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August 31 2006

A Joss Whedon Wonder Woman anecdote. As told by Melissa Balin, an independent film maker, in this podcast interview (35.8 MB). The fun starts at around 21 minutes in (some of it may not be safe for work).


Was there more later in the podcast, or only the one reference?

It really does not sound like she knows Joss's style well enough to have expected such an unusual answer. She obviously took it with good humor though, even if she was apparently still scratching her head about it at the time of the podcast.

I wonder how many times Joss has countered that assertion.

Once again it occurs to me that I love the way his mind works.
It's just that one reference. I think it's a classic Joss comeback.
I agree, Simon. That is why I felt like she had not really done her homework on him. It was an unusual answer for anyone else, but classic Joss.
The link does not work. What is it? What did she say?
She went up to Joss at the Saturn Awards, saying to him that if he heard anything about her gunning for his job as Wonder Woman director, it was nothing personal. She loved his work, but she thought the film should be directed by someone without a penis.

Joss' response was, "Well then, I'm your guy."
C'mon Simon, how could you resist tagging this with 'joss whedon has no penis'???
I don't know. On one hand, incredible talent beyond measure with a horde of worshipful fans. In the other hand, the sadly measureable (although expandable) Mr. Pointy who is getting a little long in the tooth (not literally, thank goodness)) to attract his former legion of lustful female devotees. OK, maybe it wasn't a legion, exactly. Unmitigated Genius or unsexed eunuch. If I had the choice...
C'mon Simon, how could you resist tagging this with 'joss whedon has no penis'???

I was not going to go down in Whedonesque history as the second person to mention penis on the front page. I think you were the first, come to think of it :p.
Well... She deserved it. And thank you fir yor response. Why on earth do some people think that you have to be jewish to speak aboud judaism or a woman to talk about a woman? Dont we have Bovary as a prove?

Is one of an artist great talents not to understand the inner machinations of the soul of some otyher people, even, and that is generally so human, if one does not fully understands oneself? Do you need to be a rapist to understand and write about a ražst, a murderer, a child? Why can a man write about a child, or an alien, or a talki horse, and not a woman? What do some woman think they are? Some wild unspeakeable mistery that no man can trespass? How could Shakespeare write Lady McBeath? Cutting his pennis?

One of the worst elements of the worst tipe of feminism is atempting to transform the diference with the man, wich is in my experience if you look deep enogh, pretty laughable, in to some tipe of religious antagonism, only because thois is the only way for them to be important, very important, creating something new and diferent. This way they feel they are something they cant hold on.

Its the same with every other diferrence-issue. Race, religion, country... If the other atcaks you forbeing diferent, you create a diference, all right, big as a mountain, no matter if its false, so you can fight back and be something, now that you are not accepted by the other.

Its a classic, older than the bible, and it does not apear to get old. A complete, albeit stupid, human reation. At the same time, it gets a real enemy for you. Something to atack in response. Thats all right for a 60 sexist joke or a humoureus sex war in I Love Lucy, when man and women had to fight each other in a social context very hardly. But its time for men and women to understand the meaning of equality, which is not convivence.

Erent there diferences between men and women? Yeah. Some. Details, mostly, nothing exclusive and nothing really defining. They are two sex variations created for th sistem os sexual reproduction of the same thing; a human being. Because thats what they are. And if you let by so crappy ideas as "women are peaccefull and tender and men more violent and rough" "mer are more instinctiv and women are motre subtle" or "men are less understandin" and you look them both in the eye, beneath some surface little diferences, if you really look deep, so deep you think yo could get lost in yourself, maybe, you could get scared by the similiraity, complete equality of both. Their motives, their minds... So alike. Both are humans. Just that. Humans. Bloody, naked, humans...

[ edited by zeitgeist (who knows the value of a good carriage return) on 2006-08-31 21:31 ]
SNAP, lady! Once again, a hearty "well done!" to the witty and irresistable Whedon, the only eunuch I've ever loved.
I was not going to go down in Whedonesque history as the second person to mention penis on the front page. I think you were the first, come to think of it :p.

Ah yes, good times... :~P But don't despair, there is(are?) a plethora of other body parts not yet posted on the front page!

the only eunuch I've ever loved.

Now I have a Willie Nelson tune in my head..."To all the eunuchs I've loved before..." Sadly, Joss is like the fourth or fifth eunuch I've loved, but it doesn't diminish my feelings for him at all.

And just to squelch any rumors, EdDantes is not a eunuch. I just have a very unfortunate romantic history.

ETA: I have apparently loved eunuchs but can't spell it!

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2006-08-31 20:20 ]
Well, then, perhaps "eunuch" is the tag to add, Simon. ;-)

And look for Rogue Slayer's tell-all autobiography, Tails Tales of the Eunuchs, coming soon to an interweb near you! ;-)
Darkness, although I agree with the intention behind your post, in the interest of being fair, the problem would not be so prevalent if white males had not kept everyone else out of the field for so long. Although she is talking about directing, for...well...ever...the establishment insisted that women writers, when published at all, could only write female characters convincingly directors hardly existed at all...even after the job was invented. Unfortunately there are still very few female directors out there and I can see one justifiably coveting a movie about a female superhero. So there is the double whammy of female directors having a tougher time in Hollywood because they are female and a female superhero movie once again being directed by a male director.

