Joss Whedon on female narratives, it’s ‘just Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie’

People have been telling me for years that I should pay more attention to Joss Whedon, writer/director extraordinaire and the man that makes millions of fan-boys and fan-girls squeal with delight. I never got into his TV shows, I’ll admit, but his work with Marvel has brought his fame and respect to a different level. At various times, I’ve linked to comments Joss has made about feminism, about writing powerful female characters who control their own destinies, about the iconography of empowered women. Quite honestly, I’d rather listen to Joss talk about feminism and writing female characters more than I want to watch his stuff, but I guess that’s just me. Anyway, I just loved this new interview with Joss:

Make no mistake: It’s not that Joss Whedon doesn’t like The Empire Strikes Back. When recently asked a question about doing a sequel to one of his own works, he cited the fan-favorite entry in the Star Wars saga along with The Godfather Part II as sequels that got it right. But The Avengers writer-director does have an issue with Empire‘s ending – or its lack of one, to be exact.

“Empire committed the cardinal sin of not actually ending,” Whedon noted during his 10-page deep-dive interview with Entertainment Weekly in this week’s issue. “Which at the time I was appalled by and I still think it was a terrible idea.”

To which your EW interviewer blurted: “You think Empire had a bad ending?”

“Well, it’s not an ending,” Whedon explained about the 1980 film, which had a cliffhanger leading into the next entry of the series, Return of the Jedi. “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.”

We also prodded Whedon, who pioneered the modern teenage vampire saga with The WB’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for how he felt about the Twilight films and The CW’s The Vampire Diaries.

“A small part of you is like: ‘Well, you know, I did that first. I liked that band before they were popular,’” he says. “The thing about Buffy for me is–on a show-by-show basis–are there female characters who are being empowered, who are driving the narrative? The Twilight thing and a lot of these franchise attempts coming out, everything rests on what this girl will do, but she’s completely passive, or not really knowing what the hell is going on. And that’s incredibly frustrating to me because a lot of what’s taking on the oeuvre of Buffy, is actually a reaction against it. Everything is there — except for the Buffy. A lot of things aimed at the younger kids is just Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

I think Hollywood just greenlit Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie. It will star Jennifer Aniston and Katherine Heigl as two ditzy, clumsy ladies who can’t choose between Jason Bateman and Josh Duhamel. But seriously, Joss is dead-on. Similar criticism has been leveled at Twilight (and the CW shows, to a lesser degree) before by other people. I remember when Stephen King did it too, only his critique seemed aimed more firmly at Stephenie Meyer and what a terrible writer she is. Joss’s critique is aimed at Hollywood’s inability to consistently create female characters who are driving their own narratives.

Oh, and I don’t really have an opinion on his Empire Strikes Back comments. I kind of forget how Empire ends? It ends with Luke losing his hand and Han being frozen, right? That was so amazing. I still get chills when I think about Leia saying “I love you” and Han saying “I know.” And then he’s frozen!!! Chills!!

Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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93 Responses to “Joss Whedon on female narratives, it’s ‘just Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie’”

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  1. T.fanty says:

    He’s completely right. And the alternative isn’t any better. The New Statesman just ran this great article about how the alternative is “Strong” (as opposed to complex and flawed) women:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters

    It’s all just a variation on the patient Griselda myth. Often, a woman’s value (in movies) is linked to her capacity to passively endure.

    • LAK says:

      That article is awesome. Thank you for the link.

      Ps: where she mentions ‘superman’, she articulated a thought I couldn’t quite put my finger on as to why I found him boring/annoying/unbelieveable because he is essentially a male ‘strong female character’!!!!

      And she referenced ‘George’ from the famous five. A famous five reference is always good. :)

      • Sixer says:

        Or Five Go Mad In Dorset:

        “Crikey! Somebody’s poisoned Timmy!”
        “Don’t worry, George, we’ll get another.”

        Cue shot with fresh Timmy.

      • LAK says:

        Sixer – LOL. I adore the famous five.

        On a very different but related note, I always think Harry Potter reads like Enid Blyton, but modern and with Wizards.

