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The Saga of Joss Whedon

I was going to add a picture of
Joss Whedon
but I couldn't bring myself to so
enjoy this kitten wearing a pink hat.
Firstly and very importantly, I write this from my own point of view. My fellow Agents of DOUX may not feel the same and I do absolutely respect their opinions on this delicate matter as well as your own. It’s a point of pride that the comments section of this site is a safe place where people can express differing opinions politely and I’d like everyone to keep that in mind before they comment.

And now, story time.

In the beginning, there was Joss. And Joss made television. Good television. Exceptional television. He is the brain behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spinoff Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and the first two Avengers movies. He was an icon to geeks worldwide. Sure, a story would slip out every once in a while that painted him in a less than rosy light and once in a great while a storyline would take a turn that was so controversial it still divides fans to this day (see: those two things that happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Seeing Red”). But haters gonna hate, right? It’s not an exaggeration to say that most of our writers are here because of Whedon’s work. A lot of us feel very strongly about his work. Personally, I credit Buffy the Vampire Slayer for helping to save my life. I was in a very dark place in college but I had Buffy. What she suffered through in season six, how much she overcame…it inspired me. I listened to the “Once More With Feeling” soundtrack daily and the lyric “I want the fire back” became a mantra for me in my depression. Whedon’s involvement also brought me into the Marvel Cinematic Universe fold, and by doing so has lead me to unbridled joy. In a search for Dollhouse reviews, I found this site which has changed my life and sparked friendships that mean the world to me. Basically, I feel like I owe Joss Whedon a lot.

In 2017 Kai Cole, Whedon’s ex-wife, penned a blog post for The Wrap that detailed a broken marriage and spoke of infidelity, deceit, manipulation, and emotional abuse. She also revealed she had been diagnosed with C-PTSD, a form of PTSD not uncommon among survivors of abuse and which I myself live with.

In July 2020 and Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg in 2017’s Justice League, accused Whedon of behavior that was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” on Twitter. A few months later, Jason Momoa (Aquaman) called for a “proper investigation,” saying “serious shit went down” and “people need to be held accountable” via Instagram. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) gave an interview in December, telling the LA Times that she was “happy for Ray to go up and say his truth” and hinted at problems she may have had with Whedon that were resolved more quickly and discreetly than Fisher’s; “I had my own experience with [Whedon], which wasn’t the best one, but I took care of it there and when it happened I took it to the higher-ups and they took care of it.”

This brings me to today, February 10th 2021. Charisma Carpenter, Sunnydale’s own Cordelia Chase, broke her years long silence on her experience on Whedon’s sets, tweeting #IStandWithRayFisher. You can read her tweets here and here. Amber Benson, Buffy’s Tara, backed up Carpenter calling Buffy “a toxic environment.” Buffy Summers herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar released a statement on Instagram saying “While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon.” and “I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.” Finally, Michelle Trachtenberg, who, I must remind everyone was only 15 when she began working on Buffy, reposted Gellar’s statement saying “I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman…To repost this. Because. This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behavior…very. Not. Appropriate. So now. People know. What Joss. Did.”

I am not speaking for anyone here at Doux Reviews besides myself when I say, as a survivor of abuse myself, I stand with Kai Cole, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Charisma Carpenter, Amber Benson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Michelle Trachtenberg. I hope I will continue to be able to enjoy Whedon’s contributions to television without constantly thinking of the person behind them, but, given my experience with Harry Potter and JK Rowling, I’m not optimistic. Please know that when you see me fawning over Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing or confess myself willing to jump off a bridge if Whedon asked me to (something I actually typed out and published on this site…embarrassing), please know that I no longer stand by those statements.

Human beings, no matter who they are, no matter where they are, no matter their gender, race, sexuality, religion – no matter what – deserve to be treated well. Abuse of any kind is and will always be unacceptable to me.

sunbunny

38 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Sunbunny, thank you so much for posting this, and for saying it so well.

It's an understatement that Buffy the Vampire Slayer means a lot to me. I fell in love with the show during grad school and it was what made me start writing reviews. This site probably wouldn't be here if it weren't for Joss Whedon.

And yet, I find myself in the same position I was in when I first saw Chinatown. I didn't know anything about Roman Polanski (it was a long time ago and I'm turning into an old lady) and I thought Chinatown was effing brilliant, a genuinely great movie. In later years, after I learned more about Polanski than I wanted to know, I was still able to rewatch and enjoy Chinatown. I don't know if I'll be able to do the same with Buffy, or if Whedon himself has ruined it for me. Guess I'll find out.

