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January 30 2009

The TV Addict interviews Joss. From a press junket in January. In the site's words, about the "almost inhumane level of self-inflicted pressure and fan expectation". Says The TV Addict: "It's officially time to cut Joss Whedon a little slack."

Cutting slack, sir! Great interview! I wish more people in Hollywood cared about the craft as much as Whedon does....
Cheer up Joss! We pick, pick, pick because we love.
I don't think it is the fans that aren't cutting him slack. Most of us will wait until the 4th or 5th episode to give judgment. Honestly, Joss could just sit in a chair with paper hand puppets and say "Grr Argg" for 20 minutes and most of his fans would eat it up and ask for seconds. Ok, so maybe 10 minutes. Wow, I kind of want to see that now.

It is the reviewers and the non-fans that are giving him a hard time. I have not read one review yet that is 100% positive. But then reviewers are always cautious because they do not want to ruin their reputation and seem fan boyish.
Damned right. Slack should be cut. Otherwise: Heart, Broken. Of course, the inhumane levels of fan expectation (and at times lashing out) are, as snot monster says, "because we love." Very few other creators in TV inspire such devotion and intense scrutiny. So I guess all the Pick, Pick, Pick is a ultimately a big, fat compliment to our Joss? Wouldn't it be worse if nobody cared? On some days, maybe not!

But still: slack. Yes.

Great interview. Thanks for posting, b!X.
Nice interview with Woody Alle... Joss.

Seriously, though, after reading that, part of me just wants to give him a hug and tell him that everything's gonna be alright. But then I feel like that a lot of the time. He's just so lovable.
Fan expectation isn't inhumane. I appreciate that he's under a lot of pressure and feels it all more than most because he puts his all into his projects. Frankly he seems to be one of those classic artistic personalities who feels it all too too much at times. But fan expectation is a very good thing. We're really not the source of the pressure here.
So does anyone actually feel like Joss is gonna do something and it won't be amazing? When has that ever happened before?

I feel the same way as Redders. Joss needs a big hug. Maybe Joss should cut himself a little slack, too.
Bison! Bison!! Bison!!

I don't want no stinkin' red bison, I want his earlier, funnier, blue bison.

In general, I think having as few expectations as is humanly possibly (key words) has worked out best for me, overall. Not at all in the pessimistic "expect nothing so you won't be disappointed way" - but in the "try not to set up rigid expectations so that you'll be open to a good thing even if it doesn't come in the shape & form you imagined it would and then thought it must."

It's what artists of any kind have to do in order to keep making their stuff better, and it's what people can do to make their lives less brittle & more bendy. It's what Joss has to do - sometimes from external pressure, but more often from his own (obvious) internal pressures - every time he lets go of any idea to try another one.

Works for life as in TV. ; >

My expectations about a Joss, Eliza & Friends production are that it will be the best efforts of a highly-talented group of people - and after that, we'll see what we see when we see it.

It's not drinking the koolaid (faith-based fandom) - it's keeping open to possibilities that you may not have been able to imagine, and being able to enjoy more than you thought you could. For all humans can be imaginative, sometimes we are prone to thinking that stuff is only good if it comes to us in a certain way and no other.)

Knowing that Dollhouse represents the smarts, inspiration, talent and hard work of a large number of artists & technicians, some of whom I've enjoyed in the past, is what brings me to the table - that much is "expectations."

After that, it's a mysterious crap shoot, and a movable feast (and other comparisons as equally inept) - so I won't know 'til I get there.

Slack. Cut some. It's what all us descendents of the Yeti believe in.

(I think Our Jossir definitely needs Some Slack and Some Hugs. OMG, group hug, group hug!!)
Well, I'm no tailor, but one pair of slacks coming up!

Doesn't he usually wear jeans?
I don't think it is the fans that aren't cutting him slack.
Not sure I'd stick around for the paper bag puppet thing though. But a well crafted puppet? I'm there. ;)
And I'd offer to give him a hug too, but I don't really like touching people.
I'm in for the hand puppet thing. It can be his next web triumph.
Yes, I want to see an entire "Grr Arrgh" Web series based on the Mutant Enemy paper puppets. If anyone could pull it off it would be Joss. Not that I am presuring him in any way to do so of course. :)
Jaynes Hat, here's a start.

