Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator, screenwriter, and master of attempted facial hair, Joss Whedon gave his side of the story to New York Magazine last Monday, defending allegations that he’s a misogynist creep and all around nasty piece of work.
Understanding is called for because Joss had a very difficult childhood, where adults gathered round and recited Shakespeare at cocktail parties.
Born Joseph, Whedon grew up in a palazzo-style apartment building on the Upper West Side. The family spent holidays reading Shakespeare out loud and evenings listening to Sondheim with friends. “There wasn’t a grown-up who didn’t have a drink in their hand by midafternoon,” he said. His father, Tom, was a second-generation television writer whose credits included The Golden Girls and The Dick Cavett Show. He had lived through many writers’-room battles, and he and Lee ran the home as though they were in the thick of one. “If you weren’t funny or entertaining or agreeing with them, they would cut you down or turn to stone,” he recalled.
The pressure to create bon mots can turn impressionable children into Dorothy Parker. And from this tragic circumstance poor Joss parlayed his third-generation Hollywood screenwriter legacy into a media empire.
Whedon now has a term for the damage his childhood caused. He says he suffers from complex post-traumatic-stress disorder, a condition that can lead to relationship problems, self-destructive behavior, and addictions of various kinds.
Also, he blames his mother. She was sexy.
And you can believe him when he says he’s never threatened anyone, because:
On weekends and in summers, he would pass his mornings pacing the long driveway of the family’s second home, a farmhouse near Schenectady, “making up science-fiction universes or plotting elaborate revenges on my brothers.”
Blame Macbeth. Had his parents not inflicted the Bard’s elaborate revenge scenarios, I’m sure Joss would be a better man.
Anyway, the point is Joss has done a lot of self-reflection and has concluded that everyone is lying.
His ex-wife (you can read the UBT here)
Gal Gadot (leading actress):
Last year, she told reporters Whedon “threatened” her and said he would make her “career miserable.”Whedon told me he did no such thing: “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?” He concluded she had misunderstood him. “English is not her first language…”
Ray Fisher (black actor who played Cyborg):
He could think of only one way to explain Fisher’s motives. “We’re talking about a malevolent force,” he said. “We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses.”
An unnamed actress afraid of retaliation:
After her agent pushed for her to get a raise, she claims Whedon called her at home and said she was “never going to work for him, or 20th Century Fox, again.” Reading Gadot’s quote, she thought, “Wow, he’s still using that line.” (Whedon denied this too.)
Fiction, people! Fiction! And you can believe a man who has spent his life at Comicons surrounded by people dressed as vampires.
Maybe the problem was he’d been too nice, he said. He’d wanted people to love him, which meant when he was direct, people thought he was harsh. In any case, he’d decided he was done worrying about all that. People had been using “every weaponizable word of the modern era to make it seem like I was an abusive monster,” he said. “I think I’m one of the nicer showrunners that’s ever been.”
Okay, so he had a bunch of affairs, belittled the help, and once gave a 90-minute presentation on how much a fellow woman writer’s work sucked — complete with slideshow! — until she cried. But Joss is A NICE MAN.
And not one bit sorry.