Monday, September 17, 2012

In Joss I Trust

Those who know me knew this was coming. A large segment of my t-shirt collection is Joss-Whedon-related. And whether that is because he writes in a manner both witty and thoughtful; because he is a master of metaphor and clever innuendo; or because his brain seems to operate on a level that simultaneously awes and frightens his cast and crew ... I couldn't really say. He writes female heroes who are actually heroic and self-aware, something rare and beautiful to see in a media 'verse that often beatifies the victimized (and canonizes the martyred) woman and vilifies the strong. He actively turns the expected on its head and pulls the curtain on the ridiculous stereotype. He mixes his genres, humanizes his superheroes, kills off beloved central characters, and adapts freakin' SHAKESPEARE in his "down" time.

Today's shirt was a (Teefury) gift from good friends, J and Mitch, and graphically represents another reason I *heart* Whedon. The man wrote a super-villain MUSICAL (in three acts), where the "hero" is a pompous dick, the "villain" is a love-struck genius scientist, and the Big Bad is a horse with his own set of chorus boys. (Seriously, what's not to *heart*?) I write, of course, of "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog" spawned from the pit of the writer's strike, intelligently designed by many cooks, and full of classic revolutionary joie de vivre (as outlined in the Master Plan)

From its free-share, age-of-the-Internet beginnings, it has taken on the trappings of modern America with merchandising, publicity, some mainstreaming, and spin-offs without losing the core essence of challenge to expected norms. The highly recognizable cast - with actors from current television hits The Big Bang Theory, Castle, and How I Met Your Mother - is apparently committed to a sequel in the works for next year. Considering the projects Joss reportedly has on the go, I think back to one of my favourite Whedon lines in Firefly:

We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

and figure that being Mighty is a constant state of mightiness and an active pursuit of the impossible. There are many who aspire to this. There are some who maintain this... for a while. There are those who inspire others to seek it with their words, their deeds, their creations... and that is the only way to assure a legacy of mightiness. Joss Whedon is one of those Mighty and man, I get mighty tired just thinking about it all.

In 2005, before a premiere screening of Serenity, I stood in a movie cinema in London next to Summer Glau, facing Nathan Fillion, less than two feet away from Joss Whedon. I was able to converse in a somewhat natural manner with Summer whom I had met briefly the weekend before at an autograph fair and who is an incredibly warm individual, generous with her attention and genuinely kind and sincere. When she introduced me to "Nate", he was very friendly and happy and TALL as he signed an autograph for me and I was able to thank him without sounding too ridiculous. Then, just as the cinema manager indicated that it was time for the important people to do important things in the theatre, I made eye contact with Joss Whedon. And I had no words. Me. No. Words. Done the impossible, indeed. In the interests of full disclosure, I think I emitted an audible "eep" and ran to my seat in the theatre.

The "Can't Stop the Signal" campaign to make Serenity a success was my gateway to the world of the Browncoats, first in the UK and then here in Vancouver. Whedon's interaction with fans and supporters cemented my admiration for his talent with real respect for his causes and projects. Before the early screenings of Serenity, the following message from Joss was played:

So whether it's Shakespeare, or musicals, or mega-budget superhero movies, or even another Fox network television show that'll be cut down in its prime, I stand at the ready with my compatriots, armed with wit and optimism and all the #hashtags and broadcast ability that social media imbues us media foot soldiers with. Bring on the space war versus an ancient evil; a cabin built in a Hellsmouth in a law office; a rocket launcher to fight a killer unicorn for a dollhouse; or superheroes who need shawarma. We're loud. We're proud. We're Big Damn Heroes. And we sing about mustard stains when the moment calls for it.