Wil Wheaton: Fans Okay to Separate Buffy from "Garbage" Joss Whedon

As most of you know by now, Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel star Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) went public with accusations against series creator Joss Whedon that involved years of unprofessional and abusive behavior. The posts would bring a number of others who had worked with Whedon in the past to offer Carpenter their support as well as share their own allegations against him (more on that below). Controversies such as Whedon or "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling have raised a serious debate within the geek community over how you separate the artist from their art or if the art is too intertwined with the artist to be able to consider them separately. Responding to a fan's question, Star Trek: The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton addressed this very subject on his Tumblr account (and then shared via Facebook).

Wil Wheaton: Fans Okay to Separate Buffy from "Garbage" Joss Whedon
Images: Screencaps

A fan explained in a posted question that they were big Buffy fans since they were teenagers and how "The Body" (when Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy lost her mother) helped them deal with the loss of their father. But since the allegations against Whedon surfaced, they "haven't rewatched a single episode." Now, they were looking to Wheaton to share his thoughts on if it's possible to love the art and hate the artist, or do folks need to "box that away." Wheaton began by explaining that he had run into the same situation with a songwriter he idolizes when he was younger who "grew up to be a reprehensible bigot" before directing his thoughts to Whedon:

This is a long way of saying that Joss sure turned out to be garbage. Because of who I & my friends are, I know stuff that isn't in the public, and it's pretty horrible. He's just not a good person, and apparently never was a good person.

BUT! Buffy is more than him. It's all the actors and crew who made it. It's all the writers who aren't Joss. Joss is part of it, sure, and some of the episodes he wrote are terrific.

At least one of the episodes he wrote was deeply meaningful to you at a moment in your life when you'd experienced a loss I can only imagine. The person you are now, and the 16-year-old you were who just lost their dad, are more important than the piece of shit Joss Whedon revealed himself to be.

His bad behavior is on him. He has to live with it, and the consequences of it.

16-year-old you, who just lost their dad, shouldn't have to think about what a shit Joss Whedon is for even a second. That kid, and you, deserve to have that place to revisit when you need to go there.

From there, Wheaton explains that as an actor who is also an abuse survivor, he hopes that viewers watch & enjoy his work to show that the art is bigger than "what one piece of shit did two decades ago." As Wheaton sees it, "I believe that when some piece of art is deeply meaningful to a person, for whatever reason, that art doesn't belong to the person who created it, if it ever did. It belongs to the person who found something meaningful in the art." The choice is with the person making the decision that's best for them and respectful to the art, without the artist needing to be a factor. "If it feels right to you to put it away and never look at it again, that's totally valid. But if it brings you comfort, or joy, or healing, or just warm familiarity to bring it out and spend some time with it, that's totally valid, too," explained Wheaton:

After "nearly two decades" before speaking up, Carpenter claimed in social media posts, "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working on the sets of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Angel.' While he found his conduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively." You can read Carpenter's entire statement below, where the actress goes on to offer examples of her allegations as well as revealing that she took part in WarnerMedia's investigation into actor Ray Fisher's claims against Whedon on the set of Justice League.

Image: C. Carpenter
Image: C. Carpenter

Cast members Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers), Amber Benson (Tara Maclay), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Anthony Head (Rupert Giles), Eliza Dushku (Faith), James Marsters (Spike), J. August Richards (Charles Gunn) and more would take to social media to support Carpenter, with some also sharing their encounters on the set with Whedon.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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