I defended Whedon when that whole thing came out about his marriage a couple of years ago. I am now sorry I did.

ChrisB said...

What a great piece, my friend. Thank you for posting it.

I, too, found this site through a Joss show. Like sunbunny, I found a home and friends here and have publicly lauded Joss more times than I can count.

I came to both Buffy and Angel late in the game, but fell in love with both and consider[ed] them among the best television I had ever watched. Unfortunately, I will never be able to watch anything Joss has done the same way again. I will certainly never watch anything new he will do.

My concern is that today's tweets and support only come from female actresses. There have been a myriad of female writers/producers on his shows. I would be very interested in their experience.

Similarly, I would like some of the men to step forward. Nathan Fillion has been quoted more than once as saying that Firefly was the best set he has ever worked on. I wonder what he is thinking today.

Like so many others, I have had terrible experiences with men who held power over me. I support everyone who spoke up today and commend their bravery for speaking out.

Josie Kafka said...

Sunbunny, thank you for writing this.

I stand with you, and with all the people who have come forward. (And with anyone who hasn't come forward, or hasn't yet done so.)

Like you, I came to this sight by googling for reviews of a Joss show: Buffy, which I discovered just after it had ended and was watching via Netflix DVDs during a very difficult patch.

Like you, I've made friendships on this site that matter so, so much to me.

And like you, I'm now worried about what I may have written about Joss that I wouldn't write now.

I sometimes manage to separate the art from the artist, but not in a way that is easy to define. I still really like a bunch of Miramax movies despite Weinstein, but I have a hard time liking The Usual Suspects given what we know about both Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey.

Thinking about watching Buffy sounds almost unimaginable now, though, because it's not a case of an individual awful person. Instead, now I know that what we see on screen is masking all sorts of awfulness going on backstage. Am I going to think of Joss's treatment of Charisma every time Cordelia has a head-splitting vision on Angel?

Panda said...

Beautifully written. Charisma speaking out is such a brave step, and I’m so glad to see a lot of her co-stars standing behind her. I was worried the men would stay silent but most of them have been publicly interacting with her post.

I’ll echo what everyone else is saying in the comments. Buffy meant a lot to me growing up, and still does today. It sucks that there was this sinister behaviour going on behind the scenes, but I think I’d like to go by Sarah’s own belief that Buffy Summers is still as important today as she ever was. Some... guy abusing his power shouldn’t diminish what she meant to so many people who looked up to her during whatever stage they were at in their lives when they found her. I’m choosing to let Buffy's power overshadow Joss so that she can continue to be an inspiration and her legacy can live while his dies out. At the end of the day, there was a lot more to Buffy that what Joss brought to the table.

Hope that makes sense. Thanks again for writing this.

Valkyrie30 said...

Thank you so much for writing this. One of my greatest frustrations with this subject is that America has made this topic so taboo. Synonyms of abuse seem like filthy words- I think bringing up the r word gets more of a reaction than dropping a f bomb and that just goes to show how pervasive the issue is, that no one will discuss it. So thank you for being so brave as to write this.

I think a lot of the general population doesn’t realize how much abuse happens, and so they dismiss survivors’ truths as stories. Whether it be a friend, a co-worker, a favorite actor or athlete.

But these things DO happen and they happen alarmingly frequently and maybe they’d stop happening if we as a whole held people responsible for their actions. As of right now, abuse survivors have to go through a gauntlet so rigorous many of them choose not to- see many of these women are only standing up a decade later.

Whedon had multiple people call him out- if he’s venerated despite that, what chance does the average woman have of being given justice when it’s just her word against another’s?

Of course abuse doesn’t just happen to women, as well, but violence towards women is a very real and persistent problem that’s routinely overlooked.

Thank you for standing up.

Unknown said...

Agreed this is a depressing time for whedonverse fans..

I did notice that David Boreanaz liked Charisma's original instagram post, so there does seem to be support from some male actors too, but agree it would be good to read/hear a response from the likes of Nathan Fillion and other male actors who have worked on his shows/movies etc..

Neil, UK

CelStudios said...

Very well written.

Buffy has been my favorite show of all time since the first time I watched it, and while most people seemed to know there was something going on behind the scenes, getting confirmation yesterday was just crushing. I seriously feel for everyone who had to deal with Whedon's abuse on any of his set, and I definitely stand with Charisma and all the others who had opened up.

