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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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September 02 2005

Revenge of the Nerd. Interview with Joss Whedon about his self-described nerdiness, found families, and his fanbase.

my favorite:...Firefly was axed after 10 episodes by a flummoxed Fox Network, which had wanted another The X Files and instead got The Searchers-meets-Solaris-with jokes...

"His directorial debut in a feature film is typical Whedon, but more"

Exactly.

Also, I love the bit about "found-families" that really is the key to all of Joss' shows. I can't put myself in the shoes of these characters 110% because my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc...) and I are so close because we all care about each other so unconditionally *end 7th heaven type rant* But I do think what makes his characters so heartfelt and loveable is the fact that they find families in the people they'd never expect to.
I loved this quote----"It's about how much freedom you can take away from somebody before they either fold or fight," Whedon says. "It's about the right to be wrong and the nature of human beings, that they need the freedom to be wrong. That they cannot be made to be better or perfect."
Shocking. Is that a political statement for us to ignore?
The thing I relate to most in all of Joss' work is the theme of found families. My "family" completely consists of my small group of close friends -- my Scooby Gang. I'm not close to my blood relatives at all. Hearing Joss discuss this, and his role in the world as a permanent outsider, is really touching. This is definitely one of the better interviews I've read.
Hmm. That photo doesn't look anything like Summer...OR River.

Except the boots. Sort of.
That's really my type of philosophy:

"I am a great believer in found families and I'm not a great believer in blood. Although I love my family, even the ones I grew up with, to me I've always felt that the people who treated you with respect and included you in their lives were your family and the people who were related to you by blood might happen to be those people but that correlation was a lot less [strong] than society believes it is."

Wonderful interview. And, like others of you, my favorite passage is the one about "found families," although in my case, unlike MySerenity's, it's because my "blood" family is not close at all. (The episode with Tara's family hit home so hard.) I just love the way Joss turns being an "outsider" into something very positive.
I didn't realize Joss used to be a high school teacher. That thing about Heathers dialogue influencing Buffy dialogue always seemed as if Joss got it directly from the Heathers movie itself. The fact that it got it instead filtered through actual high school students quoting and using and co-opting the dialog seems much more wonderful, somehow.
I also can relate with the "found families" statement. Not that I don't like my blood relatives, cause I do (not all of them but for the biggest part), but ever since my early childhood I never really felt like I've really connected with them deep down. Not like I have with certain friends. For example, I've just recently moved from home for the first time and the only one I actually miss so far from my home town is a friend of mine.
But except for the killing things with your bare hands, magic and spaceships, which things in Whedon's shows hasn't spoken to me. I can almost relate to everything in those shows...
Right now I limp amongst you. Once I have my knee worked on I'll walk amongst you again,"


Classic Joss remark. That had me in stitches. I didn't know he taught either, you learn something new everyday.
Willowy, I thought the same thing...it's really weird.
I just love Joss interviews. Thanks, man. For everything!
Chickenbird, I took his statement to mean something a little different – that while trying to figure out what language to use, and hearing his high school students all using stuff that sounded like it came from Heathers, he realized he *couldn't* use what they were saying because it would all change so quickly. So instead, he just decided to invent his own slang.
The language of BtVS has always been one of my favorite parts of the show. I'm a language person by nature, and I love the playfulness of the slang, the way it uses words and turns them inside out.

I've also always been a big fan of Joss's "families are the ones you create" theme, even though I'm quite close to my own family. I have a fabulous network of friends, and it's always struck me as so much more logical to create "families" that can be much closer than those whose only reason for existence is a spin of the genetic roulette wheel.
This was a really insightful interview, thanks Znachki. I can almost see Joss at that pivotal moment at 11 years old, having a deep realization about life. Thankfully, he turned that feeling of being an outsider into good, creating media that people can relate to and feel hopeful in, rather than becoming negative and ugly.

