Buffy, Joss and the Doomed Need to Love an Artist as Much as Their ArtPhoto by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Movies Features Joss Whedon
Oh, Joss, Joss, Joss. That was a large and badly timed oopsiedoodle, what with your “Whaaaa? I’m surrounded by needy beautiful young ladies! You’d fuck ’em too, trust me!” thing. Now your Feminist Creds are in the crapper. We’re not mad; we’re just very very disappointed.
Who am I kidding? People are mad! Whedonesque has gone dark, shunning not just your oeuvre but lots of other shows associated with it. The court of nerdly public opinion wants your wayward little nuts in a vise, Fake Feminist! How could you do this to us? How could you both create a slammin’, poignant, hilarious girl-power coming-of-age epic like Buffy and also, you know, do something shitty?
Oh, yeah, wait. Joss Whedon has not harmed me. No Rohypnol, no casting couch, no jumping me like Harmony’s minions in a dark alley on the bad side of Sunnydale.
Remember that Bill Clinton guy? OMG me too. He totes let that White House staffer suck his dick while at the same time being President. He was a needy attention-whore too, as it turns out. They fucking impeached him because he not only waved his literal dick around but lied about it, committing perjury and obstruction of justice. Impeached. And what were all the Good Liberals yowling the entire time? I remember, because I was one of them: It Isn’t Cool, But It Does Not Invalidate His Presidency.
We can say this about a President of the United States but the same stalwarts want blood because a geeky showrunner with Mommy issues and a huge-ass budget cheated on his wife? Kai Cole has every right to be furious. Are you sure you do?
Is it possible that the Artist and the Art are … you know, not the same thing? After all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer did not cheat on you. It’s the same show you thought it was when you thought Joss was cool. Let’s put it this way. If your parents cheated on each other, do you feel it would make you someone other than who you are? No, right? Because you are not them. Buffy Summers is not Joss Whedon, even though he created her.
As it turns out, lots of artists are dicks. Roman Polansky got it on with a 13-year-old in Jack Nicholson’s Jacuzzi. Do we say “Don’t watch Chinatown because the director is a perv? No. (Well, some might.) Do we say, “Don’t let your 13-year-old go to Jack Nicholson’s parties?” Yes! Alfred Hitchcock abused virtually every female lead he ever hired. He spread a rumor that he’d fucked Ingrid Bergman and put Tippi Hedren in the hospital when she refused to sit on his lap. He also directed Vertigo, Rear Window, and about one million other amazing movies. We could try shaming his ass for it, but there is the small problem of him being dead. Interestingly his films are not. Even Francis Ford Coppola locked Martin Sheen in a hotel room for two days and kept him drunk off his ass while telling him “You’re evil.” That scene in Apocalypse Now where Sheen slams his head into a mirror and rubs the blood all over his face? Not CG—just plain ol’ psychological abuse. Should that change how or whether we view The Godfather?
The list goes on, spanning creative mediums and categories of bad behavior. Let’s sit with this question for just a sec. Why are people so shocked and angry when they find out that an artist they admire but don’t know personally is or has been a dick? Why do we freak out when someone’s feet of clay get exposed. Everyone knows Hollywood is rife with dicks! Everyone has always known that. In what way, or at what point does that, or should that, change our minds about their work?
It’s not a rhetorical question, but unless you are Kai Cole, I’d like to suggest that Joss Whedon’s idiotic philandering might not actually be cause to impeach Buffy Summers. It doesn’t mean you are a fan of “fake feminism” or an enabler of Artistic Dickdom. It means you have good taste in TV, and a certain showrunner had bad taste in decision-making.
Amy Glynn is a minimalist.