I've been pretty good at separating the art from the artist most of the time, JK Rowling being an exception due to being the sole author of the Harry Potter and thus receives the most money from the IP, but Buffy always felt like one of those special shows that managed to become greater than any individual person who worked on it (except maybe SMG). Even Joss himself pointed it out that Buffy is bigger than himself.

Thus, I used the opportunity to look through all of Buffy's writers and see what they've done and it made me realize just how accomplished they all are. They've worked on some of my favorite shows like 24, Lost, Mad Men, and Daredevil, and it made me realize that even though Joss is most well-known for the show (and headed some of the most iconic episodes), Buffy was more than anything a collaborative effort between the actors, the crew, and the massive lineup of writers, not just Whedon.

I think when rewatching Buffy, it's good to be aware of what went on behind the scenes and what aspects of Joss may have seeped into the show (Xander, perhaps), but I also think that now is a better time than ever to also acknowledge just how much amazing work the show's other writers put out as well, like Jane Espenson, Marti Noxon, and Drew Greenberg.

Samantha M. Quinn said...


Thank you for the well written article, there were some things I wasn't aware of in there.

I wish this didn't keep happening.

At this point we may need to simply divorce the creator from the creation. If we don't, then how can we enjoy all those wonderful creations. What if tomorrow, we find out George Lucas like to torture puppies in his spare time? Do we suddenly push aside all of Star Wars? Joss Whedon has contributed a vast amount of interesting and remarkable entertainment over the years.

Given the hold The Mouse has over Marvel I doubt we'll ever hear much about Joss's behavior on those first two Avengers films, the fact that he was replaced may give you all that you need to know. Same with his new project, The Nevers, he left less than halfway through production. Maybe HBO doesn't tolerate that kind of behavior.

I support those abused, and hope that Whedon admits his bad behavior and stays hidden behind a keyboard to write (I may dislike him as a person, but he is still a brilliant writer). He seems the type who never should've been in charge of people. That being said, there is no way I can push away his work. Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, The Avengers... they mean too much to me. This isn't quite like Harry Potter, since Joss isn't the sole contributor to these properties. Many of those abused or suffered during that time still get some residual profits from those works as well.

Perhaps in time we can enjoy his work without thinking about and I may have to toss my signed copy of "Once More With Feeling".

Anonymous said...

I was a big fan of the TV show Castle... until the last season when it became clear that someone (or maybe even the CBS network which made the show) had problems with women when they fired Stana Katic & Tamala Jones.

TJ said...

I'm confused. Why now, Charisma?

It was just a few months ago I found an interview with her (it was a few years old) where she discussed why she was written out of Angel after season 4. She was disappointed in Joss, but said they had solved their differences. She also stated that she never watched Buffy after she left, and she didn't watch Angel either after she left. Which sounded a bit like she was only interested in herself.

That said, I find it very upsetting that so many people now have talked about "shit was going on on set". Clearly something was not right. And that's not OK.
But I just don't understand why these kind of things don't come out sooner? What has changed now? So I can't help thinking - why now, Charisma? And I am not saying this trying to defend Joss, that is absolutely not the case, I just don't understand.

Billie Doux said...

TJ, a lot of people just keep quiet about these things. Whedon most certainly had power over their careers, too.

Panda, I loved what you said about Buffy being as important today as she ever was, and letting her power overshadow Whedon.

And Davide, that is an important point about all of the different talented writers contributing to Buffy that were *not* Whedon. He may have created it, but he's not all of it.

Baby M said...

Back in undergrad, I learned of something called the "Competence-Deviance Hypothesis." The idea was that if you could teach someone with an obvious handicap (like Downs Syndrome) to do a job very well (for example, assembling a lawnmower engine), that competence would help them to be better accepted in society despite their "deviation" from the norm (mental impairment, obvious physical differences).

