I used to find the scene funny."

"I'm a bit late to this, but as I recall that scene (and it's been many years), doesn't Willow kind of shake herself awake at the end of the conversation, while Spike is assuring her that he would, like, totally bite her, etc., and whack him over the head with a lamp?"


I think you should rewatch the scene and see how long it takes to get there. There is a lot of "I'm impotent so I can't assault you now, lol" happening, and "oh, I would totally be into you, you're definitely biteable" stuff. Like the writer (who wasn't JW) kept conflating sexual assault with sexual attraction which is a whole mess of awful right there.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 3:48 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


In 2021 are we going to keep being shocked that awful people are capable of making friends and convincing their victims that they should keep quiet and keep their head down?

But, see, the confusing thing about Whedon is that it didn't just seem like he had friends on these shows. His actors seemed to adore him. I was a Buffy fan and followed these people in the press, and they just gushed about Whedon, way beyond the usual Hollywood ass-kiss-y stuff. What Anthony Stewart Head said, about how he's distraught because he believed the cast had a close, family feel, that really reflects the vibe they were putting out. For many years, they all kept insisting they thought Whedon was terrific. Maybe they grumbled about a particular episode or a particular arc, but there was absolutely no hint that Whedon was this terrible, frightening guy.

That's why this is so shocking, now that it's all crashing down. This isn't like Chris Carter, where there are years of nasty rumors and accusations, amid all the PR talk of what a genius he is. The actresses accusing Whedon now are the same people who've spent decades building him up!

And again, I'm not calling these people hypocrites and I'm not saying they're lying. I'm saying that I'm struggling to understand how we got from there to here. I don't think they were all simply covering up, to protect their careers. It seems more like they've had some kind of awakening. A lot of these people were pretty young (although not as young as the characters they were playing) and maybe back then Whedon was like a beloved uncle, and it's only now, in middle age, when they can look back and really see all the creepy, toxic stuff he did.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:49 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


> I wrote down my Expanse/Firefly thoughts on tumblr but the tl;dr is that The Expanse has a lot of what I loved about Firefly without the racism, misogyny, disrespect of sex workers, and, let us not forget, horribly inept world-building.

The TV show does, but I'm almost done with Leviathan Wakes and while it's no Whedon, it definitely has weird bits regarding women who aren't white, and sex workers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:04 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Erm....I don't think the actresses who have said anything so far have been building him up. SMG says next to nothing on a regular basis, we all know he and Charisma had issues, I don't recall hearing anything out of Michelle/Clare/Amber before about him either and I don't recall them hanging out doing Shakespeare.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:04 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


I don't think they were all simply covering up, to protect their careers.

Maybe there was some additional level of self-deception in this case, but yeah, I think they were covering up to protect their careers. I never trust ANYTHING Hollywood people say about how great it was to work with so-and-so—there's a VERY strong code of silence, and "go along to get along", and "don't rock the boat" in showbiz, because, behind it all, there's always the threat (that doesn't even NEED to be spoken) that you might never work in this town again...
posted by The Tensor at 4:07 PM on February 11


when they can look back and really see all the creepy, toxic stuff he did.

From this BuzzFeedNews article:

Amber Benson tweet: "There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later."

Charisma Carpenter: "Back then, I felt powerless and alone," she said. "With no other option, I swallowed the mistreatment and carried on."

We know with absolutely 100% certainty that victims of abuse can take years and decades to even recognize that they've been abused.

So, yes, that's probably how we got from here to there. Plus, as Orange Dinosaur Slide says, the increasing visibility and public support of #MeToo over the last few years.

His actors seemed to adore him. I was a Buffy fan and followed these people in the press, and they just gushed about Whedon, way beyond the usual Hollywood ass-kiss-y stuff. What Anthony Stewart Head said, about how he's distraught because he believed the cast had a close, family feel, that really reflects the vibe they were putting out.

If you haven't read it, the thread on the revelations that Warren Ellis was using the Warren Ellis Forum to prey on young women might give you some perspective on how an environment can be friendly and familial and socially, economically, and even culturally beneficial to many people while also serving as a hunting ground for predators.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:09 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


Yeah, most of these folks aren't part of Whedon's current crew, the one that's been talking him up of late. His recent crew has included Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion (who I guess has kind of soured on him), Fran Kranz, and others who have been in his post-Firefly work. There's very little overlap with the Buffy and Angel cast. Just Dushku, I think.
posted by jackbishop at 4:11 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


It seems more like they've had some kind of awakening. A lot of these people were pretty young (although not as young as the characters they were playing) and maybe back then Whedon was like a beloved uncle, and it's only now, in middle age, when they can look back and really see all the creepy, toxic stuff he did.

If you're in an abusive environment, especially when you're young, all kinds of awfulness gets normalized. It may take you years for you to realize that: no, that was really fucked up! Especially since, to get through an abusive environment, you often quietly pack away memories of the abuser's worst behavior, not to be reminded of it for years.

I'm glad ASH has spoken. I was hoping I wouldn't have to think less of him.
posted by praemunire at 4:12 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


"What Anthony Stewart Head said, about how he's distraught because he believed the cast had a close, family feel, that really reflects the vibe they were putting out. For many years, they all kept insisting they thought Whedon was terrific."

Whedon is a talented, charismatic guy. Who's a nice guy, a lot of the time! It's really telling that the people coming forward with stories of abuse were young women -- teens and 20s -- while he was working with them. I think back to my late teens and early 20s, and think of the talented, charismatic men in positions of authority -- professors, bosses -- who were 20 and 30 years older than me. How much we all admired them, liked them, wanted to work with them or for them. Wanted their praise and approval. And they'd give it, for a while, right up until you're a finalist for a coveted summer research assistant spot -- this would be in Buffy's third season, so note the really 2000s flavor to this story -- you're in an interview with your Supreme-Court shortlisted Constitutional law professor who is still responsible for your grade in six weeks, and you go into the interview, sit down, and he looks at your resume and says, "Notre Dame, eh? If I hire you, will you dress up like a Catholic schoolgirl for me?" And you laugh awkwardly -- a man your father's age who is responsible for your grades just creepily fucking hit on you in his office in the law school! -- and say, "I don't own a lot of plaid! But if you look at my transcripts, you'll see --"

And you talk to the woman who's the ombudswoman for sexual harassment, a dean, and tell her what happened, uneasily, and she shrugs and says, "Yeah, he's like that." And you try to complain, more forcefully, to the (female) head of the law school, and she shrugs and says, "There's not really anything I can do."

