The Dark Herald delves deep into the Gammatude of Joss Whedon at Arkhaven. It is… insightful:
With no other prospects he fell into the family business of TV work as a writer. He knew how the business operated. The paychecks (when they come) are big, plus, it is notoriously tolerant of obnoxious behavior and sexual abuse. It is the dream job of every Gamma
His connections got him a gig on Roseanne. He ground out a few decent enough scripts, and it was here that his talent for comedy made itself apparent. It was snarky comedy, but it was there.
With a whopping four episodes of Rosanne under his belt he actually got a feature film greenlit. And I know how he did it. His family connections got his script put at the top of various in-baskets but what sold it, was a really great title.
Let me assure you, a title is unbelievably important in any writing endeavor, but it is especially important in the movie business. “For Love or Money,” is about the worst title in the history of fiction. It could apply to any facet of human existence and tells you nothing about it. There have been five films with this title, and no one remembers what any of them were about. It absolutely sucks.
The greatest title of all time is Legally Blonde. Why? Because it tells you everything you need to know about the movie in only two words. Legally blonde, is an assonance on, legally blind, and being blind is associated with being clueless. It indicates to you the film is a comedy about a dumb blonde. And since it’s an American comedy, the dumb blonde will make good in the legal profession somehow. The poster with Reese Witherspoon in a hot pink business suit with a toy dog in a purse confirms the prejudices the title gave you. It’s brilliant.
You probably don’t recall the feelings you had when you first heard the words “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” But try to approach it with a fresh eye and you will see that it is a great title. Again, it tells you everything you need to know, to include whether or not you want to give it a shot, in only four words.
The plot itself was reflective of 1990s urban fantasy settings. Which was still reasonably new at the time.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer starred Eighties-also-ran Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry when he was still having to make a living as the world’s oldest teenager. If you don’t remember it, there is a reason for that. Buffy’s first incarnation pulled in a fairly anemic $12 million.
But he did get a script produced. That got him his next job writing for Pixar on Toy Story. That movie was very definitely a hit but for some reason John Lasseter never hired Joss Whedon again. For some reason he didn’t want him connected with kid’s films. You often wonder about what red flags executives look for. And sometimes you don’t.
Make no mistake, Whedon is a decent writer. He’s created several legitimate hits. But success, for the Gamma, almost invariably brings with it the seeds of his eventual downfall. And he makes for a very useful teaching example of what a Gamma Boss looks like.