Unfortunately, our cultural elite have turned that concept on its head. The more successful you are, it seems, the more deviant you are allowed to be. Woody Allen is a successful comedian and writer, so the elite looks the other way when he indulges himself with underage girls and writes that deviance into the script of Annie Hall. Frank Lloyd Wright was a brilliant architect, so the biographies talk about Fallingwater and the Guggenheim for chapters on end and ignore the fact that he treated his family like dirt. Garrison Keillor is a brilliant storyteller, and Ellen Degeneres a popular talk-show host and LGBTQ pathbreaker, so they get a pass on being colossal jerks to the people who work for them. "Stairway to Heaven" is awesome classic rock; surely that's worth letting the band have their way with a few underage girls. Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy were successful politicians who promoted "progressive" causes, so what they do behind closed doors with the unpaid interns is therefore nobody's business. Harvey Weinstein, Denny Hastert, Jeffrey Epstein, Roy Moore, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Seville, Lord Byron, John Profumo, Elliot Spitzer, dozens more we could list, all the same pattern. In just about every case, when the abuse finally breaks out into the open, we find out that "everybody knew" but "nobody said anything" because these are powerful people and they support all the right causes and this is Hollywood!/Washington!/New York City!/the Art World! we're all sophisticated here! You don't want to be thought of as one of those old-fashioned God-bothering prudish yokels from flyover country, do you?

Thing is, it's possible to be a great author, a great actor, a great film-maker, a great musician, a great leader, without being a creep or a jerk. All it takes is a sense of right and wrong and a bit of humility.

I was never much into the Wheedon oeuvre, but there are a few artists I've been fond of whose personal misconduct or vocal support for political positions I find disagreeable has caused me to rethink my affection for them. Sometimes, that means dumping the book or the album at the secondhand store; in other cases, I stop buying anything new they put out, but still listen to the album I already own.

The most important thing our cultural elite could do to justify their elite status would be to police their own, stop covering for the bastards among you, and observe the same standards of right and wrong as the rest of the populace.

TJ said...

Billie, yes I know. These people are powerful and it's scary. But isn't that the case in every occupation everywhere. The boss has the power, you don't. Fifteen years ago I had a terrible boss that made my life hell. I couldn't stand it so I quit. But it didn't end there. My former boss did everything to ruin my reputation and gave me bad references. My new boss didn't believe a word if though, saying "that's the name of the game" and besides, my former boss had the reputation of being "difficult".

I am thinking of Eliza Dushku. She seems like a girl that knows what she wants and don't accept crap. She certainly put down Michael Weatherly a few years back. When Fox hired her back in 2008-2009 she had free range in picking which people she wanted to work with. She chose Joss and persuaded him to do Dollhouse. Why would she choose him if he was a complete a**hole??

Or is it so bad that actresses (and actors) are so used to this toxic environment that they are willing to sell their souls for anything? Like I said, I just don't understand it.

Billie Doux said...

TJ, it might be that everyone has different relationships, everyone combines differently. Whedon's relationship with Eliza was just different from his relationship with Charisma.

percysowner said...

TJ Elisha Dussku was a lot younger when she chose to star in Dollhouse. Young people often don't know how to push back and will accept that in order to get the best written role, you may have to put up with unpleasantness. Also as Billie says different people have different relationships with their employer. Joss Whedon my have had a non-abusive or even good relationship with her. Abusers don't abuse everyone, just the people they decide to abuse.

As to why now, well the Ray Fisher accusations are recent. Charisma may well have decided to bury what happened because she saw it as only affecting her. Then she hears about similar actions by Whedon and has to face the fact that she wasn't an isolated incident. Her statement makes it clear that she feel somewhat responsible for what happened to Fisher because she didn't speak up. She ISN'T responsible, the abuser with the power in the relationship is, but victims often do take that on themselves.

An Honest Fangirl said...

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to say about this, and honestly I'm still not 100% sure. I'm a bit too young to have grown up with Buffy or Angel. I didn't start watching it until sometime in the 2010s. Harry Potter, however, was a huge part of my childhood and growing up and is still a massive cultural touchstone for my generation and most of the people that I socialize with. So when JK started being, well, who she is, it hurt a lot.

What I really appreciated and took comfort in, though, was how the fandom kind of came together and said "You no longer own this. We are taking it and we will making it a wonderful, inclusive place and you will never take that away from us." Obviously, legally it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the sentiment that I'm clinging to. Death of the Author, even though it's admittedly a hell of a lot harder to do that when said Author is still alive and active and potentially producing content.

I don't know how to do that here, yet. Like Josie said, I'm not sure if I'm going to think of Charisma and what she went through every time I watch Angel or Buffy. I just don't know. Those two series are so intrinsically tied to Whedon in a way that maybe things like the Avengers aren't for me. I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm angry, and that I'm saddened, and that I hope those who were abused by him (or abused by anyone else) finds comfort and peace and healing.