ETA And now I see you specified paper, not plastic. Oops.

[ edited by m'cookies actual on 2009-01-30 22:42 ]
I wish the guy would exercise. He's always tired and stressed out. Can't be good over the long haul.
Hey M'cookies, plastic could work. Joss would probably want to kick it up a notch from 2D to 3D if he is going to do a whole web series on it.

Now we just need a "Grr Arrgh" musical number and we are good to go. The one from the end of "Once More With Feeling" is just too short.
Tim Minear said (after a Worldcon panel) that Joss does yoga - which is pretty helpy with the stress levels. But I imagine this close to 1) wrapping production on the 1st set of Dollhouse eps, and 2) this close to its air date, stressed & tired is pretty unavoidable at this point - especially for someone as thorough & fretty like Joss.

Ah, m'cookies actual - the exciting & rewarding field of Whedon'verse Puppetry...

I really shouldn't have left Mia and Vi (and the Dobies) hanging like that...

ETF: If you're gonna number things, you should actually number more than one thing.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-01-30 23:24 ]
I concur with the interview: everyone's gotta lay off Joss a bit. I'm sure DOLLHOUSE is going to be fantastic, but right now it seems a bit off. You know what else seemed off to me at first? FIREFLY. And we all know how wrong I was for thinking that.
I agrre that I don't think its the fans that need to give him slack. The only thing that drives me crazy and a little fearful is people comparing it to his other shows. I'm going into the Dollhouse as if I didn't see his other shows and looking at it by itself. Although, I find it funny that past reviewers said there was no humour but yet I have seen Joss' humour already in the clips and previews on TV. Do you know what I mean? I have a friend who is not a huge Joss fan and she found the trailers humorous & entertaining.
Me pick? No no NO! I never pick! I have noticed that when I am overly optimistic or excited about something, I am always disappointed in the results. As my Father always told me - optimists are disappointed, pessimists are pleasantly surprised! It really works when you bet on the horses at the track!LOL. I will never pick on our Joss the Great One!
I appreciate that most of us would be happy to watch sock puppets (yup, I'm there) and, especially, more sexy walking. But all the people moaning about how it's going to be cancelled, let's start a campaign to keep that from happening -- that's gotta be stress inducing for the Jossman, too. {{Deep breaths}} I'm for the group hug. (BTW, looks like he's lost a chunk of weight, so I'm surprised at those saying he needs to exercise... Of course, the two aren't necessarily related...) GO JOSS!
But all the people moaning about how it's going to be cancelled, let's start a campaign to keep that from happening...

Such a campaign was launched right when the show was announced and caused no end of grief because of it. ;)
I think this "lay off of Joss!" bit is a little too late. We've been peacefully meditating and eating potato salad for a while now. Good vibes around here, but I do have tunnel vision (I only visit here).

I would like to visit Joss' head for a day. You know, Magic School Bus it and hang around inside his cranium just to hear what goes on in there. Is it noisy? Quiet? Are there crickets? Do the crickets slay thing and pun at each other?

*runs off to make Magic School Bus*
Now, hear me out on this one - maybe we (and by "we" I mean me and Dr. Who as played by David Tennant) can go back in time, and before the Save Dollhouse campaign starts, we can start a campaign to stop that campaign before it starts?!!

We will make sure not to kill any butterflies.
You tried that but I went back a week earlier and thwarted your clever plan. Haha!
The Stop The Save Dollhouse Campaign (But That Doesn't Mean We Want Dollhouse to Fail (Mmm, Picnic (AHH, Bees!))) Campaign

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-31 03:43 ]
(Try registering that domain.)
Being a Time Lord is so complicated and being a Webmaster even moreso.
Such a campaign was launched right when the show was announced and caused no end of grief because of it. ;)

Oh, I don't think so at all. I thought their passionate campaign was delightful and charming. It made the news, and Joss even commented on it. I call that a big win for them.