And you don't get the research assistant job, of course. There are other consequences. But none of it is new, none of it is surprising; creepy men your father's age have been gaining your trust and admiration, and then using it to pick you up or mock you for fun, since you grew boobs. And it comes out of nowhere, every time. And other people continue to trust and admire him. And you tell other people, peers, what happened, and some of them believe you, and some of them don't, and some of them have their own stories. And you know what? There is a LOT of this stuff that I didn't even realize how gross and shocking it was until I was into my 30s and 40s. Some of it I wouldn't have even known to complain about in my early 20s. And ALL of it was normalized. This was just the world, and women who wanted to succeed in it needed to learn to roll with the punches and take a joke and laugh off sexual harassment.

So of course Anthony Stewart Head only saw nice-guy Whedon; Whedon wasn't a creepy jerk to him. The people coming forward from the Buffy era are all young women, many of whom were too young to know that his behavior was NOT just "how the world is." It was grossness they'd been experiencing from men that age since they were pre-teens, and only very rarely -- especially in the late 90s/early 2000s did any authority figure unequivocally say, "That was wrong; this needs to stop" instead of shrugging it off. And of course they still admired him! He's a talented, charismatic guy! "Maybe he just misspoke" "Maybe I'm not doing it right" "It was just a joke, I should relax," they're telling themselves. There are professors that I admired for years, where I now look back on my interactions with them with white-hot fury for how inappropriate they were. But I didn't know. And it was years before I knew. And I absolutely understand, at a bone-deep level, Charisma Carpenter's slow realization, step-by-step, that what happened to her was really, really wrong, and part of a larger pattern of harassment and abuse.

And it's telling that when Whedon begins working on shows with lots of adults, that's when the actors start complaining about him. When full-grown adults are his targets, they speak up. Because they DO know. If he'd kept making shows with teenaged casts, he could maybe have kept this up for years.

But maybe not. Women in their 40s start running out of fucks to give, and the girls he abused early in his career are now middle-aged women (Gellar is 43; Carpenter is 50; even Trachtenberg is 35) and honey, they are pissed.

" give you some perspective on how an environment can be friendly and familial and socially, economically, and even culturally beneficial to many people while also serving as a hunting ground for predators."

Yeah, see also: college.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:18 PM on February 11 [103 favorites]




FWIW, Whedonesque.com, once arguably the main hub of general Whedon fandom (and inspired by MeFi), appears to have been taken offline. (Previously: the site launches and 15 years later shuts down.)
posted by bixfrankonis at 4:59 PM on February 11


Their Twitter feed appears to be active and supportive of the actresses, though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:27 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This is approaching off-topic, but I wanted to reply to cendawanita's thoughts about the MCU. Whedon gets a lot of credit for orchestrating the teamup and Avengers films and he was certainly involved in the execution of it, but Ike Perlmutter managed creative at the time and was pulling strings. He is also infamously conservative (i.e. spends money on Trump) and controlling, ultimately responsible for many of Marvel's questionable creative decisions.

Perlmutter is exactly the kind of guy that an abuser like Whedon flourishes under. He's also probably the reason Black Widow never got that movie back when she really should have. The MCU did a total 180 on representation after Feige was able to oust him from the MCU. Unfortunately, it took him another 4 years to get Perlmutter's claws off of the rest of Marvel.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 5:37 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Erm....I don't think the actresses who have said anything so far have been building him up. (...) and I don't recall them hanging out doing Shakespeare.

I'm not going to do a big Google search to dig up all the quotes from these people singing Whedon's praises. That stuff is all out there. And they did all do Shakespeare readings in Whedon's backyard for years, which spawned Whedon's 2012 film version of Much Ado About Nothing featuring cast members from Buffy, Angel and Firefly. Apparently the Buffy cast used to do drunken singalongs at Whedon's house, and that's what inspired Once More with Feeling. And again, my point was not that these people are lying. My point was that, for whatever reason, they really, really gave the impression of being one big happy family, until they didn't.

Worth mentioning that I'm a survivor of childhood abuse and I was assaulted as an adult. I'm not claiming to be an expert but I'm also not a total neophyte on these issues. I feel like this is taking a bad turn, so I'm unfollowing this thread. I'd delete my posts if I could.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:07 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Thanks forbiddencabinet on that Perlmutter point, my thoughts exactly but I didn't recall much of the full extent of his involvement, thanks for laying it out there.

Re: that Shakespeare gang - that's the thing, i don't see a conflict. The same women who spoke up (and have made allusions previously) aren't in that gang. And it's easy enough to at least crossreference with the Much Ado About Nothing movie they put out, and see the cast list, and cross out the one-offs. I can't help but notice the golden silence from the regulars about now.

In any case, Alyson Hannigan wasn't involved with that crew to the extent that she did readings together, but yeah she's been very gracious about JW. And I've always wondered about her because I don't fully trust my recollection of fandom gossip with what happened with Amber Benson and her role in that.

But speaking of the cast in cons, i don't make a habit of following the Buffy ones (my nostalgia of choice is the Smallville panels honestly), but I distinctly recalled one panel only several years old and it had CC, Emma Caulfield, and Julie Benz. It was positive but I wouldn't call their description of their time on set 'effusive'.
posted by cendawanita at 6:32 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Alyson Hannigan is also married to Alexis Denisof, who is a bit of a Whedon regular. I was wondering if that is why she didn't say anything -- she has HIMYM money, so it's not like they have to worry about financial security.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:44 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


For those in this thread that love/d Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but have concerns about it holding up on re-watching given... everything, I suggest checking out the podcast Buffering the Vampire Slayer. It's helmed by two queer women, who are re-watching and discussing each episode through a feminist lens. Additionally, since last summer they've made explicit efforts to include anti-racist discussions as well, and have brought on BIPOC producers and consultants to support that work.

I've loved listening to their discussions of the episodes. BtVS was certainly formative for me, and there is plenty of the show that is so ingrained in my heart that I don't examine the problematic aspects of it. Plus, one of the two hosts is Jenny Owen Youngs, an indie singer-songwriter. So, as part of their format, each episode includes a song written and produced by her (and sometimes co-songwriters such as Hrishikesh Hirway!). Their most recent episode was for Once More With Feeling, as discussed by Navelgazer above, and its an epic in its own right. The Patreon community has a discussion going about the Ray Fisher/Charisma Carpenter statements, and it has been a comfort amidst this new round of revelations about Joss being a shitty human. This podcast has been my main quarantine pleasure, and maybe some other Mefites might appreciate it as much as I have.
posted by bluloo at 9:19 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


J. August Richards is the only cast member of Angel that I could find that has come out in support of Charisma. Once I started to mentally go through the main cast names, it made a depressing kind of sense. Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker are buddy-buddy with Whedon. David Boreanaz has his own issues, so keeping his mouth shut is the smartest thing he could do right now. Glenn Quinn and Andy Hallett are dead, and Marsters wasn't on Angel at the same time as Charisma. I'm glad that at least some of the Buffy cast has been more supportive.
posted by creepygirl at 10:25 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


why does Loki, infinite being and shapeshifting god, give enough of a shit about gender to craft an insult around it?

