Last week we gave away two tickets to see the great Joss Whedon at the Melbourne Town Hall. Obviously many of our readers are big Buffy fans, as we had a huge response to this competition! Joss Whedon's television series, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse, have cult status among fans so the chance to see him speak as part of the Melbourne Writers' Festival garnered some great responses to our question, 'What would you do to see Joss Whedon?'
It was tough, but we eventually decided on a winner. Danielle Graber was the lucky recipient of the tickets, and she's written this great review of the show that we just had to share. Enjoy!
The line for Joss Whedon’s keynote speech at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival wound out and around both sides of the Melbourne Town Hall and drew a lot of attention from scurrying passers-by; one of whom was heard to remark, “It’s for that Josh Weed guy – he’s totally overrated.” Contrast that with the introduction provided by Sue Turnbull, that “God has come to Melbourne”, and somewhere in between lies the truth behind this inventive, self-effacing and insecure, yet oddly confident, creator.
Joss (almost single-handedly) managed to change the face, and our perceptions, of what television could actually be. A third-generation TV writer he still managed to challenge the status quo and insist that what he wanted to do not only could be done, but would be appreciated. While he still walks a fine line between commercial success and cult-icon status and admits that there is no way to avoid being bound to some greater need – be it external studios and financers or the need to make your own money back and not destitute your growing family – he has managed to keep telling the stories he needs to tell.
His appearance at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival generated record-breaking ticket sales and a Town Hall full of brown coats, dyed red hair and custom-made t-shirts featuring everything from Captain Hammer’s “fist” to “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal” dinosaurs. The speech took on a question-and-answer format with Sue Turnbull asking Joss about early influences and career aspirations and obstacles. Joss did really well, considering he must have answered those questions a thousand times or more over the last few years alone, and he managed to keep his answers fresh and his enthusiasm up, treating his live audience with the same respect he demonstrates in his writing. He never assumes his audience isn’t just as clever and witty as he is, and we love him for it.
Joss covered ‘creative differences’ with studios who wanted to change “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Slayer” because they thought Buffy was a silly name for a vampire slayer (“Slayer? Isn’t that the name of a Christian rock band?” he quipped), and discussed the hurt over the loss of “Firefly”. That loss is still palpable for Joss, who I think sees his characters as autonomous beings that spring to life in his head to be given voice via TV, movies, Webisodes or comics. I think that’s why he can be so self-effacing in ‘real’ life, yet display the grit and gusto to convince a studio that making a sci-fi western is a good idea. It’s also why his characters, whether they be vampires or superheroes, are so real and can tell such real stories.
Finally, in an ending that would be too trite for the man who wanted nothing more than to confound expectations by killing off a character that had appeared in the opening credits in the first episode of Buffy, Joss’s talent and prophet-like ability to draw fans has been recognised in the realisation of his childhood dream – he gets to write and direct the 2012 summer blockbuster that geeks worldwide are already drooling over – ‘The Avengers’. We’re taking bets now as to which iconic character he kills off, but we know it will all be worth it to see Joss tell his story.
- Danielle Graber