What it’s like to be a ‘Buffy’ fan following these Joss Whedon reveals

The drama surrounding Warner Bros. League of Justice took a new turn this week when the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer Y Angel star Carpenter charisma posted a explosive tweet About the abusive treatment he once received from his former boss Joss Whedon as the protagonist of his shows. In his statement, Carpenter recalls the ugly behavior and cruel treatment he received from a man who was at one point revered by a generation of fans, including me.

Almost 20 years ago, just before the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered, my best friend and I became roommates, and after we got home from school on Tuesday nights, we watched the show together. While I’ve always been pretty polyamorous when it comes to nerdy culture, Buffy It was Stefanie’s first love among fans, but we both agreed on one thing: “Joss is God.”

It’s a memory that, in hindsight, is incredibly embarrassing to admit, but we’d tell each other this incredibly embarrassing thing every week as the end credits play, captivated by Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) existential struggles and Willow’s dark twists (Allyson hannigan) history. We’d also debate whether the show’s shifting metaphors were really working, whether the writing really held up compared to past seasons – the way they do it as fans, a game you play knowing full well there’s no way I’m going to stop watching. . But we had an almost religious faith in the good works of Joss Whedon, who created shows that would keep us on our toes, break our hearts with a perfect joke, and then heal us with a moment of triumph that made us feel strong and powerful. about being girls.

Stefanie and I now live on opposite coasts, but we still keep in touch, and she texted me Wednesday with the link to Carpenter’s tweet, though she didn’t really need it. That day, Carpenter had thrown dynamite into the smoldering fire that Ray fisher has been stoking Whedon’s behavior on the set of League of Justice, putting all of Whedon’s legacy on notice and shaking up the fandom surrounding his shows to a fundamental level.

What’s fascinating about the reaction to Carpenter’s Tweet is that the basic facts she relayed weren’t exactly news. The story surrounding his departure from Angel It’s always been a bit murky, based on vague quotes from Carpenter and Whedon after the act, but what was clear was that she left the show and it was probably related to her pregnancy. It was one of those behind-the-scenes mysteries where you just assume that neither side will actually tell their side of the story, and the truth will remain forever unknown.

But this week Carpenter kept nothing to himself, including the revelation that when she told Whedon about her pregnancy, he asked her if “she was going to keep it.” In doing so, he not only highlighted that moment of behind-the-scenes drama, but established a pattern of Whedon’s behavior that dates back decades, to the time when he was perhaps at the height of the geek cult. As she writes:

“Our society and industry vilify victims and glorify abusers for their achievements. The responsibility falls on the abused with the expectation of accepting and adapting to be employable. There is no responsibility on the offender who navigates unscathed. No regret . No regrets”.

Those who have spoken out in support of Carpenter have made it clear that, according to them, what she experienced was not isolated specifically for her at the time. People are monitoring the social media feeds of each Whedonverse student, waiting for some kind of response, and they are leaking, from general statements of support to a chilling note from Michelle Tratchenberg about how there was a rule that “you are not allowed to be alone in a room with Michelle again”.

So right now, there’s a whole community of fans genuinely struggling with what is revealed about the past. The power of Ray Fisher’s determination of responsibility is brought out here: It’s one thing to report abusive behavior on the set of a movie, but Buffy and his sister shows were in our houses every week, a fandom institution.

To be honest, the degree to which you’re surprised by what’s being said about Joss Whedon right now depends on how much attention you’ve been paying to him lately. In recent years, Whedon’s image as a feminist has started to fall apart as stories emerge and facts accumulate, from the alleged adultery on set to when says the quiet part out loud at work. In fact, while at the time Buffy and Whedon’s other heroines were considered symbols of hope for young women who yearned for stories of strong but identifiable heroines, countless words have been written since those stories were analyzed, hinting at their supposed good intentions. .

I have written some of those words. It’s been a long time since my days of worshiping Whedon, but as I’ve grown as a critic and journalist, I’ve still carefully followed the ups and downs of his career. Since Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog to Doll’s House Until his eventual rise to the Marvel blockbuster director, their efforts have been more successful than others, but it has always been fascinating to interact with them.

The Avengers (2012)

Image via Marvel Studios

In fact, one of the things that makes Whedon infinitely fascinating as a creator is his flaws, tropes, quirks, and crutches he can’t help but lean on. For example, her love of stories centers on abandoned children with amazing abilities, even when she tried to avoid doing it with Firefly Y Serenity, he finally couldn’t help but turn River (Summer Glau) into a superhero.

That kind of weakness is honestly charming, until you realize that maybe you have reason to be worried about Summer Glau, that maybe you have reason to be worried about all the women who have worked on her shows. Part of growing up is learning that your parents cry, that Santa Claus isn’t real, and (more and more often these days) that your favorite things are troublesome. But Buffy Summers grew up with a whole generation of young women, and she inspired them to believe in their own power and use it to change the world, and maybe that’s why it’s hard for fans to deal with. No one was surprised to discover exactly what kind of man Brett ratner it is. Whedon was supposed to be different. Best.

Whedon never worked alone, to be clear: the aforementioned sixth season of Buffy, after all, he was supervised by the extremely talented Marti noxon, and several incredibly talented writers, actors, and directors began their careers on the Whedonverse before moving on to bigger and better things. I’ve seen many Twitter comments asking that their contributions not be overlooked in the wake of the maelstrom surrounding Whedon, and it’s true that I don’t want Whedon’s shows removed from streaming services the way FX destroyed . Louis CKEmmy winner Louie out of existence.

With that said, I’m also struggling with the next release of The Nevers, the long-running HBO series Whedon is no longer officially showrunning (having announced his departure in a very cool way on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving). Philippa Goslett He’s now the official showrunner, the trailer is packed with great actors, beautiful Victorian costumes, and intriguing ideas, and in every way it’s the kind of show I want to see.


But, again, these are abandoned people with superpowers who will likely be abused by the system around them. Whedon’s personal brand remains clear, one associated with empowering young women, one that used to feel like a triumph and increasingly now feels like betrayal. There have been many errors in Whedon’s verse; ask anyone who feels seen by Tara and Willow. But there is a difference between the story being bad and the person behind it never being revealed for who he is.

So ultimately, in the end, I have to believe this is for the best. When my friend Stefanie texted me this week, this is what she said: “Is it better or worse that this all came out years later? Buffy? ”

“I mean, I’m glad we had those years,” was my last response to her, because this boring reality of ours doesn’t allow time travel to fix the past, and it’s also true. But it’s still unsettling to learn that those years came at a cost: the abuse and trauma suffered by those who worked on a toxic set. As someone who once literally, as Carpenter said, glorified the abuser, I’m glad we took down at least one fake idol.

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