        Butterbeer = lashings of gingerbeer :)

      • Sixer says:

        Yep. Harry Potter is Famous Five, Secret Seven, Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, just with magic wands.

      • T.fanty says:

        Harry Potter *wishes* it were the famous five. Either the Blyton or Comic Strip version.

        I just started reading The Faraway Tree with my little one. I love that book!

      • Sixer says:

        I don’t know what you guys think, but I’ve always suspected that HP appeals to the magpie instinct in kids. Despite all the obvious borrowings, predictability and poor writing, it’s full of glittery, collectible detail. And increasingly so, as the series goes on, thanks to the lack of red pens at Bloomsbury. That’s the hook. (In my book, more’s the pity, but I get it).

      • LAK says:

        I’m glad I wasn’t imagining it. (or found 2 people who see it the same way). It took me awhile to get into it because I was so distracted by all the external references.

        Eventually, I decided to shut up my inner critic and simply enjoy it for what it is.

        I am fond of it, but it’s by default based upon the horrendous derivative copies it has inspired. Kind of it shines brighter because what came next are such turds, and so it doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

    • Sixer says:

      Great article. And so true. And five minutes over at bechdeltest.com is enough to make you weep.

      Although, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, it’s not as though big budget action/fantasy movies are really presenting us with anything much other than stocks with male characters. But for wimlins, it’s everywhere.

      • T.fanty says:

        I sometimes think that masculinity is just as “besieged” as feminine culture. I have two daughters and at least gender stereotyping is sufficiently obvious that I can point it out to my girls and sneer at it. “Masculinity” is such insidious and toxic that I would be worried if I had a little boy. I cringe every time I hear my brother in law call his two-year-old “little man.”

      • Sixer says:

        Yes. Two boys here. And if we must label, one sporty, one geeky.

        In terms of mass entertainment, I don’t have a problem with some films and some books hanging on stocks who embody essential virtues and vices. They’re fun. Pantomime is fun. It’s just when that’s all there is, or when the surrounding chatter aggrandises nonsense and the superficial (however entertaining), I begin to despair of the chance of raising thoughtful adults who will help to progress humanity.

        However, even with all this mizzoging (as Son Number 1 would put it), I think we can trust that a home environment where nonsense is noticed and mocked where appropriate, where family members treat each other well and without reference to gender (or any other no-nos), and where there is access to and discussion of a variety of sources and points of view, will be enough. I truly believe that it is. I might be kidding myself, but I think this parenting lark is going quite well for me so far. (Touch wood).

      • Yep says:

        Something can pass the Bechdel Test and still be…questionable.

        I prefer the recent “Mako Mori” test people have been suggesting.

      • Sixer says:

        @ Fanty: I’ve just realised quite how sanctimonious I sounded there. Apologies!

        @ Yep: Quite. Which only serves to underline the point. If so few films are passing Bechdel and even some of those are questionable, we’re not in a good place.

      • *unf* Joan Jett says:

        @ Yep:

        The fact, that the Bechdel Test has such a low bar makes it a powerful tool to highlight how many movies actually DON’T deliver even the tiniest minimum amount of female representation.

    • Amelia says:

      Great article, thank you for the link, Fanty.
      I didn’t enjoy BTVS at all, but I always enjoy what Joss Whedon has to say about female characters.
      If anyone’s interested, there was an article in The Guardian by Kate Mosse the other day asking why there aren’t more ‘brave’ female characters in adult fiction.
      “Writers of grown-up fiction should be bold enough to match the active and adventurous female protagonists of children’s literature. . .”
      http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/aug/24/where-have-all-brave-girls-gone-kate-mosse

      • LAK says:

        On that theme, I am still annoyed by suzan’s ejection from Narnia on the grounds that her world had changed from adventures to the pursuit of boys. Meanwhile Peter is simple said to have grown up. Not to mention the gender roles everyone is assigned especially when they receive the magical gifts.

        I am equally pissed off at the ‘witch’s narrative.

