UPDATE: Full transcript added; more 'nuance'? ORIGINAL POST: Another Hollywood Millionaire Outs Self as Faux-Socialist Hypocrite
Thanks to commenter "Ben White," we've found a video of Whedon's exact statements, which start at 54:30 in this video (transcription below):
Questioner: "I'm actually a union organizer by trade, and in a lot of your work you've portrayed sort of a corporate 'big bad' - that's appeared in Angel, and Dollhouse. So, in 30 seconds or less, can you tell us what is your economic philosophy?"
Joss Whedon: "Um, y'know, I was raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the '70s, by the people who thought John Reed and the young socialists of the '20s were some of the most idealistic people, and that socialism as a model was such a beautiful concept. And now of course it's become a buzzword for horns and a pitchfork.
And we're watching capitalism destroy itself, right now. And ultimately all of these systems don't work. I tend to want to champion the working class because they are getting destroyed. I write about helplessness — helplessness in the face of the giant corporations and the enormously rich people who are very often in power giving those people more power to get even more power.
We are turning into Czarist Russia. We are creating a nation of serfs. That leads to — oddly enough — revolution and socialism, which then leads to totalitarianism. Nobody wins.
It's really really really important that we find a system that honors both our need to achieve, and doesn't try to take things away from us, but at the same time honors everybody's need to have a start, to have a goal, to have a life, to have an income, to have a chance.
The fact is, these things have been taken away from us, sometimes very gradually, sometimes not so gradually, since the beginning of the Reagan era, and it's proved to be catastrophic for so much of America.
During the writers' strike I was furious; I remain furious. I'm not always sure what to do about it, I don't think most of us are.
But I do know that what's happening right now in the political arena is that we have people who are trying to create structures or preserve structures that will help the working class and the middle class, and people who are calling them socialists.
And nobody has the perfect answer. But I honestly think we are now in a political debate that is no longer Republican versus Democrat or even conservative versus liberal. It's about people who are trying to make it work because they still remember, they still have some connection to the idea of personal dignity -- and people who have gone off the reservation and believe Jesus Christ is a true American."
Here's what I think happened:
The Wrap reported somewhat inaccurately on Whedon's speech, perhaps because the writer was a bit thrilled by Whedon's populist anti-conservative rhetoric, and so framed their story with various paraphrases to make it seem palatable; then Big Hollywood, not having heard the original video, based their story on what The Wrap had reported, this time viewing their version of Whedon's sentiments through a critical lens. So we are now already three layers deep in media re-framing.
So let's wipe that all away and start with the raw transcript: What did Whedon say, exactly?
Well, first of all, it's quite obvious that he's very critical of and opposed to the current conservative fiscal philosophy, treating modern conservatives like lunatics who are outside rational debate. And he's very praiseful of the left-leaning side of the Democratic Party currently in power, as he praises them as trying to preserve the "personal dignity" of the "working class."
Because he purposely talks a bit obtusely in an attempt to partly disguise what he's actually saying, it's not necessarily easy at first to decipher his position; but the giveaway is that the bad guys are the ones accusing the good guys of being "socialists" -- in other words the bad guys he's speaking of are 2012's conservatives.
But in the middle of the speech he also does the typical Democrat do-si-do: first praise socialism in theory, then say it doesn't work in practice, and then act like the very notion of socialism is only a Republican conspiracy theory. Hopping to and fro like this, he avoids being pinned down on any particular position.
What he apparently wants is some mysterious unnamed utopian magic solution that somehow manages to preserve private ownership but at the same time forcibly levels the playing field for the "working class" (and why is he using Marxist terminology like this?). This is pretty much the same rhetoric that Obama uses: Pooh-poohing socialism by name, but then not-so-subtly proposing socialist-tinged solutions.
So we have a mashup of minor media malfeasance, misreporting on an intentionally muddled left-leaning populist non-answer from Whedon, whose rabid fans nonetheless eat it up.
Duke it out in the comments section.
Original post below:
As reported in The Wrap and later picked up by Big Hollywood, sci-fi director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers, etc.) uncorked an epic anti-capitalist rant at Comic-Con on Friday, in response to a fan's question about anti-corporate themes in his work:
“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” he told the audience.
He added that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”
Whedon was raised on the Upper Westside neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1970s, an area associated with left-leaning intellectuals. He said he was raised by people who thought socialism was a ''beautiful concept."
Socialism remains a taboo word in American politics, as Republicans congressmen raise the specter of the Cold War. They refer to many Obama administration initatives as socialist, and the same goes for most laws that advocate increasing spending on social welfare programs. They also refer to the President as a socialist, though this and many of their other claims misuse the term.
This evidently frustrates Whedon, who traces this development to Ronald Reagan – the nominal hero of the modern conservative movement. Since then, Whedon believes the country has changed in way that has made it too difficult for regular people to succeed.
Aside from the direct quotes, it's a little unclear whether The Wrap is paraphrasing Whedon or simply adding their own background info, but the parts that are definitely his words make his stance clear enough: America in 2012 is like Russia in 1917, when the czarists were swept away by a socialist revolution -- something Whedon would obviously welcome. He subscribes to the "end stage capitalism" theory, a communist fantasy (which the far left has been trumpeting for at least three decades now) in which the American system is thankfully on the brink of collapse.
No, Joss Whedon is no socialist. He's the ultimate capitalist, and he obviously loves to enjoy the lavish comforts that having tens of millions of dollars can bring him.
Joss Whedon is not just the 1%: he's the 0.000001%. But he thinks he can retain his street cred if he recalls his red diaper baby roots and denounces capitalists like himself.
If you really look forward to a socialist America, Josh, put your money where your mouth is, and sign over your entire personal assets to the central government.
C'mon. We're waiting.
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