Philosophy

Dear Joss Whedon: Social Justice Warriors Don’t Have to Be Your Audience. SJW’s Are Over.

Dear Joss Whedon:

Hey man, how you holding up? I know you got into a bit of trouble recently, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I know it must feel absolutely terrible to have all these Social Justice Warriors — you know, the people you’ve been trying to defend for literally years — decide to up and turn on you.

And you know what? I don’t question the sincerity with which you tried to defend them. The shrieks about censorship and abuse are always easy to dismiss when they don’t happen to you, and besides, I know all too well that when you have a political cause, it’s easy to tell yourself, “Such and such must’ve done something to merit a hanging. But not me. They’ll never come after me.”

If anyone had a reason to think that way, Joss, it’s you. Anita Sarkeesian practically wrote her Master’s Thesis as a shrine to you. You made a scathing video mocking Mitt Romney back in 2012. Your female characters — Buffy, Faith, Kaylee, Inara, Zoe, that one chick from Dollhouse — get held up as archetypal examples of how to write women all the time. The pantheon of feminist heroines used to be pretty much just a list of characters you wrote until Daenerys Targaryen came along. Every time someone claimed Social Justice Warriors’ views were too censorious to create good art, there was always someone who’d point to you and ask, “Are you saying Joss Whedon’s work isn’t good art?” And you know what, Joss? As someone who was often on the receiving end of that question, I had to admit it was valid.

But now you’ve been forced off Twitter and been assailed by a barrage of think pieces claiming your treatment of Black Widow in the new “Avengers” is sexist. Just because you had the gall to give her a feeling of self-loathing over her own forced infertility. Which, of course, no one seems to notice that you treat that feeling with nothing but sympathy and go out of your way to make it look unfounded. They’re misinterpreting your work for their own slanted ideological purposes, and even Alyssa Rosenberg (no right-winger, her) says so. Oh, I know you say you didn’t leave Twitter because of the bullshit being flung at you, but frankly, that doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

You need an intervention, Joss. You need to realize this abuse is not about anything you did. That it never was about anything anyone did. This abuse is the product of a toxic ideology that’s severely past its prime, and that now can only find followers among the most pathologically antisocial members of society.

Those people will never be appeased because at bottom, they don’t want to be. They need targets. They need to feel like rebels against an oppressive society, and if they have to cannibalize their own to get that moral outrage high, they’ll do it. They’ll tilt at windmills, and when the windmills are all knocked down, they’ll turn their lances on their best friends. When reality stops giving them things to be upset about, they’ll outright manufacture fiction to back up their fight. They’ll make fake racist signs, commit fake hate crimes, spread false rape accusations, you name it. Anything to avoid the hard fact that they’re miserable because of something wrong with them, not because of some cruel, insidious conspiracy by society. Orwell described totalitarianism as a boot stomping on a human face forever. Social justice warriors are so terrified of freedom and responsibility that they would stomp on their own faces if they could.

Joss, I’ve been a fan of your work since I first encountered Buffy in college. And speaking of college, you know, that’s another thing you and I have in common. We both went to Wesleyan University. You know, the school that might as well be described as “real-life Tumblr?” The place where it’s easier to come out as an Otherkin than to admit you’re a registered Republican? Yeah, that Wesleyan.

Now, Joss, unlike you I didn’t have the luxury of hiding my hair-pulling annoyance at the far Left back then. I had to fight. But you know, I met plenty of people while I was there who told me, almost longingly, how much they respected what I was doing, even though they found my views repulsive. You could see it in their eyes, how much they were sick of kowtowing to their oversensitive masters. How much they yearned to just kick back and think, even if the thinking led them to scary right-wing places. How much they wanted to write their own stories, sing their own songs, make their own art, and the “problematic” implications be damned. You could almost hear them thinking, “Oh, if only the Right didn’t hate women, or gays, or black people, I might even give them a second look.”

Well, Joss, here’s a shocker for you: We don’t hate them. Oh sure, some of our members look down on their choices (and I’ll freely admit I don’t like how those people talk sometimes), but hate? Real, honest-to-goodness hate? Unless you’re talking to neo-Nazis or Klan members (neither of whom have any influence on mainstream conservatives or libertarians), you’re not going to find that here. No, when it comes to expressions of white-hot hate, the social justice warriors have us beat by an unconquerable margin, and they aren’t even ashamed of it. For them, being told not to hate is “tone policing,” and you’d better check your privilege, you white, cis-male dudebro pig.

You don’t have to be one of them, Joss. You can denounce them. You can join the so-called “dark side” and fear nothing. Oh sure, it might get you a couple upturned noses from the least tolerant people in Hollywood, but you’re Joss freaking Whedon, the man who made the Avengers. You don’t need to care about that anymore. We can’t offer you the kind of fawning press coverage that kowtowing to the rabid Left will get you, but we can offer you one thing far more precious: Creative freedom. We don’t care what the implications of your stories are. We don’t care how you treat your male or female characters. We don’t care how many white or minority characters are in them. We just want good stories. We just want beautiful art. That’s it. You want the same thing, Joss. Maybe we’re on the same side, after all.

Think it over. I won’t kid myself that you’ll necessarily listen, or even read this. But the next time you start spewing Social Justice platitudes, just know that there’s someone out there shaking his head. In fact, to quote one of the superhero franchises that once rivaled your own, just picture me saying this:

“Don’t talk like one of them. You’re not. Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak. Like me. They need you now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out like a leper. See, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke to be dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be.”

Joss, speaking on behalf of the Right, we’re not monsters. We’re just ahead of the curve. And you can be, too, if you want to be. Think it over, and keep it together.

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