QUILTBAG

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Mongrel
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QUILTBAG

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:41 am

When asked how to write "strong women" Joss Whedon's reply is "no ding-dongs".

So, the generous interpretation here involves hair splitting between the definitions of "woman" and "female" where one is biological and other is linked to identity. Though after reading "peeny + ballz" a person might be forgiven for thinking that Joss is merely confused due to being a six year-old trapped in something of a man's body. Whatever. I find the comment is just stupid, in the sense of... "What the fuck were you thinking, you dope?". The question didn't reference sexuality or gender image at all, it's not like he was obligated to jam his "peeny" so awkwardly in the reply.

Anyway, I've mentioned before that I'm not really the biggest Whedon fan, so I'm biased, and hey, I know it's Twitter and he's been asked that same question a million times before and all that blah blah blah, but goddamn what actually pisses me off more is the idea that this guy is revered for being some sort of horse-whisperer to women for nerds, and his off the cuff reply on how to write women - or any sort of person for that matter - is boiled down to two words.

The combination of both just forms some sort of vortex of blithering stupidity both amusing and repellant. Maybe that's his hair.
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Defenestration
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Defenestration » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:58 am

Do you REALLY think that he intentionally meant to say that transexuals can't be women? I doubt that was ANYWHERE near his train of thought, and it's quite possible that he never thought about the idea of transexual women having penises his entire life. I don't particularly care what Joss Whedon thinks or tweets, but a moment of thoughtlessness in trying to make a tweet sound silly/funny under the understandable misconception that women do not have penises does not make a backlash make. He's wrong, and he should have known it. But I mean, can you really necessarily fault him? If I told any of my coworkers the statement "Some women have penises" they would look at me in shock, or more likely confusion because "what is he talking about, that is the OPPOSITE definition of a woman."

People in this movement are downtrodden and very frustrated and I get that. They need to get recognition, and this is a no-no. But focusing on celebrity shaming when the fault is not of hatred but of sheer ignorance is not the way to do it.
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:15 am

That's specifically why I said, he probably had some sort of semantic comment in mind. I don't think he's anti-trans by any means.

This isn't about "Celebrity Shaming" Whedon for making a comment about Trans people in and of itself, it's more wondering why on earth he would do so in such a dumb way, with no prompting.
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Defenestration
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Defenestration » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:20 am

That's not what I meant. I meant that it's very possible that it was that Joss Whedon could NOT have made an anti-trans comment accidentally because he didn't actually know that it was a THING. I'm certain that he knows that transexuals exist, but many people never think about transexual gender identity or issues literally ever.
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:27 am

Maybe I can try rephrasing this.

My point is essentially "Why bring up peeny-weenies at all when the question is about writing characterization? Good God man... Joss, this is the internet, are you cuckoo?"
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Brentai
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Brentai » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:50 am

My real, honest opinion? I think it was a really awkward attempt to reference Crayon Shin-chan.

(All tubes depicting this have been squelched in classic "removing own word-of-mouth advertising" fashion, but basically the title character has a screed that goes something like "To be a man you must have honor, honor and a penis!")

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Lyrai » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:19 am

Mongrel wrote:Maybe I can try rephrasing this.

My point is essentially "Why bring up peeny-weenies at all when the question is about writing characterization? Good God man... Joss, this is the internet, are you cuckoo?"


I would wager that it's his way of saying "To write a strong woman, write a strong character, and then change the gender of the pronouns used. It's not fucking rocket science, shitheads."

Defenestration wrote:That's not what I meant. I meant that it's very possible that it was that Joss Whedon could NOT have made an anti-trans comment accidentally because he didn't actually know that it was a THING. I'm certain that he knows that transexuals exist, but many people never think about transexual gender identity or issues literally ever.


Last I read, I think somewhere in the region of 11% of people in the united states know anything about trans people beyond 'Butt of the jokes in 90s sitcoms.'

To jump for a chance to take out your anger on someone who literally just doesn't know and completely ignore an opportunity to gently teach is pretty god damned fucking stupid. I've noticed an uptick in blog posts and such in that section of the internet that amount to "Wait, maybe being angry at everyone who isn't us is hurting our cause. Why, it could make us look like a bunch of deranged hellbeasts who want nothing but to get off on being angry at everyone around us! Maybe we should look into a more nuanced approach that champions teaching over anger first."