Loki, canonically, is a real mother.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:27 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


David Boreanaz has his own issues, so keeping his mouth shut is the smartest thing he could do right now.

For whatever it is or isn't worth, he did "like" Carpenter's instagram post.
posted by bixfrankonis at 10:40 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


For those not clicking the twitter link, here's the text of J. August Richards' tweet:

---
J. August Richards @jaugustrichards

Sending you my love, @allcharisma. I know the feelings of vulnerability and fear that come with speaking your truth. As I said to you yesterday, I am here for you, however you need me. Folded handsRed heart
---

I find something extra heartening that he reached out to her directly before tweeting.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 10:51 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Eliza Dushku posted on instagram in support of Charisma Carpenter. Link here.

I'll transcribe a portion of her statement, "CC., my heart aches for you & I'm so sorry you have held this for so long. Your post was powerful, painful, and painted a picture we'll collectively never un-see or un-know. Thank you. I hadn't known it and I won't forget it."
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 12:03 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]


Whedonesque.com, once arguably the main hub of general Whedon fandom (and inspired by MeFi), appears to have been taken offline.

I'm in the process of taking the website offline completely. I was done with Whedon almost decade ago and kept the site going for the sake of the community. In 2017, after his ex-wife's revelations, we shut it down and archived it. I know some fans hate to see it go, but at this point I really don't want my name associated at all.

The twitter feed is run by one of the former moderators. It's theirs to continue or not and I trust them and know they will act responsibly.
posted by prolific at 1:51 AM on February 12 [50 favorites]


This Dailydot reporting probably went up before Richards and Dushku's posts but it's got mention of SMG's stunt double:

Sophia Crawford, Sarah Michelle Gellar's longtime Buffy stunt double, posted an Instagram photo supporting Whedon's accusers. Last year, Crawford and her husband Jeff Pruit (Buffy's stunt coordinator) gave an interview describing Whedon as an "egomaniac" who tormented them while they worked on the show. They alleged that Whedon had Pruitt's home computer tapped and that Whedon demanded that Crawford break up with Pruitt in exchange for more work on the show. The couple quit Buffy, and while Pruitt claims that Whedon threatened their careers, they were able to find other jobs due to their own contacts in the industry.
posted by cendawanita at 2:51 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Oof, yeah, the people - let's be honest, the women - with the least perceived power were always going to be the ones who saw the worst. I'm not at all surprised that it's SMG's stunt double who got a lot of it. I imagine there are more who can't afford to make a stink.

(And Dushku was clearly Joss's golden child for a long time - Dollhouse was created as part of *her* deal with the network, not his; she brought him into it - and she may well have gotten the side that was probably not appropriate but didn't feel abusive to a kid who grew up in Hollywood and was an active addict for much or all of that period.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:04 AM on February 12


I have to admit I'm sad you're taking Whedonesque down, if only because I hate to see any site shuttered -- I think internet history is important and that having a record of how things were is important. But I understand where you're coming from.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 7:04 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I have to admit I'm sad you're taking Whedonesque down, if only because I hate to see any site shuttered -- I think internet history is important and that having a record of how things were is important. But I understand where you're coming from.
To me the sweet spot here is making sure the Internet Archive has a full archive first. Anyone studying this in the future can find it there but that way there’s no expectation of continued support from volunteers who have soured on it.
posted by adamsc at 7:17 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Adamsc, I totally agree.

Re: Joss -- maybe it's just morbid curiosity on my part instead of a more positive impulse, but I kind of would like to hear from the writing staff. Isn't Jane Espenson working on The Nevers? Although I assume they'd only be able to give statements like Tony Head's -- that they didn't see anything because he wasn't like that around them, because he probably wasn't; they were probably older and less easy to abuse. (I could be wrong, I'm basing this on zero knowledge.)

It also occurs to me that the writing staff only had... 2-3 women. Maybe that was good for the late '90s-early 2000s; hell, it probably was, sadly. But on a show that was all about girl power and feminist ideals... looking back, you'd think he would have tried harder to bring in women writers. Or maybe not.

I'm a woman and a writer and his work was everything to me. I worshiped him. I devoured those DVD commentaries. Working for him one day was a dream of mine. I wasn't out to myself when Willow and Tara got together but I was heavy into gay rights and hungry even as a then-straight ally for gay representation on tv and it meant a lot. (And I want to say that I'm bisexual and I do not think there was a chance in hell we would have gotten a nuanced, 2021-approved rendering of a bisexual Willow then when having her in a same-sex relationship at all was something they had to fight for tooth and nail. So if you're disappointed by that, be disappointed at the entire tv landscape and ecosystem in the 1990s and early 2000s.)

I was disappointed in him back when the Charisma Carpenter stuff came out, yet I still worshiped him -- total cognitive dissonance, despite all my feminist ideals. I was disappointed in him over the revelation that he'd slept with someone or someones under his employ; adultery isn't something I really care about (I think there are complex and tangled and provocative arguments one could make about the spectrum of what does and does not count as abuse and if and how adultery between two consenting adults could fit on that spectrum, and I have complex and tangled thoughts on the pros and cons of the result of The Discourse potentially mainstreaming it belonging on that spectrum), but abusing your power is. We don't know if it was a young actress at the beginning of her career or a below the line crew member that was his age or a creative team member who was near his equal, but it's not good.

And now having it confirmed that he was a cruel bully... not to mention whatever it was he did that Trachtenberg is alluding to... I mean Y I K E S. And whatever he did that Gal Gadot wouldn't talk about (which makes sense) but had to have the union step in and handle. I just. YIKES.

