Today marks the 51st anniversary of Joss Whedon being, well, Joss Whedon. But, instead of writing yet another article listing all of his many achievements or chronicling the various shows and films he has contributed to modern day pop culture, I wanted to write something more personal. This is the closest I will ever get to being able to write a birthday card to Joss Whedon. And since I can’t write it to him directly, I’m writing it to you – my fellow Whedonites – people who I hope will share some of these same sentiments about the man who brought us aboard the spaceship Serenity.
Joss Whedon is one of my favorite creators. Not only because he has made some of the most faction forming and thought provoking media, but also because despite being highly successful he’s still “one of us.” Not to get all weird and cult-y here, but Whedon seems to truly be a fan of the world he operates in. It’s an aspect that I find refreshing in directors and actors alike. Though at times he may be tired of the Hollywood system (aren’t we all?) he isn’t jaded by his success. And even in his current world of million dollar blockbusters, he still has time to make independent films about Shakespeare or people who can experience each others’ senses.
Joss’s unrelenting motivation inspires me to be a better creator. The show Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, for the most part, created because he was unhappy with the way the original 1992 film turned out. Instead of throwing out his original film script and giving up, he went back to the drawing board and went on to create one of the most iconic shows of my generation. Additionally, Joss’s first feature was a continuation of a television show that only had 14 episodes. That’s a feat that’s kind of unheard of.
One of Joss’s most creative endeavors was his solution to the writer’s strike — Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Not only did it provide me with a killer car ride playlist and a handful of stellar karaoke songs, it showed us that web content was a perfectly suitable form of media creation.
Another thing that has always drawn me to drink Whedon’s Kool Aid is his honesty about his self-doubt. Speaking as some one who has recently moved to Los Angeles to try and get her taste of the industry, I am disheartened on a daily basis. I’ve been told by many of my friends, mentors, and teachers alike — and I’m paraphrasing here, but barely — to fake confidence and act like an asshole because if I don’t I won’t get anywhere. You’re taught to be cocky which just isn’t me, no matter how many sarcastic tumblr posts I make that might imply the latter. And in all of the interviews I’ve watched or read Joss seems to be the same way. It’s relatable and human and it’s that same emotional vulnerability that he writes into his characters.
Today is a day to honor Joss Whedon and watch an episode or two or ten of one of his shows. It’s a day to read Astonishing X-Men or rewatch The Avengers or even record a new episode of your Buffy-centric podcast.
Happy Birthday, Joss! I will forever be grateful for all that you do.
Cover Photo Source: Entertainment Weekly