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I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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In response to a post on the Buffy Cross & Stake, which mildly applauded Joss recent Watch With Wanda interview, quoted here:

Wanda: Buffy and Angel fans seem to be more critical than ever this season. Does that affect you?

JW: It always affects me. At the same time, I need to give them what they need, not what they want. They need to have their hearts broken. They need to see change. They hated Oz, and then they hated that he left. These things are inevitable. If people are freaking out, I'm good. If people are going, "Hmmm...well, that was fine," I'm fucked.

---

The BC&S poster stated that if he/she were a producer who'd gotten message boards buzzing for the last 19 weeks and inspired the kind of analysis that BtVS fans do daily, he/she would congratulate themselves on a job well done. My thoughts (had them when I first read it, thought I'd got over them enough to not bother posting, but apparently not) :

Talking about plot events and characterization choices for 19 weeks doesn't necessarily make the writing brilliant. It merely makes it controversial -- in many cases (off this board) because fans are tuning in to Angel like car-wreck-gawkers, to see what the next insane rant-inspiring piece of Gunn or Cordelia mischaracterization will be. Believe me, somthing does not have to be *good* to inspire discussion.

When I read Joss' reaction to this question, a week or so ago, I was astounded by its apparent self-congratulation. The question was about Buffy and Angel fans being more critical this season, and did Joss address the issue that many of the complaints have been not about character direction and relationhips, but about plot holes, Pod-people, unbelievable setups just to put characters in angsty positions, rehashing of metaphors without putting new twists on them, and just plain inconsistent writing?

No. He assumed (or chose to decide that) the question was simply one of "Do the fans like the direction the shows are going? Have I shaken up their little worlds? Are they upset and ranting and emotionally affected by my shows? Great!" Some of us are upset and ranting and emotionally affected by poor writing, character disintegration, and no sense of consistency or deep thought beyond each individual writer's/producer's personal agenda with the show, which differ wildly, and Joss doesn't seem to care that it's blatantly *obvious*. More so with Angel than with Buffy, but still present in both shows.

I found Joss' answer to that question to be insulting to fans who are concerned with more than just "is Oz leaving" or "Should Buffy be with Spike or Xander?" Good storytelling should make me emotionally engaged with what's happening to the characters, whether it's the direction I would choose for them or not, yes. But Joss has been saying this since Day 1, and it's not an answer to issues of *quality*.

Edited to add, because I forgot about it, but it's just as infuriating:

"This year was about adult life and relationships--and making really, really bad decisions. Next year will still be scary and different and strange, but it will be more of a positive outlook. People will stop abandoning Dawn. Willow won't be a junkie anymore. Buffy won't be dead."

Right, Joss. Because when addicts are deprived of access to their drug of choice (as I'm guessing, no spoilers here, will happen to Willow at the end of this season) they stop being addicts. And, when they get treatment instead of trying to go through rehab alone (more guessing) they stop being addicts.

Arrgh!

The plot was idiotic in the first place -- she was addicted to power, not magic. But if you want us to buy that she was ever an addict, don't *fucking* try to tell me she won't be anymore.

Granted, "junkie" and "addict" aren't necessarily the same, as the first has connotations of non-treated addiction. But do I buy that Joss meant to make that distinction? No.

witchwillow

2002-05-10 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Pod person Joss

The assimilation is complete.

::snerk::

I'll have something more rational to say when I get home. Honestly, cause, I think I'm all worked out over B & A and I need to recharge.

Willow hugs Amy, because...uhmm it's AMY!

witchwillow

2002-05-10 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)

maybe it's not that Joss is a pod person. Maybe it's that Joss is the queen, and we're all being assimulated to the point where he can act (I hope it's an act) like he doesn't give a crap, cause we'll follow him.

Hive consciousness and all that jazz.

Anastasia feeling silly and fretful.

In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

ex_verdandi713

2002-05-10 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

"I need to give them what they need, not what they want. They need to have their hearts broken."

Poor Joss: Yet another television producer falls prey to the dreaded and incurable malady known as Tom Fontana Syndrome. Sad, really.

At the same time, I can't really say the level of self-congratulation here really surprises me. Joss and company are more than slightly Internet-savvy (to the point, I'm sure, of having "plants" of all sorts on all manner of Buffy-related lists), and though I'm an outsider to the fandom even I have been taken aback by the number of people who write long essays to the effect that Joss Whedon Is the Best Writer on Television, Joss Whedon Is the Best Writer Ever to Work in Television (get lost, Paddy Cheyefsky, and take that hack Dennis Potter with ya!), I Will Watch No Matter What Joss Does With the Characters, Joss Is a God, Joss Is a Genius, I Would Follow Joss Into the Fiery Pits of Boiling Hell, Thank You Joss Just for Being You...it goes on and on and on, and who *wouldn't* start believing the hype about themselves at that point, especially when it's a group of spontaneous amateurs generating it? Insert anecdote about Frankenstein's monster here.

I never really got it, to be honest. Joss Whedon's a competent writer who can produce a far more entertaining and less predictable television show than many, but...I mean, at the end of the day, all he is is another Hollywood guy and all we are to him is the peasants in the Nielsen booth. Why all the adulation?

Re: In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

kita0610

2002-05-10 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Problem is that Joss *does* have the ability to be a writing/directing/producing god. But he is way too busy atm to be BUFFY's (or Angel's for that matter) god, and boy, does it show.

He is right about what fans want vs. need not always being one and the same. Tons of folks *want* happy endings, but they say they want them all the damn time, and who would really watch 6 seasons of shmoop??

