So, hey, if you’re reading this, you’ve noticed that the blog is behind schedule. By like a year.
I’d post some big spiel on how it happened and everything, but I’m sure no one wants to hear what amounts to be some bad excuses.
Anyways, this post is the one that would actually go on August 17th of this year (as opposed to early August of last year, which is where the upcoming post on “Mudd’s Women” should have been posted), and is happening because gossip has come out that pretty well intersects with the sorts of things I cover: namely, that Joss Whedon has, according to his ex-wife, has been a hypocrite when it comes to his long-professed feminist values.
Now, obviously, I’ve criticized Joss Whedon before on this very blog. And I have a great deal of further criticisms of his work, and certainly of his politics. insert your preferred “Bernie Would Have Won” meme [HERE] But this one cuts deep. And not just because of how much the man’s work means to me. That’s because one of the main inspirations of this whole “lets blog Star Trek” idea was found out to be not such a great person in much the same way as Joss, not too long ago. And while this isn’t a huge shocker, it’s nonetheless a massive disappointment. And it’s incredibly relevant to Star Trek Debriefed.
It’s no secret that Gene Roddenberry was horrendously flawed, and seemed to sabotage himself constantly. Granted, the acts of self-sabotage were often because Roddenberry demanded a level of control over his show that wouldn’t be granted to any producer before the ’80s (and not consistently until around the time that Whedon developed Buffy for television), but his flaws played a huge part in why Star Trek only lasted three seasons. Despite being an era of out loud massive sexism everywhere, NBC held it against Gene for having affairs, as much because he used his position to cast his mistresses in prominent parts as because his interpersonal skills with network executives frankly sucked. But with fans and more than a few actresses, Gene did possess the charisma necessary to get the adoration he craved. And this is where Gene Roddenberry and Joss Whedon are woefully alike: when in possession of power over people, they both used that power to manipulate people.
But there are two things that separate Roddenberry and Whedon: one, studio and network executives never gave Roddenberry a whole lot of power. In fact, they seemed to revel in stripping Gene of his power as much as possible. Second, Roddenberry never seemed to actively engage in presenting a false of himself to the public. Granted, Gene allowed the fans to create the illusion of him being an impeccable human being, but he certainly wasn’t above, say, complaining about the Star Trek films in public, or allowing his hanger-ons to decanonize the Filmation series when that studio was closed (and the legal status of the series was placed in flux for a time). Bot Joss loudly and proudly has proclaimed himself to be a feminist, and did use his marriage as cover for the problematic parts of his work. And while Gene kind of hand-waved (or, more accurately, never was forced to acknowledge) most of Star Trek‘s issues (except Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s notorious episode “Code of Honor”, for which the blame was laid squarely upon the feet of that episode’s director), Joss has constantly side-stepped those same concerns because he’s declared himself to be a feminist and ally. Worse, he never did mount that vigorous of a defense of Marti Noxon when she was showered with a ton of flack for “ruining” Buffy while that show was on UPN. Contrast this with how Gene protected Dorothy Fontana for decades by accepting credit for rewriting “City on the Edge of Forever” (and therefore saving her the from direct-and sometimes quite sexist-bile of Harlan Ellison), and you may, like me, find Gene Roddenberry to be a more sympathetic figure in regards to gender politics at this juncture (which is a rather nihilistic state of affairs if you ask me).
And worse, since I’ve long identified with Xander, the original Joss Insert Character/Problematic Joss White Male Character, I find myself wondering if the redemption I see in Xander and seek for myself is a total pile of bullshit. While I generally refuse to announce myself as a feminist or an ally because I’m certain that I don’t do enough to help and I certainly bear far too many scars of privilege and upbringing to be worthy of such titles, I now wonder if I’m full of shit and am merely another one of those “good guys” who is anything but. And this is only emphasized by the fact that the next post I’m writing is about “Mudd’s Women”-an episode of Star Trek with some obvious and notoriously troublesome issues with its sexual politics (to say nothing of the loads of male gaze baked into the plot). These are issues that I was going to be addressing here, but now it’s going to come with a lot more doubt and introspection.