On Friday, Avengers: Age of Ultron opened nationwide and fans were thrilled…but over the weekend, that enthusiasm turned into what I call “Mass Effect 3 Ending” levels of anger, insanity and hate towards writer/director Joss Whedon over Black Widow’s storyline. It got so bad that it hit the point that not only has Whedon left Twitter, Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer/director James Gunn has come forward to weigh in on the matter.
Gunn left an impassioned response to fans on Facebook that reads as follows:
Imagine being a guy, like Joss Whedon, who has committed his life to fandom and to creating the best characters he possibly can, characters he loves, and has spent two years of his life working on a movie, and then has to wake up to this shit on Twitter. Yes, I know – Age of Ultron has an “A” Cinemascore, and far and away most people loved it. But the angry contingent of fandom is getting more aggressive all the time, and it’s difficult to block out as a person in the public eye.
My plea to all of you – and this is nothing new – is that we all try to be a little kinder, on the Internet and elsewhere. And, honestly, that includes being kind to the people who are tweeting this nonsense. I don’t believe you can tweet about wanting to find a movie director and “curbstomp” him and be a happy person. That person’s statement might make you a little angry – that makes me angry too. But thank God the circumstances of my life and your life didn’t lead us to being the person that has the need to anonymously tweet that to someone on the Internet. And, as much as we may want to respond with vitriol to these tweets, I think that just creates more insanity.
As a young person I was very angry, and it’s something I have worked on, both personally and through years of therapy. And if I can say one truth about anger, it is that anger is almost never anger. Anger – especially aggressive and abusive anger – is a way to deal with feeling insecure, sad, hurt, vulnerable, powerless, fearful, or confused. Those feelings, for many of us, are a lot more difficult to deal with and acknowledge than anger. Anger makes us feel “right”. And powerful. But it also usually exacerbates whatever the underlying, more uncomfortable feeling is.
A couple months ago someone on Twitter wrote me that something one of my characters said in my movie hurt him. I’ve gotten hundreds of tweets from people angry about moments in my films over the years, and I just ignore them, or get angry in return. But that one tweet affected me profoundly. The last thing I want to do with my work is hurt someone, especially someone who already feels disenfranchised. That made me think about what I write and what I put in my films, and I will be more thoughtful about situations like it in the future. That is, one honest and vulnerable tweet affected more change in me than hundreds of angry ones.
So, again, it’s easy to be outraged by these tweets. But whatever these angry tweeters are in need of, I don’t think it’s more anger and more rage thrown back at them on Twitter. I actually think that’s what they’re seeking. But what they need is something different. Compassion, maybe? A kind request for boundaries? I don’t know. Maybe you guys have some ideas.
And by the way – Yes, I know there are real issues at play here. But, again, I don’t think the way to affect change is through rage. That is just going to increase whatever divide you’re experiencing in the first place. I believe that there are a handful of truly evil, awful human beings out there. But the majority of us on all sides of an issue think we’re doing the right thing and are doing the best we can. If we assume that of each other, it makes life a lot easier.
Love you all,
To be perfectly honest, I’m incredibly confused that Whedon is being labeled “sexist” and “misogynist,” for a number of reasons — “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Dollhouse,” and “Firefly,” to name a few. If you’re this angry over a storyline (that I can’t even discuss in detail because I REFUSE to spoil it for you like it was for ME) that you find yourself telling the director/actor/whomever to “kill themselves” or “tell me where you live so I can kill you,” you need serious therapy and medication.
For those of you who HAVE seen Age of Ultron, I’d love for you to weigh in on this, because — to be perfectly honest — I’m absolutely gobsmacked.
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