The successful director, producer and screenwriter Joss Whedon (The Avengers, The Justice League) is best known for having created one of the first series starring a feminist heroine in television history: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aired between 1997 and 2003. For years there have been rumors about her alleged misogynism, a complaint that these days has exploded in the voice of several actresses in the series, which still enjoys a cult following. Whedon is accused of verbal and psychological abuse of power. The interpreter Charisma Carpenter said last week that when she got pregnant, Whedon asked her « if she was going to get it », made fun of her weight, her faith and, once she gave birth, he fired her from the spin off, Angel. Several actresses joined him last week. This is the actors. While the filmmaker is absolutely silent and the legion of fans debate on social networks if this time the author of his iconic work can be separated.
Carpenter, the first of the cast to speak out against the powerful of Hollywood, attributed her testimony to what was learned from the Me Too movement, which tries to combat silence and impunity in the face of abuses suffered by women, mainly in the workplace. “Despite the harassment, a part of me wanted to validate it. I made excuses for his behavior and repressed my own pain, « recalled the actress in a statement released last week on Instagram. Michelle Trachtenberg, who joined the show when she was 15 years old as Buffy’s younger sister, also took issue with Whedon’s « very inappropriate » behavior as a teenager. She claimed that there was a clause that prohibited the creator from being alone with her.
Series star Sarah Michelle Gellar made a brief supportive comment to her fellow members. « While I am proud that my name is associated with Buffy Summers, I do not want to be forever linked with the name Joss Whedon, » she wrote. Other members of the team have come out, one by one, in defense of the victims: the actresses Amber Benson, Eliza Dushku, and more recently, the actors David Boreanaz and James Marsters, as well as the screenwriter Marti Noxon, who inherited from Whedon the Buffy’s reins before writing for Mad Men have come out to support the alleged victims. « A lot of damage was done during that time and some of us continue to process it 20 years later, » said Benson, who gave life to one of the first lesbians in the history of television, another factor why fans of the series celebrate.
The trigger for Carpenter’s revelation was the case of Ray Fisher, an actor in DC superhero movies. The Cyborg interpreter worked with Whedon in The Justice League in 2017. In the middle of last year he accused the filmmaker of alleged « abusive, unprofessional and unacceptable » behavior, supported, according to him, by two producers. Parent company WarnerMedia launched an investigation into the allegations, which concluded in December. The media conglomerate reported, without going into detail, that « corrective measures » had been taken.
Last month it emerged that Fisher’s character would not appear in the next DC movie. WarnerMedia assured that he had been offered the role, but that since he had declared that he will not participate in any film associated with Walter Hamada-president of DC Films whom the actor has accused of undermining the investigation and not taking his claims seriously-, production « went ahead » without him. Carpenter acknowledged in his recent post that he feels « overwhelming responsibility » for what Fisher allegedly suffered. « It is evident that Joss has persisted in his wicked actions, » he wrote.
As is often the case when allegations of abuse in the entertainment industry are uncovered, the followers of the alleged perpetrators enter into the position on what position to take regarding their work. In the case of Whedon, the letter also weighs that he has raised the flag of feminism in his work, but that, according to some of his close ones, such as his ex-wife Kai Cole, it is just a screen to hide his inappropriate behavior. The Whedon Studies Association, a society of scholars dedicated to studying the works of Joss Whedon, is debating whether to change his name, The New York Times reports.
Buffy’s army of followers seems to agree on Twitter with the idea of supporting Whedon’s alleged victims, but that the iconic 90s series goes beyond its creator and continues to be disruptive due to the accusations. There is an immense number of groups on the internet that for almost two decades have been dedicated to analyzing the plots and characters of the series. Speaking to the Times, Alyson Buckman, a professor at California State University in Sacramento and a member of the Whedon Studies Association who works on a book about the program for which she has interviewed several of her followers, said many of them said that Buffy had taught them to stand up for themselves, to get ahead. « Is everything ruined by one man? » He wonders.