You don’t have to read Lila Shapiro’s 9000-word New York magazine profile of fallen Buffy creator Joss Whedon to understand what a disaster it is for him.
All you have to do is to take a glance at the headlines about it: If You Weren’t Convinced Joss Whedon’s A Creep, His Latest Interview Should Help Seal The Deal declares Wonkette; How Joss Whedon went from writing acclaimed projects to defending abuse . allegations offers the Washington Post; Buffy star Charisma Carpenter calls out ‘tyrannical narcissist’ Joss Whedon for ‘shameful’ interview writes The Independent, Joss Whedon Denies Racism Charges by Saying Black Man Is Just a White Man’s Pawn, Vice archly reports; Where does Joss Whedon go now? the Spectator wonders.
One place he definitely shouldn’t go: any place containing Shapiro and a recording device. Whedon clearly thought that a several-day-long interview with New York magazine would allow him to present his side of the story with regard to all the various allegations swirling around him. He was right, but that helped him not a bit ; his side of the story consisted of a lot of weirdly unconvincing denials and non-apologies for his behavior delivered by a man with so much self-pity and so little self-awareness that at one point he suggested that his real problem wasn’t that he was abusive on set but that he was actually too nice for his own good.
People used “every weaponizable word of the modern era to make it seem like I was an abusive monster,” he told Shapiro. “I think I’m one of the nicer showrunners that’s ever been.”
Joss Whedon isn’t the only one to have completely missed the point of his downfall. On Breitbart, John Nolte did his best to cram the Whedon story into one of the conventional narratives of the right these days, writing a post under the somewhat baffling title “Joss Whedon Helped Create the Woke Mob which Destroyed Him.”
At first, Nolte seems almost sympathetic towards Whedon, whom he sees as a man who’s lost his career over stuff that just isn’t that big of a deal.
Over a 30 year career, we’re talking about a guy who lost his temper a few times, who was a demanding boss, who cheated on his wife, and who could be a lousy boyfriend.
But look at what’s missing from the list of charges…
No one has made a single allegation of any kind of sexual misconduct against Whedon — not harassment, not unwanted touching, or even creepy sexual advances. There’s none of that. There are a handful of allegations of him being a Grade-A jerk, of being a middle-aged man attracted to women in their twenties (is human nature now a sin?), of being a garbage husband who had consensual affairs with younger women, but that’s it.
He’s right that Whedon hasn’t (at least not yet) been accused of sexual harassment or worse. But it shouldn’t be necessary for someone like Whedon to face actual criminal charges before movie studios stop asking him to direct. The stories of his allegedly abusive behavior on the set — allegations seconded by a large number of actors and actresses who have worked with him over several decades — should be enough. By almost all accounts except his own, he was a shitty, abusive boss, and no movie studio should want to hire him because of that alone.
Whedon isn’t the first director to face allegations of abusive behavior. Alfred Hitchcock reportedly tormented Tippi Hedron on the set of The Birds because she turned down his sexual advances (she has also accused him of sexually assaulting her several times); Stanley Kubrick is said to have bullied Shelley Duvall so relentlessly while they were working on The Shining that her hair started to fall out. Neither director ever faced any consequences for their bad behavior, because they were geniuses and geniuses in Hollywood can do whatever they want so long as their films make money.
Nolte is convinced that on one level “the blacklisting of Whedon [is] a grotesque overreaction” to mildly damning accusations To judge only by the facts in the case, Nolte writes,
what’s happening and happened to Whedon at the merciless hands of the Woke Nazis and their Kangaroo Court of Public Opinion is outrageous. Whedon’s behavior doesn’t touch the Harvey Weinstein/Kevin Spacey/Bill Clinton/Charlie Rose/Al Franken standard, but…
While Nolte thinks the punishment doesn’t fit Whedon’s “crimes,” such as they are, he’s also convinced that Whedon more or less brought the accusations on himself by being too “woke.” Because, facts be damned, that’s one of the right’s favorite narratives at this point, the story of “woke Nazis” undone by their own PC logic.
What we have to remember is that what’s taking place is taking place in a world where Whedon posed as a male feminist and sought to destroy others who did not live up to HIS perfect standards, a world where he legitimized and condoned and helped to create the very same Woke Nazi Mob that took him down.
Nolte’s “proof” of this claim: links to a small pile of Breitbart articles showing that, well, Whedon is a Hollywood liberal — hating Trump and Bret Kavanaugh and Republicans in general, while supporting Planned Parenthood. It’s a little hard to see how Wedon’s having a number of rather conventional Hollywood liberal opinions somehow makes him a hanging judge for the “Woke Nazi Mob.”
Before his downfall, Whedon was a man with a large following, and rather than behaving responsibly, he whipped that following into a mob.
No he didn’t.
He taught them to be unforgiving and cruel, to hold people to perfect standards no one can achieve, and never to give them the benefit of the doubt or a second chance.
He didn’t do that either.
And then that mob held Whedon to his own standards and found him a flawed hypocrite and, well, look at him now …
A shitty boss exposed as a shitty boss. A shitty husband exposed as a shitty husband. In the real world, people face consequences for this sort of behavior; why shouldn’t film directors also face consequences for their behavior?
It’s not a question of living up to “perfect standards” because, if even some of the allegations are true, Whedon wasn’t even living up the the fairly lax standard of treating one’s subordinates at work with a minimum of decency. As for the endless cheating on his wife with women less than half his age, well, it’s not likely most people would consider that to be exemplary behavior for any man, especially one who postured as a feminist for many years.
Joss Whedon isn’t being sent to prison for his non-existent crimes. He just has to face the reality that a lot of people now think of him as a huge dick. And that maybe that means he won’t get to direct any films with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars for a while. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Whedon has $100 million to his name. Maybe he can spend his enforced retirement counting it all.
By the way, despite my first paragraph you should read all of Lila Shapiro’s New York magazine piece. It’s quite a ride.
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