What would it have cost him, to be kind to the people literally bringing his dream to life? I understand having poor judgment, I understand being immature, I understand having poor boundaries. I don't understand calling someone fat. I don't understand firing someone when shows since the 1950s have worked around actors' pregnancies. I don't understand mocking someone or being cruel or encouraging cliques or playing people off each other. Without these people's performances, he would have nothing. NOTHING. Just words on a page that no one would care about reading. I just. WHY?
posted by pelvicsorcery at 7:50 AM on February 12 [16 favorites]


Because power corrupts. I had it drilled into me growing up. Power turns you into an asshole (a lot of the time, anyway). Of course, I don't know if he was an asshole before he got into Hollywood, but when the world revolves around you and you can do whatever you like to whoever you like....
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:04 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Related to the topic of people grappling with the cognitive dissonance of what looked like the entirety of the inner Whedon circle in the riding-high-glory days being such a happy family singing each others praises but especially his: awhile back, I read through Steven Hassan's "Combating Cult Mind Control" and it struck me then, and does all over again now, how the more...intense...forms of fandom have parallels to cult effects. That they engage and activate similar "circuits" (to strain terms to make actual neuroscientists weep) in a way. Similar effects of even, and especially the victims in the praise-singing circles, will insist for years that the leader is amazing, wonderful, a shining light of talent, blah blah. Even while enduring fucked-up abuses everywhere from microaggressions-in-retrospect to OH GOD WHAT levels.

One of the things that work touches on is that there's nothing abnormal, or especially victimizable about the people who get stuck into cults. People, as a general type of the human animal, are just susceptible at a base level in the right set and setting and circumstances. Acting itself being famously a starry-eyed dream vocation is if anything a big push to that right circumstances to not just fall victim to abusers, but to fall victim in ways that leads them to protect and defend the abusers. To reinforce the glowing face to the outside world. Shakespeare in the backyard! We're not just coworkers and colleagues, we're family!

In general, I think fandoms who are by definition in a parasocial orbit around works and personalities should really put much more thought and self-reflection on the potential negative side effects of that, but that's getting even more afield and strained so just pretend there's a coherent closing statement here! Thank you for coming to my ted talk.
posted by Drastic at 9:06 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


Anthony Head seems to be in the "didn't see the unacceptable stuff category"

I've been trying to square this with Michelle Trachtenberg's comment about there being a rule that she not be left alone with Whedon and thinking "how the hell did you not notice that?" But then I thought about times when I've been in conversations where men who I fully believe to be strong allies end up with looks of horror on their faces because they've never previously been part of conversations women have amongst themselves in deeply sexist environments. I don't know that I have a point, other than that the patriarchy sucks.

And then I go down a rabbit hole about my own gender, but that's way off-topic.
posted by hoyland at 9:22 AM on February 12 [18 favorites]


There was a moment in this week's Black-ish where Bo is telling Jr's girlfriend all these "funny" stories about racism and sexism that she endured to be a doctor and the girlfriend sweetly calls her out on it and points out that they are horror stories, not funny anecdotes. Looking back on the interviews and conversations the Whedonverse actors had about their time with Joss it feels like they were telling horror stories wrapped up like funny anecdotes. Like the time Jewel Staite talked about how Joss was obsessed with her eating "enough" because Kaylee had to look a specific way. Or when they all talked about the crazy long hours and reshoots. Or when Amber Benson talks about how she found out Tara was being killed and why. All of it was presented at the time as a "hahaha look at how harsh but normal all this is, he's a genius!" when it should have really been "Jesus someone stop this moron."

And we hear that shit about the entertainment industry ALL the TIME. Actors tell humorous stories about the time a costar got too into the role and really slapped someone, or the director that had you break a real valuable guitar so you'd "react" properly. We know this is bullshit, and more and more actors are starting to learn that it really is. But when you have an industry that *everyone* considers themselves lucky to be involved in, then you have an industry that is ripe for abuse by those in power.

I believe CC didn't realize it was as bad as it was until the firing. I believe ASH missed all the signs because it didn't seem obvious, and I believe that those who weren't the targets saw what he was doing as just part of the game. I also believe that there are enough storytellers, creators, and actors out there that deserve to have their stories told that we don't need to waste another brain cell on these abusive "genius" creators. We lose nothing by ditching creators like Joss, we only make more room for those creators who will actually love their characters, fans, and co-creators.
posted by teleri025 at 9:23 AM on February 12 [24 favorites]


As a fan -- albeit long lapsed -- of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, it hurts very much to see confirmed the most unfortunate way one can possibly interpret the manner of Charisma's exit from the show.

And for whatever it was that Michelle Trachtenberg, Amber Benson, and others who have been more circumspect or have remained silent experienced from Joss Whedon, my heart goes out to them.
posted by The Confessor at 9:23 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


" For many years, they all kept insisting they thought Whedon was terrific."

Did you miss the part where Ray Fisher got fired from the DC franchise for the "crime" of speaking out against Wheden? They were almost certainly too scared to come out and risk losing their careers as retribution.
posted by octothorpe at 9:27 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


Yeah, the note Orange Dinosaur Slide made above of the timing of the last big Buffy reunion push and the peak of MeToo is significant. It's only really recently that women in Hollywood *could* speak out about this stuff and have any chance of being heard.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:36 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


It's completely reasonable to wonder if Whedon will weasel his way out of this and continue to be a big name director.

I'm trying to think of a parallel.

Bryan Singer hasn't worked in a few years, but that could arguably be more about him walking off set on Bohemian Rhapsody. You don't get in the way of production.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:44 AM on February 12


they were telling horror stories wrapped up like funny anecdotes

Symmetrical.
posted by clew at 11:12 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


It's completely reasonable to wonder if Whedon will weasel his way out of this and continue to be a big name director.

Given that Whedon hasn't been the credited director of a feature since Avengers: Age of Ultron (Justice League is still credited to Zack Snyder since Whedon only came on for reshoots) and his stock in the industry hasn't exactly gone up since then, I can't see him being put in charge of anything on that level again. Given also that he walked away from his big "comeback" HBO TV series this year, he may not even be seen as employable as a TV producer either.

I think at most we might see him continue to work as a screenwriter, but I think the chances that he's going to be put in charge of directing his own projects again are questionable at best. But I have been wrong before.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:14 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I don't understand mocking someone or being cruel or encouraging cliques or playing people off each other. Without these people's performances, he would have nothing. NOTHING. Just words on a page that no one would care about reading. I just. WHY?

The Trump years taught me that sometimes there's not much point wondering why abusers are abusive. It's ego and callousness I presume. But there's no answer to "why would he abuse these women?" that could make it make sense beyond, "because he could, and that's evidently the kind of person he is."

