There are a number of people I hope read this post. I know this hope may be in vain but I am an endless optimist. These people are:
Joss Whedon & everyone involved in Avengers: Age of Ultron: I know there has been a huge furor surrounding Whedon’s latest outing in A:AOU and I do not really think that someone as graciously talented as Whedon needs to be defended but that is what I will be doing in this post, as he is one of my favourite writers.
Everyone who abused Whedon for sexist issues in A:AOU: I will be telling you all you are idiots. Now, if you reply, retweet and engage with this post, you will be driving traffic to my blog, getting more people to read it so I win. If you do not reply, retweet and engage with this post, I can only assume I am right in what I am saying and so I win, and therefore Joss Whedon wins.
Which he does anyway.
Tonight, my very beautiful fiance Keri took me to see the new Avengers film. this was a gorgeous thing to do as I know she is not the biggest fan of the MCU in the world but she knows I absolutely adore it. I have been overtaxed at work in the last few months so have not really been able to afford a lot of fun things to do so Keri decided to treat me by taking me to see Age of Ultron, which, in my mind, was an incredible thing to do.
I will say at this point that I do not expect Keri, ‘my woman’ to pay for everything. When all things are equal, we split everything equally. A few years ago she was struggling for money do I took on a lot of the financial responsibility and now I am struggling, she is doing the same. There is a parity. Things are in this way because it is fair.
Nor do I in any way refer to Keri as ‘my woman’ because I am not a sexist.
Nor is Joss Whedon.
When I was watching AOU in the cinema, the whole Twitter-storm that broke out of issues of sexism in this film were resting squarely on the front inside of my skull. I was waiting for the moment where I would say to myself ‘oh, maybe there is something in what has been said.’ Even if there was no such clear-cut moment, I thought there would be a moment where a scene could be read as sexist, if you apply the right lens.
From what I have gathered, people are calling sexism because in her previous outings with the Avengers and related films, Natasha Romanov has been seen as an incredible strong ‘don’t-take-no-shit-from-no-one’ kind of woman and in AOU she has moments where she is weak. I can only imagine this perceived weakness comes from the sub-plot of her feelings for Banner. She loves him and knows of the grave danger they are all facing from Ultron, so wants to keep them both safe. At the end of the day, Romanov is mortal and can easily be killed. Unlike Stark, she does not have fancy suits of bullet-proof armour; she is not chemically altered like Captain America or Banner himself; she’s not an alien. She just wants to stay safe and be in love, which is human. What has happened here is that she has become a more three-dimensional character. I know being a stone-cold assassin is cool and all that, but character development is key in anything, especially in something as multi-layered as the MCU.
Whedon has not undone the entire character of Romanov by any stretch of the imagination. It’s all to do with the lens through which you look at the thing. Clearly, everyone who called sexism is more concerned with the outward appearance of being offended than the actual issues themselves.
Also, let’s take a quick look at Whedon’s back catalogue. Arguably, his most successful character has been Buffy. A stronger woman on television there has never been. I can only imagine all those who got offended at AOU would look at Buffy and call that sexist too, because there are story-lines where she is not the one-dimensional kicking-machine that you would like. The story line with her’s and Spike’s relationship for a start. It’s all about the lens.
If you looked at Buffy through the right lens, you could say it is propoganda for the return of the Nazi Party. A very Aryan blonde-haired-blue-eyed white girl obsessed with an ancient race steeped in rituals and wiping them from the face of the Earth so her other true-blood compatriots can live in peace.
Obviously, this is not what Buffy is about but I applied that lens to my perception of it and that was the result.
Also, we have Zoe and Inara from Firefly, Echo and Miss DeWitt from Dollhouse and many more. All strong female characters that were by no means one-dimensional because they had moments where they were weak, thus creating proper, human characters.
And that is what Whedon did with Romanov in AOU. Made her more three-dimensional. She was scared by the situation and wanted to flee.
Barton was terrified as well. He didn’t want to fight but he knew he had to. In his previous outings, he was seen in much the same way as Romanov. Cool under all sorts of pressure, cold as ice. In this film, we saw his family introduced and suddenly he was all the more human. He was scared, he didn’t want to fail his family, or be killed and leave them altogether. He had moments of weakness in exactly the same way but there was not a whole hoo-ha about that. If you’re going to get all bent out of shape because you feel Romanov’s character was weakened, you should be just as bent out of shape because the same thing happened to Barton. If you don’t see it that way, you’re the sexist ones. And idiots.
And Whedon wins.
Which he did anyway.
All the time.
As a side note, instead of getting all bunched up about what is essentially a damn fantasy film – there’s a bloke with a magic fucking space hammer for god’s sake – and spend all of your time sending abuse to the person who wrote a film which grossed near-as-dammit-or-more $1billion, why not try engaging with yourself and writing something. If you don’t like a film, or a show, or a book, don’t read it, don’t engage with it. There are those of us who like these things and don’t need to monkey-shrieking of cretins detracting from it. Write something that you feel addresses and slights or imbalances you have imagined. I guarantee you they won’t but try concentrating on your own stuff and leave alone those who are doing it well. I can only imagine all of this was born out of jealousy anyway.
Here is my poem from yesterday.
I make no illusion of the fact
that I need to lose weight.
In this lack of illusion,
like many a non-deluded,
I am not alone.
So what do our soul-fried-chicken
sisters and brothers do about our
Running is the best form of exercise.
It burns calories and does
other things as well.
You also get to see sights whilst jogging.
Maybe you set out from your front door,
run to the end of the street,
onto street after street, passing terraces and
shops and all those tempting takeaways
and suddenly you’re in greenery.
A wood or the countryside,
or what passes for it these days.
Fresh air and beautiful scenery.
As good for the soul as it is for the body.
My jogging however, takes place under neon lights
usually with Alexander Armstrong gurning
down at me whilst the latest pop-factory-produced
vacuum warbles next to him.
On the road, sometimes you may drop your phone
but I guarantee it is never fallen from the stand on
a treadmill because you were laughing,
hit the belt and pinged off into the face
of the gym’s resident steroid user.
the empty rooms of those who
leave to join it.