PopMatters.com have been putting the spotlight on Joss Whedon lately, with a series of articles that are both fun and facinating.
In this article, Candice E West explores Heroic Humanism and Humanistic Heroism in Shows of Joss Whedon.
For those who believe that popular culture, and especially popular narratives, can be an important place to explore meaningful ideas, Joss Whedon has been something of a patron saint. Whedon’s focus on female strength tends to be the most visible part of his work—this has much to do with his self-professed feminism. In what follows, I’ll be looking at a set of somewhat different, though not wholly unrelated aspects of his life and work. The first is his humanism, which I will then relate to his ideas of heroism. Given the breadth of his creative output, I’ll focus on two examples, Firefly/Serenity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I’ll suggest that in addition to telling good stories that raise important issues about gender, they’re both also thoughtful considerations of heroism in contemporary humanistic terms; specifically, both re-examine the relationship between the hero and the larger community.