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May 05 2015

Joss Whedon on why he left Twitter. He tells Buzzfeed "If I'm going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place."

Thank you for posting this.
Joss Whedon - my captain, my king.
I felt all warm and fuzzy when I read that Anita wrote to him after he left Twitter. This is exactly what I needed to read after this whirlwind of online hate and fury. Thank you for sharing this, Simon.
Oh thank the star lords. I read a BBC News piece yesterday which represented this as feminists (and fans) and my heart fell out a little. You could tell this was being spun up to something it wasn't.

Also, re the Feminist Frequency thing and A2 - I think it was one of the editors of that show who tweeted something like they had mild issues with one plot point. Or something. Which some people seized on to mean Joss quit Twitter.
Sounds happy and healthy and Jossy. All good things and signs of good Whedonness to come.
While he doesn't blame them for leaving, he does mention the inability for outspoken liberals to get along for a common goal.

I am glad he pointed this out because it is getting to be a real problem for those who are fighting the good fight, like Anita.

Meanwhile, the right is trying to spin this as the left imploding on itself and it is a good thing he nipped in in the bud.
Liberals being unable to unite for a common goal is not a new problem. In the United States at least, it's one of the many reasons we'll never have a truly liberal president. I agree with Joss that feminists have many of the same issues.
Well, it should be a tad harder to *spin* this in any direction now that Joss has spoken about his twitter-departure. I'm glad he did.

I'll miss his tweets, but I'm glad he'll have more time to commune with his own soul, and space to get away from the Dark Side of the 'Net. (I've been on twitter less lately, and it's given me back more reading & writing time, and created room for some other pursuits.)

Sometimes the 'Net reminds me of a huge, spikey ouroboros.

ETA: Ha! Just re-read the Buzzfeed article, and saw this from Joss, which I'd missed:

"... and I was like, OK! We're done! The snake hath et its tail,"

Too funny.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2015-05-06 09:11 ]
Good to hear Joss's point of view, media today seems to be all about taking rumors and printing them as facts. Plus he'll still always be able to pop by here for his dose of compliments, if he needs it.
While I'm sad that I no longer have him on my Twitterfeed because dang that was good! I am thrilled that there were some actual very Joss-y reasons to quit.

I personally can't wait to see what he will do as his next project.
What's twitter?
Ahhhh. This made me so very happy :-) go Joss!
Thank goodness I'm way too long winded and abstruse to ever be comfortable with something that shuts me down at 140 characters, saved me a world of hurt.
That's a great piece. Well said Joss and Buzzfeed.
Onward and upward. I'm glad to hear it.
Penny Arcade has an interesting way to word the situation :)

"We temper our creators in the furnace of social media"

Pretty much.

Twitter is a great medium for very niche writers and subjects. As soon as you have even a sliver of fame (even internet fame), you get flooded by crazies and it can be an energy draining environment.

[ edited by Caleb on 2015-05-06 12:32 ]
Joss is a great human being and usually tries to see the better side of humanity. However he isn't the only victim of this kind of social media mobbing and I wish that he would speak out more strongly against it. A friend of mine was driven to attempt suicide during the 'requireshate' debacle. She and others were harassed for years until a group of writers got together and politely but firmly made sure that it stopped. Simply leaving usually means that these people just move on to the next target and that is often someone who is much more vulnerable.
Besides, why does he need Twitter when he's still got Whedonesque?

(c;
"Like, I don't know any Buffy trolls." Haha--I love it.
This article just charged my suit to 400% capacity.

[ edited by Penthos on 2015-05-06 13:11 ]
Very sensible and measured response to the Twitstorm!

I'll miss the witticisms but that's a small price to pay for new, original work from Joss.