      • Sixer says:

        IIRC, it was because she liked “lipstick and stockings”. No farther up and farther in for Susan! On the other hand, Narnia gave us Reepicheep, the Utter East, and “There once was a boy called Eustace Clarence Stubbs and he almost deserved it.” I shouldn’t, but I forgive it Susan’s fate.

      • LAK says:

        Sixer – I disliked everything about Suzan, so I didn’t necessarily miss her when she was gone, but I hate that she was sent off because she chose boys over adventures.

    • IzzyB says:

      Thanks for the link Fanty, was a good read.

      It articulated a lot of things I’ve been annoyed about for ages about “Strong” female characters, my big gripe lately being Clara from Dr Who. She could be a great character but she just ends up being flat and silly, a parody of a person.

  2. Gretchen says:

    “If I want a movie that doesn’t end I’ll go to a French movie.” *chuckle snort*

  3. Emma says:

    Joss knows what he is talking about… his female characters in Buffy were excellent. Perfectly flawed yet with so much strength. Each girl was different and not simply carbon copies of each other. Season 7 really showcased the beauty of his women!! I do fear for the state of female television and film characters…..

    • Spooks says:

      Zoe and Kaylee from Firefly are among my favourite female TV characters. I love Joss.

      Kaiser, how can you not like his shows?

    • Pinky says:

      Buffy was genius while he was at the helm. Once he left to concentrate on other shows and Marti Noxon took over, the show went downhill fast (save for “Once More with Feeling”).

    • NM9005 says:

      Television was always welcoming for female characters. I grew up with Charmed, Xena (the only princess that counts imo!), La Femme Nikita (Peta Wilson but I know there’s Maggie Q for the new series) , Dark Angel, The Adventures of Sinbad (Maeve!), Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Daria, Moesha, Sister Sister…god I could go on because I spent way too much behind the TV.

      I loved these shows and while some of them were mediocre (Dark Angel), so were a lot of male driven series so it shouldn’t matter.

      What they do on TV is still something that they wouldn’t dare in film. We only have Jolie as a real action hero and Milla Jovovich and before her Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton spring to mind . And it’s not because they don’t write for them, it’s because men objectify them (that’s why Jolie did so well with fanboys for Lara Croft and kickstarted her her mainstream career) and women criticize them for their ‘realness’.

      Even here on CB people were complaining about Katniss being too fat and Black Widow being unrealistic in her action scenes and her boobs were too jiggly when doing action scenes (the chair flipping scene) In a movies that consist of unrealistic people and events, we were judging the female for being unrealistic. It’s ridiculous and OUR fault too.

      Saldana wasn’t given a chance whatsoever in her action role and then Gina Carano was ignored too but then we protest because there are no decent female characters and we compare Jolie to all the others and then conclude Jolie is the best even though most people didn’t even see the other ones. Just based on trailers, women are NOT good enough. Jolie’s action roles are not any better so that’s no excuse for not given the others a chance. Gina Carano looked more like a woman (and is as a professional fighter!) that could kick ass than Jolie but people just didin’t like her looks (on CB too!).

      James Cameron is the only one who dared to make female characters normal and brainy in films without giving them big boobs and dumb plotlines and people went and watched them so they were given more chances to appear (especially the Alien series). These women are iconic for what they stood and fought for, not how they looked. Which isn’t what Jolie will be remembered for no matter how iconic her portrayal of Lara Croft was.

  4. els says:

    Truth!
    Buffy may have been just a vampire show but she was the most amazingly written female character. She was fun, tough, smart and extremely human in the same time. Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood present ladies that are truly debating what boyfriend to chose (well put, Joss Whedon!).
    Not to mention the fact that Bufy was about a Vampire Slayer and today’s shows are about how the vampires kill the humans and how the teenage girls can’t wait to die (and become a vampire) in order to be with their ‘love’ – hence all the popularity of the dead ones.
    “a lot of what’s taking on the oeuvre of Buffy, is actually a reaction against it” – well put again, mr. Whedon!

    • lucy2 says:

      I loved that it was never just a vampire show – the vampires and other monsters always seemed more like metaphors for the struggles of growing up, finding yourself, dealing with loss and pain, etc. I started off watching thinking it was going to just be supernatural fluff, and it’s actually one of the deeper shows written. Plus the great female characters.

