I’m sure by now many fans have read Kai Cole’s piece on her ex-husband Joss Whedon and her accusations that his feminist leanings are tainted due to his alleged infidelity. Reactions to this articles have ranged from rage by fans to cynical admissions of people who “weren’t surprised.” Many fans are so upset that they are swearing off his works from now on.
I’m not ready to do that myself. And I think people shouldn’t be so willing to toss the works of Joss Whedon aside due to an editorial by his ex-wife. And here’s several reasons why.
The Work Produced is Separate From The Artist
Even if Joss Whedon’s actions have been related accurately, the shows are still good shows. Buffy is still a great strong female character we love to cheer for. Cabin In The Woods is still a great flick. Avengers is still a fun superhero tale.
Some actors have become drug addicts, cheated on their wives or husbands, are alcoholics and might even be part of religious or pseudo-religious organizations with which we can’t identify. Does this mean the movies they were in should be boycotted? Rock stars have done all kinds of partying and I would be surprised if all the ones who are married never strayed. This is not saying this is acceptable behavior. But should you never listen to their songs again because of it? Van Gogh was a heavy drinker and reputably psychotic to boot. People love his paintings. Artists, composers, authors throughout history have done drugs, cheated on spouses, had affairs, lied and much more. Does this mean you shouldn’t enjoy the work they produced?
I would definitely say no.
Joss Whedon Didn’t Produce His Works Alone
Even if you don’t think much of Joss Whedon after reading these allegations, you need to understand he is only one part of the team that brought shows like Firefly, Buffy and Dollhouse to us. The actors, the other writers, editors, music composers… the list of people just to do a single episode of a show is very long. And while Joss Whedon created many of the characters, other people often wrote the stories we love and created even more characters that added to the tapestry of the final work.
By boycotting these shows and movies, you also boycott the hard work of thousands of other people. That’s not exactly fair to them.
He Has Done Good Works
While Joss Whedon may have caused pain to his spouse, there is no denying that his shows and actions have benefited people.
His shows have promoted strong female characters. The “Can’t Stop The Serenity” events annually raise a lot of money for Equality Now, a charity that helps women throughout the world. He has long been an advocate for women. To quote a line from a superhero movie he didn’t write, “it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”
Is he perfect? Unlikely. If the allegations against him are close to true, then definitely not. But while the good works he has done may not negate the bad things he might have done, the bad things also don’t erase the good either.
We Are Only Hearing One Side of the Story
With most relationships and break-ups, there are usually three stories. One side, the other side and the truth. Joss Whedon’s representative stated “While this account includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations which can be harmful to their family, Joss is not commenting, out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.” So it’s unlikely that we’re going to get Joss’ side any time soon. And the actual truth… is nearly impossible to find.
I’m certainly not saying that she would lie. But certainly her viewpoint is not impartial.
No One Is Perfect
Joss Whedon has proved himself to be human. Just like every other human, he can make mistakes. And no matter what happened between him and his ex-wife, it is clear she was hurt by it.
I can sympathize with her. I’ve been hurt by others. I’ve also hurt others, though it’s never been my plan. So I can understand her pain. I think many of us can.
But I’m not going to allow what happened in a personal relationship between two people, however much one is hurt by the other, define what shows and movies I watch for enjoyment and inspiration.