After his movie’s release, Avengers: Age of Ultron's writer-director Joss Whedon took a leave of absence from Twitter this week sparking a surge of outrage that the filmmaker was fleeing social media because of militant feminist backlash given the disapproving and rather sexist development of the character Black Widow. Patton Oswalt even noted on Twitter, “Yep. There is a ‘Tea Party’ equivalent of progressivism/liberalism. And they just chased Joss Whedon off Twitter. Good job, guys. Ugh.”
"That is horseshit. Believe me, I have been attacked by militant feminists since I got on Twitter. That’s something I’m used to. Every breed of feminism is attacking every other breed, and every subsection of liberalism is always busy attacking another subsection of liberalism, because god forbid they should all band together and actually fight for the cause.
I saw a lot of people say, ‘Well, the social justice warriors destroyed one of their own!’ It’s like, Nope. That didn’t happen,” he continued. “I saw someone tweet it’s because Feminist Frequency pissed on Avengers 2, which for all I know they may have. But literally the second person to write me to ask if I was OK when I dropped out was [Feminist Frequency founder] Anita [Sarkeesian].”
Whedon explained he left Twitter because he needed to recharge those creative juices and find a place of solitude to better concentrate on his art saying,
“I just thought, Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place,” he said. “And this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life. … It’s like taking the bar exam at Coachella.”
While Whedon’s statement implies he might have been a little more than distracted by the uproar of Twitter notifications, this does not mean you can blame feminism for Whedon’s abrupt walk-out on social media.
“I’ve said before, when you declare yourself politically, you destroy yourself artistically,” he said. “Because suddenly that’s the litmus test for everything you do — for example, in my case, feminism. If you don’t live up to the litmus test of feminism in this one instance, then you’re a misogynist. It circles directly back upon you.”
"I think it's sad. Because I know how Joss feels about women, and I know that he's made it a point to create strong female characters. I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don't have as many women as we should yet, they're very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now. But I think what's beautiful about what Joss did with Black Widow - I don't think he makes her any weaker, he just brings this idea of love to a superhero, and I think that's beautiful.
If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it's a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there's not much else to compare it to.
Yet as Salon writes, in cases like these “we are reminded that self-described members of our own tribe can be as hateful and mean and gross as anybody else. Whedon’s odyssey shone a particular spotlight on that group of people whose fury over a Marvel character seems as good an excuse as any to lash out and say stupid things on Twitter. They don’t represent anything but the very loosely formed but thriving population of sad, angry people who like to yell at stranger on the Internet.”
Internet trolls and feminists are not one in the same. Every group from the conservative factions to the most liberal activist communities have their share of abusers whose only way of conveying a point is through attacking the other person. Whedon’s clarifying statement reminds us that a few abusive trolls does not represent the whole group.