But, Joss isn't nearly as involved as he used to be, and the quality suffers. MN has never been remotely interested in fan reaction one way or the other, and boy, does THAT show.

I'm not of the opinion that the writers, Joss, or anyone else owes me ANYTHING other than quality. They can kill off whomever they wish, they can pair off the unlikeliest of pairings. So long as they do it in a believable manner, I'll watch because I enjoy the show itself, and I don't care if Joss eats live kittens, or what he thinks of me as a fan. It's when the quality starts to slip; characters become unrecognizable, plotlines are abandoned without resolution, and other plotlines inserted in leiu of actual character development, that any show is in danger of losing me. And Joss is coming close. Whether or not he actually gives a shit at this late date, is anybody's guess.

Peace

-D

Re: In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

iroshi

2002-05-10 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

characters become unrecognizable

You know what I've always wondered? The writers aren't the only ones dealing with characterization. The actors are in the thick of it. Do these actors ever stop and argue with the writers because, WAIT, my character wouldn't DO that!? The actors can't really do shit about the plotlines, granted. They can't do anything about the plausibility of the situations they're put into. But...characterization they should be able to do something about. Do they? I've never been a behind-the-scenes kind of fan, so I don't know. But I would hope that they do. I would hope that they know their characters as well as their viewers do...I mean, I would, if I were an actor. I would watch what I filmed afterward and make sure I saw it from the fen point of view, from an objective point of view if I could manage it, and make sure I understood the character, knew her like my best friend, from the inside-out, so that I would KNOW if I weren't *being* her the next time we were filming, ya know? Does that make sense?

I just wonder these things. ^_^

Re: In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

mpoetess

2002-05-10 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

SMG might be able to get away with it, since without her, BtVS doesn't happen. Ditto Dave Boreanaz. SMG probably *does* it. David, probably not, because frankly, given interviews I've read with him, I don't think he gives a dried warmed-over flattened cow shit frisbee about characterization. Where do you want me to stand and what do you want me to say and how do you want me to say it? And if he's directed well, you get good stuff, and if he's not told how to say it, you get Dave Boreanaz making goofy faces.

The rest, though?

I love JM, but he's a complete yes-man. He's a creative artist, wants to do Shakespeare, wants to produce, wants to direct, but when asked if he ever has any suggestions for or disagreements about Spike's character, it's always "No, I'm so lucky to be working for this guy, he's the boss, he's the genius. If I ever have questions, he just says trust me and I do, and it all works out great. All hail Joss."

Ahem. "JM is an adorable tool" mode off.

Re: In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

puca

2002-05-10 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

LOL...yeah, JM *is* a yes man, that's for sure. God love the silly guy.

The difference I've noticed this season is that much of the dialogue just doesn't have that *snap* it used too. Oh, this season has as many great lines as always...but they don't seem as interconnected to the action as seasons past. The flow simply isn't as tight. While I love this season more that any season prior, I do think there has been a drop-the-ball situation when it comes especially to making things subtle. Too many anvils.

Re: In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

kita0610

2002-05-10 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

SMG did say it once. Out loud and in the press. She said the one night stand with Parker seemed so out of character for Buffy, that she actually cried in Joss' office and begged him not to make her do it. There was a line included in the original script of a following ep however, which made her feel better. It was upon telling Willow about Parker. She said, "And the whole time I was saying, see how NOT about Angel this is? Look at me, all over Angel. This is not at all about me and Angel!" The line was cut from the final scene.

And Amen to the Dave thing. Half the time in interviews he can't even remember to mention the fact that Angel is a vampire. Of course, the writers are forgetting that too, so maybe it's not his fault. Heh.

JM just knows where is bread is buttered, baby. Can't fault a man for that.

Peace

-D

Re: In Which I Invite the Wrath of Thousands, Nay Millions

mpoetess

2002-05-10 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

No, I'm completely down with JM being aware of what he's doing; he's subtly honest about it when he says things like "Hey, the man hands me my paycheck." He's just a little too into it not to annoy me at times; sometimes I'd rather see him keep his mouth shut and be diplomatic, than say positive things that don't quite ring honestly to me.

I suspect his effusive praise of SMG may be a bit of that too, but there's such sniping and denial and bleh about what she is or isn't like behind the scenes, that I've given up wondering. She's a damn fine actress, which is the point. (And since I don't lust after her, I don't have that annoying fannish urge to pretend I know what she's actually like.)

zortified

2002-05-10 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Yea, what you said.

As for folks thinking Joss is a writing god - Joss has the ability to write amazing episodes. The problem is, he doesn't always. Each episode is not A Joss Masterpiece.

I wish it were. Oh, do I ever. But it isn't. Many eps lately don't even seem like Joss looked at them first.

But - Joss *could* and can be brilliant. Lots of writers can. Do they owe it to us to be constantly brilliant? Or do they owe it to us to merely not give us garbage?




benaresq

2002-05-10 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, I saw that and thought "patronising gimp" as well. He's not taking into account all the fans who aren't on the message boards because they stopped watching the show, for one thing. And I've seen interviews with MN when she's a total patronising cow to the fans; if Joss has got a case of it too that might explain one or two things.

I guess if you somehow castrated Willow's magic abilities she wouldn't be an addict; I mean, he can't be so crass as to believe that there's some real-world-esque solution. I hope.

sweetvalleyslut

2002-05-10 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Big fat WORD to everything you just said. Joss is no longer my father! He actually thinks people have been mad about Angel this season because, what, Angel and Cordy might hook up? NRRR!