Unknown said...

I'm fortunate to have rewatched Buffy and Angel prior to knowing this. I felt like it would be my last time watching the shows. But then again, who knows. I didn't watch the shows because of Joss, I watched them because of the people on the screen. While I feel bad about what happened behind the scenes with some of them(I wonder if Nicholas Brendon's dysfunctional life is due to Joss)as a regular person watching a TV show, it's never my interest to care what is going on backstage unless it affects the shows. Other than Charisma leaving Angel because of the pregnancy, I never saw anything on the show that would hint about trouble with the cast even though there were rumors about the other cast members being upset with Joss and Sarah deciding to end the show without them knowing about it. They were rumors about Sarah and Alyson Hannigan having a falling out because of it. Maybe it wasn't just Joss who was a problem, maybe SMG was too since she was the main lead. She defending Charisma seems like a way for her to throw Joss under the bus, who knows. But at least they stayed professional through the whole thing unlike Nina Dobrev who walked out of the Vampire Diaries because she was stupid enough to get involved with a cast member or Suzanne Somers leaving Three's Company(an oldie but still a goodie)because of wanting more money which drove a decades long feud with her co-stars.

Anonymous said...

For whoever feels truly hurt by Joss Whedon, either people who worked on his shows or fans of his shows, I'm sorry. We should respect any claim of abuse. I also, however, believe there should be some respect for the truth. And the truth is that Joss Whedon is the reason his creations worked. I find myself getting really annoyed when people say "the other writers are what really made the shows" or "the cast was the best part of Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse". This is just straight up revisionist history. Whedon's vision is what made the shows special, and the individual scripts Whedon wrote were often the best ones. That's just the truth.

If we found out tomorrow that Albert Einstein was an abusive and awful person, we would not suddenly feel compelled to say that actually someone else came up with the Theory of Relativity. Whedon put in the work, and he deserves credit for the work. Don't get me wrong, if he abused people he deserves 100% of the blame for that too. But Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the best TV series ever made, and the biggest reason for that is Joss Whedon. It doesn't stop being a work of art just because the guy who made it wasn't a good person.

Ironically enough, the words of Malcolm Reynolds spring to mind:
"It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of son of a bitch or another."

Panda said...

I think there’s some truth to what you’re saying, and nobody is disputing the fact that it was his vision that brought this whole world to life, but to say Joss is the only reason this show became what it was is a bit of a disrespect to the cast, writers and producers around him who were also largely responsible for bringing his vision to life.

JBA said...

These kinds of situations tend to worry me, because I start wondering if there's something wrong with me. As a child, I never paid any attention to the people who make movies or television shows, and as an adult, even though I may register who makes them, I don't really think about them when I watch. I know, for example, that when I watch Marvel's The Avengers or Firefly, I am watching stories written by Joss Whedon, but that is the extent of my feelings about his involvement. So no matter what happens, whether he is proven to be guilty of all the heinous things people have been accusing him of or if he is exonerated of all of it, I will still happily enjoy watching those movies, without a care about it. The same is true for Harry Potter. I am a big Potterhead, proud to be a Hufflepuff, and while I don't agree with the statements Rowling has said, I can still thoroughly enjoy watching the movies and even reading the books, without feeling guilty. And I honestly don't see any reason I should be forced to give them up for something someone else said, even if they are responsible for them. So, if Joss Whedon actually is guilty of everything they say, he may never make another movie again, but I'm not going to suffer for it, because I will continue to watch Firefly and The Avengers as often as I feel like. (I really tried with Buffy, but as you probably figured out, by the time I reached the end of season 3, I couldn't for the life of me see what anyone liked about that show, and I will never understand peoples' love for it. I don't fault them for it; I'm glad they liked it. But I am also glad I never have to watch it again.) I will also continue to read and watch the Harry Potter series when I feel like it. And I'm not going to feel bad about it. So I can't tell if I'm a really bad person or just blissfully apathetic.

Anonymous said...

@Panda - I'm the same anonymous you replied to. I never said Joss Whedon was the only reason his shows were a success, just that he was the biggest reason. The casts were magnificent and most of the other writers were stellar. But guess who had the say over selecting those magnificent actors to add to the cast and stellar writers to add to the staff? Joss Whedon. Without him the shows are rudderless. Again, if he's an idiot then let him reap what he sows. But you can't just say "Oh well... he wasn't REALLY that important to Buffy's success" just because that makes it easier for you to keep enjoying Buffy. That's wrong. Buffy is capable of being a masterpiece of a show while still being created by a jerk. Life has contrasts.