      The boyfriend choosing drives me nuts. More often than not, when discussing how I’d like a series to end, I want the female protagonist to ditch the guys and go out on her own, find herself, make a good life for herself, etc.

      • Nina says:

        Exactly. Buffy was a genius tv show . The dialogu was crisp and witty and the female characters were about so much more than their boyfriends! It was like in some ways, Nancy drew, with wit and edge. It was a show about growing up, accepting those parts of yourself you dont necessarily want to accept, and growing into your power. Joss whedon is awesome.

  5. LAK says:

    Yep. Am with him too. It’s eternally frustrating that people copy Buffy (or claim to be inspired by it) then write the most insipid, passive surrendered girls possible, whose only purpose in life is their stalker BF with violent tendencies and whatever HE chooses, all whilst calling it feminism.

    On the subject of films with cliff hangers, there is a fantastic article on indiewire talking about these new franchises and how they leave everyone hanging instead of putting together a complete film that stands alone, angling for a sequel which is also left hanging. The YA genre of franchises was singled out in particular.

    • TheyPromisedMeBeer says:

      The YA films coming out now that are open-ended reflect the current trend in YA books. It’s as if every new YA author is jumping on the chance to write a fantasy/dystopian future novel and have it turned into a book series (and hopefully a film franchise). Yes, please, instead of containing your crappy writing to one novel, let’s spread it out over multiple novels because we don’t have separate and unique ideas for new books or anything. It’s not like teenagers are that clever to begin with.

      • LAK says:

        That’s exactly it. And then some.

        The majority of these YA franchises and the books from whence they came have a good basic idea, but then extrapolate it through several books/episodes without adding anything new, and ultimately weaken the idea because of they end up being simply filler.

        I’ll even go to bat for Twilight (which I collectively hate) but which could have been one great book covering bks 1-3. We really didn’t need bk 4 especially with such a whimpy ending.

      • Sixer says:

        YA has been like this – someone writes something good and then there’s a bandwagon of commercial semi-copies using stock characters and every available hackneyed trope and stereotype – since it evolved from what used to be called “crossover” – books for kids that adults weren’t embarrassed to read. Not so much Harry Potter et al, but things like Curious Incident. First we had double editions and then we got YA. Now we’ve even got New Adult (a very depressing category, so I won’t go there).

        First it was straight fantasy. Then it was bitey bitey vampires and lycanthropes, now it’s dystopia.

        There is some fantastic YA dystopian stuff out there, with three-dimensional, relatable and absorbing female characters. For example, the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness or anything by Gemma Malley (who talks a lot about women’s control over their bodies), Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses sequence (covers race AND female empowerment). All of these have thrilling plots and could easily be filmed. Neal Shusterman’s Unwind. The list goes on.

        Instead, we get the Hunger Games and Divergent. See Fanty’s comment about “strong female characters” above. Sigh.

      • Pinky says:

        @Sixer

        Sounds like you are or were in the lit. biz in some capacity!? I know a bit about it myself, so it’s great to hear your take on the state of kids’ lit.

      • Sixer says:

        @ Pinky

        Yes, both work-wise and for pleasure. I’m not one for commercial/genre fiction generally. If I want to read something outside of adult literary fiction, I will go to the best of the YA category. I find it’s more focused, less self-indulgent and often thought-provoking. Sadly, what sells most isn’t generally the best stuff. Plus ca change…

      • LAK says:

        Sixer: What in the name of….is ‘a new adult’??!!

        Ps: I read alot, and I use my libraries alot, but they are all catering to these horrible authors in the teen/young adult section.

        I am going to order all the authors you’ve recommended in post above. Thank you for that.

      • Sixer says:

        Well, I could give you the marketing spiel, but the realpolitik is that New Adult has sex which nobody (educators, parents) can possibly object because that means the target market is 18-21, not 15-18. Even though the readership probably hasn’t changed.

        And it’s mostly depressing boyf/girlf/chicklit-lite.

        PS. I hope you enjoy!