"There is only one thing worse than being talked about."
It made the news because every single reporter used it as evidence that the show was in trouble from the word "go", which set the tone for media coverage of the show for months.
What The One True b!X said plus Joss only commented on it when asked and he basically said it was unhelpful
His exact words were "it tends to put us in the cheap seats." Not a big win at all.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-31 04:27 ]
Yeah, I'm gonna go against the "all publicity is good publicity" sacred tenet of marketing and say I don't believe that was helpful at all.

And I know I have the (patient and forbearing but slightly weary) quote from Joss on the subject somewhere, but I can't actually dig it up at the moment because the pizza is home - and so is the nice partner carrying it. So I'll look for it later, and offer this for now:

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." - Winston Churchill

ETA: Yay, Sunfire! That's what I'm talking about.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-01-31 04:34 ]
Premature campaigns are uninspiring and kind of icky, but the puppets of eternal hope are fantastic. You Gonerses folks may be stubborn, but you are hilarious.
Dearest Joss,

No artist worth their salt ever feels their work is done or is totally satisfied with the finished project of the moment. My best acting teacher once talked about this in class. I thought he attributed it to Bernhardt or Duse but now can't find a reference: "the Divine Dissatisfaction." Without the striving towards, we might as well just give up now. Rather than cut you slack, I support you and give you the space. To be you.
NO takers on Magic School Bus in Joss' head? Hmmm. I was sure that was a win.

Ah, well. How do we know that the whole early campaign thing didn't happen because one of us went back in time knowing this would happen? What were they trying to provoke/thwart? Was it Joss himself? *chills*
I've been pretty confident this whole time about Dollhouse, never really concerned all that much. But for some reason, this interview washed away any worry I had. I feel really good about this show. {-)

Also, a 'disappointed optimist' or a 'pleasantly surprised pessimist' is an oxymoron. Neither is possible! O_o

I've also decided to play with smilies recently. }-P
His exact words were "it tends to put us in the cheap seats." Not a big win at all.

I can't tell, are you joking? Joss sure was, it's obvious in the context of that humorous and bizarre interview.

I don't see how those fans showing passion and having fun promoting/saving the show are to blame for the "tone of the media." That's unfair. They didn't set the tone that Fox will blow this, Fox did.

And if being a fun loving, "let's form a group and campaign about something" fan is a persecuted fan, well then I think it's time for an uprising. Who's with me?!!
Korkster: I'm lovin' the Magic School bus idea -- but somehow I think it would turn out to be more like _Being John Malcovich_. b!x: I meant the "let's save dollhouse" campaign was part of the stress, not that we should start one! While expressing wonderful support on the one hand, it ultimately suggested a cynicism about Whedon's ability to succeed, hence, stress. Succatash: You have a point -- fan response has been misrepresented by the media.
From this interview, it's clear that Joss works very hard and should be getting more recognition than criticism. I studied Television Writing and Production for a while, and for someone to do what Joss does and have several projects going at once...I'll just say it's incredible that he only looks tired. A lot of people in my classes really looked up to Joss, and I think it's fair to say that blurbs and trailers shouldn't be the basis for judgement. Wait for the debut of the show, because most of the time he surprises fans with something really good.
ET delete comment, because it's pointless.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-31 09:18 ]

Where's my eyeliner and white sheet?

Seriously though, I would really hope that Joss knows that his fans only pick-pick-pick because we adore his work so much. If we didn't care, we wouldn't follow him so closely (and we'd ignore him at ComicCon). But his shows and writing means something to us beyond "oh look at the pretty red bison". So we debate and create things around his works (months before they even exist).

Does he have a 'scary to outside world' fandom? Yes.
Does he have to stress about us hating him? Uh. I think not.
Should he get some rest? I'm all for it.
Should we cut him some slack? Possibly, but come on - give us a little more credit than that. Many people were downright dismal over Dr. Horrible and that turned out okay. :D

Plus, Joss, we understand that you're dealing with studios again.. and Fox should be a four letter word.
I think the problem was not the effort and the passion fans put into this. Joss' quote made that clear, he loves the effort. And since the "Save Dollhouse"-thing was (pretty quickly, as far a I remember) dissolved to a "Support Dollhouse"-thing, which is just a very passionate campaign to promote the show, everyone seems to agree on that: The passion is fine. Effort is cool. But suggesting failure right out of the gate is a bit of a marketing-nightmare.