(As an aside: "Buffy would have been perfect without Joss's terrible misogyny" is possibly the worst take of them all, precisely because we KNOW exactly what 'Buffy without Whedon' looks like. There were literally dozens of shows that tried to ape the Buffy formula over the last 20 years without Whedon writing. Are any of them even half as revered? If Whedon sucks, then he sucks. But most of his writing sure didn't.)

Panda said...

Please don’t mince my words. I never said he wasn’t important, just that there were other important cogs in the Buffy machine. Joss started it, and kept it going, but there were several other important parts that were vital to the show becoming what it was. His actions don’t take that away, and I never said they did, I just choose believe that the legacy of the series shouldn’t be based on his work alone, and it shouldn’t be diminished just because of his actions alone.

Mikey Heinrich said...

If anyone hadn't seen, Michelle Trachtenberg amended her comment to add 'There was a rule. Saying. He's not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again', and the word 'again' just absolutely chills me to the bone

I'm so saddened by this. I absolutely believe Charisma Carpenter and the others. There's something particularly monstrous about someone that inspires children, that helps to inform their concepts of good and bad, that gives them hope for the world, betraying all of those things with their own abhorrent behavior. I feel that about JKR and Joss in equal measures right now.

sunbunny said...

UPDATE THE FIRST: Michelle Trachtenberg has stated there was a rule that she was not to be left alone with Whedon. You can see the revised statement on her Instagram.

UPDATE THE SECOND: Anthony Stewart Head gave an interview saying he didn't know about any inappropriate behavior on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but stresses that he believes those who've come forward. https://www.cbr.com/buffy-anthony-head-gutted-by-whedon-allegations/

It's important to note that Head was not a regular cast member the last two seasons. From my own experience, abusers have different faces and guises. They know how to get the people they need to on their side while punishing those they want to.

Billie Doux said...

J. August Richards, who played Gunn on Angel, posted his support of Charisma on his Twitter account today.

TJ said...

I've been so furious and sad about this the last couple of days that I think I can't think straight.

But then I remembered what I have done with sportsmen/women. I follow lots of sports. Have always done. And I have my favourites. And I tend to idolize them. Lately, I have realised that they are just people, and probably people I wouldn't socialise with, because of their 150% drive to be the best all the time, no matter the cost. So I don't idolize them anymore.

I guess showbiz people - directors, producers, actors - fall into this category as well. It's easy to idolize them. And the lesson learned for me in this case is that I will try to not do that anymore.

I remember a few years ago, I befriended a very famous actress. She was known for being bold, strong and positive. That was not the case. When I got to know her I found a very depressed, insecure alcoholic. She was a lovely person, but she was also a very sad person. She died of alcoholism.

I also think of different directors that are known for being hard to work with. Mostly because of creative differences and visions. I especially think of Ingmar Bergman who has been praised for his work. The actresses that worked with him have often said it was the hardest thing they have ever done. They often described it as awful. But at the same time, almost all of these actresses had an affair with him! Were they all under his spell? Was his power that big?

It's all mindboggling...

TheShadowKnows said...

"If anyone hadn't seen, Michelle Trachtenberg amended her comment to add 'There was a rule. Saying. He's not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again', and the word 'again' just absolutely chills me to the bone"

This is even worse than I thought. :(

CoramDeo said...

I haven’t had the same experience with Whedon’s work that many of you have. I’ve never seen Buffy, and my first experience with him was The Avengers. That is a film I have long loved, though, and Firefly is one of my favorite series. He has done script work, credited and uncredited, on many media that I love. I imagine that I will continue to enjoy those things, but I don’t know for certain. What I do know is that Whedon, though he is a great artist, particularly excellent at writing dialogue, is not immune because of that to the same rules that must govern all of humanity. Whedon must answer for his actions the same way all of us must. With so many people either speaking about the abuse they suffered or corroborating those reports last, offering directly falsifiable evidence, it seems very clear he is an abusive man as well as a great writer. The quality of his scripts must not be given priority over the horrors it’s clear he inflicts on the most vulnerable of the people under his direction and care. As an aspiring filmmaker and just as a human being, this disturbs me deeply.

