No, Joss Whedon wasn’t the Feminist Scion You Thought He Was

By:  H.T.

For as much as I consider myself a fan of Joss Whedon, the fact remains that perhaps, maybe, Joss Whedon wasn’t this great bastion of feminist ideals as we all thought.  Sure, his ex wife’s confessions probably said what we already knew, but still, let’s carve out a few facts from this:

1.  His films were about as feminist as those shitty Charlie’s Angels movies.

Let’s just say it, from the 90s to early 00s, the idea of feminism in movies and TV was basically 1 of 2 things:  either man-hating women who sassed their way through the room or highly attractive women who took no shit and kicked ass.  Joss Whedon got by because as feminist as he may claim to be, even he knows people like looking at attractive people do things.  Enter the comparison I listed at the top.

See, Charlie’s Angels got by because back then you could make a badly edited movie with stuntmen up the ass for badly choreographed fight scenes and people gave you a pass for not showing women as damsels in distress.  Don’t believe me?

That.  Bad.  Keep in mind, they got away with keeping that label even in the sequel that had this scene:

And this is what Whedon saw as passing the bar of “feminist” back then:  just show attractive women being badass.  Now to be fair, the idea for what qualifies as feminist now is a varied answer depending on whom you ask and if someone needs to get out content for a website.  What could qualify as feminist today could range from fleshing out the characters as being more than just attractive women, to not making them fit into the traditional standards of beauty, to not giving them male love interests.  But if Zack Snyders’ Sucker Punch taught us anything, the days of badass girl power flicks that just show them as mastubatory fodder that can fight doesn’t fly anymore.  Which probably explains why Dollhouse failed.  Buffy only got by for the 90s because, hey, nothing objectionable about a cute girl fighting vampires, right?  Which leads to my next point:

2.  Even how he writes relationships is problematic.

The big source of contention with Joss Started when Age Of Ultron came out and people saw that suddenly Black Widow went from Soviet super soldier to pretty girl badass who just wants to be loved after 3 movies where we had YET to see her love life explored.  This isn’t to say they couldn’t have written in a love story, but they way it was done was pretty typical of Whedon:  take the battle hardened badass girl & show her lose all her inhibitions with a guy.  He did it in Buffy, he did it in Firefly.  What made you think he wouldn’t stick to what worked?  Hell, even Dr. Horrible was about a crazed nerdy super villain obsessed with a girl at his laundromat that starts dating his arch nemesis, a admittedly dickish hero and then KILLS her trying to go after him.

Honestly, there’s not much to say on said issue as countless others have covered it extensively.  But yeah, he’s full of shit.

3.  He got by on being a Yes man.

Fact is, Joss Whedon only got the standard of the woke feminist screenwriter because Tumblr basically made it easy to reduce everything to a GIF and make it seem like he was just this bastion of progressive ideals, and thus was how he earned being seen as what he was viewed as.  Fact is, when put in front of convention crowds for panels, all he had to do was say the usual talking points and boom, friends with Anita Sarkeesian.  Fact was, it was simple to appease the feminist crowd as all it required was just making the women strong and the men at least appear to check their privilege (unless we’re talking Jayne from Firefly..hell Adam Baldwin was tied to Gamergate) in short, all he had to do was toe the party line, which goes to the biggest point of all:

4.  Jamie Kilstein was the warning to Joss about how well male feminism goes.

For anyone who knows me, there was a time when I considered myself very much a male feminist because I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in the word.  But alas this was not to be.  In the end, I walked away when 1 male feminist stabbed me in the back during a discussion about a particularly sensitive subject, another said I hated black women because I believed that Reign of April might not get that the Oscars understand black art that ISN’T tied to a pain that makes white people the saviors, and the point of no return was when I took part in shitting on Jeremy D. Johnson, who was ousted as creeping out women in his circles.

See, the modern day variation of male feminism isn’t even about learning.  It’s about obedience, incredulity and repression.  To be a male feminist means you have to talk the best game and hope that if your chose by one of the women around in these circles that at no point you were called out for being problematic.

A prime example of this is Jamie Kilstein, who up until about a year ago, was comedy’s token male feminist.  Until it came out that he had, at best, gotten too close for comfort with several women.  At worst, he was cheating on his wife.  Not unlike Whedon.  Fact is, there’s no excuse for cheating but one should note that when one’s ideology conflicts with even their most benign desires, it can and will manifest itself in the worst ways.  What could have been the wild early 20s of fucking women left and right, but is demonized by the feminist ideal that men’s promiscuity is promoted but women are repressed, along with the insinuation of promoting rape culture and what could have been a learning moment is repressed to toe the party line.

Joss Whedons’ downfall came when he decided that he would champion a cause more so than write what he wanted.  And in the end, when he chose his passion over feminism, this is what it came to.

I don’t wish failure on Joss, in fact, I hope he gets back on his feet.  But I also hope he realizes he can’t sustain a career off people who find everything problematic and full of unchecked privilege.  In the end, these are people who can’t be happy till what they want speaks to them and them alone.

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