Just So You Know, That Inspirational Joss Whedon Quote Is Total Bullshit

Hey, look, a popular Facebook quote that’s total bullshit. Whodathunk? In this case it’s a Joss Whedon quote that reminds us all how wonderfully feminist his work is, and it is, as mentioned, bullshit:

Or I guess it would be more accurate to say that it is not bullshit, and that the citation is in fact 100% accurate. Mr. Whedon did say that — all of it. The question and the answer both.

This was not an unscripted, off-the-cuff exchange with some journalist. It was not a moment of unexpected and sublime brilliance, or even of particular candor. It was part of a written speech wherein Mr. Whedon pretended to be a journalist asking himself questions.

You can read the whole thing at the American Rhetoric archives if you want to, but don’t bother. It’s just Joss Whedon pretending to be a journalist who can only ask that one question over and over again, presumably because she (or “he,” but let’s be realistic about Mr. Whedon’s fantasy here) is so stunned that this strange, rebellious, sensitive man was willing to defy convention and write strong women characters like no one before him.

Which would be very flattering, albeit inaccurate, if it had been a real person, but it wasn’t. It was a straw man of Joss Whedon’s imagining, and his wonderfully-quotable reply has all the improvisational genius of that witty retort you thought up two hours after getting your head flushed.

But I suppose, to hear him tell it, that happened to Mr. Whedon a fair amount. So perhaps it’s forgivable.

  1. I’m confused. Are you offended by the format of the quote, or the content? Or both?

    • I dislike its continued presentation as this neatly-packaged little exchange when it wasn’t an exchange at all. You don’t get points for pithy answers to complex questions when you wrote both the question and the answer in advance.

      Not, I realize, Mr. Whedon’s fault that people keep passing it around in the graphuck format above. But I think most people sincerely believe that they’re sharing this really cool moment in fandom rather than an excerpt from a fairly self-aggrandizing speech by one man about himself, and I do like using MA101 to set the record straight on things like that.

      • Not that you’re self-aggrandizing.

        • Frequently and gleefully, though I’d like to think that, if invited to speak by a good-works sort of group, I’d manage to be a little more modest and mostly talk about their good works and not mine. Fortunately, no one is passing me around Facebook like a bottle of hobo wine, so my head should stay relatively un-swollen for at least a little while longer.

          Get on that, will you?

    • Katie
    • April 12th, 2012

    Aw man, way to rain on my parade.

    • Aw, sorry. That is sometimes how we do around here, I admit it. But it was a parade of lies and deceit! Like a National Bar Association parade! Which I don’t think they have, and would be pretty damn boring if they did. Aaaaanyway…

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