Recently, Joss Whedon took time out of his busy schedule to comment on a 90-second clip from Jurassic World, a movie he has zero involvement in but one that will competing with The Avengers: Age of Ultron for a few summer box office dollars. Give this clip a watch and tell me what you think:
Now, here’s what Whedon said:
…and I’m too busy wishing this clip wasn’t 70’s era sexist. She’s a stiff, he’s a life-force – really? Still? https://t.co/qqts4jpSva
— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) April 10, 2015
When I first saw his tweet, I thought “man, what a small guy.” Seems pretty petty and unprofessional to shit on another filmmaker’s property, let alone do it based on a 90-second clip. I could understand his criticism if Joss saw Jurassic World and the film was Chris Pratt tooling around on his motorcycle, slapping Bryce Dallas Howard’s ass and calling her “Sweet Tits” for two hours. But, to my knowledge, he didn’t do that and that’s not the direction they are going with this new installment, so it’s in poor taste for him to pass judgement on another person’s work so publicly after seeing only 1% of the film.
It’s made especially shitty because Whedon’s next Avengers film is getting it’s release five weeks before Jurassic World hits theaters, so it will likely be fighting for moviegoers during early June. I can understand athletes trashing opponents before a big game because, hey man, that’s sports. This is fucking film, dude. But Joss Whedon thinks cinema is in desperate need of shit-talking, so here we are. Imagine Martin Scorsese shitting on Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu because they share a release date. I know – I can’t imagine it either.
Is the dialogue in that clip crap? Sure, but you could take a random 90 seconds out of The Avengers and say the same thing (it would be just a little more smarmy, no doubt). Ultimately, this clip is whatever you want to project onto it because you can’t see what precedes or follows it. When I saw the clip for the first time, I thought about the standard trope of the executive versus the wild card – the boss in the high-rise talking to the assembly-line worker. They know little about what each other does day-to-day, but the inherent power imbalance makes the confrontation contentious. Throw in a complicated romantic history, and you’ve got yourself a pretty by-the-numbers character dynamic. Of course, that’s a reasonable appraisal because literally every Jurassic Park film is about that.
Apparently, Whedon saw a scene fraught with sexist tropes. But it’s naive to see his comments as Joss Whedon firing off a shot at Jurassic World in the name of gender equality. In recent years, Whedon has embraced the dubious title of feminist artist, and I say dubious because he’s done some questionable things over the years:
- Dresses male characteristics up with female actors and calls it a “strong female character”
- Physically strong female characters in his works are almost always psychologically weak
- The female characters are constantly in search of male approval and become weak in the knees when presented with attractive and charming men
- Frequently employs rape against women as a story device, often times implying that a victim who fails at fighting back actually wants the rape to occur
- In Buffy The Vampire Slayer, while two of the main female characters are portrayed as strong women, all other women on the show are weak-willed and helpless – in Whedon’s universe, women cannot be on the same playing field with men unless they have supernatural powers
- Buffy is continually punished for her sexuality, a common trope in Hollywood properties
- Joss Whedon fired Charisma Carpenter from Angel because she was pregnant
- Whedon has been accused of falling back on gender stereotypes in Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse
- Dollhouse was initially decried for its constant themes of abuse against women
- The laudatory nature of prostitution in Firefly
- Black Widow’s treatment in The Avengers
- I won’t even get into his lack of people of color in his movies and television shows…that’s a whole other blog post
So with that being said, it’s not surprising to see Whedon use his anointed position as Hollywood’s feminist arbiter to slam another studio’s fare because the guy is literally incapable of practicing what he preaches. As long as we keep thinking of Joss Whedon as a feminist icon, the more he’ll pull shit like this to pad his bottom line. All in all, he’s making a calculated business decision to possibly destabilize a competitor. That’s it.
Also, he had this to say about The Empire Strikes Back, one of the greatest achievements in science fiction filmmaking which contains one of the best endings in all of cinema:
“Well, it’s not an ending. It’s a Come Back Next Week, or in three years. And that upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end I’ll go to a French movie. That’s a betrayal of trust to me. A movie has to be complete within itself, it can’t just build off the first one or play variations.”
So maybe don’t listen to what this asshole has to say.