God, I hate Joss Whedon. I think he’s an overrated hack of a writer, and I’m positive I could take him in a fight. That said, I did enjoy his first story arc on “The Astonishing X-Men,” and I didn’t think “Firefly” was all that bad. (It was also not all that original. A space western? When has that been done before? “Star Wars,” perhaps?) Give enough monkeys enough typewriters and time and eventually you get Shakespeare, right?
I never liked the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” television show. The tiny bit of it I watched came across as boring fluff. (I can hear the thousands of “Buffy” fans gasping and hitting the message boards with poorly worded death threats as I write this. Good. The more you sit in front of your computers means the less chance I have of running into you at the grocery store. So, SpikeisKEwl29, stay home and vent.) “Buffy,” like the mind behind it, was filler, and now that same creative genius (a term I’ve never used more loosely) is writing the “Wonder Woman” movie. Oh, that’s rich.
It’s easy to see why people enjoy Whedon’s work. It tries to be cutting edge (let’s use lesbians) and is easy to understand. Unfortunately, it’s not cutting edge at all and lacks any real depth. I don’t have to take in every creation of his to realize this, either. (Just like I don’t have to have leprosy to know I don’t want it.) I’ve read enough, viewed enough and have gotten into enough debates about it to know where he’s coming from. He’s like a punk band from a gated housing development in an upper-middle class community. Sure, the band may seem edgy as it sings about being in the playground after dark and drinking Jolt, but the only people who find that sort of thing to be original are the band’s neighbors. Whedon is the same way. The only people who really dig his work are those like him. You know the ones. They write poetry about drowning in a lake and think it’s “art.”
I can’t blame Whedon for his fans. He has no control over that. The only thing he can control is his “artistic” output. And from what I’ve seen, it’s nothing more than tired cliches and boredom personified. Even his first story arc on “The Astonishing X-Men,” which (again) I enjoyed, was really nothing more than a rehash of stuff that had gone on years ago. The reason it seemed so good was because all the other X-Men comics at the time sucked. They were rehashes, too, but while Whedon reworked the good aspects of the X-Men legend, the writers of the other comics just vomited up all the crap that wasn’t good the first time around.
Whenever I discuss Whedon’s lack of ability with people, they always point out this one episode of “Buffy” they think exemplifies Whedon’s genius. I haven’t seen it, but I know of it. It’s the episode that was a musical. This, they claim, shows that guru Whedon was willing to go places other shows would never touch. He was willing to take chances nobody else would even think of taking, and he made them work. Or so the argument goes.
Here’s some news for those fans. We in the writing business have a term for things like the musical episode of “Buffy.” We call it “gimmick.” A gimmick is often used when you are either suffering a financial blow (or in the case of television, a ratings blow) or when you are out of ideas. Gimmicks are the life rafts of entertainment, and some of the more popular television ones involve introducing children, doing episodes live, or odd guest stars. The reason Whedon’s gimmick seemed so impressive is because “Buffy” fans are easily impressed. His musical episode was the equivalent of the drunk uncle “magically” pulling his thumb in half for a captive audience of kiddies. Anyone who knows the trick feels kind of embarrassed for the uncle and more than a bit mad that he’s taking advantage of children that way. Oh, and if you’re pissed off by this, that means you’re definitely one of the kids I’m referencing.
Maybe when “Buffy” fans get a little older and a bit more cultured (and perhaps step outside the safe circle of “art” they’ve resided in for far too many years) they’ll realize that Whedon is a hack. Sure, he may be mildly amusing, but so is Carrot Top on a good day.
Let the letters come. Let the message boards light up with insults about my manhood. Say what you will. I can rest easy, though, knowing that nobody in his right mind will ever compare me to that circus clown Whedon. I have too much integrity to ever be confused with the man who brought the Danger Room to life one more time. And I’m far too intelligent to ever be mistaken for the fool who created that very original character known as Spike. No, I’ll never be compared with Whedon, and when I some day meet him, I’m gonna kick his ass on principle. Now that’s art and entertaining. Take note, Whedon fans,
that’s how you do it right.
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Posted on October 6, 2005 in Features by Doug Brunell
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