Besides, the joke about taking the bar exam at Coachella is enough to make me chuckle for weeks.
Such class. I'm glad he's able to take some perspective. He gave us two wonderful Avengers movies, but I'm happy that he can now move on. This is definitely the beginning of something new. He can leave all the stress and exhaustion behind, and start the new phase of his career. That's very exciting.
So glad to read this.
This article made me really happy.
Well, maybe our fear/saddness was unwarrented...but at least we got to have some long and meaningful conversations over the past few days! :P

Also, THIS should be plastered everywhere in sight:

"Every breed of feminism is attacking every other breed, and every subsection of liberalism is always busy attacking another subsection of liberalism, because god forbid they should all band together and actually fight for the cause."
I find it a little wierd though that when "fans" freak out over male characters, either the casting news or how their storyline is (Man of Steel anyone?), they aren't labled. So why are the "fans" (I have to use quotes, because most of the messages he got can't be from people who are actual fans) that are "critical" (again, those weren't critiques...) all labled as feminists?
Wait, now who will the Baldwinistas tweet at passive-aggressively?

I guess the hashtag #BrowncoatsVsBrownshirts will have to go back in mothballs.
Because feminism is often cast as a hysterical, reactionary movement that I, in my cynicism, believe is often employed to discredit the movement, while at the same time ignoring the even-tempered ones. If the critiques were properly worded, even if it's a feminist critique, they become simply critics or fans in the article If it's disrespectful and vile, they suddenly become feminists (or specifically stated as female fans, which is, again in my cynicism, to cast women as hysterical).
I need to go out, do the research, turn the page, see the thing, hear the music, live like a person. Iím not great at that.


This really resonated with me. I found myself very disproportionately saddened by Joss's departure from Twitter, and I reflected on that and determined that it was because with Twitter I could imagine he was accessible (he had in the past few weeks retweeted a retweet of mine, and favorited a tweet of mine), that I felt like I was connecting with him. And it drove me to consider my use of Facebook and Twitter more broadly, and I realized that I use them primarily to feel less lonely. But that deeper conversations than would occur in those spaces are really what I need, so I should make time to be with people, and write emails and letters, and visit digital spaces where a bigger conversation occurs (like here!).
"It's super important for my law."

Even the man's interviews are quotable.

But seriously, I was bummed out, and this unbummed me. There's something to be said for going out to clubs to hear jokes instead of finding them on your phone, for sure.
@NYPinta,@TenTon - the difference in this case seems pretty clear to me. In any Man of Steel critiques (and I didn't see the movie) no one was upset by the way his gender was portrayed, there were no "a man shouldn't feel that way" blogs about how he interacted with Lois Lane etc..

The criticism of Joss - that include claims of misogyny and general betrayal of his feminist principles - were ALL about gender politics, in many (most?) cases made by women, many of whom would label themselves as feminists

I think Patton's tweet, and Joss' comments are dead on. The right wing does NOT have a monopoly on extremists or those who apply a black/white purity test to all issues. We'll truly advance as a society when we can call bullshit on inappropriate behavior or methods without first checking if they're on "our" team or not
I get that too much praise is just as bad as unconstructive criticism. I hope that doen't mean he quits Comic Con too, where he's worshiped like a god (although he doesn't dress that way).

On the other hand, I think he's just too sweet so say that there were some pretty loud feminists who went at him pretty hard. Perhaps he thinks he would hurt the cause if he did. I mean, it's ok that Anita Sarkeesian wrote him, but I feel that she should have made a statement on his defense, like he stuck his neck out for her a while ago, but that's just me...
@TallMichalJ My point isn't that there weren't feminist critiques of the movie (because there were articles and blog posts aplenty) and how Black Widow was portrayed. I'm talking about the messages sent to him on twitter that were the same exact kind of wording whenever a male character is not done to fan expection and why are those messages all coming under an umbrella of being from feminists when that is never the case when people complain about male characters.
KissingToast, and TallMichaelJ, I don't think "loud feminists who went at him pretty hard" have ever been a problem and Sarkeesian making a statement in his defense would seem to encourage faction politics. I do believe there are things in Age of Ultron that have validly prompted feminist critiques. If Joss wishes to call himself a feminist, and women perceive misogynist notes or a betrayal of feminism in his work, even if unintentional, then he will get resoundingly criiticized. Many I have spoken t, including myself, do feel sometimes disillusioned to see unfeminist threads in the work of someone who so staunchly calls himself feminist. If one emphasizes the attempted feminism of one's work, one should expect much of criticism to be directed at dire missteps in one's feminism. As the article and Joss do point out, vocal feminists aren't at all the problem.
The difference between the attacks on Joss and the attacks on Anita is that feminists are unlikely to do physical harm to Joss or destroy his career while Anita and feminists on the web do have real fears about attacks.

