Joss Whedon: "They Invented The Internet For Me"

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Buffy. Firefly. Alien: Resurrection. Joss Whedon is awesome. Here's six random cool things he had to say during his appearance at the Melbourne Writers Festival on Friday (he's at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday night as well):

Picture by gageskidmore

On the importance of the Internet in making Buffy The Vampire Slayer a success: "The Internet happened to sort of come up the same year as we did, and that worked out pretty well. Communities started forming and something started to exist that was bigger than the show, because the show was never very big. It was on a tiny network and it was watched by at most 5 million people which would not keep you alive for three weeks on a major network. I know this. This community and the way people responded to this in building its own zeitgeist made it bigger. And then I also began to communicate with fans and the idea of the show runner as a person that somebody would actually want to speak to or know about became a reality. I'd been around television my whole life and I'd never seen anything like that. [Adopts mock-cool voice] I just took it in my stride: you know, they invented the Internet for me. Now they use it for other stuff too."

On what inspires his writing: "I'm a Star Wars guy. [Huge cheer from audience] Other people have seen this obscure art film too? Street cred for mentioning that." (FWIW, anyone else think Lucas isn't worthy of cleaning Whedon's shoes?)

On the prospect of further Internet-only content a la Dr Horrible: "I was planning to do something when The Avengers came up. I was actively developing something. I've been wanting to do something for a long time. I've been trying to set up funding which is very, very difficult because nobody knows how to make money from this unless you're working at a very low level. I'm perfectly comfortable working at a very low level, but most of the people who invest money in entertainment aren't. They always look at the big prize. That's why we get three $100 million movies instead of 30 $10 million movies. I absolutely want to do more there."

On whether he'll do another TV series: "I'm never going to turn my back on television. Television has something that you cannot achieve anywhere else, that kind of living with the story for years and years in a collaborative fashion where you're living with the people who are helping you tell the story, the writers and of course the actors. You just keep turning the same rock over and seeing it in a new way. That is such a gift, it is something you don't get in movies at all. It is something you just don't get anywhere else . . . It's something I adore, and it may be my favourite kind of story-telling, but I'm not going to do it for a while. Ultimately, I'm perfectly happy as long as I'm telling some kind of story. I'll never turn my back on it, I just have to find a venue where they will let me make it the way that I make it which is a little antithetical to TV."

When asked "how does it feel to be God?", Whedon replied: "Well, when I made the mountains, I thought "they're good", but [pause and laughter] I don't believe in me, which is actually awkward."

On the role of evil corporations in modern life: "It is epidemic. In America, every company is buying every other company. In five years' time there will be two, maybe. And they're being given basically licence to become monopolies. And what these corporations do is marginalise the individual so that the corporations can ultimately dictate how the individual lives and keep people poor and keep people dependent and keep people consuming and they do this so they can keep their margin profit where they want it, not where it needs to be in order for them to survive, but wherever the fuck they want it. I very strongly believe that certainly in America the culture of the giant company is here and it is destroying the fabric of our society." Hmmm, why am I suddenly thinking of Apple?

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    Yeah, I agree, in terms of the writing, Joss blows George out of the water. However, much as I love Buffy (got the whole series on DVD), in terms of staying power and cultural significance, Star Wars still probably beats anything else out there. At least Episodes 4-6. Ep 1 was possibly the most disappointed I have ever been after a movie. My theory: George waited too long to make it. The world had moved on (and I was a lot older. In 1977, at 8 years old, Star Wars was the greatest thing I'd ever seen.)

    Glad to see Alien Resurrection crossed out. I'll never forgive him for killing off the Alien series and spinning it into the comic book style crap we have with AvP today.

    I just can't get into Whedon's work. It's not clever of interesting enough to be taken seriously. And not funny enough to be enjoyed simply as comedy. His stuff sits somewhere in-between as mediocre satire, or uninspiring popcorn fluff.

    Resurrection was awful. He's written some good stuff, and some bad stuff (anyone remember the Buffy musical? He should've asked for help on that one) but I've never really been able to get over Resurrection. You'd think following Alien 3 would be a cakewalk.

    Well, Joss agrees with you on Alien Resurrection guys. It's widely known that the studio messed with his script and he hated the end product. Same thing happened with Alien 3, which was directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven), who now disowns that film as well. Even when Fincher was asked to complete a 'Director's Cut', he refused, because the studio hadn't even let him shoot what he wanted to in the first place, so he could never truly have his vision on screen.

    And Spock, for the record, I loved the Buffy musical, and I know a lot of people who did, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that one!

    Okay Spock, the Buffy musical remains one of the best things to have *ever* been on television. It was clever, well developed and original.

    I disagree about the Apple comment. I'd be more concerned about Microsoft than Apple.

      What? Apple is more scary than Microsoft! Apple has a much more closed system philosophy than Microsoft.

        Absolutely: Scary Microsoft is old hat. Micrsosoft and Gates (who many people thought the personification of the devil) are actually nice people. Scary Apple is only now beginning to become evident. Jobs could turn into Pacino's devil on steroids. Something for a horror movie, actually.

    I think his gift is that each time he taken the obvious and done it differently. Buffy the movie was where most vampire stories were, then he made it more adult (ironically by kids growing up) and now the world is choking on derivative vampire crap. Firefly also deals with very contemporary SF ideas in a totally different way (ignore the small girl kicks ass commonality) to anything else; and how about the at the end of the Serenity movie where, totally un-expectantly, the pilot dies? Joss seems to be about telling the story in a different and best way he can, and for that I applaud him.

      The pilot dies??!?!?!? ONOZ!

    Some peolpe have a list of celebrities they could sleep with if the opportunity arises.

    This guys is number one on my "Kill a celebrity" list. He is just about the worst thing to happen to popular culture.

    Buffy, by far, is the worst show EVER made. Goddamm that show was the absolute worst. Bad writing, bad acting, bad sets, bad effects.

    Damn i just wasted another 5 minutes on this douche bag.

    veddermandan, you fail bigtime.

    Buffy is one of the most brilliant, well-written shows ever - along with Arrested Development, Mad Men, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica etc. Those are the shows I would be thinking of, anyway - you're probably thinking more along the lines of Desperate Housewives or Law and Order and became confused when you watched a show that didn't follow stereotypes or formulaic plotlines.

    I have very little in anything Joss did before Buffy, from there it was nothing short of awesome.

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