I love Joss Whedon. The man gave the world Buffy. He gave the world The Avengers. He gave the world my beloved Firefly, a show so meaningful to me that I named my daughter after one of its characters. The guy is the undisputed Nerd Jesus, which is precisely why it's so disappointing that he apparently doesn't understand the impact just a few words from him can have on the national pop culture conversation.
Yesterday, Whedon fired off one tweet that immediately threatened to turn a dumb summer popcorn movie, the upcoming Jurassic World, into the latest cultural item that requires careful examination, reexamination and criticism for its use of potentially offensive tropes. In other words, Jurassic World just got labeled, essentially, problematic. It became one more thing for identity politics to be injected into and ruin.
It started when the first clip from Jurassic World was released yesterday morning. The clip features Chris Pratt doing his usual great-looking roguish smart-ass set against Bryce Dallas-Howard's icy and deliberate would-be love interest. There wasn't a single part of their conversation in the scene that would even come close to winning anybody an Oscar, but other than being a little trite the whole thing was completely harmless.
Whedon, however, didn't think so, which is why he responded to a tweet from The Mary Sue expressing hearts gone aflutter at Pratt with this:
No. Just -- for God's sake no. Do not do this. Do not make a story about fucking dinosaurs suddenly about sexist tropes. It takes nothing at all the get the wheels of the outrage machine going these days, given that it's practically a perpetual motion device at this point; the last thing we need is one of the most respected and influential writer-directors in the world dropping a giant truckload of grease all over the machinery.
Jurassic World is not about sexual and gender politics. Hell, even the tweet Whedon was responding to was too busy getting hot and bothered over Pratt to notice the fucking "70s era sexism" apparently on display. Maybe Whedon didn't even mean to make a big deal out of the supposed issues with the clip, but that hardly matters -- what matters is how it was sure to be taken, and this thing is now being picked upall over the place.
Whedon's words and opinions matter. In addition to attacking another writer and director's work, he turned this into something it simply doesn't need to be. A popcorn movie with genetically regenerated dinosaurs chasing screaming people we can probably always use. Yet another angry, sanctimonious fight over identity politics -- we need another one of those like a hole in our collective heads.