Acclaimed comic book writer and movie director Joss Whedon explained why he left Twitter following the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. And no, it wasn’t because of the feminist backlash regarding the film’s portrayal of Black Widow.
Speaking with Buzzfeed, Whedon set the record straight that the “militant feminists” who were outraged over how he portrayed the Russian spy in Age of Ultron had nothing to do with him signing off Twitter. “That is horseshit,” he said. “Believe me, I have been attacked by militant feminists since I got on Twitter. That’s something I’m used to. Every breed of feminism is attacking every other breed, and every subsection of liberalism is always busy attacking another subsection of liberalism, because god forbid they should all band together and actually fight for the cause.”
He continued by dismissing the claim that “the social justice warriors destroyed one of their own” and that Feminist Frequency was somehow responsible for his social media troubles. “I saw someone tweet it’s because Feminist Frequency pissed on Avengers 2, which for all I know they may have. But literally the second person to write me to ask if I was OK when I dropped out was [Feminist Frequency founder] Anita [Sarkeesian].”
So why did Whedon leave Twitter? As he explained to Buzzfeed, it was because he wanted to focus on his own writing without any distractions. “I just thought, Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place,” he said. “And this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life. … It’s like taking the bar exam at Coachella. It’s like, Um, I really need to concentrate on this! Guys! Can you all just… I have to… It’s super important for my law!”
Whedon’s statement echoes back to one he made in January, when he told Entertainment Weekly that he “quit” Twitter.
I joined six months ago to specifically try to drive business to Much Ado because I figured Much Ado needs all the help it can get. The moment I joined, oh my God, what a responsibility, this is enormous work—very fun, but it really started to take up a huge amount of my head space. I’m making a movie, I got a responsibility, this job doesn’t pay very well. It’s a fascinating medium, it’s a fascinating social phenomenon. People are like, “It’s like a drug.” Yeah, and it’s like a job. It’s just another art form. Until I have a script I truly believe in or a tweet that’s really remarkable, I can just walk away and get back to the storytelling I need to do.
So there you have it. End of story, right? Well, not quite.
The whole situation is another example of speculation being reported as fact in the media. While websites like Tech Times and Pajiba hesitated to blame angry feminist tweets for Whedon’s leave of Twitter, many websites reported the incident as the only reason for his departure. It’s true that Whedon received hateful tweets from those who believed he ruined Black Widow by making her a love interest and “damsel in distress” in Age of Ultron. But as Whedon said himself, he’s been exposed to this type of criticism before.
Furthermore, Whedon received similar backlash when he pointed out the sexist nature of the latest Jurassic World clip. He also received juvinile tweets from GamerGate, the faux journalist movement notorious for its harassment of women in the gaming industry, by supporting feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian.
if there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this, it’s that trolls comes in all kids of flavors. However, when it comes to feminism, it only takes a few trolls to misrepresent the belief that women should be treated equally. But when equal or greater harassment comes from male-dominated fandoms, it’s all forgiven with “Not All Men.”