By this time, every Marvel fanboy and girl and self-proclaimed Whedonite is either hanging out in line waiting for the moment to watch the first “fade in” of The Avengers flick they have been waiting for since prepubescence (or since it was first hinted at in Iron Man back in 2008) or just about to step out of the theatre (time zones!). Since I am neither of those things, I am writing this article. I’ve been a DC girl for well over a decade, and I have never been a Whedonite. That’s right: I am a woman who is into geek things (who even writes about the female perspective on a geek themed website) and I could not give two shits about Joss Whedon, the man who is all too often praised for his “strong female characters” and “excellent dialogue” and his ability to “revolutionize genre”, and countless other lauds that I cannot quite wrap my head around.
Before I get started, I want to make two things clear: first, I don’t hate Joss Whedon or his work. I can’t hate someone I don’t know, and his portfolio of work is okay, even marginally enjoyable at times. But it’s not great, and its hardly revolutionary. My problem surrounding the man, for the most part, rises from his fans. Which brings me to the second: when I say “Whedonite”, I don’t mean someone who generically likes Joss Whedon’s work. I mean someone who treats you like a subhuman because you don’t like Buffy. Someone who believes that anything his name is attached to is immediately turned to gold, like he’s some branding alchemist (people like you, perhaps, if you’re reading this and already getting riled up). It’s amazing. And if someone dare to say anything about his projects besides that it was or will be the greatest of its genre, then you are labeled a “hater” by such a person. At least that has been my personal experience since the first one reared its head, and it has especially been my experience ever since I saw Cabin in the Woods last week (more on that later).
Joss Whedon, King of the Geeks? Sorry, I worship at a different nerd shrine.
Typically, seconds after his latest project is announced, my Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail light up with squeals of delight for something nobody knows anything about aside from the fact that one Joss Whedon is attached. It happened with Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods, whichever Shakespeare movie he’s doing (because we need another adaptation of the Bard’s work), and, of course, The Avengers. Granted, The Avengers was masturbation material long before he was attached; nevertheless it was nerd Carnivale when his name was first thrown out there. “Joss won’t let us down~!” “O Joss, great and merciful, thou art Lord over Nerdom and earth! Thou can do no wrong! Blessed are we to be living in a generation that is filled with your mastercrafts!” Blah, blah, blah.
Give me a break. It’s a super hyped action movie that will, in all likelihood and probability, add nothing or take away anything from the canon it pertains to (except maybe kill a hero or other character that has no franchise awaiting him or her, but has some kind of fanbase–I’ll give you one guess who that might be). Loki’s in it, presumably as the main villain, and he’s already been announced as attached to Thor 2, so at best the big bad is going to elude the world’s mightiest heroes. Which is fine, but does not meet my standards of “revolutionary.” I’m not saying it won’t be fun: it has Robert Downey, Jr., in it after all, and he’s the essence of fun, in my ever-so humble opinion (spoiler alert: this whole article is just, like, my opinion, man).
Am I going to watch it? Of course I am. Tomorrow. I have work tomorrow, and a midnight showing for a film I’m barely invested in doesn’t sound appetizing. I’ll reserve that ticket for Expendables 2 or Dark Knight Rises.
But back to me not caring about Joss Whedon. For the record: I have seen everything he has cranked out since Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except for Dollhouse. The only reason I haven’t seen Dollhouse is because I’m not a Whedonite, duh, and no one has convincingly tried to get me to watch it. As far as I know, it’ll be the first thing by him that I thoroughly enjoyed. Additionally, I haven’t read his comics because, again, not a Whedonite, nor am I an active Marvel reader. If I’ve read a Marvel comic in the last five years, it’s because someone lent it to me. So I’m not going to actively seek out some Astonishing X-Men trades to appease my friends or show how pious I am to their geek god.
