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    Opinion | Joss Whedon tries to clear his identify and drives one other wood stake into his status



    If the aim was to rehab his status, Joss Whedon’s newest script wants a rewrite.

    The director has morphed right into a ghoulish pariah in recent times. Once beloved for creating “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” as soon as lionized as a feminist superhero, Whedon now stands accused of being a serial philanderer, poisonous abuser and all-around unhealthy human.

    It all began in 2017, when Kai Cole, his ex-wife, revealed an eye-popping visitor column on The Wrap. The quick recap: Whedon repeatedly cheated on her throughout their marriage. He was drunk with energy and it appears his underpants have been doing the tequila photographs.

    As Cole concluded: “I want to let women know that he is not who he pretends to be. I want the people who worship him to know he is human, and the organizations giving him awards for his feminist work, to think twice in the future about honoring (sic) a man who does not practice what he preaches.”

    It’s as if Neil deGrasse Tyson’s spouse wrote a letter to the Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy: “Just so you all know, he actually believes the Earth is flat.”

    Whedon’s feminist bona fides went kaboom. It was quick and unsettling.

    Then got here the office bullying allegations. Charisma Carpenter, who performed Cordelia within the “Buffy” universe, tweeted that Whedon had a historical past of “being casually cruel.” This adopted Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman herself, who puzzled why Whedon had threatened to make her “career miserable” over artistic variations through the filming of “Justice League.” Another actor from that movie, Ray Fisher, described Whedon’s on-set behaviour as “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable.”

    Now, about 18 months later, Whedon is lastly responding.

    He may remorse opening his mouth.

    In this week’s New York journal cowl story — “The Undoing of Joss Whedon” — the author and director makes an attempt to clear his identify. Let’s begin with Gadot’s allegation over a scene she wished reduce, to which he allegedly responded by vowing to blacklist her. As Whedon instructed New York journal: “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?”

    He believes Gadot “misunderstood” no matter he allegedly mentioned as a result of — watch for it — “English is not her first language.” I’ve a bruise beneath my hairline from slapping my brow. Dude, are you critically taking part in the Lost in Translation card on Wonder Woman? I don’t want subtitles after I watch Gal Gadot. Her fluency in English exceeds most U.S. senators. Compared to the illiterate MAGA maniacs who proceed to spout nonsense on social media, she is virtually each Merriam and Webster.

    As for any potential “misunderstanding” primarily based on language, Gadot’s response to the journal was downright pithy and poetic: “I understood perfectly.”

    The incendiary prices from Fisher — together with that Whedon lightened his pores and skin tone in post-production — are additionally addressed within the New York story. Whedon says he brightened all faces. Fair sufficient. As for why Fisher’s display screen time was reduce, the director says the storyline “logically made no sense.” I see his level. But then he speculates about Fisher’s motivations in waging private warfare and concludes: “We’re talking about a malevolent force. We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses.”

    Another bruise on my brow. An actor he labored with accuses him of being abusive and his response is to hurl extra abuse? This isn’t a smart method to rehab a status. It’s virtually as if Whedon can’t assist himself as a result of he actually believes he’s a misunderstood genius for whom the foundations of civility don’t apply.

    He did admit to the continual infidelity, together with on the set of “Buffy,” when he had absolute energy because the showrunner, together with over a revolving door of younger actresses. But even right here, Whedon manages to generate zero sympathy. He “had” to sleep with all of those beautiful ladies, he says, or he would “always regret it.” Huh? If a financial institution teller turns her head for a second, I don’t have the correct to sprint off with a bundle of money.

    New York’s cowl story is about 9,000 phrases. But the subtext is evident: Joss Whedon nonetheless doesn’t get why folks have turned on him. His throwaway traces for previous misdeeds — he was not “civilized” again then, he was “young,” he was not “mannerly” — come throughout as lazy clichés from a creator who has a profound understanding of characterization.

    This incapacity to grapple with trustworthy self-reflection is clear within the closing paragraph. Whedon believes his detractors are utilizing “every weaponizable word to make it seem like I was an abusive monster.”

    But to his thoughts: “I think I’m one of the nicer showrunners that’s ever been.”

    The reality, as at all times, might be someplace in between. Whedon’s expertise is past debate. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a blinding Marvel film and it was his singular imaginative and prescient. I might bore you with glowing treatises on “Angel” or “Firefly.” The dangerous “Buffy” musical episode “Once More, With Feeling” stays one of many best TV episodes of all time. Whedon is good at his job. He’s simply not so good at actual life.

    “Buffy” was about rising up. The paranormal was a metaphor for the prosaic. Years in the past, I put this concept to Whedon and he concurred: “To me, that’s always been the idea. It’s about that painful rite of adolescence and young adulthood that is so shaping for everybody. So, if you take that and basically turn it into a superhero story, it’s a way of saying, ‘You are a hero if you get through the day.’”

    Joss Whedon is now making an attempt and failing to get by his day.



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