In my two-year stint team-teaching Pop Culture at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, MO, I did some off-the-cuff math about this topic. Arguably, 30% of the class was right there with me, terribly excited to be analyzing Pearl Jam’s Jeremy video and old clips of Leave it to Beaver for their cultural significance concerning an evolving conception of the American family; 30% were willing to take the aforementioned 30%’s word for it that something deep was going on; and 30% were 100% convinced I, and the students who supported me, were making shit up. You know, for fun. They would often say things like, “How do you know what so-and-so meant? Why are we even doing this?” (For all you math-nerds, the other 10% had either mastered the art of sleeping with their eyes open or were on extended bathroom breaks).
Now, I gave a lot of answers to that question over the years. Everything from, “Because I just feel like it , Okay” (no coffee response) to “Because humanity can only benefit from gazing in the mirror art holds, reflecting our triumphs and our tragedies” (too much coffee response). Perhaps at the heart of the real response, the response that reveals all the reasons I went to nearly all of my college classes, eschewed a career in politics for one in education, and came back year after year for more, is simply this: Because it’s fun.
Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion is for all those who were with me in those classes, and all those who think over-thinking things is both beneficial to the human condition and a lot of fun.
Compiled by PopMatters, edited by English professor Mary Alice Money and published by Titan Books, JW: TCC consists of over 45 essays, columns, and interviews covering Whedon’s work from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse to his comics, web series and films. Yes, there is even a chapter titled “Why Joss Whedon is the Perfect Director for The Avengers” – talk about last minute prepping.
While each piece is written by a different author, with tone, agenda and voice all his or her own, you can rest assured that they each share the enthusiasm for and dedication to an examination of what makes Whedon’s work so spectacularly interesting.
In some essays, readers will find themselves astounded by how much they agree with the author. I found myself repeating, “Yes! Exactly that,” while reading “The Shell I’m In: Illyria and the Monsterous Empediment” by Bronwen Calver, for example. In others, surely there will be some dissent. I couldn’t quite get behind Kyle Garret’s thesis in “Failure of the Everyman: The Lost Character that was Xander Harris,” no matter how compelling his arguments. In others still, there will simply be lots and lots of fun. Thank you a million times over, Lynnette Porter, for “Nathan Fillion Misbehaves All Across the Wehdonverse” – it truly made my day. Finally, if readers are paying any attention at all, they will be simply fascinated by information about Whedon and his career (check out “Alien Resurrection, the Script that Shaped Joss Whedon’s Career”) or the topics covered about each show or comics (“The Dystopian Future in Joss Whedon’s Work” for example).
Malcolm Reynolds is a man with a plan. Certainly plans do not always go his way, but he is a man with a plan. Solo, on the other hand, is making it up as he goes along.”- Nate Fillion, as he calls into a radio program to discuss the relative merits of his own character and his geek-world arch rival, Han Solo.
For the most part, the collection reflects Whedon’s work itself in terms of the space given to each piece. Buffy has by far the largest collection of essays, followed by his contribution to comics – the extensiveness of which may surprise many readers. Angel and Firefly are a bit off balance if you consider the length of their respective runs, as is Dollhouse, which technically had more episodes than Firefly, but has the least essays of all. So recent is the collection that The Cabin in the Woods even receives a chapter, albeit one of the “Joss Whedon: 101” chapters put together to introduce more than deeply explore his work.
Each piece is carefully edited and cited. More importantly, each piece is likely to evoke either a “I was just saying that to my friend,” or an “I didn’t know that,” response from Whedon fans young and old. Because of the passion with which we love the things Joss Whedon creates, reading these essays feels in some ways like talking to a friend, about a friend. I guarantee, you will find something new in this collection to love, to defend, to refute and to laugh about. Twitter favorite and current Once Upon a Time and Husbands writer, Jane Epenson gets an interview, as does Alexis Denisof; topics concerning feminism, the power of Whedon fans (that’s us!), good and evil, humanism and zombies are all in there, too. Trust me, the list goes on and on.
Released on May 4th, 2012 with a price tag under 15$ in some places, it is available and a bargain. You should get this book. A hearty congratulations to all authors included.
Stuff we geek out about…
- A Little Something for the Fellas (2)
- A Little Something for the Ladies (9)
- Avengers Boot Camp (9)
- Before the Movie – Trailers (13)
- Editorials and Reviews (135)
- Interviews (19)
- Miscellaneous Geekery (48)
- Nostalgia (17)
- Sandman Re-Read (11)
- Three Favorite Things (4)
What we JUST said…
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- Hemlock Grove-A New Guilty Pleasure
- Deborah Harkness and A Discovery of Witches
- Syfy’s Defiance- Hope They Didn’t Blow the Budget on a Song
- Cover Reveal for the New Liz Long Novel Witch Hearts
- From Gen-X, To Chris Hardwick With Love
- Before the Movie: G.I. Joe Retaliation