      • LAK says:

        Sixer: oh my!!! The world really needed MORE chicklit?!

        New literary genres are so funny. I couldn’t stop laughing the day I discovered that fanfiction is an actual genre these days. Or was it the seriousness and earnestness of it that I found entertaining. I still can’t decide.

  6. lolamd says:

    I loved Buffy because she was one the few strong woman characters on tv at the time. As Joss said, she drove her own narrative.

  7. Hazel says:

    Agree 100%.

    Notice most of the YA novels/movies that come out. Most would have love triangles. The girl agonises about her choice and drags it out for three movies.

    Extremely formulaic.

  8. Mia 4S says:

    Oh Lord he insulted Empire Strikes Back, the fanboys will be coming for him. ;-) Actually I don’t agree with him at all on Empire (and that French movie comment? Gee way to sound like a yokel Whedon!) but the female narrative comment is spot on.

    I run from very hot to pretty cold on Whedon’s stuff he has a certain style that can be great and can get tiresome. There is always a bit of a wink at the camera which is why he is a great fit for Marvel.

    Ironically the one genre film maker who is the gold standard for the ‘not just a “girl” but not just a “strong female” character’? James Cameron. He may be an egomaniac and tyrant, but Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley are unmatched.

    • LAK says:

      Jame Caneron is never given credit for his female characters. In between all that noise and guns, the females (even in the background, tend to be well written.

      • CC says:

        Agreed. Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor…and even Kate Winslet’s character in Titanic, even if the story was so stupid. And also from Aliens, Lt. Vasquez (sp).

        Granted James Cameron didn’t create Ellen Ripley, but he made her even more badass than she was already, while keeping her filled with feelings.

        And the Empire Strikes Back’s criticism is fair, even if it’s the ONLY Star Wars movie I like, the end spelled “you need to watch the conclusion on the next film”.

    • Cary says:

      I agree! And let’s not forget about Ridley Scott.

    • Drea says:

      Yup. Depressingly, I can’t imagine women like Sigourney Weaver or Linda Hamilton being cast as leads in blockbuster action franchises today.

      They wouldn’t be considered hot enough, they’d want to sexualize their characters, Hamilton’s ripped physique would be considered too manly because “ew! Muscular women are gross – who cares if they’re more believable as fighters?”. They’d also want to cast much younger actresses (e.g. Weaver was in her mid-to-late 30 for Alien & Aliens).

  9. ncboudicca says:

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to what Joss Whedon says.

  10. vv says:

    Sorry but Joss’ female leads or shows always have the same formula:

    - Waif-y hot girl, like usually stick thin.
    - Yet, look out, she might be small but can kick ass and karate chop bad guys with superhuman ease.
    - Tragically flawed, or suffering under the weight of the responsibility that much power brings.

    I think he has mentioned in the past that Kitty Pryde was a favourite character of his and it sort of shows. She is the template it seems for his female leads.

    • bettyrose says:

      Buffy wasn’t stick thin until the third or fourth season.

    • Bridget says:

      Buffy was a comic book first, so he was working with a character and look that was already created. And they’re on network TV, it’s not exactly a stretch to say that they’re going to populate the show with thin, attractive women. He’s done a great job creating multidimensional women in all his shows (okay, almost all – I skipped Dollhouse because it was totally just a placeholder). He clearly likes the unexpected of the woman who would typically be in need of protection and the sheltering arms of a big, strong male, to actually be the one that can kick some butt. And even then, that wasnt all his characters – look at Firefly. I love that he’s putting the message out there that young women can indeed kick some ass and take care of themselves.

    • BreeinSEA says:

      So Zoe and Kaylee from Firefly were stick thin? A new age soldier and a mechanic? Granted you can’t tell their body types by jobs alone but they were strong and offbeat. Kaylee had that understated beauty and Zoe had a very muscular build but beautiful.

    • Yep says:

      Buffy, at least, was a superhuman. [shrug]

    • NM9005 says:

      Whedon sacked Charisma Carpenter when she got pregnant. That’s totally feminist right?

