Joss Whedon Is Not Your Woke Bae, Sorry

Separating the man from the artist.
Separating the man from the artist. Marvel Entertainment

Although I’m generally careful not to condone the concept of “role models,” if pressed I might concede that having them can, in some broader sense, foster advantageous effects. To suggest that culture thrives on the past achievements of its individuals is hardly controversial. My iconoclastic view of hero worship is a direct response to our knack for conscripting celebrities to a regime of irreproachable social deism. Filmmaker/former woke bae Joss Whedon is the latest testament to this preoccupation - once lauded for being one of the few men in Hollywood that had women’s backs; now branded a glib chauvinist that pulled the wool over our eyes.

Except he didn’t. Regardless if the recent allegations made by his ex-wife are true, regardless if his treatment of Black Widow in Age Of Ultron was verifiably tone deaf, you and you alone are the sole author of any sense of betrayal you feel regarding the personal life of the guy who wrote Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Kai Cole, (aforementioned ex-wife) ran an essay on The Wrap this week that called into question the merits of Whedon’s oft venerated feminist virtues. She warned the many fans that “worship” him, as well as the organizations that have granted him awards for his feminist work, to reconsider celebrating a “man that does not practice what he preaches.” While I will not comment on the validity of the essay, as it is irrelevant to my point, I suggest you give it a read. Because the result of Cole’s scathing account of her 16-year marriage to Whedon was a series of disparaging harangues on twitter and the retirement of Joss Whedon’s popular fan site, Whedonesque.

Joss Whedon’s case is further complicated by our aggrandizing of nerd culture. Historically nothing good has ever come from allowing a body of work, however impressive, to elevate mortals to the rank of sainthood. It dispirits me to live in a world wherein creating compelling fictional female characters is enough to earn the moniker of feminist paragon, the same way it dispirits me to learn that Wonder Woman, not the female filmmaker behind the hit film but the character mind you, is being hocked as the role model for little girls. Joss Whedon is a writer and director of pop culture schlock that never should have gained our exaltation in the first place.

It’s neat that a filmmaker wrote some prominent female characters, but neat is as strong a word we should ever use to describe such an ultimately innocuous thing. To achieve a truly egalitarian society, we have to prohibit ourselves from putting so much social stock in this garbage. Batgirl is getting her own movie? Siiiiick, I bet the women of the Democratic Republic of The Congo are gonna be stoked!

Joss Whedon, self-proclaimed feminist luminary, is potentially a womanizing, adulterous phony. Tough titty. If you're willing to indiscriminately dole out veneration like relief agency rice, you deserve every bit of shock and incredulity that comes your way. If you require role models to reaffirm your values, for fuck’s sake, pick better ones.

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