Power may corrupt but more importantly power is revelatory. It's like how you can judge a date by how they treat the waitstaff. Nothing about eating in a restaurant corrupts people, it just gives them the opportunity to demonstrate how they treat people whom they have power over. People inclined to abuse power are probably also inclined to seek it.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:53 PM on February 12 [29 favorites]


It reminds me of this Tumblr clip that got tweeted recently. Text of clip for those who don't want to click through:
Writing prompt: "In a game with no consequences, why are you still playing the 'Good' side?"
reply: Because being mean makes me feel bad.
reply: Because my no-consequences power fantasy is being able to help everyone.
Or as I sometimes phrase it, maybe one day I'll play Alpha Centauri as a faction other than the Gaians... but probably not.
posted by Lexica at 2:30 PM on February 12 [17 favorites]


I mean, it is okay to have bad fantasies. It's okay to think bad and terrible things. I say this as the person who felt bad shooting the buffalo in Oregon Trail. But let's not get wild.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 2:38 PM on February 12


I'm not angry about this today, I was angry about this 4 years ago when I clued in to the kind of abuser JW had been all along. Today I just feel completely exhausted by it. I'm exhausted by how one Shitty Man is like a meteor that can take out a whole city block of things I care about. They leave a huge crater and spread collateral damage to the people around them, the majority of whom do not deserve my speculation about their level of complicity. Not just Joss Whedon, but also Chris Hardwick and Stanley Kubrick and others.

I love Buffy and I revisit it periodically, but I skip over some things, including a lot of Season 7, because now I can't watch the scenes with all the young actresses in the Summers' house without feeling really creeped out.

We wouldn't even be talking about this so much if we hadn't loved the work the way we did. And if we hadn't lionized the man, maybe we could just write a letter and boycott his future and be done with it. But we're stuck with how we felt about him in the past, and now we have to process it. Not surprising, of course, because that's always the legacy of abuse.

The Great Man theory has to go, and Suffering for your Art has to go. It's time. There are too many talented people whose voices aren't heard and who are not abusive. And there is no reason an actor has to be abused to tell stories, even when the stories are dark. That's why it's called acting. I'm reminded of this reddit post of an instagram. It's about Van Gogh and it reads in part:
"If Van Gogh had antidepressants we wouldn't
have his artwo-" We'd have a lot more of his work,
Karen, and who the fuck cares about what we get
from him he deserved to be well, karen.
And remember that the people who told us the stories about Creative Men Who Are Troubled were Creative Men who wanted that story to be about themselves.

After this thread maybe we could do the same for JW as we do for JKR and not give him any oxygen? I can see how I might be wrong though, maybe the people he victimized need the air. God knows they deserve it. It just.. still hurts, I guess.

(Also, I'll drop this here, because I've been processing about Xander for years and no one I know irl would really give a hoot: Characters don't all have to be perfect. It's OK to have a Xander in a story, but we were failed by the moral framework of the show (or, in a larger sense, the moral framework of the 90s) because he should have gotten a ton of side-eye and opprobrium and mockery and done character growth because of it, but instead he was gifted with BFF status for no discernible reason and praised as noble for not taking advantage of magical roofies. Gross. /ted talk)
posted by Horkus at 4:05 PM on February 12 [25 favorites]


Given also that he walked away from his big "comeback" HBO TV series this year

I didn't buy the mutual parting of way due to Whedon's exhaustion story when it was released in November, and I *really* don't buy it now.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 4:11 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Re: the writers room, Marti Noxon has chimed in on Twitter:
I would like to validate what the women of Buffy are saying and support them in telling their story. They deserve to be heard.
posted by bixfrankonis at 4:52 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


https://mobile.twitter.com/JoseMolinaTV/status/1360386433769295873?s=19

A Firefly writer backs up Charisma.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 6:36 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I was thinking about the question asked earlier about why did the actors and actresses speak so lovingly about JW for such a long time.

I get how that happens.

In college, there was this one professor who gathered a group around himself (I'm being super vague here on purpose) who became very very close, and they all started a business together with him after they graduated. He also had a number of affairs, emotional and physical, with his female students. Those students were part of or became part of this extended group. And those affair partners would generally be forced out by him after they clung too tightly or expected him to leave his wife. Since they knew he was married most of them felt guilty and as though they had caused the whole situation so they never pressed the point. (They ranged in age from 19-21, for context.)

If I called any one of those people who are still part of the circle (the business ended years ago) they might admit they knew this about him-- for sure most of them did. They'd probably agree it was inappropriate. However, they're still friends with him (and his wife) and this is because they're super close to each other, and they don't want to abandon that circle even 20+ years later and don't care to discuss his flaws. They love him for bringing them together, and since most of his direct victims were forced out of the fold, they don't need to confront too much mess to tolerate him as adults.

These college kids are all now adults who post frequently about #metoo and probably don't even get the link between this professor's behaviour and #metoo. If they think about the young women who left the group at all, they probably think they brought it on themselves. This is how abusers work. And this is how long gaslighting can last.
posted by frumiousb at 8:53 PM on February 12 [28 favorites]


While we're analyzing Whedon's work in light of increasing evidence of abusiveness, I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Inara rape plotline that thankfully never got a chance to happen. I guess it's not very common knowledge; I know reading about it back when it came out was a turning point for me in my opinion of Whedon.
posted by galaxy rise at 9:38 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


(Just want to note that a lot of the Van Gogh stuff that Horkus mentions was popularised by Hannah Gadsby in her stage show Nanette. She covers mental health and abuse and how victims cover it up with jokes and art. Worth a watch if the Whedon cover-up is hitting you hard.)
posted by harriet vane at 11:11 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


David Boreanaz has deleted all but one of the images on his Instagram account amid mounting appeals from fans to speak out on the allegations against Joss Whedon.

Others added, ‘I hear Anthony [Head] and James [Marsters] have issued support. Odd to not hear anything from @David_Boreanaz or @NicholasBrendon yet…’ and ‘David Boreanaz is deleting s**t off of his Instagram instead of defending charisma carpenter.’

WTF? Nicholas Brendon has a domestic violence conviction. I'm not sure why anyone would expect him to support abuse victims.
posted by creepygirl at 3:05 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


it's all really weird and confusing, because for many years the actors involved in his productions were so effusive with praise for the guy. Like, it didn't just seem like Hollywood ass-kissing. It really seemed like they liked him and were kind of in awe of his talent. Didn't they all used to get together at his house and do Shakespeare readings and stuff?

I think this stuff absolutely can't be interpreted without looking at it through the lens of power.

Working for Whedon - being part of the 'crew' - meant some good things. You were guaranteed to work again at some point, if he liked you, with people you considered friends, because Whedon reuses actresses and actors again and again. This is the reason people participate in any in-group - because there are tangible benefits for being a part of it. And unfortunately, it's rare for that to happen in the industry, so it must have seemed absolutely incredible.