      Although Buffy gave me so much life when I was young, I literally wanted to be her and my friends and I would act like we were slayers :) , after a while it became too boyfriend centered. Her being with Spike, Spike almost raping her (bad move Whedon). Then Xander who had the ‘Nice Guy’ disease and Cordelia, the more sexually mature and intelligent one of the group who got slutshamed and treated like an object by people like Xander only to be thrown away instead of flourish on the show.

      Faith who turned out to be an emotional mess after being sexually free for most of the season. A punishment for her sexual desire while Buffy the serial monogamist felt bad after casual sex. Faith was also slutshamed for her fellow ladies on the series. The Buffy Bot! Anya/Xander relationship.
      As a teenager, I did not see this. Rewatching, I’m quite appaled at times.

      Although I do not present everything in context here, I do realise that Whedon is not flawless.

      • LAK says:

        There was a recurring theme of the consequences of sex or sexual freedom. Literally turning them into monsters or their lives taking a downturn as a consequence of their sexual decisions. Teens and adults alike.

        The abstinence message was very central.

      • Yep says:

        “Whedon sacked Charisma Carpenter when she got pregnant. That’s totally feminist right?”

        She was one of my favorite characters, so I was quite mad about that.

      • Bridget says:

        I took that one as a cost-cutting move, since they were barely picked up for that last season. She was such a huge part of the 4th season that it felt like they were trying to send her off vs. Sacking her for having a baby. As it was, the show was rather unceremoniously sacked itself.

        Re: Cordelia and Faith and slut shaming. I never really took it that way, at all. And considering that both characters became fan favorites I think a lot of people would disagree. Obviously the storyline where Buffy loses her virginity was a central arc about sex and consequences, but the point wasn’t slut shaming so much as that sex is a big decision with potentially a lot of consequences. Otherwise a lot of healthy sexual relationships were represented on the show: zander and anya, willow and oz, willow and tara, buffy and riley. Personally, my favorite representation of sex was the one night stand in college, as that was a slice of real life right there.

      • NM9005 says:

        Yes LAK. It was a coming-of-age story too and that almost always has elements of sexuality but I don’t like how Angel lost his soul after Buffy loses her virginity with him. I don’t like how having a strong sexual agency in that show is punished or attached with negative feelings. After a while, there is definitely a pattern.

        Bridget, if that was the case then why did he bring Spike back? And Harmony?
        Carpenter herself said that Whedon never had a discussion with her. If costs would be a problem, she could have been a minor character. So 7 years working with him and the man didn’t even explain why she wasn’t expected on set anymore and the reason would be cost-cutting? Yeah sure.

        Faith, Anya and Cordelia WERE slutshamed and objectified, especially by Xander in Cordelia’s case. Their sexuality and maturity far exceeded all the other characters and it wasn’t even subtle. The show itself even implied this by negatively using small but meaningful messages like the ‘Harlot’ lipstick Faith used. We are meant to see these women in a certain way because of their sexuality which is wrong.

        The only redeeming thing is that because of their maturity, they handled it quite well, especially Cordelia. Faith was a tough smart (but troubled) cookie and Anya was just tragic with Xander. The slutshaming is often discussed on Buffy sites, you can find dialogue and all. It existed for sure which dimishes again Whedon’s faux-feminism.

      • *unf* Joan Jett says:

        Let’s not forget how the show killed off Tara – in her bed, in between of an intimate moment she shared with her girlfriend. Solely for the sake of Willow’s story arc progress – a.k.a. the old, tiresome “murderous lesbian” trope. Which not only contains the message of sex being bad but also makes Tara a passive object in her death.

      • Samtha says:

        Hasn’t Charisma said that Whedon gave her a lot of grief about not losing her baby weight quickly enough?

        A good 2/3 of Buffy’s story lines revolved around her choice of boyfriends! Buffy/Angel, Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Riley. The entire second season was about her relationship with Angel, for pete sake. I feel like Whedon has mythologized the story in his own mind, at this point, and doesn’t even remember what the reality was.

        And let’s not forget Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, in which the sole female character is only there to advance the male characters’ story lines–and then [SPOILER!!!!] is killed off once that’s done.