I also have found the description of fans as "an incredibly savvy group: smart, articulate and passionate", to be so true. I have so much respect for the intelligence of people I have come to know on this board and in the fandom.
Salty, I truly agree on the fans part. I mean, how many boards and communities dedicated to basically anything are there without a single "OMG! YUO RUULZ! 3LeE7!" post. Not many I tell you. But this is one of them and on most other Whedonverse sites the same thing is more or less true. Atleast, I haven't seen any post like that so far...
"For me [Buffy] was about your teenage years but it was again the whole experience, the same situations you get into as an adult. Especially for the geeks of the world. It was about being separate but being triumphant in your separateness."

Spoken by our very own Whedonesquer Zuckerbaby!!!!
Along with Mimbles from SenOz and the UB...

Take the following exchange between two ardent Whedon fans in Sydney, Miriam Mulcahy and Leigh Drew, about their interest in Serenity.

Drew: "I've been a hard-core atheist all my life and I have friends who refer to it as being my religion, my cult."

Mulcahy: "It's good to believe in something."

Drew: "You could say it's looking at ..."

Mulcahy: "... the human condition."

Drew: "Ooh, don't mention the human condition ..."

Mulcahy: "... it's all about the explosions."

Drew: "See, in no way do we quote Joss all the time, at all."


Trust me, I spend a lot of time with these girls...they do speak like that all the time! ;)
Cause, I might be doin the same.
I relate to the found family theme too. I can't relate to anyone in my family except my brother. I don't exactly have a Scooby Gang yet, but I have a few good friends that I consider to be family.
"OMG! YUO RUULZ! 3LeE7!"

Just kidding :) Seriously though, fellow fans have really challenged me to learn how to analyze things more deeply and to discover my own personal feelings about things.

And about that picture of River....I thought it was a painting, not a photograph! Very artsy...
'I just never felt like a part of some place until it was something I built myself.'

Get out of my head, Joss.
Buffy watchers, and Whedon fans generally, are not just casual listeners. At the screening of Serenity I attended, the man a couple of seats up from me was in his late 30s and wearing a Sunnydale High (Buffy's fictional school) T-shirt and I thought: "Nerd." And then: "We are one."


haha, I had some similiar thoughts when I saw a few at my screening.
*loves the Found Family of Whedonesque* Just wanted to echo again how grateful I am for all that I've experienced here. *room hug*
awww, The Love Thread pt 2!!!!!
Just feeling very grateful for all of my friends and family (blood and found) in light of some of the disasters and tragedies going on in the world today. As someone very smart once told me 'Every day, we are lucky.'.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-09-02 20:57 ]
Right there with you zeitgeist. This has not been the best week ever. I can't concentrate on anything, being deeply saddened (and angry). Reading these interviews is a welcome break from the horror of other things that I am reading.
Don't worry zeitgeist, the last thing I would do is criticize you. I agree 100%, especially considering everything that's happen this week. I hope all those whose family lives in the south are safe.
This interview made me realize, more then anything, why I am a fan of Joss and his stories. I am actually kinda stunned. Before I read the article, I would've said the thing I enjoy the most about his work is the writing and the characters. I also like the family themes, but until I read this, I never understood how much it hits home for me. I'm estranged from much of my family. I haven't talked to my father in 10 years. When people tell me that I should patch things up with him, I tell them that just because someone is your blood, does not mean you should let them in your life to do damage. My dad and I would never like each-other, whether we were blood, co-workers, or neighbors. Why should I put myself through the grief of trying? The last few years of my life, I have been through many ups-and-downs, things my father has missed by choosing to not be in my life (it was his choice). He's missed my marriage, the birth of his only grandchild, and wasn't there for me during my divorce, and isn't there for me or his grandson now. On the other hand, I have other people that stick by me, and they are my lifeline. Why should my absentee father get more consideration then the people who stick by me?

Whoa. Sorry for getting all confessional. This article really struck a nerve. Plus, I also relate to the feeling like you never belong. Jeez, Joss, stop having so much in common with me. ;)

(Also, my mom? Coolest lady on the earth. Blood or not, she's my anchor.)
awww, The Love Thread pt 2!