I'm not saying people deliberately kept silent about what they thought was abuse. I'm saying every time their mind went to that one time he made a creepy joke, or made someone cry, they slid away from it to the time he did something good. And I think it's no accident now that we know more that Joss Whedon created the character of Xander Harris - the guy who says and does fucked up awful shit all the time, but you forgive him because after all he's really just a good guy and loyal and the Everyman Of The Scoobies!
posted by corb at 4:04 PM on February 13 [22 favorites]


Also, it is very, very good to be on the good side of a bully, and very, very bad not to be. Also, it's not like standing up to him was going to do anyone any good since the bully has all the power, and odds are was just going to harm you at the time. Note that it took 20 years for this to come out this openly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:13 PM on February 13 [22 favorites]


It can take a while to recognize toxic behavior as abuse. That person was just pushing you, or they were making a joke, or they had a bad day, or they were "troubled", or or or or. The most insidious and prolific abusers survive because they are very, very good at getting the people they abused and others around them to come up with reasons for why the abused people deserved it or why the abuse wasn't really abuse. So it is totally possible to at one point believe everyone was in this big, wonderful family . . . And then later, after you start learning more about yourself and about how abuse works you realize that the voice saying "I am uncomfortable and this is bad" that you smushed down was right and what happened to you was wrong.

How many of us have had experiences where we look back at something we loved (or someone we loved) and only saw the awfulness later on, after we'd done some growing and changing ourselves? Buffy fans are talking about it with respect to Buffy right here in this thread. So I don't think it's at all surprising that there could be so many fans of Whedon in his Whedoncircle until there weren't. Especially since "until there weren't" was prefaced by an unprecedented years-long movement dedicated to identifying abusive behavior in Hollywood and telling the abused that just because what happened was normal did not make it OK.

Also: I think it is entirely possible that at the time Whedon was terrible but people around him thought he was great because what they were used to happening was so much worse. Sort of like how now we look at Buffy and it's got all kinds of problems, but for the time it was incredibly progressive.
posted by schroedinger at 4:27 PM on February 13 [21 favorites]


https://mobile.twitter.com/JoseMolinaTV/​status/1360386433769295873?s=19

A Firefly writer backs up Charisma.

Once again, I am commenting to say that we are adults and all adult people should know better than to deliberately treat other adult badly.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:34 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I worked for a boss who I now definitely feel abused me, but at the time I didn’t see it - because she was also brilliant, and we were doing good work, and I felt Important and Special to be a part of the mission. Other people thought so too, they were impressed when I talked about (the good parts of) my job. So I worked endless 14-hour days and put up with her endless unreasonable demands because at the time they didn’t feel unreasonable. They felt normal. They WERE normal.

When I see people asking why everyone didn’t Just Do X Y and Z when Whedon was abusive I just have to shake my head. It’s not some big fucking mystery.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:07 PM on February 13 [26 favorites]


frumiousb, your story immediately reminded me of a professor that I knew of at college; I never took any of his courses, but knew of him through some friends that did, and he had that same kind of set-up--a tight circle of students who went to all his lectures and public appearances and always included several young women. Always. I'm also reminded of the revelations of Warren Ellis' abusive treatment of women last summer, and how as recently as 2018 there was an oral history of the Warren Ellis Forum on Image Comics' site with some of the best-reviewed and best-regarded writers in comics praising Ellis for providing the forum and professional advice.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:14 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]


There’s a pattern that emerges when you look at who Whedon abused and bullied vs who he allowed into the Cool Kids Shakespeare Club, and it’s infuriating.

Kind of look like he’s just been re-enacting his shitty bullied-nerd revenge fantasies over and over for the last thirty years.
posted by nonasuch at 7:07 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]




When I see people asking why everyone didn’t Just Do X Y and Z when Whedon was abusive I just have to shake my head. It’s not some big fucking mystery.

Just-world fallacy is a helluva drug. We like to think victims just failed to remember One Weird (but also Obvious?) Trick, and by announcing that we know the secret, we make abuse a problem that doesn’t happen to Savvy People Like Us.

It is easier to tie ourselves in knots and kiss our own butts than to acknowledge that some guy who told us he was a genius (and that liking him made us geniuses, too) is a predator. Pure Monday morning quarterbacking.

It’s a very human logic error, but terribly short on humanity.
posted by armeowda at 6:54 PM on February 14 [10 favorites]


Thought I'd mention that Boreanaz has replied to Carpenter's post with support.

Tweet is here.

Text of tweet, "I am here for you to listen and support you. Proud of your strength Heart emoji Folded hands emoji"
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 10:00 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


I have to say that when I see people wondering how it happened I just want to shake my head and be happy for them that they haven’t experienced or witnessed this dynamic.
posted by bq at 10:25 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


armeowda

Over the last few days, I've struggled against the impulse to entertain, advertise, or go looking for gossip re: who knew what and when, because -- just as you say -- it is not a just world, and the consequences of speaking out against Joss Whedon at that time in our social history, and his career arc, when he was at his most insulated and unassailable, would have been devastating.

If the whistleblower isn't believed, it's career-ending. If they are, it's probably franchise-ending, as the mystique of the franchise was heavily invested in the basic perception of female empowerment.

We cannot doubt that somebody with authority or leverage enough to blow things up knew enough they might have felt justified in doing so at the time, all things being equal.

Given that inequality was a big part of the problem here, we can't necessarily fault them for not doing so.
posted by The Confessor at 10:38 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


David Boreanaz and Amy Acker respond. David called Charisma. Amy's is also supportive, also says, "While I personally had a good and professional experience, it is heartbreaking to hear that not everyone has done this. "

Clearly some folks were treated better than others in WhedonClub.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:05 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


And here's the NYT: For ‘Buffy’ Fans, Another Reckoning With the Show’s Creator

Many fans said they are trying to reconcile accusations of misogyny against Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” with their love of a show that celebrated female empowerment.

“Many people came out and said that ‘Buffy’ saved their lives,” said Alyson Buckman, a professor at California State University, Sacramento, and member of the Whedon Studies Association, who surveyed fans of the show for an upcoming book. “It was incredibly meaningful for them. It taught them to stand up for themselves. It taught them that they could go on.”
She added: “Is that all ruined by one man?”

