Joss Whedon and the blurry line between homage and appropriation

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Dusty Ayres, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. IndyJones

    IndyJones Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Don't most all of the regular vamp fighting characters wear leather?
     
  2. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, Buffy rarely wore a revealing outfit while fighting vamps. She fought more practically like in the overcoat and stuff. Kendra and Faith wore more revealing clothes, but in Faith's case it was intentional.
     
  3. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    It's a far too commonly recurring theme for it to be a coincidence. He has created four shows and gotten them on the air, each one has had multiple characters of the same type - Buffy, Faith, Cordelia, River, Echo etc.

    The last season of Buffy had a hundred of them!
     
  4. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    ^And Faith and Echo even look a lot alike!
     
  5. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    I hadn't noticed.
     
  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I wouldn't attribute it to coincidence. Whedon obviously has a feminist angle he's working -- female empowerment as represented in the action-adventure genre through the use of female characters defeating villains.

    I'm not sure I'd call Cordelia a character in the same tradition as Buffy, River, or Echo, though.
     
  7. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    ^Unfortunately he pushes that angle way too hard. I think I threw up in my mouth a little when I realised while watching the last episode of Buffy that the whole point of the episode was that "evil men" were holding back the "true power of women everywhere".:brickwall:
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think that that was the point of Buffy at all. Whedon's work has never been about condemning men -- if it was, I doubt that he would have made Angel or Firefly. The point of Buffy was to tell the story of how one girl who is gifted with an ability she did not want learns to integrate that gift into her self-construct and therefore become a true adult. Specifically, that meant being willing to accept the power of the Slayer (and it concomitant responsibilities), and to share that power and those responsibilities, as a metaphor for being willing to accept and share adult power and adult responsibility.

    Misogyny and sexual oppression were certainly amongst the many evils that Buffy faced in the course of that journey, and they are certainly very real evils in our world, but she also faced corrupt religion (the Master), sadism (Angelus), nihilism (Dark Willow), government corruption (the Mayor and the Initiative), vanity (Glory), and immaturity (Warren). Misogyny (Caleb) may have been the most recent evil she faced in the final season, but it was hardly the defining evil of the show.
     
  9. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    ^I said "episode", not "show". :)
     
  10. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure if it's fair to say that that was the point of "Chosen," either. But even if it was -- what, exactly, is wrong with doing one episode about the defeat of misogyny in seven seasons' worth of a feminist program?
     
  11. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Commodore

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    I walk away from Whedon shows feeling like he gets a hard-on daydreaming about really skinny femme chicks getting all empowered after being oppressed by the Patriarchy and kicking ass. Kind of like a black man who goes to a white dominatrix and pays her to act out his slave fetish.

    If others don't see it that way, that's cool. We all see what we see in stories.
     
  12. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    It was the last episode. The last episode of any show worth a damn, which Buffy certainly was, is too important for such ham-fisted messages.

    There's a whole other thread to be written about the way Joss and his writers write their most important male characters - wusses or monsters, most of the time. Wesley and Spike even managed to switch between the two, in opposite directions.

    I am currently waiting for it to turn out that Langton beats up his girlfriend or something, he's been written far too much like the true good guy in this show so far.
     
  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, that's right, Joss Whedon hates men, and all male characters on his show are either monsters or wusses. That's why the characters that came closest to destroying the world, Willow and Glory, were female, and why the character who betrayed Buffy and her friends to try to destroy the world was female -- and why the character who stopped her was male. That's also why Anya was portrayed as a character with a horrific past whose choice to try to go back to that past was an evil choice she'd have to recover from, and that's why sympathetic characters like Riley and Angel (not Angelus) were male.

    Because Joss Whedon hates men.

    :rolleyes:

    Whedon's characters are complex moral actors with flaws and virtues, and not a one of 'em, male or female, hasn't shifted from monster to hero to wuss at some point or other.
     
  14. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    You really want to hold up Riley and Angel as examples of Joss Whedon writing positive male characters ? Riley ? We are talking about the guy who was letting vampires feed off of him behind his girlfriends' back. As for Angel, he freely admitted that having a soul did not make him good or what he did okay. He was Angelus with a conscience, that's it. Good guy Angel allowed a room full of human Wolfram and Hart lawyers to die and tried to murder Wesley in his hospital bed.

