You know how every year people proclaim, “this year I’m getting rid of everything negative and toxic in my life and I’m going to make this a good year”? Well, 2020 has admittedly been a terrible year for pretty much everyone on the planet – however, to combat the terrible it seems people decided to actually follow through on their anti-toxicity resolutions.
All year long, people have been coming forward and speaking out against various Hollywood celebrities and their horrible and sometimes illegal behaviors. Today’s celebrity we’re canceling is director Joss Whedon.
What he’s known for
Joss Whedon has been a big name writer & director for decades now. He’s worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Firefly, the officially released Justice League movie, Roseanne, and many other popular works.
In the 1990s Whedon was praised for being a feminist and showing it in his work – Buffy was usually the first thing people would point to when saying this. A badass girl lead whose character came from a long line of “chosen” women. For the 90s it was great.
However, Whedon has on many occasions been accused of not updating his views as time has worn on, and not only are his more modern works sometimes problematic, but people – including those who know him personally – have been saying for years he’s a pretty bad person. Here’s a number of the things people have said about him.
Ray Fisher on Twitter
The most recent accusations of Joss Whedon being less-than-stellar come from Ray Fisher on Twitter, and his actions seem to have finally made people who were previously burying their heads in the sand about Whedon, finally listen.
Fisher played Victor Stone, also known as Cyborg, in the latest Justice League movie, and today (July first) he went to twitter to say this, “Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment”.
I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement
— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) June 29, 2020
On June 29th, Fisher posted a tweet saying he’d like to “forcefully retract every bit” of a statement he made at a San Diego Comic Con panel where he half heartedly says Whedon is a great guy. Meanwhile Jason Mamoa stares into the middle distance as if it’s hard to listen to.
Angel, the spin-off show to Buffy the Vampire Slayer had two of the original Buffy characters, Angel (David Boreanaz) the title character, and Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). Cordelia was the stereotypical mean girl in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but became a beloved character in Angel.
However, when Carpenter became pregnant during the series, it has been said by many sources that Whedon became upset with having to change how the season would go and she was eventually fired. The character, Cordelia, was forced to go down a path of evil, which upset fans, and he ultimately put the character on ice by putting her in a coma.
When Carpenter was asked to make an appearance in a later season many have said she was hesitant to do so, but eventually agreed – only to have her character officially killed off.
Kai Cole’s open letter
Joss Whedon’s ex-wife Kai Cole wrote an open letter for The Wrap in 2017 detailing why Whedon is a “hypocrite preaching feminist ideals”. Cole was married to Whedon for sixteen years. One of the most telling quotes from the article isn’t from Cole herself, but from something Whedon wrote in a letter to his ex-wife:
“When I was running ‘Buffy,’ I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.”
She says, however, Joss Whedon “did touch it”, he cheated on her multiple times throughout their marriage with fans, actresses, other co-workers, and even friends. Kai Cole goes on to describe how difficult for her even after separating from him because of how the world has been taught to view her ex-husband.
“It has not been easy, because even though in my personal life I have been completely open about what happened, publicly people only know his superficial presentation of us: him as the lovable geek-feminist and me in the background, as his wife and supporter.”
Using rape in his stories
We could write an entire separate article on the problematic things Joss Whedon has written into his various works, but for now we’re just going to talk about a disturbing recurring theme Whedon has used in his writing. On more than one occasion he wrote scenes where rape against women is used as a lesson for men.
The first happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in one of the later seasons the show’s narrative takes a dark turn when Buffy is nearly raped by Spike in a bathroom, a vampire who she had a very slow burning enemies-to-lovers arc with – which is questionable in its nature on its own.
Even James Marsters, the actor who plays Spike, has spoke out about how problematic the scene is saying, “I’m not really sure it expressed what the author was intending and on that score it was not successful. I think it was a big risk for everybody”. Ultimately the bathroom scene leads Spike on a journey to find his soul again, because apparently he “learned something”.
Whedon also had plans to have Inara be gang raped in an episode of Firefly, that is, before it was canceled. He had intended for her experience to somehow teach the main character, Mal, played by Nathan Fillion, to learn not to slut shame Inara.
It’s hard to hear accusations like these when you follow someone’s work. Trust us, we aren’t going to stop watching the original Toy Story just because he helped write it. However, this doesn’t mean Whedon needs to be praised as a good person just because he’s worked on some of popular culture’s favorite shows and movies.
In fact, it doesn’t mean he needs to be given any more projects either. Allow his thirty plus years of work to remain as they are so we can look back on the history of pop culture media, but maybe we just cancel the man. He’s earned more than enough money from his various successes – if he never worked another day in his life he’d be just fine.