I think we should bring on Love Threads every now and then, in some sort of regular basis.
They do make us feel better. And there are always times someone need some love. Times like these are not as uncommon, as we might want them to be.

Peace for everyone.
I like the "found family" idea a lot, but there is also a caveat that Whedon's work doesn't explore that much--that many, many friendships, even the most meaningful ones, don't last forever.
Thanks for the downer, Ilana :) In all seriousness, you are correct, however.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-09-02 22:57 ]
I'd have loved to be a student in his class. I enjoyed the article.
Where did that bizarre yet alluring River art come from? I can't see it up close enough, do you think it's an actual painted work, or a photo that was photoshopped into looking painted (see way too much of that).
and Speed (outsiders banding together to stop Dennis Hopper overacting).


You don't know Dennis Hopper overacting unless you've seen the abomination that is The Crow: Wicked Prayer. I'm crying just thinking about it :(

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-09-02 23:43 ]
Another thing I love about this place. In difference to alot of other boards out there we actually care about each other. It may be purely platonic and not very deeply rooted but it's still there. We're a very empathic bunch of people. Like when I read your post dizzy, for a minute there I actually cared about what you were telling us, even though I don't know anything about you (I don't know how you look, where you live, even your sex). On alot of boards something like that would only result in ridicule and rash comments. But not here... We're kinda unique yo know...
Ah, but, Djungleurban, did you feel bad for my having seen Wicked Prayer? That's the true test of compassion :))
Haven't seen Wicked Prayer yet so I wouldn't know. I should inform you that at the moment I'm sort of drunk so that might inflict my writing... But still, haven't seen it and from what I've heard that's a good choice.
:) You are correct, if anyone tries to get you to watch it, ask why they would do that to a person... Its cruel and unusual punishment.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-09-03 00:16 ]
Sorry! :) I find it a bit of a downer, myself...
zeitgeist - I have Crow: Wicked Prayer in my DVD folder, and I was actually looking forward to seeing it, but since I read your review..... It's like it burns my hand each time I try and pick it up. I am not sure whether I should thank you or curse you. I was looking forward to half naked David.
Ilana - I am certain that others would disagree, but I have found that Whedon tackled the end of friendship in Astonishing X 12. I have not read comics up until this series, but that really seemed to be the gist of how 12 ended. Have you read any of them yet? GREAT art. Witty banter. It's yummy all over.
as a side note, there is a big pic of Summer on the front page of this newspaper, and its got a lot of readership!
Amazing article, amazing man. I'm wearing my whedonesque t-shirt with much pride (thanks Caroline!). Awwww...group hug!
re the art - it's even more weird if you look at the picture that's the link on the smh home page (reg may be required if you've viewed more than just one page already).
Good Lord, dominatrix much?
Hmm. Ok, so what's the story? Who did that picture/sketch? Is it really supposed to be River? It's all weird and ambiguous. It's giving me anxiety with the not knowing. Artist - speak UP.
Right now I limp amongst you. Once I have my knee worked on I'll walk amongst you again,"


Last day, just after moving, I was watching the special features of the Open Range DVD (I was to tired to begin to unpack my things! ;) ). In it, I learned that Kevin Costner had quite bad health problems (appendicitis during filming, and total body breakdown just after finishing the movie). We also learn in the features that Costner had difficulties finding money for his movie, and that this was in fact a quite small "production".

These two elements, plus the theme (western), seem to resonnate with the story of Serenity, and Joss' (*) knees problems (although Joss' health problems seem less severe than Costner's).

Open Range is for me THE major work of Costner, and a major movie by itself; the best western I have ever seen. Thus, I am willing to believe that Joss' knees problems are a good omen for Serenity! ;)


PS: (*) do I really need to ad a third "s" when writing "Joss's"? I am guessing that two are quite enough... ;)
Genia, I haven't read Joss's X-Men comics because I was told that not having prior experience with X-Men would make that a problem. Not sure how to rectify that, as I find the comic book shop to be a pretty confusing (and expensive) place...

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