I can understand her POV. However, I think Joss will do a great job, and may be able to do something that another director, male or female has not been able to do, make a female superhero movie successful. I think it is worth the trade off. That said, I think it is a good indication that she did not do her research if she thought she was going to get away with making that comment to Joss. Not having done her research, she may also not really understand what a good choice Joss is for the project, male or female, eunuch or all parts present and in working order.
If Joss can't make a WW movie work, it can't be done. This isn't about gender. It's about talent, experience, and attitude. Whedon's the best person on the planet for the job.
newcj - while I know the point you are making and understand it, two injustices don't make a right... turn... or something! You know what I mean!
I just want to add another thing that came to mind about this director's conversation with Joss: although Ms. Balin (and newcj) make a good point that white males usually sit in the director's chair (and that is a very real problem, but of course IIRC Joss's series have had many eps directed by nonwhite and/or nonmale people, so, again, he's not so much part of this problem!), Ms. Balin has only directed one low budget film, Freezerburn, according to IMDB (although, Buffyverse connection, IMDB lists her as a producer of Attic Expeditions, which starred Seth Green). So, I kind of think Ms. Balin is nowhere near experienced enough to direct a high budget, high profile film like WW. Even though Serenity was Joss' first feature film, he had directed hours and hours of television, including the 2-hour Firefly pilot which IIRC had a budget of $12 million, had comedy, drama, every kind of action scene imaginable (hand-to-hand fights, gunfights, war scenes, and racing back to the ship on horses, ffs!), special effects, etc., and which definitely was as good as any movie I've seen in theatres! Like newcj also says, Joss will do a great job. :-)

BTW: Hey! It's ZachsMind, making a good point as usual! :-)
Obviously, I can't do the sort of investigative work that led to the visual evidence I once prepared about the size of Joss's hands. Happily for all concerned, for if that got me the highly-coveted "Stalker of the Week" title, I shudder to think what this work would garner.

And ya know what? I'm a feminist and I think that good writers tell good stories, regardless of gender. Period.

"And I think at some point I may become useless, anyway: The things I have to say will no longer be things that people need to hear -- either because I've accomplished what I set out to accomplish and created a new genre paradigm with characters -- where people go, 'Okay -- now we accept the strong women, and the morals click, and you're just sort of doing this over and over again.' I might become the old guy. But I hope that if I do, I become the old guy who Ö realizes it." -- -- Joss Whedon, The CulturePulp Q & A with Joss Whedon, 9/24/05
To be clear, my point is not that it is correct to assume that a woman should automatically direct...or write WW. I am all for someone (Joss) doing WW who will make her successful and...well...wonderful. Women can mess up female characters just as well as men can. (Let's hear it for equality. ;-) )

I do not think people should have to be the "correct" color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic group or species to make a particular movie. I certainly do not think that someone who is of the same color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic group or species as the main character will automatically be a better choice than someone else who is not.

On the other hand, I also do not think we can dismiss the reasons that people may have concerns about what may seem to them as history repeating itself. I do not think we are yet to the point where we should be as indignant as it seemed to me Darkness was being about people wanting under represented groups to have a bigger hand in the representations of their own groups...even when those representatives are being foolish. (In this case she is also being self-serving which is a pretty big no no in my book, but that is not part of my point.) It is unfortunate that some members of under represented groups sometimes get way too indignant and lose their perspective of things when it comes to depictions of their group by almost any artist, but I don't think that should color the facts of the situation.

I want to live in a world where gender, race, sexual orientation ethnic background and religion are not things that make a difference in getting any particular job, but we are not there yet. Acting as though the history that put us in the situation we are in does not exist will not help solve the problem. It is not a matter of two wrongs making a right, it is just a matter of seeing things from as many different perspectives as possible.

Bottom line: No, I am not saying that white males should be discriminated against to make up for history. I am saying that we should not pretend that there is no reason for other groups resent it when white males get jobs telling the stories of other groups in a field that white males have made difficult for anyone else to get into. Hey, some of my best friends and relatives are white males, my son. So I would really like this problem solved before he grows up. Will someone take care of that for me, please? ;-)
newcj, I agree with all your points, but it is worth noting that once a woman director breaks in and has a modest hit, they continue to get work pretty regularly. Examples: Nora Ephron, Betty Thomas, Penelope Spheeris and Amy Heckerling. All have made a number of box office failures, but they're not chased from the club.

A lot more male actors have parlayed their (perceived) box office clout into directing, but not many women (Jodie Foster and I'm drawing a blank). Do you think Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and others couldn't get directing assignments if they wanted them? I rarely hear of popular actresses pursuing the director's chair, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. Also, any idea of the percentage of film school grads who are women?

Another question: Could part of the problem be because of the business side? Movies need to make money. Most big blockbusters lean toward blowing up the scenery as opposed to chewing it. I suspect many people assume women have less of an affinity for that type of film.
"newc j: "So I would really like this problem solved before he grows up. Will someone take care of that for me, please? ;-)"

I'm with ya, sister, I hear ya, testifyin'.

"There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody." -- Florynce Kennedy

(I know we've had the well-known penis-mention on the front page, but have we had the vagina-mention yet?)
Wow, he actually is an x-man!

(read it out loud :)

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-09-01 01:45 ]
Pointy, LMAO! I left the F out because I'm trying to quit cursing.
Most big blockbusters lean toward blowing up the scenery as opposed to chewing it. I suspect many people assume women have less of an affinity for that type of film.

See K-19: The Widowmaker. Not much blowing stuff up (thankfully; the movie is about a narrowly-averted nuclear war) but definitely a testosterone-filled movie. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

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