Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Joss Whedon Can Teach Us All

The post is called: "Let's watch a girl get beaten to death."

The writer is Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly", who claims he "snapped," after viewing two online videos.

The first was CNN's cellphone-recorded "honor killing" of Dua Khalil, a teenager of 17 in Bashiqa, Iraq.

The second clip was the trailer for "Captivity", a release from Canada's Lionsgate Studios starring Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert.

If you want to learn the art of writing for series television, you will find no better examples than Joss Whedon's scripts. The pilot for "Buffy" grabs you from page one and makes it clear, no matter what preconceptions you might have of the genre, the premise or television in general, that you are in the hands of a master story teller.

But Whedon's post last Sunday on one of his fan sites illustrates that he deserves to be admired for much more than his writing and producing skills.

"It’s safe to say that I’ve snapped. That something broke, like one of those robots you can conquer with a logical conundrum. All my life I’ve looked at this faulty equation, trying to understand, and I’ve shorted out. I don’t pretend to be a great guy; I know really really well about objectification, trust me. And I’m not for a second going down the “women are saints” route – that just leads to more stone-throwing (and occasional Joan-burning). I just think there is the staggering imbalance in the world that we all just take for granted. If we were all told the sky was evil, or at best a little embarrassing, and we ought not look at it, wouldn’t that tradition eventually fall apart?"

"...it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself. I’ve always had a bent towards apocalyptic fiction, and I’m beginning to understand why."

Whedon concludes his post with words every writer worthy of using that term in self reference should memorize and make as much a part of their daily ritual as turning on the computer and typing "FADE IN:"

"All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause – there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once. Even just learning enough about a subject so you can speak against an opponent eloquently makes you an unusual personage. Start with that. Any one of you would have cried out, would have intervened, had you been in that crowd in Bashiqa. Well thanks to digital technology, you’re all in it now.

I have never had any faith in humanity. But I will give us props on this: if we can evolve, invent and theorize our way into the technologically magical, culturally diverse and artistically magnificent race we are and still get people to buy the idiotic idea that half of us are inferior, we’re pretty amazing. Let our next sleight of hand be to make that myth disappear.

The sky isn’t evil. Try looking up."

Thanks for this, Josh. Thanks for the reminder of the power we all have and that the pen will always be mightier than the sword.

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