“Buffy” fans know that the “story is not just Joss Whedon’s,” said Kristin Russo, a co-host on the podcast, “Buffering the Vampire Slayer.” She compared the loyalty of fans to the show to that of fans of Harry Potter, who have distanced themselves from J.K. Rowling and transphobic comments she has made, while still embracing the books.
“It’s the fandom claiming it back,” Ms. Russo said. “I don’t think that anyone would think that Buffy Summers belongs to any one person.”

posted by jenfullmoon at 5:19 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]




Joss is a monster.

His ex-wife's post a few years back alludes to his behavior but actually lets him off easy by not sharing the details of the amount of manipulation he's done in his life.
posted by chaz at 11:42 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


“I don’t think that anyone would think that Buffy Summers belongs to any one person.”

It's interesting how the fandom can contort itself to make the outcome fit what they want. I get it. You want to keep watching a show you adore. The show is a collaboration. It isn't the work of just one man. There was a room of writers, a cast of actors, directors, designers, etc, etc.

A few years ago, there was news of a Buffy reboot in the works. (Not the one with Monica Owusu-Breen as showrunner, but that also seems to have disappeared.) Joss was not going to be involved. The pilot script was written by a female screenwriter. There was backlash. Fandom was baying for blood. How dare there be a Buffy show not run by Joss Whedon! So, you know, fandom wants what they want. Back then it was the sole property of one man. Few considered that maybe a show about a woman might be better served by a female showrunner.

Better that we don't deify showrunners at all and remember it's always a collaboration. And that reboots and remakes don't affect what came before.
posted by crossoverman at 5:18 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Nicholas Brendon speaks up: Speaking on a Facebook Live stream from a hospital room where he was awaiting back surgery, Brendon - who played Xander in the show - admitted there had been "transgressions" on set, but also appeared to defend Whedon's actions.

posted by cendawanita at 9:10 AM on February 19


So that Brendon statement is one hot mess.
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:36 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I'm afraid to watch it. I don't think I want to. Frankly, if dude was already incoherent in the hospital/in need of surgery/on painkillers/whatever, maybe now was not the time to share his thoughts. Too bad someone in his vicinity didn't talk him out of that, I guess.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:52 AM on February 19


Nicholas Brendon is not mentally well and hasn't been for a long time.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:03 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]




(FWIW, Equality Now is not in any way “an organization dedicated to parity in the entertainment business” and that’s a really weird and easily caught mistake for Jezebel to make in their opening paragraph.)
posted by bixfrankonis at 12:05 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


bixfrankonis, the sentence reads, "It was 2013, and Whedon was onstage at a fundraiser for Equality Now, a human rights organization dedicated to legal equality for women." Maybe it was corrected in the last couple hours? [Take The Lead's 50 Women Can Change The World in Media & Entertainment program fits the description in your excerpt.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:26 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Currently the last line of the article:
2/25/21: This post has been updated with a more accurate definition of Equality Now and the nature of the organization’s work. This post has also been updated to reflect the correct name of Sunnydale.
posted by Lexica at 3:20 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


This post has also been updated to reflect the correct name of Sunnydale.

Gosh.
posted by bixfrankonis at 4:19 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Inside Joss Whedon’s ‘Cutting’ and ‘Toxic’ World of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’

Interviews that Variety conducted with 11 individuals who worked directly on “Buffy” or “Angel,” or were closely familiar with the productions during their runs on The WB and UPN, painted a portrait of Whedon as a talented, collaborative writer-producer with a pattern of inappropriate, imperious and disparaging behavior toward those who worked for him. Whedon created a “cult of personality” around himself, according to these sources. Those on the inside of Whedon’s circle basked in his attention, praise and friendship; those on the outside got the opposite: scorn, derision and callousness. (Everyone Variety spoke with did so on condition of anonymity, either so they could speak freely or out of concern for their careers.)

New-to-me info:

A source who worked with Carpenter on both Buffy and Angel corroborated her story. (I'm super curious who this might be. I thought this might be David Greenwalt, since he worked on both shows at the same time Carpenter was on them, but he's mentioned later in the story as not responding to a request for comment re: the Nell Scovell story.)

The rule that Michelle Trachtenberg mentioned was confirmed by a source and arose out of "an improper verbal exchange" between Whedon and Trachtenberg.

I'd heard SMG got fed up with Joss, but it apparently that happened earlier than I had heard: fairly early into the show’s run, Gellar had a severed relationship with Whedon, to the extent that she did not want his name spoken around her.
posted by creepygirl at 9:23 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


The worst thing is I’m pretty sure he’s going to wait this out and then wind up being fine.
posted by corb at 9:39 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Corb: of course.

I can't even inagine being on that bad of terms with your boss that early on and sticking with it for seven years. How do you even work with the guy when you can't deal with hearing his name?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:20 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


As an actor, starring in a show is top of the pile. If SMG had left the show mid-run, she had nowhere to go but down. Look at David Boreanaz: he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag on season 1 of Buffy, but since then the guy has never not worked. He's had a starring role on weekly network TV since Angel. It's the sort of place a lot of actors would literally kill to be in.

I don't blame Gellar one bit for sticking with the toxic work environment at the time, but it's obviously shaped her and what she's been willing to do since then.
posted by rikschell at 8:22 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


I get the logic of staying, but I am impressed she could manage it under those circumstances. If it was so bad you can't even fake nice/it's that open that you can't take him, that had to have taken some doing and I can't even imagine it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:27 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


That puts into context a lot of the at-the-time comments from other actors about SMG - the thing they all said (they ALL said) was that she was "very professional."
posted by restless_nomad at 10:24 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


So I've kind of been mulling over something for a while, and it's not fully formed, but: I keep thinking of the Kai Cole letter where she talks about how Whedon had inappropriate relationships, both physical and emotional, with his actresses and coworkers, (confirmed by this reporting), and I keep thinking - especially since I've been doing a rewatch - both about how Whedon writes his female characters and their romantic relationships, and about that weird, ugly, "It's okay to be mean to the popular girls" nerd dynamic that was going on in the late 1990s early 2000s. And I really, really, don't like the vague picture it's adding up to.

Who are the people that Whedon is documented as being inappropriate with, or who are unwilling to be in the same room with him now? Stereotypically attractive female actresses (and stunt women for said stereotypically attractive female actresses). Who are the ones who were in the 'in crowd' and attended those Shakespeare readings, etc, and have defended Whedon over the years or been exuberant about him? The stereotypical geeks, less conventionally attractive people, and people who didn't start as actors. (Brendon, Boreanaz).

I also keep thinking about how he punished one actress (Carpenter) for being pregnant, the physical proof of an outside relationship, and how the storylines on Buffy that became more kind of aggressively mean about Buffy's sexuality with conventionally attractive men all started after Sarah Michelle Gellar started a longterm relationship with the conventionally attractive man she eventually married.