    • GeeMoney says:

      Aren’t all superheroes tragically flawed with the weight of the world in their shoulders? If they didn’t, their narrative would be quite boring.

      Buffy was one of my fave shows when I was in college, and I’m a huge fan of Whedon’s. He has a knack for writing women well. I don’t agree with his assessment of ESB, though. That was like, the best movie cliffhanger ever!

  11. Bridget says:

    I love Joss Whedon. Buffy just goes so far beyond the Vampire Diaries amd Twilight that it doesn’t evenfeel like a fair comparison.

    I get what he’s saying about Empire. So many of us have the benefit of experiencing it in the VHS/dvd/home something or other, and got to just pop Return Of The Jedi in as soon as Empire finished. Can you imagine (or I’m sure some of you don’t need to imagine) how FRUSTRATING that ending must have been to all the people in the theaters? Enormous reveal, and an enormous cliffhanger, and they had to wait 3 whole years for resolution.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for bringing this article to my attention. I might have to check Buffy out!

  13. Jenn says:

    At least Leia and Luke weren’t as whiny and broody as their parents, Luke was close. I hate the prequels. Ugh.

    Buffy was a great TV series. I couldn’t get into Firefly, despite the presence of eye candy Fillion. Joss writes good characters.

  14. drea says:

    I still miss Firefly. Castle’s all right, but I want Nathan Fillion to go back to being Mal. Ok, I’m going to go pull up my copy of Serenity now.

  15. The Original Mia says:

    Step away from Empire, Joss, and we’ll still be friends. That said, the man knows what he speaks about female characterization in films.

  16. Tig says:

    Not sure why JW pretends that Buffy never had to choose BFs- first Angel, then Riley, then Spike- rinse, repeat. Yes, she slayed, but to state love angst never drove the narrative of episodes is a bit misleading.

    The trend towards multi-volumes is bleeding over into adult fiction as well- I miss the days when a novel was a novel- not, read it, and then close to when vol 2 comes out, you have to re-read vol 1! That’s a big reason I bailed on The Twelve- couldn’t see re-reading The Passage in order to enjoy it!

    • Keats says:

      Oh my god, its so funny you say that. I saw The Twelve in the library the other day and was excited for about a second, then realized that i couldn’t remember anything from The Passage except that the monsters are called flyers. And then I put The Twelve back on the shelf.

    • LAK says:

      …..but she wasn’t waiting around to see if;

      1. They’d choose her
      2. They’d choose her
      3. Has a make over to see IF they’d choose her
      4. Whines to all her friends, has a make over to see IF they’d choose her.

      Buffy might have had some love angst, but it wasn’t the only thing going on in her life.

      And if they didn’t or it went horribly wrong, she didn’t go into a months long coma *coughtwilightcough*. Exception episode ‘Anne’, but in her defence, she killed Angel and went on to bust a demon slave ring during what was supposed to be the resultant broken heart coma. A lesson in distraction when you’d rather wallow in your broken heart.

    • Meggie says:

      Yeah, there is the boyfriend issues but, politely, I believe you’re missing the point. The stories aren’t driven BY having/wanting/needing a boyfriend like a lot of today’s vampire entertainment. Buffy and the like had stories and the boyfriends were used as filler scenes vs being the main component. Twilight (etc…) are based on having the “golden love” and use other things to fill in the scenes.

    • Red32 says:

      There is a difference between having a love interest and existing solely to have a love interest. For example – Bella is ready to kill herself and goes into a virtual coma because Edward won’t call. Princess Leia watches her whole planet get blown up, but at the first opportunity, she’s blasting her way out of there alongside her male rescuers because she’s got a rebellion to run. Buffy didn’t live solely for Angel – she had her friends, Giles, her mother and her duties. And sometimes she struggled because she wasn’t perfect. But all of Twilight seems to revolve around Bella’s quest to graduate from high school with her MRS. She looked at everyone but the Cullens with sort of condescending contempt. No thought to any kind of future other than OMG Edward, Edward, maybe Jacob, no definitely Edward. Even Buffy gave some thought to career and bill-paying and she had to save the world constantly.

