Before some angry blogger comes along and tears me to shreds for my last post, I’ll do them the honors of sharing what I think is a very eloquently-written counterpoint on Joss Whedon’s supposed feminism. The writer of ProzacPark discusses the story of an alleged plotline for Firefly involving a rape so terrible I can barely type it. Inara raped by Reavers. Reavers! I would be really horrified if I saw that on TV, most especially in a Joss Whedon show!

“I am now gleefully happy that “Firefly” got canceled. Not that I wasn’t before, but now? I can almost forgive FOX for canceling all those TV shows if it means that Inara was never raped. Also, TV, can you stop having the women with sexuality be raped or otherwise punished for having it while pretending to be edgy for having women with ‘unconventional’ sexualities?”

Because I am a defender of all things Joss, I’ll say that I need to hear it from him directly, what the $#%@ he had in mind!! Now I, too, am glad Firefly got canceled. But did it have to come to that? Couldn’t someone in their right mind have stood up to Joss and said “you can’t do this, this is sick”? Maybe Joss does need a little feminist reeducation after all.

Joss Whedon’s White Male Privilege


The feminist blogosphere is all up in arms about Joss Whedon’s speech at “Equality Now”. The Atlantic claims he is ignoring all of feminist history.  Our Feminist Playschool says “Whedon is the type of feminist ally that only wants to participate in a feminism that is quiet, gentle and happening at the academic level of privileged white people.” Shattersnipe says “Dear Joss Whedon: STFU” and then accuses him of various unfeminist behaviors (which will be addressed in this blog at some point. ) My Elegant Gathering of White Snows says “A rich, white dude like Whedon… will never understand what it is like to be a woman in a culture which hates us.” and a blogger in Amsterdam says “Yay! Permission from a white cis dude not to identify as a feminist!”

And here I was, just lapping up his words, saying he was setting things straight with his speech. I personally think he comes close to setting things straight with every speech, though he sometimes falls short of expressing exactly what he means. But I hadn’t imagined the complaints that would be lobbed at him! Why am I so naive? They called him “cis”! I had to look it up. It’s the opposite of trans, as in transexual. Cisexual means that your physiology is in line with your psychology, as far as gender is concerned. You might consider yourself lucky to be “cis”! But did you know, it means you are that much less oppressed than you could be, and in need of that much more reeducation? Well it’s true.

Joss does not only suffer from White Male Privilege, he suffers from White Cis Dude Privilege. The particulars of who he is as a person be damned.

I have sympathy for Joss, having incurred the wrath of many “feminists” myself over the years. There is a deep vengefulness inside the Oppression community. They don’t take well to jokes or jokers, that much I know. They also focus a lot on their own oppression and make judgmental assumptions about the lives of people who do not rack up the Oppression Points in obvious ways.

There are oppressed white cis dudes, you know. They’re called geeks, and they get oppressed all the way through public school. Joss Whedon was one of those so oppressed, and he was also oppressed by his father and older brothers. He was a small guy who sucked at sports. It wasn’t until he was older that he became all privileged with his white male standing and all that. Sure, a trans-geek is going to be more oppressed than Joss and therefore more entitled to an opinion, but Joss is not just some cis white dude. He’s my hero!

Cis, white, or whatnot, I think I’ll keep standing up for Joss, in my inarticulate way. That is because his works have been by my side (or on my TV) all these years and have seen me through all sorts of times. I’m grateful to Joss for giving me characters who are like my friends. I’m grateful to him for Buffy,  for so many reasons I’ll say them some other time. I’m grateful to him for creating stuff for smart, thinking people! And I’m grateful to him for always saying things that make so much sense. He grounds me and makes me feel less alone in the universe (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. notwithstanding.)

Joss Whedon on “Feminist”, the Word


Joss Whedon was honored at Equality Now!’s event called “Make Equality Reality”, where he gave a speech in which he takes on the word “feminist” and explains why he hates it. Joss could totally do standup. He is doing standup! But he’s setting us straight at the same time. Setting things straight. Setting reality straight. This is kind of why I love him.

Bleh. More Bleh From S.H.I.E.L.D.


The latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delivered more bleh and helped continue this show along its increasingly boring path of dark colors and mediocre plot-lines. Episode 6 “FZZT” featured a Chitauri infection that killed people and suspended them in mid-air. Jemma Simmons contracted the infection through an electrostatic shock, and then had to race against time to try to find herself an anti-serum before she died. Of course, Fitz helped save the day by scratching some Chitauri cells from the inside of a Chitauri helmet (which was somehow the initial cause of the infection) and helping to develop the antiserum from them. Overall it was an incredibly purposeless and boring episode.  It was obvious that Jemma (it’s the only time she’s referred to as “Jemma” rather than “Simmons”) was not going to be killed off, so it was just a matter of waiting out the episode to find out how she saves herself or gets saved or whatnot.

While I’ve been hoping for an episode to feature FitzSimmons, this is the oposite of what I was hoping for. What I want is back-story and character development. I want some reason to care a bit more about the duo. But instead, I was treated to another episode that made it increasingly difficult for me to distinguish Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from anything else on TV.  What is going on? Who is writing these episodes, and more importantly, who is OK-ing them? I assume it’s Jed & Maurissa again at fault for this. Or maybe it’s Marvel and ABC. Maybe Jed and Maurissa can’t stand up to Marvel and ABC, or maybe it’s what I said before, that Jed & Maurissa are good writers, but they don’t necessarily share Joss’ brilliance for bringing out the brilliance in the people around him.