And I deeply, deeply wonder, without having a coherent theory, how much of this bad behavior is 'revenge of the nerds' shit gone to the extreme of awful and that's why no one said anything at the time.
posted by corb at 11:04 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


That puts into context a lot of the at-the-time comments from other actors about SMG - the thing they all said (they ALL said) was that she was "very professional."

From Wikipedia, "She is the only child of Rosellen (née Greenfield), a nursery school teacher, and Arthur Gellar, a garment worker."

So, on the surface it looks like she grew up with a no-nonsense, "Professional Work is PROFESSIONAL" attitude and then got to Hollywood and all the unprofessional bullshit. I guess she just kept front and center the idea that the five most sincere words of appreciation in the English language are, "Pay to the order of"

Man, if she ever makes a 10 episode Netflix show about THAT, I'd be glued to the TV.
posted by mikelieman at 11:25 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I have not followed this -- which actors were part of the in crowd/went to the Shakespeare stuff/etc? I'm pretty sure Amy Acker was in one, but really I have no idea who was part of his crowd (I knew SMG and CC were not).
posted by jeather at 11:25 AM on February 27


"on the surface it looks like she grew up with a no-nonsense, "Professional Work is PROFESSIONAL" attitude and then got to Hollywood and all the unprofessional bullshit. "

SMG gained prominence on "All My Children," the soap opera, and soaps, because they put out five new episodes per week, are relatively low-bullshit sets. A one-hour prime-time drama usually takes 7 to 10 days to shoot a single episode; a one-hour daytime soap is shooting six or seven episodes per week. (That allows them to take a week off at Christmas, by getting a little ahead of their schedule.) Soap actors are expected to be extremely professional about memorizing lines, hitting marks, resetting perfectly so there are no continuity errors, and keeping on schedule. Actors who are divas get written off or recast (unless they're a huge fan draw). I've seen other actors who worked as children on soaps say it was often a better experience than movies, because it was a very straightforward, calm set where everyone was focused on the work, and not much space for divas or tantrums or artistic dictators like Whedon.

So I'm guessing some of what protected SMG from Whedon was simply that she had been on an extremely professional set and knew what that looked like.

I do remember an interview with Anthony Stewart Head where he talked about how blown away he was by SMG's professionalism when they first started working together on Buffy, how she always remembered exactly where her arm had been at the end of one scene so when they started the next, she never had continuity errors. And that she told him that avoiding continuity errors was rule #1 on soap operas. Anyway, Head talked a little about their similarities and differences since he came up through the London acting world that emphasizes theater, and SMG came up on soaps, and he was intrigued by the way their processes were similar and different, and hadn't expected such a young actress to be so professional.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:07 PM on February 27 [20 favorites]


As I recall, there was fan talk during the run of BTVS about how SMG was kind of considered stand-offish and possibly snobbish, because she didn't hang with the rest of the cast, didn't do stuff after hours, wasn't social with the rest of the cast and crew.

Nowadays we look at that and see the commentary about her professionalism, and interpret it as "this woman knows about boundaries, and enforces the shit out of them in order to protect herself from a toxic workspace" -- but at the time, there were definitely people who considered SMG a diva, who thought she was too good for the show and her coworkers.

Hindsight is 20/20 etc etc. But it's interesting.
posted by suelac at 7:08 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


As I recall, there was fan talk during the run of BTVS about how SMG was kind of considered stand-offish and possibly snobbish, because she didn't hang with the rest of the cast, didn't do stuff after hours, wasn't social with the rest of the cast and crew.

Ironically perhaps, some of the same talk, and even blame, around the known divisions around the show and why there wasn't a movie or other follow up, was aimed at Gellar for being a registered Republican while Whedon was a vehement liberal and "angry atheist", the latter of which goes towards some of Carpenter's complaints perhaps, but both were also repeatedly shown to warm reception at conventions and the like where Whedon would rant about his beliefs to the fans.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:36 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I always wondered why SMG didn't seem to be a member of WhedonClub, almost never did interviews, almost was never seen anywhere or talked about anything.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:54 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


SMG has always (to my memory anyway) had an incredibly reserved public persona. Unfortunately, I doubt that Joss Whedon was the first or last creep she met in the industry -- she did a James Toback movie, after all. I think she's not interested in performing, as herself, the kind of intimacy that people want from celebrities. That seems prudent and sanity-saving in 2021, but it probably hurt her career a decade ago.

On the "retaliation" side -- well, this is weak compared to what happened to CC, but I can't help but think of it. SMG is clearly not much of a singer. I remember she said that when she first heard about the Buffy musical, she planned to just have her songs dubbed by a professional singer. But when she read the script, she realized that the entire emotional arc of her character that season came to a head in the musical episode. She said she took singing lessons so that she would still be a part of it. That's...actually insane, looking back. SMG's voice is really thin. It's an odd voice to have at the center of a full-on musical. Even in Buffy's arc-heavy structure, they always had a couple of episodes that could basically stand alone. Joss wanted to do a musical, fine. He could've done one basically starring ASH, Amber Benson, and the other singers on cast. Given that SMG still had a fairly healthy film career, they could've even planned it to her benefit and just had Buffy gone for most of the episode. I might be oversensitive about this -- I cannot sing, and if you told me I had to do my job singing I might just hit you -- but it's actually kind of appalling.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:55 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


I imagine the musical had implications for a number of people, e.g. I've always wondered what went through the mind of the person doing the French dub for Tara when she heard what she had to do (it came out well IMO but also different). I get that it's a kind of thing that pushed actors out of their comfort zones and may have arisen with an in-group in mind, and at the same time, if there's nothing more and there was at least an offer to handle it with dubbing, I'd also buy it as a creative decision and mainly applaud SMG for rolling with it.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:03 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Alyson Hannigan requested not to have to sing much in OMWF, and she was obliged.
posted by jeather at 11:56 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


I love Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance in Once More With Feeling. I think it is an astonishingly good representation of who Buffy is to SMG. No, she doesn't have a great natural voice. Why would the Slayer have a great natural voice? However, she has obviously worked hard to be as good as she can be, and that's just SMG's Buffy to a T. The fragility. The determination. The occasion flashes of whimsy and of anger. It's just so good.

(I also say this as someone with a whole lot of musical training who still does not have a soloist's voice. I love hearing a voice like mine taken seriously and used to such good effect, especially by such a good actor.)
posted by hydropsyche at 12:29 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]




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