Nevertheless, I think all the personal attacks on the web are awful.
Joss Whedon's response: articulate, funny, and extremely sane. What a non-surprise! (But a pleasant non-surprise.)

I am all in favor of Joss being off twitter so he can make stuff (and, you know, live life, but especially make stuff cos I'm selfish like that).

He does mention that the attacks on him don't come near what Anita et al experience. I was very glad that he brought that up.
Yup..."taking the bar exam at Coachella" is going to stick with me, too.
(1) Have I mentioned lately how much I love Joss?
(2) Joss is wise to leave, so Internet addiction doesn't get in the way of his life and writing.
(3) Maybe he will pop in here more, when he has writer's block, or when he needs some fan love without the drama.
I'm talking about the messages sent to him on twitter that were the same exact kind of wording whenever a male character is not done to fan expection and why are those messages all coming under an umbrella of being from feminists when that is never the case when people complain about male characters.


I've noticed that there are fans who will follow one ideology or other to mask their devotion to one particular character or pairing. It's like a secret infiltration or something.

I've also noticed the personal loathing of Joss becoming a lot more prevalent online amongst those fans who wear leftist or rightist badges with pride. I don't particularly enjoy seeing Joss' work ripped to shreds but I'm even less fond of seeing him ripped to shreds as a person. Not sure why I should have to call them fans if they do that.

And when the current counter-argument to Joss leaving Twitter (not here, thankfully) seems to be "but Joss has always been harassed and bullied by fans, this is no exception", you do have to wonder why that became acceptable or at least tolerated in our fan culture.
I've been extremely busy with work for the last few days, and I have not yet seen the film. So I've been avoiding press. But I was stunned by the title of this thread, so I had to read. All I can say is that I'm so sorry to see that Joss has had to retreat from Twitter because of harassment. Social media has seemingly brought out the worst in so many people, and it's so sad to see, as Simon says, that it has seemingly become acceptable or tolerated (although not merely in fan culture). I will miss Joss's posts, selfishly, but what he has said is also a sane response. Who want's one's soul torn apart bit by bit, when that same soul can express itself in an art form that brings so much joy to so many. Best wishes to Joss and to those people and things that bring him inspiration.
Who want's one's soul torn apart bit by bit, when that same soul can express itself in an art form that brings so much joy to so many. Best wishes to Joss and to those people and things that bring him inspiration.

Thank you, that is spot on.

Mark Ruffalo (a beautiful soul himself) is a real-life Avenger, Protector, etc...

(sorry Puddinhead - didn't see your topic in the list, I'm flitting around so much right now)

Mark Ruffalo Defends Joss Whedon Over Black Widow Criticism

[ edited by Tonya J on 2015-05-06 17:50 ]

[ edited by Tonya J on 2015-05-06 17:51 ]
@kiba I felt the same way. I was initially saddened because twitter felt like an easy way to connect with him and from the article it seemed like he was going to stay away, not just from twitter, but from sites like Whedonesque as well.

However, I then realized that Joss and I (all his fans really) are connected in a much more profound way. Through his work (Buffy, specifically) he has had an immense impact on my life. He has made me stronger, braver, funnier and smarter (I hope). So while I may not get a chance to be retweeted or favorited by him and while he may not ever read this comment or anything else I have to say about him, he will always be a part of my life. So now I'm glad that he's disconnecting so that he does get the peace to just live and create. And if that allows him to build characters and/or a world that touches people the way that Buffy touched me, well that's just...
I don't really understand why civility seems to become an endangered species just because communication is happening online or why so many feel the need to justify and accept it as the norm. Just reminds me of Simon telling Kaylee that him being proper meant more in the black because it was the only way he could show respect. If only that became the mindset with discussions on the internet.

