That is so Meta

When people talk about Joss Whedon, they talk about what is between the lines. They rarely talk about what he actually writes. Yes he is a huge feminist, but what about the characters that are not “Hot Chicks with Superpowers?” Whedon does a good job to create the audience inside his movies and films. As a film study minor I like to focus on these characters. Screenwriting always interests me and I was able to find that many of Joss Whedon characters are the audience commenting on the work.marty

Looking at his list of characters that he created the biggest one that pops out easily is Marty from Cabin in the Woods. He is the one character that comments with the truth on everything wrong that the other characters are doing. He is the audience that wants to tell the others not to split up or tell them “Ok, I’m drawing a line in the fucking sand here. Do not read the Latin!” But the others continue to ignore him and all of us that yell “don’t go in there!” Take a look at The Avengers; Age of Ultron. It is technically a serious movie for Joss Whedon, yet he puts the audience into Hawkeye. During the big climax, everyone is confused and Hawkeye comes into say what the audience is thinking, “The city is flying and we’re fighting an army of robots. And I have a bow and arrow. Nothing makes sense.” IT DOESN’T! But we accept it because that is what we are supposed to do this movie. Accept the stereotypes and try not to question it.

It doesn’t stop with his movies, his television shows have someone as well. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Xander, a high school student that makes a joke of everything but the jokes are to make fun of the genre they are in. He makes fun of the creatures and the hunting only because that is what we would do. Most of the time his characters are the comic reliefs but his shows like Firefly and Dollhouse give the audience a more serious character persona. In Firefly, the character is Simon. He is the new person on the ship that questions all the normal day to day things the ship crew goes through.  We question why the crew are doing what they are doing and Simon has the same confused look as we do.

downloadIn Dollhouse, we get a character that only shows up a few times to ask our questions.  Patton Oswald portrays Joel Mynor, a technology entrepreneur that rents Echo every year on his wife’s death. Agent Ballard comes in to beat up all of Mynor’s security and save Echo but they end up having a chat. Mynor explains why the Dollhouse is a good thing and the Ballard himself is living a fantasy of saving the damsel in distress. It is a perfect way of telling Ballard that he isn’t as innocent.

For me these type of characters are perfect. You expose the stupidity of the stereotype in order to get a cheap laugh but also so the audience does not get hung up on it. Some people do not like it like me. Reddit user /u/SajunBecker says, “I’ll admit that I don’t dig Joss Whedon’s body of work one bit. In fact, his style is a lot of what I dislike about modern entertainment: smugly meta and self-referential, founded in “cleverness and wit”, overly jokey, and just kind of in love with its own farts.” Though I don’t believe Joss is in love with his own farts, it is true that it is self-referential. I take that as a good thing. If you make fun of the thing you are trying to do, then people will take you less seriously and enjoy the point you are trying to get across. I also believe that /u/SajunBecker is wrong, it isn’t modern entertainment, it is more of post modern, Whedon is ending the way we normally look at our shows and forces us to think about the stereotype ans why they matter. Hopefully now that this is brought to your attention, you will see more of the audience in his films.


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