Which, hey, congrats! You learned attacking everyone outside of your circle doesn't make you friends. Now next time a celebrity makes a comment like this, see if you can talk to them and see if they simply just don't know. And then teach them about what mental disability really is how they may have some backwards notions that they might want to change. You could make a friend! A friend with five million people watching their every move who will go "Oh! I was wrong about this, here's the good information on it, I apologize for accidentally offending people with actual problems and concerns that I inadvertently trivialized."

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Z%rø » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:56 am

Joss Whedon ‏@josswhedon Jan 27
Anybody who thinks my actual opinion on ANY subject involves the word "peeny" is free to unfollow me. No really I insist.


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Joxam
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Joxam » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:12 am

Yeah like, I get how some people can be offended, but I read what he's saying as, "You write a good character, and then you give it woman features." He's trying to be the exact opposite of the "I think of a man..." quote from As Good As It Gets, IMO.
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TedBelmont
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby TedBelmont » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:23 am

"Just add boobies" is kind of a shitty way to write female characters, though.

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:45 am

Mongrel wrote:That's specifically why I said, he probably had some sort of semantic comment in mind. I don't think he's anti-trans by any means.

This isn't about "Celebrity Shaming" Whedon for making a comment about Trans people in and of itself, it's more wondering why on earth he would do so in such a dumb way, with no prompting.


Because he's been asked the question two hundred million times and was giving a flip response because he's tired of being asked that.

The better flip reply would have been "Talk to some women." But as far as just making some silly off-the-cuff remark, I'm not inclined to fault him.

Defenestration wrote:That's not what I meant. I meant that it's very possible that it was that Joss Whedon could NOT have made an anti-trans comment accidentally because he didn't actually know that it was a THING. I'm certain that he knows that transexuals exist, but many people never think about transexual gender identity or issues literally ever.


That's not my guess. Without knowing Whedon, he seems like the type of guy who's probably aware of these issues and just wasn't thinking about them at the moment. But I could be wrong.

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby nosimpleway » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:43 am

ITT: actual issues ignored for frivolous bullshit

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:07 pm

nosimpleway wrote:ITT: actual issues ignored for frivolous bullshit

Greetings citizen, and welcome to the internet!

Thad wrote:"Talk to some women."

Well exactly. As I said in my first post, the only thing that actually angered me is the terrible throwaway answer to the actual question, regardless of whether you interpret that exactly as written "strong women boil down to two characteristics", as "write a man and add boobs", or "write a strong character and add female features", any of which would be terrible advice for a writer who doesn't actually know. Like, that's not even a gender issue to me, it's just bad advice.

But as far as just making some silly off-the-cuff remark, I'm not inclined to fault him.

This is fair I guess. But would it also be fair to say that (for the nth time) "It was just a joke" isn't some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card for being an idiot? Or for being a dismissive jerk to a fan asking for advice?

Of course maybe he would have come off better if the joke had actually been funny. :P
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:36 pm

Mongrel wrote:Well exactly. As I said in my first post, the only thing that actually angered me is the terrible throwaway answer to the actual question, regardless of whether you interpret that exactly as written "strong women boil down to two characteristics", as "write a man and add boobs", or "write a strong character and add female features", any of which would be terrible advice for a writer who doesn't actually know. Like, that's not even a gender issue to me, it's just bad advice.


I don't read it as either of those things. I read it as a kindergarten "boys have a penis, girls have a vagina" joke. I mean, maybe I'm just being low-context here, but I don't see why it has to be anything more complicated than the obvious.

Mongrel wrote:This is fair I guess. But would it also be fair to say that (for the nth time) "It was just a joke" isn't some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card for being an idiot? Or for being a dismissive jerk to a fan asking for advice?

Of course maybe he would have come off better if the joke had actually been funny. :P


I was at a Bruce Campbell Q&A once. Somebody asked if there were any plans for an Evil Dead 4. Bruce's response was, "That is so weird! Nobody has ever asked me that question before!" The whole theater laughed.

Sometimes, fans DO deserve to be called out for asking a stupid question that a million people have already asked. Especially if they are asking a question in a place that means they could have typed it into a fucking search engine.