Not everyone is so disappointed by this episode as I was. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Joss should be heavily disappointed, and racking his brain on what to do about it. If the last few episodes were something that Joss actually rewrote, then I think he may have dementia.  I expect more from Joss. And while I know that he’s not running this show, ultimately it’s his name on the line and it’s his responsibility to make sure it’s not utter crap.

Am I being too hard on the Whedons? S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t the worst thing on TV. But it isn’t the best thing ever either, and it could be. It should be. It’s not enough for it to just be ok. I expect it to be at least as good as Dollhouse, which was an unpopular show that was canceled after two seasons. Dollhouse had so much going for it – it was a thinking person’s show. It made you think, wonder, imagine. All S.H.I.E.L.D. makes me wonder is when will Joss’ rewrites start showing up and when will this show get better?

Episode 6 wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t great. It was just bleh. But it had a few things going for it. For example: finally, finally the music was more varied and less horrible than it’s been before. And while it wasn’t funny in the least, some of the characters made each other laugh, which was kind of nice. It was not Whedon Wit by a long shot, but it was welcome levity.

There were a couple moments here and there, during Episode 6, which might have been important. There was a brief interchange between Fitz & Simmons which hinted at how they ended up with S.H.I.E.L.D. (says Fitz: “The Academy, psy-ops, and now this plane.”) And there was a scene in which Coulson wondered why he felt so different after being brought back from the dead. Nothing was actually revealed (the blood tests he ordered for himself were all normal, except for a little extra iron) so we still don’t have a clue whether he’s a robot or a clone. About the iron in his blood he joked un-funnily: “You don’t have to start calling me Iron Man.” But I think that the iron in his blood was a result of how rusty his skills are! In any case, in spite of the non-funniness, it is Coulson at this point who is carrying the show. Clark Gregg is an amazing actor. He reminds me of Giles, in terms of how much expression he can carry on his face. The similarities don’ t end there, of course. But that is another topic for another day.

The fact that other reviewers aren’t horribly disappointed by S.H.I.E.L.D. just shows how low the bar is. S.H.I.E.L.D. was compared to CSI, in what I think was supposed to be a compliment, by one reviewer. But CSI should not be what S.H.I.E.L.D. aspires to. All shows, and especially Whedon shows, should aspire to be as good as Buffy. Of course, all will fail. But Buffy, the greatest TV show of all time, showed us what is possible with television. Having seen what is possible, should we really aspire to mediocrity instead? That is all that is being delivered in this latest series.

But I’m still hanging on. I’ll watch every episode and in spite of repeated disappointments I’ll impatiently wait for the next, and the one after that. I’ll keep hoping for it to get better. There is hope. There is the hope that Joss will eventually finish work on The Avengers: Age of Ultron and return to working on S.H.I.E.L.D. and make it a better show. Because if I had given up on Buffy, Angel or Dollhouse when they were struggling in their first seasons, I would have missed out on so much I can’t even bear to think about it. I’m willing to give this show at least two seasons before I give up… and I am not alone in holding out hope. There are an awful lot of good reasons to watch a Whedon show, and maybe someday they’ll be evident in S.H.I.E.L.D. We can dream.

New Firefly Comics… Yay?


Firefly fans rejoice! The story of Serenity and her crew will be continuing via comic, penned by Zack Whedon.  Unlike the previous Firefly comics, this one will be taking the story into new territory as characters move on from the events in the movie Serenity and try to deal with all sorts of new stuff & some new characters. Zack Whedon is responsible for some mightily good stuff, including the comic Dr. Horrible! And Other Horrible Stories as well as one of the best songs in Commentary! The Musical, “The Rap.”

I have been reading most of the Whedon comics as they come out, including Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dr. Horrible, Tales, and Fray. They’re ok. In general, although these comics help somewhat to fill the void left by our favorite long-gone-but-not-forgotten TV shows, they’re not anywhere near as good as the shows themselves. Joss Whedon’s storytelling genius does not translate to comics all that well, though it hurts my heart me to say it. Even his arc of Runaways and his Astonishing X-Men left me underwhelmed.

The best comic I have read by Joss Whedon was actually based on his original screenplay for the movie Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The movie that was horrible because it was directed all wrongly. The comic was done as if Sarah Michelle Gellar had starred in the movie – it’s drawn to look like her, and comicbook Sarah Gellar delivers lines the way the real Buffy would. It has the feel of a real Buffy episode. The comic tells the story of Buffy the way it was meant to be told – as if Joss had directed his own movie, and then it was made into a comic. But if he’d written the story originally for a comic, I doubt it would be anywhere near so good.

There’s something missing in Joss’ comics (which is not to say it will necessarily be missing from Zack’s Firefly.) The stories just aren’t big. They may span centuries and cross universes, and do any number of flashy and surprising things, but they don’t feature whatever it is that makes Joss’ tv shows so great. They’re light on the character development and witty dialogue, heavy on the flashy. I don’t mean to say that the Whedon bros. comics (often, multiple Whedon brothers will work on a comic) suck. They do not. I always look forward to them. But they’re not like having Buffy back.

Will the new Firefly be like having Firefly back? I think that if that’s our expectation we’ll probably be disappointed. The show is over, and done. Despite the yearnings of the Browncoats for Firefly to be resurrected, it’s not going to happen. It was wonderful while it lasted, and then Joss gave us a gift with Serenity. That is more than fans of any other show ever got. With the new comics, let’s just hope for some good stories & stop pestering Joss to return to Firefly. He’s moving on, and so should we.