So, this is going to be a quick slightly ranty post, be warned. Also, mild spoilers (that were shown in trailer) for Age of Ultron.
I woke up this morning ready to do some laundry, tidy my room, get some work done, nothing special. But when I was checking Facebook I saw an article claiming Joss Whedon had been ‘chased off Twitter by feminists’. I of course freaked the hell out. If you’ve been following me a little while, you’ll know that I worship Joss Whedon. He is by far my favourite director and screenwriter (fave filmmaker in general, tbh) ever ever ever. I’ve loved him since I first watched Buffy when I was twelve. Since then I’ve watched every single thing he’s ever worked on, and I’ve watched all this original work countless times. Honestly, ask my mum. Countless times. I think he’s funny, he’s down-to-earth, he’s a ridiculously talented writer and I also love love love that he’s vocally spoken out for feminism. Whedon inspired me to pursue my screenwriting and ultimately, he’s my idol and everything I aim to be (if I can get to even half his writing talent I will consider myself wildly successful).
So when I saw that article, needless to say I was concerned. I did some reading, some Googling, some Twitter browsing and discovered that for some reason, Whedon has deactivated his Twitter, meaning you can no longer even see his old posts. He joined Twitter in May 2013 and all the Whedonites rejoiced because let’s face it, everyone could use a little daily Joss quote in their life. It’s a tad pathetic, but seeing his tweets really brightened my day and always reminded me of what I was aiming for and working towards in my studies.
But today I discovered his Twitter was deactivated. Whedon hasn’t released a statement or anything so all people have to go on is speculation, but the main rumours surrounding his departure from our great Cyberspace is that the criticism of Avengers: Age of Ultron just got too much for him. And that is quite understandable – if you do even a simple search on Tumblr, Twitter or Google you’ll find thousands (possibly tens of thousands, I stopped scrolling a while in) of hate tweets to Whedon. The majority and worst of which say things like “kill yourself”.
My issue with all these tweets is that they aren’t constructive. They are not giving your opinion on the film, they are blindly insulting and frankly cyberbullying Whedon. We all know how people hiding behind the internet can be, and no less so with celebrities, but telling someone to commit suicide is never okay. Hell, I wouldn’t even tell Putin to kill himself. For one thing, this insult is insensitive and just adds negative stigma to depression, self-harm and suicide, and for another – as I said before – it’s not constructive. To anyone who’s ever said anything like this, let me tell you something: it is possible to share your opinion or even dislike a person without being rude and/or threatening. I’ll be honest, I’ve sent those jokey tweets to people before (I once told Nigel Farage he ruined the colour purple for me), and to some extent those are okay because they’re not cruel or aggressive, and if anyone looks stupid it’s just yourself. But seriously being downright mean and threatening to someone, isn’t okay. Of course there are extreme cases and those are different, but because you didn’t like someone’s film? Seriously?!
Another reason this all bothered me so much is how much goddamn time and effort went into AoU. You just have to read a couple of interviews with Whedon to realise he is completely emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted. You can guarantee at least 90% of the hate tweets directed at him were from people who have no clue what it’s like to create a film, let alone on that scale or with that much pressure from the studio and anticipation from a mega audience. Insulting the film in a unconstructive is downright disrespectful, because it disregards all the time and effort that went into it. As I said before, you can dislike the film – you can dislike Whedon – you can disagree with messages of the film or character portrayals or storylines or whatever, you can do all that, without being disrespectful and unconstructive.
A lot of the hate came from people who were upset about the Bruce/Natasha relationship and to be blunt, that is just pathetic. Just because your ship didn’t get together in canon is no reason to take it out viciously on the writer/director. Yes, it is ‘their fault’ but hundreds of hundreds of people’s OTPs and ships don’t ever get together and you don’t see them harassing the creators or their show or book or whatever. It’s childish and gives fandoms a bad name. You don’t see me yelling at Joss over the internet because Willow and Tara didn’t end up together. (P.S., personally I liked Brucetasha and thought it added a nice dynamic and more dimensions to the characters).
Some other hate has come from people claiming to be feminists, who were upset at the portrayal of Black Widow/ Natasha Romanov. My thoughts about which can be found here, but let me just say that Whedon has done a lot for feminism and to be blunt once more, the way he has been treated for this is despicable, ungrateful and this is the reason feminism has such a bad name.
Also, may I say that these claims of him being racist or sexist are ridiculous: he was under contract with Marvel to produce a film about The Avengers: the Avengers made up of five white males and one white female. He had to use those characters and you can take one look at his other work you will see he is by no means racist or sexist. If you still think he is, read my piece of minorities representation in film. Yet, despite these constrictions, Whedon managed to end the film with two additional POC Avengers and an additional strong female character. But sure, he’s racist and sexist.
To conclude, I am very angry, I am very disappointed in the fandom, these ‘feminists’ are the reason feminism has a bad rep, it is possible to give your opinion without being aggressive and it is never okay to tell someone to kill themselves or threaten someone.
Joss Whedon is an undeniable creative genius – call him whatever you like, you cannot deny statistics and the sheer talent of his work. He is great, and people need to back off.
Edit (06/05/15): Joss has released a statement saying it wasn’t the hate that made him delete his Twitter, however I still 100% stand behind the above post: this level of aggressive hate is never okay.