This past weekend my eyes were forced open to really look at a man I had idolized for at least the past twenty years. Joss Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, opened up about their marriage to the public this past weekend on thewrap.com. At first I though it was an Onion article, or some kind of slanderous picture of a filmmaker that changed the game in the mid-90s.
And this is why we shouldn’t idolize man.
Were we, the public gaslit along with his ex-wife, and do we have the right to feel disappointed?
There are split opinions about this expose. On one hand you have a group that claims that they have always suspected Joss of being less than sincere and problematic. On another you have those that say there is a distinction between being a feminist, and being a cheater. One is not related to the other. Suprisingly, I haven’t seen much of Joss stans out there discrediting Kai, or being hateful towards her online. However, I try to avoid comment sections especially when the subject is a POC, or a woman.
You have to look at it this way. One aspect of being a feminist is believe that we all have a right to agency. Joss took that away from his wife when he allegedly cheated on her throughout the years, and claiming that he would never do anything to disrespect her in such a manner.
Over the past few years I myself have side eyed Joss on multiple occasions. I would say it even started almost 20 years ago when Kendra was introduced with a horrible accent, horrible clothes, and then she was murdered in the most asinine way for a slayer. I’ll have more to say on that at a later time. Kendra looked like me, and was that strong protagonist that I looked up to in Buffy and at an earlier time with Xena, the Warrior Princess. Then when she was killed off, the show I was in love with barely gave any screen time to any other POC.
And don’t mention Forrest. We don’t talk about him or Riley. Eww.
Joss knows the lack of diversity in his casts are a problem. He said as a much during a Q&A at San Diego Comic Con a few years ago for which I was in attendance. Then came the treatment of nearly all of his female characters through the years. Most of them suffered various circumstances such as being nearly raped, stalked, tortured, emotionally abused, slut shamed, murdered, etc. And this was mostly to serve the story of a man.
Just look at Cordelia Chase, where it has been long rumored that the actress was fired due to her pregnancy in season 4 of Angel. Here is a well written essay about her character assassination.
Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a child vs. as an adult makes you notice unsettling things that you didn’t quite catch before. I just recently finished binge watching the entire series and I had to ask myself multiple times how certain scripts, lines or character choices got past Joss.
Most recently, Joss’ script for Wonder Woman was leaked, and it is problematic. When I read the excerpts I just could not believe that was written by Joss’ hand. No way.
This makes me worry for Batgirl, and I wonder what kind of character choices for Wonder Woman that Joss made during his reshoots for Justice League. Is he going to have Batman or The Flash make lewd comments about how short Wonder Woman’s skirt is?
But yes. Joss Whedon is human and sometimes we have to separate the artist from his or her personal life, but we also can’t ignore it when the artist implements his true personality into the art.
Kai’s open letter to The Wrap is raw, and painful, and private. Perhaps, she was tired of seeing her ex-husband being hailed as the ultimate feminist, or perhaps this is a result of her PTSD. I won’t make comments into their marriage or her decision to post their business out there as Kai and Joss are the only ones who know the whole story, but I do feel for her. I can understand her reasoning. If Hollywood history has taught us anything this will do little to no damage to Joss’ career. I think Avengers Age of Ultron will sadly still stand as something he did that was worse than allegedly cheating on his wife.
A lot of us who do care will be wary of him taking on Batgirl, and will be scrutinizing his work on female characters more closely. I don’t want to make this a bash Joss Whedon piece, but if you want your own eyes opened a little more then check out this tumblr site for some more insight: http://josswhedonisnotafeminist.tumblr.com/
All I have to say about his work….do better.