Wednesday, October 2, 2013

why does it matter?

I have never been a sci-fi fan.

Until recently, I thought Comic Con was a glorified speed dating for geeks in costumes. I have never seen Star Wars (I know it's the one with Harrison Ford—I'll watch anything with Harrison Ford between American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).I have an unrivaled hatred for The Fifth Element, and I have refrained from watching Star Trek until I learn how to do the Spock hand thing.

I thought I could be a sci-fi fan when I picked up the first few seasons of Doctor Who. I was wrong—Doctor Who was too complex. Wanting to venture into something less heavy, I asked my friends for suggestions. An overwhelming amount of them suggested Firefly. Warily, I put the first episode of Firefly on in the background while I wrote a paper—which is not the way to start a show, nor a way to write a paper).

Again, I wanted to like it. I just didn't get it.

Thankfully, I was more persistent with Firefly than I'd been with Doctor Who. I looked up the show on Wikipedia and went through layers and layers of articles about the show. I decided to give it another chance and I was captivated not even ten minutes into the pilot.

Thus began my foray into Joss Whedon's oeuvre.  First, it was Firefly, of course. One season and a film wasn't enough (and it will never be enough, Fox Network). I watched The Avengers. I rewatched the Toy Story trilogy until I could see the distinctly Whedon aspects of the first that were lacking in the second and third (though anyone familiar with Whedon's "legacy" might guess that the near devastation at the climax of Toy Story 3 could have been from Whedon, if you ask me). I watched Dr. Horrible's Sing A Long Blog three times in one day.

By my 21st birthday, I was so endeared with Whedon's writing style that I finally gave in and rented the first two season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I finished all seven seasons in two and a half weeks, and I've forgotten why I hated Sarah Michelle Gellar in the first place.

I'd wanted a show that was both poignant and funny, that had deeper conflicts than romantic pairings (though a little romantic subplot did not deter my interest, admittedly). Buffy, Firefly, Angel, and Dollhouse—I got what I wanted, four times over.

Why blog about Joss Whedon?
  1. His filmography, though hardly spanning longer than my lifetime, crosses many genres: sci-fi, comedy, western, romance, supernatural, drama, horror. He has a little something for everyone.
  2. As a writer, I'm always intrigued by characterization, and despite having a resume spanning more than two decades, Whedon rarely creates the same character twice.
  3. He is a male writer.

Reason number three is the one this blog will be concerned with.  In contrast to other shows written or created by men, Whedon explores gender roles and sexuality in many different ways throughout his shows. He actively creates female characters that are not simply plot devices for the male protagonist: they are well-developed, multifaceted, and they have their own subplots as well.  Sexuality is not always clearly defined for each character, and it does not define them.

Through this blog, I plan to acknowledge and appreciate how Whedon's shows challenge the traditional gender roles and ideas of sexuality that other shows reinforce (or how these others challenge them as well).  I will compare and contrast his shows to others, but I mean no harm or disrespect to those shows or their creators.

*Also, there will be spoilers. These posts will be tagged as such.