    The principle difference between the male and female characters, especially in Buffy, is that there was always an excuse when the women did something wrong and very often it's because of something a man did.

    Anya was betrayed by a man, Angelus drove Drusilla insane, Willow went insane because Warren murdered Tara, the list goes on and on and on.

    Anya murdered a room full of men, that might have been undone afterwards but she still chose to do it. What were the consequences ? She was forgiven almost immediately and accepted back in to the Scooby Gang.

    Wesley, on the other hand, was nearly killed while trying to do the right thing because he honestly believed that Connor was in danger and what did he get for it ? Angel tried to kill him and then he was left out in the cold.

    I'm not saying Joss hates men, I'm saying he could write his characters a little bit more equally.
     
  15. Bishbot

    Bishbot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    What about Giles? I know he has a terrible past, but he's clearly fully on the side of good by the time we meet him, and he never puts a foot wrong, does he? Or Xander - ok, kind of a wuss, but he is surrounded by people with superpowers and he still does his best - barring a couple of unfortunate incidents.
     
  16. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    Murdered Ben because he felt Buffy wouldn't be able to and then there's "Helpless".

    He's portrayed as a useless appendage that nobody truly appreciates. I will give them the fact that he was the one who stopped Dark Willow, at least.

    Then there's the fact that he walked out on his wedding for no apparent reason other than Joss' bizarre obsession with father-bashing. The only good father I can think of in anything Joss has written was Fred's.
     
  17. Bishbot

    Bishbot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I was annoyed with Xander for walking out on his wedding. It's one of my least favourite parts of Buffy and I don't actually think that it was in character for Xander. I think he's far likely to go ahead, with doubts, then have it fall apart later than just walk out like that - one of the reasons Season 6 is my least favourite.

    I don't think Giles murdering Ben is a particularly bad example. Buffy slays Demons all over the place in every episode. I know Ben was an innocent, and it was a difficult situation, but it doesn't reflect badly on Giles.

    "Helpless" does reflect badly on him, but it reflects badly mostly on the whole organisation of Watchers - who are portrayed as useless and corrupt. At least he feels guilt over it, and gets dismissed from his post because of it.

    I never said that Giles hasn't made mistakes, but he hasn't done anything selfish or evil in the course of the show - lapses in judgement are a different matter.
     
  18. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Commodore

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    Riley was an unrepentant drug abuser who joked about punching Willow across the room, who while dating Buffy isolated her from her friends and family and wanted to indoctrinate her into his own group. When Buffy's mother was in the hospital after a heart attack, he criticises Buffy for not paying enough attention to him. That's just a short list. He was the classic controlling boyfriend. Angel and Spike also fit neatly into misogynist stereotypes. I got bored with pointing out all the details over and over and over while the show was on it's first run.

    Buffy's father completely abandoned his children and apparently lived this cool skiing lifestyle in Europe while his daughter was supporting Dawn, a minor, alone, and about to lose the family house.

    Giles,meanwhile, berates Buffy for whining about her financial problems, despite the fact that he and his patronising, controlling organisation is pushing her to focus on staying up all night and ignoring useless things like an education and career. Buffy was at her wit's end with Dawn and her financial problems, and then Giles tells her off and walks off and abandons her to her problems.

    Let's not forget Wesley, sticking an abused, problem teenager in shitty motel and letting her do nothing but watch TV all day, then wondering why she went criminal.

    Sorry if that wasn't chronological, it's all just off the top of my head. The show was, from start to finish, a series of Straw Man arguements set up to show patronizing, controlling men who oppressed the poor little girls, so that Whedon could then show the poor little girls kicking the men's asses.

    There's nothing wrong with that. In TV and movies we have never had a bullshit pseudo-femist male-bashing adventure show to display the opposite of the male dominating adventure shows filled with helpless females. So it was a kick in the head, and it was funny.

    But it wasn't feminist, and it was male bashing. It poked fun at mainstream action shows, it was deconstructionist, it had it's place, but don't hold it up as some icon of feminism because it wasn't.
     
  19. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    ^It entirely depends on how negatively you want to go.

    I'd rather just have a show where all the characters, male and female, are a mixture of good and bad. Realistic people who fuck up sometimes.
     
  20. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Like Angel?