On Joss Whedon and Feminism

Be careful who you anoint as a hero.

On Sunday, Kai Cole — Joss Whedon’s ex-wife (who you may recall from Much Ado About Nothing and her hand in “Once More With Feeling,” the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode) — penned an article detailing Whedon’s mistreatment of her over the years and how he’s basically a big, fat hypocrite for riding his faux feminist credentials to fame and larger projects.

First thing: I have no reason not to believe Cole. The only reason to summarily dismiss her article is to further perpetuate Whedon’s undeserved reputation and/or further advance the very patriarchy we were led to believe Whedon was against.

Now, the main point…

This doesn’t surprise me, because honestly, I never bought into the narrative of Joss Whedon, Feminist God (TM). Sure, I enjoyed a lot of his work; I’ve spoken on that at length on this page before. But to elevate a white cisgender male to such a status was always destined to be a fool’s errand.

Spoiler alert: white men — even the well-meaning ones — are poor role models.

The proof of Whedon’s lack of feminist bonafides is clear as day for anyone willing to see it. There was how he treated actress Charisma Carpenter when she became pregnant leading up to season 4 of Angel. There was a reported storyline for a potential season 2 of Firefly that involved Inara, Reavers, rape, and potential suicide. There was the entire premise behind Dollhouse (a show that was fantastic at times, but the premise was… yeeeeah).

The fact that Whedon is friends with Adam “Tea Party shitlord” Baldwin.

The fact that Avengers: Age of Ultron featured a contrived romance between Bruce and Natasha (written as a way to keep Bruce from losing control) and that Natasha considered herself a “monster” because of her inability to have children. Claim studio interference all you want, but Whedon was that film’s writer and director — and he had the name and the geek cred to push back against the studio if he really wanted.

And come on, did you see the snippets of that Wonder Woman script he penned several years ago? Let’s all be glad that’s not the version that wound up on the screen — and hope he doesn’t screw up Batgirl (though he probably will).

The fact is… people claimed Whedon to be a feminist icon because in 1997, he helmed a genre TV show with a female lead when such shows were still a rarity. And he just… ran with it.

Some of his work will always be important to me — how Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel saved my life cannot be erased by any of this — but to sit there and hold up a white male geek as an icon for feminism when there are so many better role models — female, of color, of different sexual orientations and genders — speaks to everything wrong with geek culture and America as a whole.

Generally speaking, a white male is overly vocal about how much of a feminist he is likely isn’t much of a feminist.

My opinion of Whedon was a human being has taken a hit, but not as much as some other people because I didn’t believe the hype. I’ll always love BuffyAngel, and Firefly, but I think it’s time we start being more careful and more aware of who we put on pedestals — and start demanding receipts from those who boast about just how good an ally they are.

My Experience at Hampton Comicon

This past Saturday, I attended my first ever comic book convention: Hampton Comicon in Hampton, Va. I had a table, roughly 20 copies of all three img_20161015_083848of my novels, and a slew of business cards, flyers, and bookmarks — both for my work and the work of some other self-published authors I enjoyed. From 9 a.m. until roughly 6 p.m., I sold far more books than I expected. I sold out of my allotment of Bounty (the first book), and I damn near sold out of Behind the Badge (the third book), too.

In all, I more than tripled what I paid for the table space.

But as great as the short-term gain was, what excites me most is the long-term potential. Just about everyone who stopped by my table, whether they bought a book or not, took a business card and a flyer (which had my website, email address, Amazon link, and Facebook and Twitter pages on them). A lot of them perked up when they found out my books were also on Kindle, and just about all of them loved the premise of the series.

So it’ll be interesting to see what my online sales, website hits, and social media follows look like in the coming days and weeks. But perhaps more importantly, I also made connections — meeting several other writers, discovering potential new works to check out, and maybe an artist with whom to work if I decide to dip my toe back into the comic book world.

One man20161015_083959 approached my table saying he was looking for novels he could pitch to movie studios. He took a business card. Another man later approached about potential TV series ideas. He also left my table with a business card. Will those go anywhere? I have no idea (I’m accounting for the possibility that they were both blowing smoke up my ass), but just having the conversation was cool enough.

These were conversations I wouldn’t have had staying home, and they’re conversations I normally don’t get to have through social media or on a platform like Goodreads.

So all in all, I had fun — and clearly I’ve got a potential audience in the comic book and genre fiction crowd (which I kinda already knew). I have a library event later this month, and in May I’ll be at Tidewater Comicon (Virginia Beach, Va.). I can’t wait for both of those, and I love that I’ve sold so many books in-person that I now have to order another box or two of author copies.

It’s an added expense, but it pays for itself in the long run.

So anyone who has events like this in their area and never considered them before… maybe give them a chance. I grant my experience likely isn’t typical, but it was eye-opening the way people seemed excited about my stuff — and just how much interacting with someone in-person truly matters.