we need to talk about joss

I didn't want to write this. Not because I don't have anything to say, nor because I think it would be wise to stay silent. Quite the opposite in fact. I think, given my history of public adoration of Joss Whedon, staying silent now would feel somewhat disingenuous, even if the argument can be made that this is none of our business. Our business or not, he is a public figure with a large following, and so we're allowed to have thoughts. And we should have thoughts. We've looked up to this man. We've followed him. We've trusted him. But I still feel weird about writing this. I don't feel equipped with the context I'd need to form a strong and fair opinion. But I do have some thoughts, and like I said, as a Joss fan, I think it would be weird not to say something, especially when so many other Joss fans are trying to figure out their own thoughts and feelings. So here goes.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Joss Whedon's ex-wife, Kai Cole, recently dropped a bombshell of an open letter over on The Wrap. I'm not going to spend any time analyzing the details of what Kai said. It's her letter. It was her decision to share it with the world. I don't think it's inaccurate to say Kai is going through some stuff right now, and I sincerely hope publishing this open letter has helped her on her journey to good mental health. If this has truly helped her to feel free, then I say, good for her. I'm glad she was able to lift this burden from her shoulders. I wish her nothing but the best. And in case you're wondering--I believe her. If she says Joss cheated on her, I believe he did.  

But here's the thing: I don't think that necessarily makes Joss a bad feminist. Nor does this revelation cause me to see Joss's work under a different light. Let me explain. 

We're raised on fairytales. Perfect love, perfect family, perfect career. But as we get older, it hits us like a ton of bricks: real life isn't a fairytale. The American dream is a sham. I'm not saying happiness isn't possible--I don't doubt for a moment that many people find happiness or at least enough happiness that they lead "happy lives", but a true fairytale life is an impossible pursuit. Life is too messy for that. Too complicated. The baggage we all carry only gets heavier. The decisions we face only carry more weight. It's not straightforward and it's never perfect. Marriage is hard. Family is hard. Career is hard. And as I understand it, fame and success are brutal on relationships. There are people who survive it, but let's be real; celebrities, even ones we look up to, aren't built stronger than the rest of us. They aren't wiser by default, or more honorable. If anything, they have less time and fewer resources to help them sort their shit out. So why are we still surprised when their flaws are revealed? People cheat. It happens. A LOT. And for a lot of different reasons. And you know what? It's not the end of the world. Teenager-me probably would have told you different. Her privilege kept her from understanding shades of gray. But adult-me kinda gets it. I don't have any personal experience with cheating, but the older I get, the more I observe of the world, the more I can see how it happens. Yes, some people cheat because they're douchebags, but sometimes, people are just going through something personal and cheating unfortunately ends up being part of it. It makes them shitty partners, and yeah, sometimes people who cheat actually are bad people, but it's not always so straightforward. And in this case, I don't have enough context to judge Joss with any certainty. So without more information, I'm not going to.

To say Joss and his work have influenced the person I am today would be an understatement. He's perhaps one of the biggest creative influences in my life. He's one of the reasons I do what I do. One of the reasons I write the way I write. Does him cheating on his wife erase that? Does him projecting one message while (some would argue) living another make me question myself or the values I personally hold dear for even a moment? No, it doesn't. Because regardless of what was happening in his personal life, the art and messages he's put out into the world still are what they are. The influence they've had over me is real. And I don't think Buffy, or Angel, or Firefly, or Dollhouse, or Dr. Horrible have made me a bad person. I think their various influences have made me a stronger, smarter, funnier, more thoughtful person. If he'd been outright abusing his wife, or sexually assaulting women, we would be having a different conversation. And at this point in time, I don't see any evidence of that. But cheating? Struggling in his relationship? Struggling with his identity and perhaps mental health? I personally don't think that erases all the good he's done. I don't think it even taints it. I think it's natural and normal to feel at least a little betrayed when you find out someone you look up to isn't who you thought they were, but I also don't think fidelity is a requirement of feminism. And even if you can argue that it is, I don't think you have to be a perfect feminist to call yourself a feminist or promote feminist views. I don't think it necessarily makes him a hypocrite. I think he tries and fails like all of us. I think he's weak. I think he's flawed. I think he's human. And yeah, I still think he's more feminist than not.

