"Always be yourself....unless you suck."
- Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon is the writer/director who created such iconic television shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and my personal favorite, Firefly. His career doesn't stop there, however, he also created the TV show Dollhouse, wrote the Firefly spin-off movie Serenity, and created the Time Magazine Top 10 Web Series Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. At the start of his career, he wrote two movies which were huge in my childhood, Toy Story and Titan A.E., and most recently he is a writer/producer of the horror movie hit The Cabin in the Woods and is the writer/director of the new record-breaking box office hit The Avengers.
Before his two most recent movie hits, Joss Whedon was a bit of an enigma. He has a rabid fanbase, who fight tooth and claw to support every project he signs on to, and yet none of his projects besides Buffy, Angel, and Dr. Horrible have been very successful. Firefly was cancelled after only 13 episodes, and despite a couple of seasons, Dollhouse received lukewarm reviews from critics and fans alike. Despite all this, the members of the Whedonverse (as diehard fans call themselves) have always spouted his praises to anyone who will listen (myself included). There was a period of time, however, that Joss was underground enough that people who liked knowing new, undiscovered movies and tv shows would jump on the chance to learn about Joss Whedon. He was like The Shins after Garden State, he was hip and cool to know about. Then Joss Whedon got just large enough to lose those people. Suddenly there were newer, lesser known "genius'" and no one was willing to explore Joss Whedon anymore. Everyone had heard of him, but he had so many flops that people felt he must not be very talented. Despite my cries of his genius, and at the injustice of the canceling of his tv shows, no one was willing to give Joss the time of day anymore. I did what any good member of the Whedonverse did when such a moment arises, I sat down and watched Firefly from start to finish followed by Serenity, I watched the entirety of Buffy, and I cursed the world that ignored my celebricrush, and waited until next year's Comicon in order for Joss to reveal something awesome for me to look forward to.
Then something strange happened, Marvel announced that Joss was their man to write/direct the culmination of all of these superhero movies, The Avengers.
I sat up a little in my seat. "I'm sorry, who? My man? Joss Whedon? The guy who creates everything that is good and holy for television/movies, but the studios never like it so they fire him and cancel his shows? Marvel Studios is trusting The Avengers to him? They're trusting Joss with Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Edward Norton as The Hulk? Dear sweet jesus this is going to be the greatest movie of all time, and no one but me is going to like it! Wait, what? Oh they fired Edward Norton and hired Mark Ruffalo? Well he's gonna suck in that role." All of those thoughts went through my head. I told everyone Joss was taking it over, and predictably, everyone told me that like all the rest of his movies and tv shows, this would be underwhelming, and only a select few people would get it.
Guess what didn't happen?
The Avengers broke box office records for an opening weekend in fine style, far surpassing the final Harry Potter installment and setting a bar so high, that the only movie on the horizon that might beat it is Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Not just that, but Mark Ruffalo didn't suck in that role! In fact he sort of stole the movie.
Joss was already on the tip of everyone's tongue in the last couple of months, because his horror movie homage/spoof/reinvention/mindfuck (pardon my french) The Cabin in the Woods got reviews so wonderful that people took a second to pause and wonder if they must be reading the wrong review. Horror movies don't get reviews like the ones The Cabin in the Woods got. Someone, somewhere always hates them. The main critique the movie got was that it was so smart, so cerebral, that many people were turned off by its intelligence. I'll say that again, it got critiqued for being TOO SMART! A HORROR MOVIE?! How is that possible? I will say that The Cabin in the Woods was one of my favorite movies I've ever seen, and not just because I'm a Whedon fan, but because it was a brilliant movie. People were scratching their heads, not sure what to make of this man whose resume is so oddly eclectic that he's sort of hard to define. With the release of The Avengers, Joss is now a household name. He will be able to pick up any project he wants for the next 10 years, and probably get any project he would like produced, picked up.
One of the reasons I love Joss, however, is not because of his brilliance as a director, but of his brilliance as a writer. Joss has always been acknowledged as a champion of women on television. He writes strong, female characters, or smart female characters, but in every project there is a female character who breaks from the norm and allows the viewer to look at such a character in a new light. Now sometimes his work is not understood (please read this, excuse me, MORONIC critique of Firefly) and some people view him as the oppressor of women. Those people are wrong. Sorry, I know, opinions can't be wrong, but that one? It's wrong. Just looking at the characters of Buffy (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she'sa self-strong high school girl who is all alone standing up against the forces of evil), Zoe (from Firefly, an ex-army woman married to a bumbling pilot who kicks ass, takes names, and fights to protect what she views is right and just), and Echo (from Dollhouse, a woman who gives up everything to make money to protect her son, and becomes a champion fighting on behalf of the other Dolls), his female characters are both different, and strong.
Anyone who's friends with me on Facebook knows the video that I'm leading up towards. In 2006, Equality Now honored Joss with an award for his progressive female characters, which was presented by Meryl Streep. If Meryl Streep gets behind you for your feminism, doesn't that mean you have to be a progressive feminist? Sorry, still mad about the above blog post. Anyways, upon accepting his award, he gave a speech where he explained that in every interview he's ever given he's asked, "so why do you write all these strong female characters?" His response is worth a listen. It's a long video, but it's worthwhile, because Joss gives a statement that everyone should take to heart; and now that he's famous, the world might actually listen.
Isn't that beautiful?! I mean absolutely stunning. It's so wonderful, that I'm actually going to write out his words, just to be sure that we can all see just how brilliant the man is, just how relevant he is, and just how correct he is.
"Equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who's confronted with it. We need Equality, and we kind of need it now. 'So why do you write these strong female characters?' Because you're still asking that question."
- Joss Whedon
That's all I have to say. I think that quote alone illustrates just why he is my icon. I hope one day to work with him, hell if I was in one of his shows or movies I'd jump and scream for joy. However he's sort of conquering the world right now, maybe he'll write a play, god knows we could use another talented human being writing plays, new playwrights seem to be in short supply right now. Joss Whedon is someone to watch out for. His career is going to skyrocket, without question, but he's smart, he's talented, and after The Avengers, he's filthy rich, so he won't be taking any job. Get excited for the wealth of Whedon passion projects that are sure to come out in the next couple of years. I know I'll see everyone of them. The next one on the list? A movie of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing that Joss filmed while on a break from filming The Avengers. It's in black and white, and Firefly's Nathan Fillion is playing Dogberry...you can bet I'll catch the midnight premiere.
Oh and Joss, if for whatever reason you end up reading this post? Please, for the love of god, hire me!
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.