Buffy, like most of his work, is okay. Pretty generic and mediocre, if we’re honest with ourselves. It’s essentially another story about a girl who is in love with a vampire. Like all of those stories, she knows better (hell, she on a mission to kill them); nevertheless there’s always one whom she’ll excuse his undeadliness for and bang. Be it he has a soul or looks like Billy Idol. Either way, it’s an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship that is not becoming of a ‘strong’ female lead. The best parts of that show are the minor characters, and they all too often got annoying. I rather read an Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novel. The sex is was better.
I’m so totally turned on right now. You have my number, right?
But it’s not only his female leads who are into unhealthy relationships or making “excuses” for that one person who goes against everything they believe in. Mal Reynolds is the exact same in Firefly when it comes to Inara (who I find unbearable), only he’s man enough to not have sex with her. Regrettably, this makes every scene they share boring and predictable. “You’re a whore!” “You’re a pig!” “Let’s not have sex even though I totally want to bang you!” “That’s fine, I’m banging this guy anyway.”
Now there was a show that could have been something. And no, not in the “oh, why was it canceled after only it’s first season?!” way. I mean in a Space Cowboys way. I’m a huge fan of both genres, and really expected it to be awesome. Instead, I completely understood why Fox canceled it: because its ratings, like the show, were mediocre. You can say it was before it’s time or you could say it was poorly executed. Classic Joss!
Now, before you tell me he’s “too clever” for me or some other tripe, I’m going to tell you something: he’s not. He has good ideas, I agree. I enjoy the premise of everything he cranks out. But the method in which it’s cranked? No thank you.
Last week, I saw his latest “masterpiece”: Cabin in the Woods. I’ll admit, I was against seeing it at first. Not because of my feelings (or lack thereof) towards Whedon (I’m always hoping he’ll show me he can do more than be competent), but because I hate horror. Finally, enough people were like, “You gotta see it, zomg~! It’s like Buffy season 4” (or 5? It all blends together). So, I saw it. Guess what? It’s not a horror movie. It’s not even a satire on horror flicks–it’s an homage. And, again, like all of Whedon’s work, it has a really cool premise. It goes back to mythology and brings it to the modern day. It was a concept I was ready to get behind, but then the 2nd and 3rd acts happened and I didn’t care about anything anymore. The characters were boring, despite moderately amusing dialogue, and the twists and “revolutions” on the genre (whichever genre you could claim it was trying to be) failed to take. All the interesting stuff happened in the first five minutes. Seriously. The rest was just cute.
Especially the bits with Chris Hemsworth in it. He’s so dreamy!
This is the first movie in a long time that I had to make sure I was right about my expectations. “It was advertised as a horror film, right?” I asked a friend of mine. “It was,” he began, “but like all Joss Whedon things it never is what you expect it to be.” Now unless he means I expected it to be “good” after all the hype, then he’s right. It wasn’t what I expected; but, if I’m wrong to expect a movie to be what it’s billed as (i.e., a horror flick) then I have no idea what advertising and trailers are supposed to be about. You got me, marketers. I’m gullible. I believe all your precious lies!
So, here I go again, ready to sink into another Whedon trap. The east coast should be releasing now, while Pac-Time is about to head in, and I’m going to wage in 24hrs when I spend my money and take the time to watch it, I’ll feel much the same way as I did six day ago: a moderately clever and interesting first act that fails to get off the ground, so by the climax I’m ready to leave.
But I hope I’m wrong. Why? Because I prefer to like things than dislike them, and for once in my life I’d like to be as enthralled by something as my Whedonite friends are. It’s really frustrating to watch something because it’s been hyped up so much, and then be like, “It was okay”, which all your friends in turn take to mean you hated it.
Hey guys: hating is different from thinking something’s okay, but by the time you’re through with your little tirade on how I didn’t “get it” or can’t “appreciate” it for whatever made up reason you’ve come up with, then you better believe I hate it now.
So, Whedonites this tirade’s for you. Enjoy your mediocre storyteller. I’m not trying to take his work away from you. You can have it. All of it.
Remember folks: It’s okay to like things, just don’t be a dick about it. Otherwise, eventually push will come to shove and this happens. We’ll fight back. Now, excuse me, I need to be reminded how magical friendship can be.