Like countless other folks, I’ve recently had to come to terms with my love of the TV series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” It’s a series I’ve watched and adored several times over, I can quote it at the drop of a hat (even whole lines of dialogue), I love the characters, and I love reading about the actors. And I love… vampires!
What I don’t like reading about is how horrible of a person Joss Whedon has been, according to various social media posts by actors whom have worked for him. We have yet to hear his side of the story about actor Charisma Carpenter’s allegations that he was an insensitive, sexist, non-understanding nasty man and boss. Or about how Michelle Trachtenberg was (apparently) not allowed to be left alone with him on set, or Amber Benson’s allegations that he helped foster a “toxic” environment. “Justice League” actor Ray Fisher has also spoken out – as has Whedon’s ex-wife Kai Cole.
I believe everything Charisma Carpenter, Michelle Trachtenberg and Amber Benson and the others have said – yet I think Joss Whedon needs to have his say, too. Haven’t most of us had bosses who weren’t the best human beings? Or even more accurately, haven’t many of us have bosses whom have been downright horrible, nasty people who’ve driven us to drink, fantasize about squashing them in cardboard balers or putting poison in their coffee? Or am I just too much of a fan of the 1980 movie 9 to 5 (guilty)? And haven’t some of us been people that drive our bosses insane (there are two sides to a story, after all). Nobody is an angel (not even David Boreanaz).
If there’s anything we’ve learned from history is that people are…jerks. Humans are capable of far worse atrocities than childishly retaliating against actresses who committed the unpardonable sin of having babies, after all. What would Augusto Pinochet do if one of his underlings said he was creating a “toxic work environment?” And what does “toxic” really mean? Super bad? Really, really, awful? Not quite criminal, but super duper horrible? I always thought the word “toxic” was the same as “poisonous,” or describes the ooze that comes out of those nuclear reactors that my mama used to protest back in her hippie salad days.
Was “Buffy” as great as it was because Joss Whedon was tough when he had to be? Did he justify being an asshole to bring out the best in the actors? Was it a tough love “This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you” kind of thing many of heard our parents say when they got ready to exact the punishment du jour? Who knows? He hasn’t said anything yet. But here are some quotes that kind of fit in with this line of thinking:
You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.The Joker, Batman (1989)
If you’re not getting shot at, you’re not doing your job right.Rachel Dawes, The Dark Knight
As much as part of me would like to tsk-tsk these actors – whom were paid very, very well to do what they did (some reports say Sarah Michelle Gellar was paid $100,000 per episode) – for being “whiny,” I’m not going to do that. Just because they were paid more per episode than some of us make in a year, that doesn’t mean Joss Whedon could extract an “asshole tax” from them by being an…asshole. They have every reason to speak out about this. Shame on you, Joss Whedon. You were at the helm of something so beloved to so many fans. Why did you have to be an asshole to the people who worked for you? Now I’m going to have to think about this every time I see an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” again. Or “Dollhouse” (yes that series is a bit rapey), or The Avengers, or “Firefly,” or the countless other things you’ve lent your name and talents to.
Sometimes it’s almost better to NOT know the truth about the things and people we love, isn’t it?