PS Very well said, palehorse.

Part of me is wondering if the reaction to the movie and all of the characters would have been different if no one knew who the director was. Like Led Zeppelin not putting their name on their fourth album.
"Twitter is an addictive little thing, and if it's there, I gotta check it. When you keep doing something after it stops giving you pleasure, that's kind of rock bottom for an addict."
Joss W.

This quote from Joss made me question why I participate with/on social media.

That guy is pretty sharp!
So happy to read Joss's response to the twitter departure rumours.

His measured, thoughtful and articulate reasoning was just a little reminder why I love his work so much. Here's hoping he finds that peaceful place so he can create as he sees fit.
And when the current counter-argument to Joss leaving Twitter (not here, thankfully) seems to be "but Joss has always been harassed and bullied by fans, this is no exception"


Oddly, I used this as a comfort, thinking, "Well that can't be why he left, can it?" I remember two instances of character death in particular in Buffy fandom where folks were pretty angry and did things like call Firefly advertisers and ask them to stop supporting it, in addition to the usual online screaming and some pretty scary death threats. So I sort of drew comfort from knowing that this type of reaction wasn't new for him.

@Destructo Girl You're exactly right. I was wandering around outside today, pondering Joss (as I so often do), and thinking about how lucky I am and how odd it is that a person who is very distant from me - in life experience, as well as geography - could mean so much. In his work and his interviews, there is a sensibility that deeply resonates with me.

I feel like there was a little gap in my soul before I found Joss's work, and then a little piece of Joss's soul (if we accept the conceit that people have souls) broke off of him through the course of his work and fan interactions and filled that gap in my soul. And I thought, I bet a lot of other people feel the same way... What a gift it is for artists to share these little fragments of themselves, and how important it is for us to leave them to regenerate their spirits after giving so much to us.

Back in the days of the Buffy Posting Board Parties, I met Joss. I'd had these baseball caps embroidered that said "Joss is a Hottie." I had Joss sign mine. On the little fabric that anchored the embroidery, inside the hat, he wrote, "I'm in your head." Now, whenever his work or quotes from him resonate strongly with me, my husband will say, "He's in your head!" And he is, he's constantly in my head, and my heart, and I'm forever grateful.
All the discussion about the troubling aspects of Twitter, and especially Joss' s comments about the addicting nature of it, have put me in mind of a great music video I saw recently (linked via a Tweet, ironically). If anyone is interested, check out a song called Celebrity Reduction Prayer by Open Mike Eagle. Both the lyrics and the visuals are pretty applicable.
I've also noticed the personal loathing of Joss becoming a lot more prevalent online amongst those fans who wear leftist or rightist badges with pride.

Idealogues will be idealogues (see especially under 'purist') - come rain or shine.

Some very wise words from joss here. Myself I've never seen the point of using social media as anything other than a convenient way to communicate with real-life friends/family/business associates since the rest is just noise - if you stop to think about it.
TenTonParasol I couldn't agree with you more that a lot of the "criticism" of the "feminist backlash" is indeed just the usual suspects using whatever they can to label feminism as hysterical and over-reaction. People have different reactions to how Black Widow was portrayed, and some of those have been strongly, but still civilly argued. I think Mark Ruffalo's post on reddit makes a huge amount of sense. What happens with Black Widow is so polarizing because she is the only superhero woman we have, so she is seen as representing every woman. We need to stop arguing about whether Joss presented the perfect feminist icon and fight for more superwomen who can be human underneath their superpowers just the way male charachters are.