The timing surely was a factor too. Dollhouse may have been pronounced "doomed" by some people right at the announcement of the show back in '07 (and Joss even commented on that aspect in one of the Access Hollywood-videos), but the "Save Dollhouse"-thing was as far as I remember in late May, after the Upfronts and the first wave of press coverage. So while they certainly weren't the "first thing out there to talk about", they were pretty much the second, and I do agree that for a long time (since there basically was no Fox-promotion between the Upfronts and... well, January) the tone of the media coverage was set by that incident.

I think the first time people started to actually look at Fox angrily because it might actually harm the show, was when the timeslot was announced (was it November?). That's when it would have been fair to say, "Well, Fox set the tone". But pretty much everything up till then was not Fox. Hell, Fox even picked up that topic, twice, because they had none of their own.
I think sometimes fans don't look at the long term consequences of their actions. Sometimes frenzied "we must do this" campaigns can do a lot of damage and can backfire spectacularly. They are, to put it mildly, counterproductive.
QuoterGal - Those Wheodonverse sock puppets are hilarious and adorable! I want more and I also want a Gonerses t-shirt! Postcards even! And also, good to see Sockubus getting some air time and looking dolled up and downright regal. Anyways, I digress...Joss, I heart you, and at least Dollhouse is wrapping up, so you can have some down time until season two begins! ; )
re: the comments after the interview--I can't believe there are still people calling him "Josh".
Happy to cut slack but i'm not sure what I can really do about self-inflicted pressure by Joss on Joss and I agree that fan expectation comes with success not failure, all creators should be so lucky (by which I mean talented and hard working ;). And in fairness, despite the interviewer's opening blurb, that's pretty much how Joss seems to see it too (with a small hint of having underestimated how much 'Dollhouse' would be inside the goldfish bowl from day 1).
The Demon Writer of TV puts a lot of blood, sweat and tears into his art (though mercifully none of their music) and his passion is part of its greatness. But he should eat right (or at least eat) take care of himself, rest and obey most rules of hygiene. Well, definitely the first three things. When they say it can't be done, it's just so you can write in your memoirs that they said it couldn't be done. It sets the stage for pleasurable second act reversals.

And spoiler warning: It's gonna be awesome!

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-31 13:36 ]
Succatash, I'm pretty sure there's another Joss interview floating around where he explicitly states he doesn't like the 'save Dollhouse' stuff. I also have an interview I never published with one of the FOX execs where they talk about the crazy of that campaign. It clearly didn't inspire them with confidence. Those kind of things are always well intentioned, of course.
Kevin Reilly talks briefly here about the "save Dollhouse" campaign and calls it "a little overboard" (starts about 1:50). And here's Joss being not 100% onboard with the campaign but also being diplomatic and putting a positive spin on the "ardour" that accompanies it (starts about 1:10).

I'm not convinced Joss is kidding with the "cheap seats" comment either BTW, even though it's obviously a very jokey interview in general.
I've always been in the "calm down and wait" camp. I do believe that we've put too much pressure on Joss. Not with the expectations, but with the constant panicking and doom-saying that accompanied every new announcement about Dollhouse.

From the ill considered "let's start a 'save Dollhouse' campaign" before they even started shooting to the first news about the first re-write, to the news of two weeks off to do a basically new pilot, to the change to Friday night - each item generated a massive "it's doomed" thread.

And, what Simon said. :) Actually I said basically the same thing, I think, just with a lot more words.
Oh, and there's one fear that Joss should just toss: "public humiliation." He has never humiliated himself. He's always brought enormous talent and care to all of his creative endeavors.

ETinterject: And the only time the results have been embarrassing is when someone else was in charge, a la the Buffy and Alien movies. (And I still enjoyed the Buffy movie.) Humiliation just hasn't happened. Controversy, sure, but that's a sign that he's connected with people. Controversy does not surround "Howard the Duck."

Humiliation = not an option or even a possibility. The only question is whether he'll meet his own self-set high standards and he should give himself an entire arc to determine that. Cuz he's arc guy. He's the Serial Thriller!

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-31 19:55 ]

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