Quick Hit: Feminism, Whedon, blah blah

19Mar09

So apparently Joss Whedon would like you to ignore what he says about himself being a feminist, in the context of his showsetc., because the author’s intention shouldn’t be relevant in deciding if a work is feminist.

Sounds sensical, but I’d buy that a LOT quicker if he weren’t already milking the auteur role for everything it’s worth.  A word to the wise, Joss–it’s hard to not read intent into something when you’ve metaphorically scrawled your name all over it.  Especially when you quote Hitchcock, who as the classic auteur of cinematic history was pretty much a hypocrite to say what he did.

Intent goes hand in hand with interpretation.  Especially if you’re a cultural analyst like me, and not a literary analyst–intent and societal impact weigh just as much, if not more, than my personal interpretation of a text.

Also, for fuck’s sake, take one minute from your terribly busy day to format your fucking comment.

(thx to the Hoydens for the concept of Quick Hit.  Have not forgotten about other posts, I swear.  I just had to get this out.)



3 Responses to “Quick Hit: Feminism, Whedon, blah blah”

  1. 1 fuckpoliteness

    I don’t think he argued that he *has* no intent, nor that his views do not influence his work. The words were that if you view a piece SOLELY in terms of intent, or one narrow segment of that intent that it is harder to have a balanced reaction to the whole of the work.

    It sounded like a comment that in a fairly narrow focus (the discussion proceeding his comment was about shoes and feminism) that perhaps we might miss a ‘whole picture’ look at the work, at the ideas thrown up, the experience of emotions.

    And I’ve found that to be reasonably accurate. In the middle of the ‘is Dollhouse feminist’ debate a lot of what the Dollhouse is saying/doing (and intending to say/do) is being ignored…along with many things I have seen to be feminist in the work itself. While we’re debating shoes we’re missing the analogies between Echo’s situation and all women’s situations. That men are *just that far* from calling us stupid bitches and slapping our faces if we don’t do exactly as they please. And sometimes we’re wearing heels when it happens.

  2. I can see where you’re coming from, FP, but at the same time, I have a really hard time with his leading statement: All I’ll say is this: what I say about myself and my intentions should have nothing to do with your experience of my work.

    As I noted above, for me, I have a hard time experiencing any film/tv stuff without taking authorial intent into any consideration, because of auteur theory, that Whedon really does splash his name and his chosen actors and his aesthetic and his writing style and editorial control all over everything he does. The personal influence is inescapable.

    I mean, that said, do I think his authorial intent with Firefly is to be really problematic about Asian culture? Definitely not. My problems with him aren’t entirely based off a perceived hypocrisy. My problem is not with what he’s saying in his work, the big picture. My problem is with how he’s saying it. I don’t give a shit about Echo-as-Taffy wearing heels, what I care about is the fact that he’s like ‘hoo boy, flaunt it babe’ at the same time as he’s trying to teach us something like what you’ve said above. The mixed signals, they burn, and that’s what pisses me off about Joss Whedon.

    And then he tries to tell me to ignore the weird shit to see the bigger picture, which is a lesson I’ve already learned.

    Overall, I enjoy Firefly, I’m intrigued by Dollhouse. But I’m also disturbed by the little things, and those little things keep adding up.

  3. 3 fuckpoliteness

    I’m not sure it’s as simple as ‘mixed signals’ though…and here we may never agree. I am pissed as hell about the requirements of femininity…and yet I engage with them. On my terms as much as possible, but you know…I sometimes wear makeup and heels, I relish being percieved as ‘sexy’, I enjoy wearing lingerie and the effect it has on others. I like the contrasts. My nails are always red, but semi short, I like being able to give an up yours, with a red tip to it. I like having a fouler than foul mouth while looking ‘hot’ (not that it’s a requirement, but I enjoy the contrasts/mixed messages) I like heels and an ‘I’ll kick you in the balls if you fuck with me’ attitude. I like going out ‘tarted up’ but with a ‘Go to hell, do not BOTHER approaching me’ mannerism. So…why would that need to disappear in fiction? And if it doesn’t make me less feminist to enjoy painted nails/heels/makeup/lingerie when and how I want to (though I recognise it’s not uncomplicatedly feminist/unfeminist to do so) while making feminist points I’m not sure how it comes to pass that that’s necessarily the case in fiction?


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