That said, this 61 year old (as of two weeks ago) feminist LOVES what Joss has done with Black Widow. In the first Avengers he made her an utter badass fighter who was the one among the group who actually figured out how to save the world, and at the same time, hinted at the back story, the humanity inside her. With all the complaints I've been seeign that she "flirted" with Clint, I saw no signs of flirtation in that film. It was perfectly clear to me that the two of them were partners, colleagues. Equals, who owed each other their lives, many times over, who would die for each other. Not girlfriend and boyfriend. And we got the payoff in AoU, with the reveal that Cliff is a family man, and Natasha knew it all along. The joke was on everyone who couldn't look at a female character and not imagine her as anything but a sex partner.

And in AoU, she is seen empathizing with Bruce Banner. When she talks about him not being the only monster, it's obvious that she's talking about her transformation into a cold-blooded assassin, of which her forced sterility is only a part, not the simple fact of not being able to be a mother. Bruce sees himself as a monster because he becomes one, but she is trying to make him see that there can be monsters inside people as well. I think one might well argue that the point is that all of the other Avengers, except perhaps the newborn Vision, carry their monsters inside themselves.
Yknow this whole situation and Joss's eloquent response has moved me to truly reexamine my own internet addiction and behavior online. It's been very helpful and painful too. What a statement he made in such a simple way.
If barboo can come out of the closet, so can I. I am a 57-year-old Marxist/socialist feminist, and unless he suddenly becomes Chris Christie, I will follow his work till the day I die.

His genius and accomplishments are Avenger-level mighty. I just saw the film again today, and I don't see any of the problems or issues that others, especially the haters, seem so determined to lash into him for. What I marveled at today, was the beauty and artistry of the film. That was a hell of a lot of work for one person to create and be responsible for, and it is beautiful.

Now I have to get off the internet, and work outside on my giant garden mosaic.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2015-05-06 21:53 ]
Man, I wish there was a like button for Barboo's and Nebula1400's posts.
This article - and these comments - make me feel warm and fuzzy again, from the simple fact that the haters aren't winning. Oh, they're making a hell of a fuss and pointing out things that certainly shouldn't be immune from being able to be subjects of critique...but this brouhaha is like the Sun: lots of flame and light and noise on the surface, but the core's the really awesome stuff where Stuff Happens :D
Thank you Tonya J.

I know we all want to see Joss move on with his own personal creative work again, (I certainly do) but what he's done with Black Widow has only made me wish harder that he would have the chance to do a Black Widow solo movie.
@Tonya J.: 😀❤️💙💚☺️

Barboo: A Black Widow movie really should happen, and if Joss isn't going to do it, it really should be helmed by a woman or women. I would hate to have another man write and direct it. This is not to say that another man couldn't do it justice, but it's past time to have more women take the lead in some superhero movies.
The more I think about the "monster" scene, the more I realize that the big green giant in the room that no one is talking about is how Bruce Banner feels about not being able to father children. There's been this whole massive discussion about Natasha's infertility and how she feels about it, but the entire scene is driven by Bruce's statement about not being able to have a family, in response to seeing Cliff with his. It's as if nobody hears the longing in him for that - as though we can only recognize women wanting to have and love children and not men.

I think we need a whole new meme for discussing that scene: #Bruce Banner wanted children too.
It was in the first movie, too. He says something about not always getting what he wants and touches a cradle. In the scene where Natasha goes to recruit him. It's an idea they've been playing with since that far back.
That thought crossed my mind also, barboo and Sunfire. Bruce brought it up first, in the context of his being unable to father children. So the scene was about both of them having the same issues.
Yes, but it's being totally ignored in the public discourse. And I think that should be changed.
It strikes a little different though, because women have been very often reduced to only whether or not she can have a child and often is cast that her only important station in life is to bear and raise children. To reduce Natasha's whole background to it, even after what we have seen in Agent Carter, just feels like off focus, as there are other things to mine in her background that are more clearly separated from "stereotypical and flat and sexist women portrayal." (But this does seem like the wrong thread to be discussing it, so I'll drop it.)

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