Regardless of who he is behind the scenes, his work is still powerful. It's not perfect--it's never been perfect. But what's wrong with us that we keep expecting perfection? That we blame others for not achieving it when we damn-well know we can't manage it ourselves? That doesn't make any sense to me. And neither does shunning Joss's work. I can lose some respect for the man and still hold his creations in high regard.

My feelings about this aren't finite. New info might change them. New perspectives might too. Please feel free to share yours. 


friday5 for September 13, 2013

It's baaaaack. The Friday5 took a little summer hiatus of sorts, but now it's back, and while my schedule will dictate whether or not it manages to be a weekly feature here on the blog, I have missed dishing on the latest news with you, my dear bloggies. There is so much I could catch up on from the past several weeks, but in an effort to keep things on track, I'm going to focus on recent news only. So let's get to it!

1. Is it even possible to start with any other news item when there is major Harry Potter film news to share? No, it's not. A Wizarding World spin-off movie is in the works, based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and holy crap, the internet hasn't been this excited since we found out that Queen Rowling is also King Galbraith. Though I'm a little sad we won't be seeing Harry, Ron and Hermy, the premise of this spin-off is truly worthy of our excitement. Plus. it will mean new characters for us to fall in love with, living in the HP universe. Excitement!!

2.So this is interesting. Tumblr has announced an official book club, aptly called the Reblog Book Club. I like the idea of this, but it does have me wondering (and maybe I just haven't done enough digging) if this is a genuine freestyle book club or are marketing dollars driving their selections? I don't really have a problem with it either way, but I like my book clubs to be transparent :) Regardless, I think it's a good platform for something like this and I'll definitely be watching to see where it goes!

3. Hooray! The Fall TV season is upon us! Maybe it's just because I was super busy all summer, but the annual hiatus didn't seem that long. Not nearly as long as it seemed when I was a teen, waiting for my favourite WB (now CW) shows to return. Plus, new shows, including one from Joss Whedon! Let's just assume that everyone is planning to watch Agents of SHIELD because, obviously, but what other debut shows are you planning to check out?

4. Speaking of fall...actual fall-ish weather is finally here! Okay, yes, this doesn't necessarily apply to you, depending on where you're located, but after a brief September heat wave, the usual beloved September cooling off is happening, making way for perfect weather to pop on a sweater and go for a stroll. I see leafy paths and pumpkin patches in my future. Give me a comfy sweater, a good book, a mug of cider and some country air and I'm a happy girl. I think my small town is showing...

5. YA book rec time! Ah, it's been so long since I've done one of these and there have been so many good books! But since we're keeping things timely, and since I already mentioned the Tumblr book club, let's take a look at its first pick, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

"Hey baby. That's a really strange position to be typing in..."

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
(Summary from Goodreads.com)
That was a long synopsis, right? But it definitely has my attention. Actually, the title itself is what first caught my attention because I consider myself to be a fangirl (as does everyone on Tumblr, which is why it's a good pick for them). Before I go any further, it's confession time. I have not (yet?) read Eleanor & Park, Rowell's NYT bestselling breakout title. The truth is, I've been avoiding it. It looks like the kind of book I usually hate. Cute, hipster cover. Cute, hipster title. And Rainbow Rowell? Doesn't that sound suspiciously like a pseudonym for someone who is actually James Frey running young creative minds through his fiction machine? (It's not, by the way. From what I've read, Rainbow Rowell is her real name.) Okay, so fine, I don't read E&P, despite the hype, but then along comes the synopsis for Fangirl and ugh, it sounds so good! And the reviews of Rowell's writing are so good. And she sounds like a genuinely nice and awesome person so I think I need to get past my own weird hang-ups about hipster covers and just read Fangirl because it sounds delightful. What are you reading this week?

Happy Friday the 13th and happy weekend!