In reference to some earlier discussion, I would encourage us all to remember that everyone will react in different ways to this news. Notice that nobody asserted that all these allegations are lies because Joss is such a great talent. I don’t think any of us want to take the enjoyment of his work away from those who can still appreciate it, nor does anyone want to force those who can no longer bear Whedon’s work to sustain the enthusiasm they once had for it. I think both these reactions are normal and valid, and I’m confident we can all agree that nobody should be forced to enjoy or not enjoy any piece of media or entertainment.

Anyway, these are my thoughts, but again, I may not be as close to this emotionally as many of you are.

sunbunny said...

Wow, CoramDeo. That's incredibly well said.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest, I doubt I'll ever be able to re-watch a Joss Whedon production. In general I'm bad at separating art and author (just thinking about Harry Potter makes my heart hurt), but even before this news I've been having some trouble with Whedon.

He tends to write jealous and insecure men (Tony Stark, Mal, Xander) in a way that makes their behaviour feel like, while not anything good, not necessarily something that *needs* to change. It just feels alienating to watch that these sort of characters get constantly babied. I don't find cockfights endearing. I find them objectification-y when there are women involved, and still incredibly immature when there aren't.

And I've also had problems with how he's written women in the past (trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault in this paragraph). From his unpublished work there's the unproduced Wonder Woman script with its off-putting objectification, as well as a Firefly-pitch for the second season that would have included Inara getting brutally gang raped to kick-start Mal's character development. From the published stuff there's more: the infamous Buffy episode; Penny serving as a plot device and then being fridged in Doctor Horrible; Black Widow's arc in the second movie suddenly revolving around a man and feeling lesser for not being able to have a baby (which I know wasn't the intention, but that doesn't change the way the scene was written); Tony's "prima nocta" rape joke, also from the Age of Ultron; and the trashy fratboy scene from Justice League with Flash falling onto Diana's breasts.

If it isn't the same for others I understand -- I've never been totally comfortable with his work, but none of these aspects on their own are enough to outweigh the best parts. It's just that in this case the accusations emphasise parts of his work that already concerned me. And knowing that they were analogous to real-life abuse just makes the whole thing worse. I wish everyone well, but from my perspective his entire oeuvre is tainted.

Chris said...

This is all very sad, disillusioning and disappointing. Sadly, not all that surprising if you followed some of Charismas interviews in the years since. It's been more than hinted at that some of the going-ons behind the scenes during Angel S4 included very questionable behavior from Whedon behind the scenes, to say the least. What's shocking is how many actresses on the show were also deeply affected by his behavior and to which extent he used his powers to abuse and belittle those he had control over, especially the young stars on his show.

It's very brave for Charisma and the others to finally speak about his behavior. There is no reason to wonder why Charisma is doing this now - you can't really apply logic or reason to when someone finally finds the courage to speak up about traumatic experiences, it just happens. What happened to Ray Fisher seems to have triggered something in her and she now felt strong enough to talk about it, simple as that.

I always try to separate a work of art from the artist who created it. Many, many amazing artists were complete douchebags privately. What Kubrick did to Shelly Duvall on the set of Shining can only be called emotional abuse. Hitchock famously acted very creepily obsessive and controlling towards his female stars. Yet nobody can deny they were great directors that created some amazing films. I have to admit that when I watch any of their movies, I don't really think or care about their bad behavior behind the scenes any more. The HP Potter books are a similar matter to me. So J. K. Rowling turned out to really suck as a person. She still created 7 wonderful books that were a big part of my childhood. When I read a Harry Potter book, I honestly don't ever really think about Rowling.

Similarly, Whedon was a big part of what made Buffy great. Obviously, not the only part - I don't want to downplay the amazing work of the actors and actresses, the other writers etc. - but he is the guy who came up with the themes and concept, created the major characters, wrote some of the best episodes of the show etc. I don't blame anybody for now downplaying his role in creating the show in retrospect after what has come out about his behavior on set, but it does ring a bit false and even, as ridiculous as it sounds in this situation, a bit unfair. There is no excuse for his behavior on set - it was wrong, disgusting, damaging and frankly, pretty pathetic. But we do have to keep in mind that even bad people can do good and good people can do bad. Whedon treating his stars like shit doesn't automatically negate him being a good writer, too (though an overrated one if you ask me - Whedon's very good at writing powerful scenes and cool dialogue as well as creating memorable characters, but good storylines? There was some really crappy writing in most of his shows at several points, too, and I'm not just about Angel Season 4).

