Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Joss Whedon!

Though I'm sure he doesn't read this, I feel that it's appropriate today to send birthday wishes to the man without whom On The Bird would not exist.

I have said before that Whedon influences my fiction in a variety of ways. My interest in storytelling, and in writing, pre-dates my having any idea who he was, but it was only after consuming his work (over and over again) that I learned to tell stories well. Devouring episode after episode of Buffy and Firefly (RIP) proved to be the ultimate object lesson in character development and narrative pacing, witty dialogue and mood mixing. (One of the most flattering things a reviewer can say about a story of mine is that they loved the dialogue. That's when I know I've learned well.)

More importantly, though, Whedon's career provides an object lesson in artistic courage. As an indie, it is frequently tempting to "fall in line," to sacrifice my own artistic vision to the demands of the market and create a cookie-cutter, derivative version of Twilight or Lord of the Rings. From a business perspective, this might well be the sensible thing to do. But Joss never did that. He continues to tell stories that mix or jump genres, despite acknowledging that this has probably hurt his career. He made Firefly and kept fighting for it for years after cancellation (even though, "in Hollywood, people like that are called 'unrealistic,' 'quixotic,' 'obsessive....'"), eventually getting a movie made. He bypassed television and movie studios entirely and brought us Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog directly--a first-of-its-kind web show. And, in an age when mindless brain candy seems to be the order of the day, he made Dollhouse, a show explicitly designed to challenge viewers to think about prevailing cultural and social norms.

Granted, this may have been easier for him to do, since he comes from well-established Hollywood pedigree. And I'd probably still enjoy his shows even if he were to do more "mainstream" work. But there's something to be said for sticking by your vision even when it hurts your bottom line.

So, happy birthday, Joss. To many of us out there, you're still a Big Damn Hero.

No comments:

Post a Comment