Joss Whedon deleted his Twitter account in response to overwhelming hatred thrown at him by a shrill union of the neckbeards and the legbeards. Here’s a sampling of Joss Whedon’s Twitter account shortly after the release of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron:
Militant nerds joined up with angry third wave feminists and harassed Joss Whedon to the point that he fled Twitter. Apparently a few hundred threats against him and his family was enough to scare him away from the popular social media network. Patton Oswalt, a proud liberal activist, expressed his disgust at the “Tea Party equivalent of progressivism/liberalism.”
This Joss Whedon Twitter debacle is strange on several levels.
First, Joss Whedon is among the strongest feminist voices in American cinema. His work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Serenity demonstrates a commitment toward crafting strong, non-sexually exploitative female leads. He knows how to write females well and presents women in a positive light. In contrast to the vast majority of the comic book industry, the Buffy comic created female characters with real depth and incorporated sexual overtones when necessary to the plot. Whedon has arguably contributed as much to the feminist movement via his art as any social activist.
Second, people are complaining that the Avengers portrayed the Black Widow, a female assassin, in a sexist light. The logic is that because Black Widow is sterile and because she feels that her assassin training turned her into a monster, Joss Whedon is saying that sterile females are monsters. That sentence was painful to write. Unfortunately, there are a substantial number of people on Twitter who felt that Whedon slapped feminism in the face with his portrayal of the Black Widow and issued numerous threats toward him as a result.
Third, there is a loud demographic complaining that the Black Widow was reduced to a damsel in distress because she was caught at one point in the movie. The logic being that if a woman is caught then the director must be sending a broader statement that women are helpless and depend on men for everything.
This whole incident is crazy. The only thing to remember is that the Internet is full of a lot of very unintelligent and uninformed people. There are swaths of people who enjoy the high they get from jumping onto a self-righteous band wagon of hate. Loud, hateful crowds receive disproportionate amounts of attention from the media. As a result, their venomous hatred serves to validate their sense of self-worth as the rest of the world acknowledges their existence.
Social media is toxic. This incident is just another reminder as to how awful people are when they have a big microphone and anonymity. None of these people would ever scream at Whedon in real life. Likely, none of them would harm him or his family. But given the cloak of online anonymity with a healthy dose of sanctimony, you end up with a dysfunctional output.
EDIT: Joss Whedon Reponds to Militant Feminists
In light of the surprisingly amount of hate from militant feminists, Joss Whedon addressed whether he left Twitter because of the threats against him. Apparently, he decided to leave Twitter to focus on creative opportunities that had nothing to do with the outpouring of hatred against him. While I’m sure that Mr. Whedon is telling the truth, it is interesting that several of the sources of who confirmed that Mr. Whedon left Twitter due to the threats were people personally knew the man and likely spoke to him about the event (see., e.g., Patton Oswalt, James Gunn, and Mark Ruffalo).
Perhaps the most poignant quote from Mr. Whedon regarding the situation was “when you declare yourself politically, you destroy yourself artistically.” As soon as an artist takes a stand on a political issue then every audience member will evaluate the art through the political prism you created. For Mr. Whedon, he’s declared himself a feminist in the past. He said that “[i]f you don’t live up to the litmus test of feminism in this one instance, then you’re a misogynist. It circles directly back upon you.”
The issue is that random people across the Internet projected their very specific views of feminism onto Mr. Whedon, and when his art failed to align with those views they responded with unmitigated rage. Mr. Whedon understood this. In reality, this isn’t likely the first time he’s had to endure these kinds of issues. He did write the X-Men for a long period of time. He has to be a master of handling ignorant comic book hatred at this point.
It’s good that Mr. Whedon left Twitter of his own accord. At this point, I hope that his departure from the Marvel Universe gives him the license to start something new. I’d prefer to see a new Whedon IP that gives him the opportunity to explore ideas without being hamstrung by existing franchises or other mythology.