What kind of wisdom should he have offered in 140 characters? Besides, you know, "Talk to some women."

I'll grant that a knee-jerk equating of "female" with "having a vagina" is insensitive. It's also still pretty automatic for most people. I think it's perfectly understandable that someone would throw out a silly "boys have a penis, girls have a vagina" joke without thinking about it; even people who are pretty sensitive to LGBT issues are likely to have some level of cis privilege. I expect that will go away in the coming years, much as I no longer hear the word "marriage" and assume a heterosexual couple.

And Whedon HAS been pretty socially progressive. Buffy put a gay character in a prime-time drama back when that was not a common thing to do; Firefly depicted a 'verse where sex work is not (generally) stigmatized; Buffy the comic dealt with abortion a couple of years back. It's hard for me to believe, given those points, that Whedon is unfamiliar with trans issues or is prejudiced against trans folk. Again, never met the guy -- that's just my guess.

By all means, when somebody says something insensitive, call him on it. People have, and I think that's reasonable. I'm having trouble seeing why it's worth a thirteen-post conversation, let alone any kind of actual controversy.

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:46 pm

Apparently there are People On The Internet who claim Whedon actually has a history of being if not anti-trans, then at least very tone-deaf on the issue. BUT I haven't read anything about it myself, only seen conversations in passing, so there's an excellent chance that's all so much bullshit.

Anyway, gender issues completely aside, I still think that's a terrible way to reply for a writing advice request, but that's just me. A quick google search shows he's given out some generic writing advice but nothing regarding specific characters or archetypes.
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Lyrai » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:48 pm

I think teaching people that writing good women isn't hard is a good thing. People treat it as some sort of mythical white elk "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MR WHEDON HOW DO YOU DO SUCH A MAGNIFICENT TASK THAT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE"

Really, that kind of speaks worse of the culture asking than any strengths of the writer. "Stop treating it like it's hard to do and just write a strong human being."

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby MarsDragon » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:08 pm

TedBelmont wrote:"Just add boobies" is kind of a shitty way to write female characters, though.


Yeah, everyone knows women are mysterious creatures that might not even be human at all. Writing them as people is exactly the wrong advice to anyone wanting to understand these strange, unknowable beings.

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:14 pm

Lyrai wrote:"Stop treating it like it's hard to do and just write a strong human being."


So in the space of this thread we already have two excellent twitter-length responses.
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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:30 pm

Lyrai wrote:I think teaching people that writing good women isn't hard is a good thing. People treat it as some sort of mythical white elk "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MR WHEDON HOW DO YOU DO SUCH A MAGNIFICENT TASK THAT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE"

Really, that kind of speaks worse of the culture asking than any strengths of the writer. "Stop treating it like it's hard to do and just write a strong human being."


Well, aside from that, it's always so weird that people ask MEN questions like that. I mean, not that Joss Whedon's a bad guy to ask about writing good female characters, but I don't think he got there by asking men how to write women.

Gail Simone gets that sort of question all the time -- people ask her how to write LGBTQ characters, and she responds with some variation on "I'm glad you think I'm good at writing LGBTQ characters, but you really should ask someone who's LGBTQ; there are plenty of people out there who have actual firsthand experience and I'm not one of them."

I should add that I'm pretty consistently impressed by how patient Gail is, not just with people asking questions she's gotten before but with people who are angry and offended about something she's said or done. When she gets a sincere criticism of something she's written -- say, if she DOES mistakenly make an insensitive comment --, her usual response is "I hadn't thought of it that way; I'm sorry and I'll try and learn from this." No matter how rude the person is.

Except for the ones who are just trolls. She responds to them with Black Canary facts.

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Re: QUILTBAG

Postby sei » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:02 am

Jerk misconstrues something said for attention. News at 11.

I agree with Defenestration and Lyrai.

I'll grant that a knee-jerk equating of "female" with "having a vagina" is insensitive. It's also still pretty automatic for most people.
Comedy is poorer for fear of offense. I guess Whedon had the sense not to double down like Krahulik, though.

Just to stuff a grenade into the hornet's nest for fun, though: when exactly is someone considered one gender or another?
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