Joss Whedon is the creator of several popular television shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and Dollhouse. He also made several movies such as The Cabin in the Woods and the movie The Avengers based on the Marvel comics.
Many people congratulate Whedon for his kick-ass female characters, however, many also question his feminist credentials.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Whedon first came to feminist attention for Buffy the Vampire Slayer which originally aired from 1997-2003, running to seven series over that period.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" showed a teenage girl, Buffy Summers, as a hero. Buffy was feminine in appearance, and cared about normative teenage girl things like cheerleading and fashion, while also fighting to protect her community against supernatural threats. The show "Buffy" also had many other female characters, both good and evil, and frequently passed the Bechdel test.
"Buffy" was widely analysed and spawned a field of academic studies originally called "Buffy Studies" or "Buffyology" and later called "Whedon studies" (see below).
On strong female characters and Whedon as a feminist writer
Many of the women in Whedon's work have been called strong female characters. Buffy is the most obvious of these, though characters like Willow Rosenberg and Zoe Washburne are also given as examples.
Joss Whedon describes this in a speech: "Why do you write these strong female characters?" (on YouTube)
Some other writing on Whedon as a feminist includes:
- Joss Whedon - feminist? (Whedonesque.com, a Whedon fan site, talks about Whedon's feminism)
- Interview with Joss Whedon in which he talks about being raised as a radical feminist
However, in more recent years there has been considerable opposition to Whedon as a feminist writer, and criticism of his work for its racism, portrayal of rape culture, women in refrigerators, and other problematic tropes.
Buffy studies/Whedon studies
The academic study of Whedon's work is called "Whedon Studies" or formerly "Buffy Studies". The main centre of these studies is the Association for Whedon Studies, who have produced the journal "Slayage" has since January 2001.
The following academic authors/books examine Whedon's work from a feminist perspective or discuss gender in Buffy:
- Rhonda Wilcox, "Sex and The Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan" (2005)
- Chloe Campbell, "The Chosen Ones: Feminism and Gender Studies in Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (2014)
- Lorna Jowett
- Stacey Abbott
- Roz Kaveney
More may be found in the following links which classify Buffy Studies articles by topic:
- Buffy studies on Wikipedia
Feminist praise for Whedon's work
- Dollhouse Is Feminist - A video series.
- 'Buffy' and 'Dollhouse': Visions of Female Empowerment and Disempowerment
- Why Buffy Kicked Ass
- re: "Reconsidering the Feminism of Joss Whedon" - A video series response to "Reconsidering the Feminism of Joss Whedon"
Criticisms of Whedon's work
- Joss Whedon and feminist cookies at The Hathor Legacy (see also: Feminist cookie)
- Critiquing Joss Whedon at Naamenblog
- Reconsidering the Feminism of Joss Whedon at The Mary Sue
Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel: the Series
- "Buffy on the other hand is kept almost virginal and is punished severely almost every time she has sex."
- Joss Whedon is a misogynist homophobe
- A series of articles:
- Is Joss Whedon feminist enough? (N.B.: article is arguably a critique of its own title)
- A Rapist's View of the World: Joss Whedon and Firefly
- Is Joss Whedon a feminist? The women of Firefly/Serenity
- More than just a whore: sex work, Firefly, and audience engagement
- Doctor... Horrible? (The Hathor Legacy)
- Weak, Whedon, fucking weak.
- Sad to say it, Dr Horrible let me down
- Dollhouse, rape culture, and women in refrigerators
- Why Dollhouse should be put in the attic
- My impression of Dollhouse
- "Me: Have you got anything without rape? Joss Whedon: Well, there's rape, intrigue, shirtless Helo and rape, that's not got much rape in it."
- NPR interview with Joss Whedon in which he discusses misogyny in Dollhouse, and he says is trying to "take someone's identity away in order to discuss the concept of her identity".
- Fox's Dollhouse: one more excuse for misogyny
- Reasons "Dollhouse" is misogynist bullshit #1: The names
A number of notable feminist fanworks have been produced from, and/or in response to, Whedon's shows, including:
- Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed (youtube link)
- Joss Whedon at the Internet Movie Database