    • Sisi says:

      That’s why I liked te Riley break-up. Basically they broke up because Buffy had more important stuff to do and other things on her mind. Family > boyfriend.

      • Tig says:

        Not to belabor the point- why is she then running down the road, frantically trying to reach him bef he flies off into the night after the break up? And this after getting the “go get your man ” speech by Xander? Yes, did see this episode! So where you see her choosing whatever over a BF- I see her having a moment of OMG what have I done- and racing to fix it. And she’s too late.

        To me, I get that most of the posters here approve/agree with this show’s take on teen/young adult romance- and that’s fine. But I read JW’s comments to mean that these issues were beneath Buffy as a show, and that’s what I found a bit inaccurate.

  17. Cary says:

    Loved Buffy, liked Angel, LOATHED Dollhouse. That show made me feel like I needed a Silkwood shower.

  18. Amy says:

    “If I want to go see a movie that doesn’t end, I’ll go see a French movie.” This amuses me because I am French-American and I have seen enough French movies to understand what he is talking about. He just articulated exactly what the French do not like about American movies. French people do not believe in all these la di da happy endings we Americans are obsessed with. To them, it’s not realistic and doesn’t portray what real life is like
    (and well they are overall a rather pessimistic people).

    It is true many French movies either have sad endings or are left open ended, and it is to some extent a reaction against Hollywood’s typical happy endings. In fact, they call happy endings “American endings” because it’s what our movies are known for.

    I basically took away from this that he didn’t like the end of Empire Strikes Back because it didn’t have a happy ending/was open ended.

  19. moot says:

    I feel vindicated! For years, I’ve been saying the same thing about the Empire Strikes Back. Yes, it was the best directed and acted film of the three, but it doesn’t have a proper resolution.

    It’s not that it doesn’t end happily. It’s that there isn’t one. Characters are in the middle of their stories still. Nothing has resolved. Except that Leia and Han said they loved each other. But that’s not the end of their story because at the end of ESB, they’re separated. No resolution.

    And this doesn’t mean the entire wider story arc has to be resolved. But each segment of the film has to have it’s own rise, climax, and resolution in itself. If you don’t understand what this means, think about each novel of the Harry Potter series or the Hunger Games. The overall story of Harry vs. Voldemort or Katniss vs. The Capitol/President doesn’t resolve with the middle books, but each story completes what it sets up at the beginning, while at the same time extending the larger narrative.

    What gets set up in Empire doesn’t get resolved until Return of the Jedi. So yes, it’s a segment of a story and not a movie in itself. Even LOTR: The Two Towers has resolution inside the one movie: the siege at Helm’s Deep starts and is won; the Ents first resolved to stay out of the war, rise up against Saruman and defeat him; and Faramir sees the folly of his attempt to use the ring and lets Frodo and Sam go on to destroy it. Resolution within the movie.

    TOTALLY agree with Joss, and happy that someone with better credentials than me agrees.

  20. happyhatparade says:

    Has anyone seen ‘The Decent’? For me, it’s probably the best all-female film I’ve seen in a very very long time. Mainly because it’s about people – they’re women, there is talk about marriage and relationships but it’s purely within the scope of the plot (I shant spoil it). The characters are just people…women with differing personalities, actual real people!!! Plus, the main woman goes bad-ass in such an awesome way that really epitomizes ‘strong female character’ properly.

    It’s also funny that Neil Marshall (the guy who wrote and directed ‘The Decent’) also made ‘Dog Soldiers’ which is like the male version. OK, so it’s not so rare to have an action film where the male characters are well written. But…well, it’s probably the only Warewolf film I’ll acknowledge.

    But I’d highly recommend ‘The Decent’, if you’re into horror films. Go watch it if you want an all-female cast of decent characters.

    Edit: oooh, according to IMDB he’s directed two episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’.

    He also did ‘Centurion’ which kinda gets a thumbs up for the Etaine character – despite the fact that if she was such a badass she’d pack more muscle on her. But guess you can’t have everything…