Actually, he “writes” women. And he writes them the right way — multi-faceted females who serve as role models for all genders. They are not perfect, but they struggle to do the right thing. They love and they war. They are strong and they are vulnerable and they make mistakes. And they’re smart. And they care.
Joss Whedon (whose new “Dollhouse” series has its female characters pushing even more boundaries than ever) is not a name I knew, even as I got wholeheartedly, back in the late 1990s, into the tv series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Granted, at age 69, I’m not considered part of the demographics that would be drawn to teenage Buffy, but let’s face it: superlatively creative writing, clever humor, and a complex and spunky heroine should be appealing to all ages (at least those of all ages who still appreciate irreverent spunk and and still have some imaginative curiosity).
After Buffy, there was the short-lived and unique Firefly television series (and subsequent off-shoot movie, Serenity), which boasted several totally different female characters whose escapades explored just about every facet of the most compelling female archetypes. Oh, don’t get me wrong — the male characters were just as compelling, and I still have fantasies about Nathan Fillion (who is currently starring in the series Castle).
And that’s when I started noticing the name of Joss Whedon, writer, who is young enough to be my son and whose mother sure brought him up right. The more I learned about him, the more I liked him. I like him for what he writes and for how he thinks.
On April 11, he received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, addressing a crowd a Harvard with his customary honesty and humor. Watch this and you’ll be a Whedon fan too.
Whedon’s new series “Dollhouse” has not generated the audience that his fans hoped, and so, learning from the fate of the too-late-acclaimed “Firefly,” some of those fans are touting a WATCH DOLLHOUSE WEEK, beginning on Monday the 27th, to generate interest in having the series come back next season.
I’ve watched every episode of “Dollhouse” thus far, but I’m going to re-watch it all next week, recognizing that there are probably all sorts of subtle and quirky bits I probably missed the first time. There are always more to Whedon’s stories and diaglogues than it first seems.
In many ways, “Dollhouse” is framed differently from his other series, and this site provides a good analysis. Most important, I think, is the following paragraph from that piece.
One of Whedon’s perennial concerns is masculinity in a feminist era: if women are so powerful now, how are guys supposed to relate to them? It’s a good question, and one of the better themes a male writer can explore, if he’s willing to do it honestly. Whedon has offered solutions before but they’ve always been imperfect, because they haven’t addressed how pervasive gender inequality is, and how much we’re all complicit in it, how our thoughts and perceptions are informed by it from Day 1 simply because it is the context in which we live. In Dollhouse, he’s giving it deeper and more sustained focus than ever, and is more willing than ever to implicate masculinity: in parallel to the story of how the dolls work to reclaim their personhood, there’s the story of the people who take it away from them on a day-to-day basis, and how they justify their actions.
The idea of the “Dollhouse” has stirred some controversy among viewers and critics. For me, that’s even more reason to watch it.
Join me for Watch Dollhouse Week. You’re never to old to be a fan of a creative spirit like Joss Whedon.