In August of 2017, Kai Cole dropped a bombshell about her famous husband, Joss Whedon. In a published open letter, she talked about his infidelity, that he’d been sexually involved with at least one cast member from one of his shows, that he’d been unfaithful to her, and more.
The reaction to this news, with the MeToo movement just coming into full swing, was swift and severe. Within a day or two, the iconic website focusing on Joss and his works, Whedonesque, shuttered after fifteen years, and Whedon fans around the world were shocked and depressed.
With reactions and overreactions to sexual news of favorite celebrities, CEOs, and others gathering steam, this was a stressful time. Even though I knew it might catch me some grief (it didn’t), below are the [slightly edited] thoughts I shared on the Gentleviewer’s Obsessive Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer Facebook page.
I’m bothering to pull this into a blog post mainly because I think people are too quick to take ugly news about a person and apply it like a paint brush over that person’s life work — and I think this is wrong. It happens too often, and I wanted to say something about it.
(1) Dishonesty in any relationship has hugely destructive power. Kai is very much a legitimate victim and we need to be supportive of her and not downplay that.
(2) Regardless of his douchiness in this regard, I shudder that Joss’ private demons were shared with the world by Kai. It sucks that she did that and I wish she didn’t. I sincerely hope that she at least found some healing from revealing it: sometimes venting can help a lot, and maybe she just really needed to be heard. I get that. When I think of the enormous skeletons I have in my packed closet and how it would feel to have those made public, I wince in sympathy for Joss. No matter what really happened, we all fuck up sometimes, and it’s too bad that his fuck-up is now public information.
(3) It is stupid that in our society, monogamy is the de facto that a relationship should be rather than it being a life choice that couples discuss and agree on together. As long as total honesty is involved and everybody is on the same plate as to what is and is not allowed, non-monogamy works well for some couples. Love and sexual attention are not like pie: sharing with person B does not reduce what is available for person A not the way people are meant to live. But I digress. Barn door, runaway horse, all that stuff.
(4) It’s true that Joss has been a huge douche, from some disturbing tweets this year and on to this huge disclosure from Kai. He did some douchey things. They may make him a dick, but that doesn’t make him a demon.
(5) What happened and with whom is none of our business and I hope there is not a “witch hunt” for exactly which women he slept with or how. The past is the past, and this is Kai’s and Joss’ past, not ours. Let’s grieve it out then let it go.
(6) No matter what, the powerful pro-women statements Joss has made in his shows and in his public appearances are still powerful — we cannot let this turn of events detract from that. Just because he likes to sleep with women doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in what he said. Those who are snarkily calling him a faux-feminist now are flat-out wrong.
(7) I still consider Firefly, BtVS, and Dollhouse to be some of the best shows ever made… Let’s now go back to geeking out on these shows.