I am sort of struggling with where and how to share these thoughts. I don’t feel like they deserve their own blog post, but when I attempted to get them out on social media it got too large. I guess I will simply write them and then determine their place later.
So Joss Whedon will be directing the new Batgirl movie for DC. There have been a lot of responses to this. Some people are very hype. Some are saying, “Well it’s still DC so it’ll still suck”. Some are more focused on this being a negative because of the problematic nature of Whedon. I would like to focus on the third point and share my thoughts.
Joss Whedon is not actually that bad of a director/writer. I am not going to call myself a fan of him overall, I’m not. However, I do like a number of the projects he’s been involved in. What’s wrong with Whedon is his OWN interpenetration of himself. Numerous times Whedon has patted himself on the back for being such a pro-woman voice. He talks about how he is the leader in making strong women in nerd media. He also talks about how amazing all his female characters are. Then when actual women or feminist groups say, “Ok, that’s all well and good, but here are things we find extremely problematic” he throws a temper tantrum.
Women did not put Whedon under the microscope, he did it to himself. He is the one that talks about how great he is for women. He is the one that carries his own “I am so pro-woman” banner. He is the one that sits there and says his female characters are the best female characters. We did not do this, HE did. As such he should be willing to take the criticism.
I don’t want to go into each individual problematic thing (I’ve done it before), but there is a laundry list of them. To be honest he gets a lot of scrutiny, but he brings it on himself. His way of interacting with women on the subject of how great he is for women is to either brag or yell at us for not getting it. My advice for him would be to either a) stop with the bragging or b) actually listen to women when we say, “Hey can you stop falling back on these tropes”… Actually my advice would be to do both.
But as long as Whedon props himself up on his own high horse to declare himself a creator of icons for empowered women then he has to be prepared for empowered women to say, “No, not really sir”. Again, empowered women did not put him up there he did it too himself, and he will continue to incite anger from women as long as he refuses to have an attitude adjustment.
I hope he learned from the massive temper tantrum he threw in the wake of The Avengers 2. I hope he will just write solid women characters and then shut the hell up about it. And I hope that when approached with the fact that he repeats the same highly problematic tropes over and over again he might actually listen for once.
Until then my thoughts on Whedon, and the fact that women nerds aren’t completely in love with him, boil down to- You opened the door we just walked through.