I’m not going to pile on Joss Whedon, because I really love his work. I was one of the few people who actually saw the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the theater during its original run, and was one of the fewer people who actually liked it. When I finally got to see his original vision for that film fully realized in the TV series, it was a revelation of how cool and hip the horror genre could be. I didn’t think it would be possible to top Buffy–until the spinoff series Angel debuted, and Whedon hooked me all over again with his amazing characters and whip-smart dialogue. With his boundless imagination and a writing style that seemed effortless, he served as an inspiration for me as a writer, and always left me looking forward to his next project.
Whedon’s work on Firefly remains, to this day, probably some of the most libertarian ever shown on television. That show also introduced Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin to a wider audience, both of whom are sci-fi fan favorites to this day. Whedon gave us The Avengers, the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, then somehow turned right around and unleashed his creativity on Shakespeare with his jazzy take on Much Ado About Nothing–a love letter of a film that was also a happy reunion of the actors who had appeared in his TV series. Almost everyone who has been on set with Whedon has described him as a joy to work with. Even Jonah Goldberg from National Review once told me that while Charles Krauthammer was his hero, Joss Whedon was his master.
Yesterday, Whedon tweeted this:
I had to do a screen grab, because the original tweet appears to be deleted–and for good reason. Whedon has gotten a significant amount of blowback for cracking what appears to be a pretty tasteless joke that, although he’s obviously targeting Paul Ryan, comes at the expense of the young women in the photo. But it gets even worse when you see the actual context of the photo:
What is it inside of a man that would make him think it was cool to take a picture of female cancer survivors and turn it into a joke about their looks?
Only hatred can do that. And Joss Whedon appears to be carrying a lot of hate in his heart.
You can even see it in the apology that he later tweeted:
So I tweeted something that inadvertently offended everyone except the people I was trying to offend. I'm sorry. I'll be quiet for a bit.
— Joss Whedon (@joss) April 28, 2017
This isn’t an act of contrition from a man who thinks he’s made a mistake. It’s merely a justification for his hatred. Instead of using this as an opportunity to let go of the thing that’s poisoning him, he’s just holding on to it harder than ever.
Whedon has tweeted in the past that the 2016 election has left him broken. I would say that he’s correct in that–but not for the reasons that he might think. If he’s broken, it’s because Whedon himself has made that choice. Instead of looking at all the beauty in his life, and at the beauty he’s created, he’s chosen to give into despair over the stupidest of reasons: politics. So the election of Donald Trump has given you the blues? Get over it. Eight years of Barack Obama left me fearful for the future of the country, but it didn’t turn me so bitter that I forgot about my wife and kids, and all the other good things in my life. And it certainly never left me consumed with hatred, no matter how outraged I was about the direction America was going.
That’s because I realized a long time ago that hatred is a burden, and a heavy one. More than that, it consumes you. It takes every last piece of what was once good, and leaves you with nothing but the hate. And it shows up in everything you do, from the way you treat other people to the quality of your work.
Joss, is that really what you want to be?
I hope not. I believe that you still have a lot of creativity and a lot of love inside of you–and given your position, one that so many of us can only dream about, you have the opportunity to share that with millions. Don’t let the hate take that away from you.
Don’t let the hate take that away from us.