Joss Whedon left Twitter today. He deactivated his account completely. It's the second time he's done so, but given that the movie he's been working on for months into years just made $191-million at the box office in its opening weekend, it feels like an odd time to bail on the fans. Unless, of course, you consider the shocking amount of vitriol that's been directed at him over the past couple of days from people outraged over plot points they didn't like in Avengers: Age of Ultron, specifically the film's treatment of Scarlett Johansson's character, Black Widow.
A couple of people have taken just a small sampling of the hate that's come Whedon's way and it reads exactly as you'd expect from the perpetually aggrieved children of Twitter's P.C. police: a laundry list of millennial social justice activist buzzwords crafted into 140-character accusations and fired at will in Whedon's direction. Granted there's so much noise on Twitter that it's hard to tell if any of this rose to the level of deafening for Whedon, but considering the number of threats he received as well as the many juvenile challenges to "block me," it wouldn't be surprising if he just closed his account and walked away. Honestly, why shouldn't he? Who needs that kind of crap?
Whedon's always had a reputation for being extraordinarily progressive in his politics and his thinking, to the point where a couple of weeks ago he made a lot of feminists swoon by criticizing the latest trailer for Jurassic World for what he called its "70s era sexism." (I actually wrote a piece taking serious issue with his view, but I'm someone who never fails to appreciate what he's done as an artist and a person throughout his long career.) But regardless of whether it in fact led to his decision to make himself disappear, the anger directed at him proves that you can never be progressive enough these days. No matter what kind of good work you've done or how nobly you've championed the cause of justice and equality, in the era where everyone's little slice of the identity politics pie must be shown the attention it allegedly deserves, you'll never be perfect. You'll never please each and every one of these people. And now they have have an outlet for banding together into relatively small but very loud and obnoxious groups and making sure you know how furious they are with you. Again, if you don't have to -- why fucking put up with it?
I could sit here and list the victims of these kinds of outrage-gasms, dating back years. Hell, at the end of 2014 Slate created an interactive calendar and compiled everything the internet was angry over each and every day of that year. Just last week, the Houston Rockets were forced to fire their social media manager for a tweeted joke that some claimed just "went too far" -- pro-tip: everything goes too far for somebody -- and Bud Light had to change a line on its label because some in the feminist media claimed it promoted rape culture. It's almost laughably quaint to name just those two examples when there are so many more -- so many times over the past few years when somebody said the wrong thing, made the wrong joke, did or didn't do something the members of some hyper-liberal niche who spend their days on unicorn hunts for absolute ideological purity deemed that person should or shouldn't do. I keep hearing about how the thing I jokingly dubbed the "Age of Outrage" three years ago is finally coming to an end, but I just don't see it happening.
The last time Joss Whedon left Twitter, he said it was because he had too much else to do to constantly have to deal with the responsibility of keeping up appearances on social media. He said, "Until I have a script I truly believe in (to promote) or a tweet that’s really remarkable, I can just walk away and get back to the storytelling I need to do." In other words, he has a life. He has things to do that are legitimately important both to him and to those who appreciate the work he does. In my own view, he's under no obligation to indulge feedback, certainly not viciously negative feedback, from people who mistakenly believe they matter just because they've got a fucking Twitter account and a few followers. Did the mindless, rampaging entity that defines our "Age of Outrage" -- the monster we created -- claim Joss Whedon as a victim? It's entirely possible. But the sad thing is that the fury unleashed against him is going to still be there tomorrow, regardless. It'll just be aimed at somebody else.