Dear Joss Whedon, It’s Not Me, It’s You
I’m not angry. I’m disappointed. No…wait…I am fucking angry.
And bitterly disappointed. And sad. And ashamed. And baffled. And proud.
I lost one of the very few male heroes I have this week, and I’m not the only one. I’ve learned some serious life lessons in the last week and I’ve had to take a long hard look at myself and my own values. But this isn’t about me.
It’s about you, Joss. One of the things I admired about you was that you seemed to understand human beings so well. After all, you couldn’t create the characters you did without understanding the human psyche with all our flaws and our big, big, hearts.
Only, as it turns out, the fact that you understand people so well actually allowed you to carefully pick and choose who you abused and who you didn’t. (Whether you were conscious of that decision or not). The supportive, but carefully worded, statements from some of the actors associated with your shows and the deafening silence from some others, have made that fact clear.
You made Anthony Stewart Head lose sleep over the responsibility he felt for the things YOU did. How dare you?
You made so many young women, girls, and human fucking beings doubt their own sanity, their talents, and Goddess knows what else. You abused them, manipulated them, and encroached on their future lives in a way that nobody has the right to. I proudly name these women, for their courage, their power, and the healing they are giving themselves and so many others:
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Oh my Goddess, Kai Cole. If you’re ever speaking to your ex-wife again, (and if I were her, I wouldn’t allow you to) can you please apologize on my behalf? I had her down as “the bitter ex-wife” and for that, I am truly ashamed.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was, is, and will forever be, a massive part of my life and my journey of healing with the demon Depression. I watched the show on TV. I collected the videos and then the DVD’s. I named my alter ego, Drusilla. Countess Drusilla Steele is the person I become when I need to be strong, to say things I’m frightened of saying, and to celebrate my own madness.
I would buy the box set of Buffy videos when I could barely afford them. When they arrived in the mail, I would turn off my phone, close the curtains and watch them avidly in the dark, alone. But not really alone because I had Buffy, Spike, Drusilla, Willow, and so many others for company.
And to ward off my own demons.
You will not take them away from me. In the last week, I’ve learned that I can separate the man from his art. I’ve learned that even bad men can do good things sometimes. Although now I’m questioning your motives.
Were you so staunch a feminist so that you could abuse young women unheeded? Or did you really not know what you were doing to them? No…that’s just not possible, is it? You knew exactly what you were doing.
You know, it occurs to me, that if you were to man up now and apologize it might mean something. It wouldn’t mean a lot, but it would mean you acknowledged your behavior and that you would try to make amends. Isn’t making amends one of your superpowers? Or is it that you can only write about these things?
Of the many things I’ve read over the last week, one that sticks out in my mind was from the admin of one of the facebook groups I’m in. I can’t remember the name of the group now or I’d mention it here. And to be fair, there’s a good chance that they’ve changed their name by now.
Anyhow, this admin said that we must remember that although you are the creator of the characters we love so much, there were many others involved with the production of the shows, and despite what you may think, you didn’t do this all on your own. That’s true and it’s another reason why you won’t take Buffy from me.
I don’t understand this, Joss. How could you know women so well and yet treat them so badly? And please, don’t give me that crap about how you couldn’t believe you had all these young girls paying you all that attention and that the power went to your head. That may be true, (it probably is true, or am I making excuses for you again?) but it doesn’t excuse it. It doesn’t make you any less of a bully and Goddess knows what else.
And in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t expect more of you. Because it never entered my head you were capable of this abuse. It also doesn’t make you any worse (or better) than the arsehole next door who does the same thing. The fact that you are “Joss Whedon” doesn’t give you any more responsibility to behave decently than anyone else.
And no, you don’t owe me a damn thing, you don’t even know I exist. But, you do owe those young women you abused, so much more than an apology. You will carry that weight for the rest of your life, I can only hope that you actually give a shit about that.
And yes, I have to take some responsibility for the many emotions I’m feeling right now. Perhaps I did put you up on a pedestal? Perhaps I did give you more credit than you deserved? Perhaps I did see things in your art that weren’t really there?
Perhaps. I heard somewhere that the reason we grieve when celebrities die is that we spend so much time with them when they’re alive. It’s not that we think we know them. It’s because we spend our best, and our worst, times with them. For me, I have certain musicians I listen to when I’m celebrating and certain musicians I listen to when I’m grieving. And we all know the power of a song that’s played at the funeral of someone we love.
I can’t speak for others, but for me, when I was depressed, I went to Sunnydale. And I don’t mean when I was sad, (although I do that too) I mean when I was clinically depressed. When the medication hadn’t kicked in yet, and I’d had all my sessions with the counselor and when I was so ill that I didn’t want to be alive in the real world anymore.
Oh, Joss, what were you thinking?
And you! The father of two daughters!
Dear Joss Whedon,
I love syphilis more than you.
And that’s not something I ever thought I’d say.