It doesn't make any of his shows retroactively bad, either. All the problems people have listed (the behavior of some of the male characters towards women, the problematic plot arc for Cordelia in Angel Season 4 etc.) where part of the show long before these informations about Whedon's behavior on set came to light, and they weren't any less problematic before and aren't any more problematic after. Mal constantly mocking Inara and calling her a whore while never truly being called out for his behavior was questionably writing even without knowing anything about Whedon. In fact, Whedon should have been called out for writing stuff like that long before instead of being treated like an untouchable icon of feminity.

At the same, Buffy remains a feminist icon to me. A little blonde girl putting big, strong guys in their place with a nifty one-liner remains awesome. Whedon acting like an asshole to his actresses and not living up to the ideals his own show created doesn't suddenly change that.

Chris said...

I hope this doesn't come across like I'm judging people for feeling like Whedon's work has been retroactively tainted by their behavior or like I'm downplaying abusive behavior - that's not what I'm trying to do at all! As I said, there is no excuse for Whedon's behavior and I can completely understand if someone now feels uncomfortable watching the show because he or she can't stop thinking about Whedon while watching. I was just stating how things should be, ideally, from my point of view.

This isn't easy for me either. Buffy was the first show I truly loved. I've since discovered quite a few of flaws in some aspects of the writing that keep it from being one of my favorite shows of all time now, and thankfully, I never idealized Whedon like many of his fans did, so this blow did hit a little less hard than it probably for a lot of other people. It's still difficult - I jsut started a rewatch of the show a few weeks ago and will probably take a break now. But I do plan on continuing at some point and also on rewatching Angel and Firefly again. And just take the good with the bad, I guess. It's easier with the Avengers thankfully, because I never really think about Joss while watching that one.

Chris said...

Argh, this comment section needs an edit function ;-P Can't believe I wrote feminity instead of feminism at some point. I'm sorry guys, English isn't my first language, but that's not really an excuse.

Billie Doux said...

Chris, you stated everything beautifully.

And yes, the comments need an edit function. :) This site is so old with so many thousands of reviews and comments that moving to another platform has become pretty much impossible.

Anonymous said...

This is sad, and I stand with Sarah Michelle Gellar who said she was proud of Buffy but no longer her creator.
I believe everyone who has spoken out, and am saddened by their stories and hope thay can find some peace.

Valerie said...

First, I want to thank the agents of DOUX for starting this thread. Reading this has helped me process my own feelings. This may be the last place on the internet where people can discuss sensitive issues without it dissolving into hurtful language.

I am deeply saddened and disappointed.

Whedon had a reputation for “supporting women” and was a public figure I looked up to. As an aspiring writer there was a lot to learn from his work (both of mistakes made and successful storylines) Like many others here Buffy and other works meant a lot to me personally. That has now been tarnished and I can’t pretend it’s not. I doubt I will support any of his future endeavors and I hope that Charisma and others can find some solace following these revelations.

All that being said. I feel that art is separate from it’s creators. Once finished they are put out into the world and become a living thing. We take them and assign meaning to them. They become part of the culture and the interpretation/meaning will change over time just as we do. I’m not going to give up what Buffy means to me, or other series like Harry Potter. In an emotional, if not legal sense, they belong to me now and had a hand in making the person I am today.

I know others won’t watch any of these shows again and I also want to say that’s okay too. We all cope differently.

Billie Doux said...

David Boreanaz has posted that he supports Charisma Carpenter.

https://tvline.com/2021/02/15/david-boreanaz-charisma-carpenter-buffy-angel-joss-whedon-controversy/

Gerontius said...

I rather suspect that if we systematically excluded all productions which in which some of those involved had been guilty significant sexual exploitation of vulnerable people there wouldn't be too much left. Rather than retrospectively scrubbing the past the emphasis should be on trying to make sure that is effectively prevented from now on.

I don't think that lumping JK Rowling with those guilty of sexual harassment. When, for example, writing as a woman who herself has been a victim of domestic violence she wrote "I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives," and on that basis disliked the use of the iterm "people who menstruate", I do not feel it is fair to see that as "transphobic" rather than.as expressing a view that is help by many feminists.

This isn't of course the first time Rowling has been attacked by people offended by daring to express views on gender. Remember the reaction by those offended when she said she had always imagined Dumbledore as being gay when she wrote him? Different people, of course, but maybe not that dufferent.