The recent Joss Whedon controversy regarding his behavior toward actresses on Buffy and Angel, hit me as a Buffy fan.  I think it speaks to some larger problems in our society. As a writer, I understand being upset you have to rewrite a storyline you are invested in. But professional writers on a TV series deal, and use those to their advantage.

To write a good novel, there needs to be a good writer and a good editor. (Yes, I am aware actually printing a book and marketing are many more people, but ultimately writer and editor are responsible for content.) While I admit I have not worked in television or movies, from what I have learned there are far more people involved than in writing a book. To have a good TV show, you need good writing, good actors, good camera and tech people, costumes, music, appropriate sets, and probably many other elements I am missing because I never worked on one. These are all jobs that require people. You can write the greatest plot of TV, and have it still fall flat if the other elements are not there.

A part of this story is how much we raise a single individual. Buffy and Angel were good shows not because of Joss Whedon.  It was because there were so many people on the shows that clicked together, each providing a part of what made it great. No, they weren’t perfect. But no TV show or movie is the product of one person. As a culture America is so about the individual we forget that complex works like TV shows and movies are the product of many people working hard.

If you work with people as a manager, you need to accept they will have people issues. Family emergencies, illness, a scheduling conflict so an actor who plays a reoccurring character can’t be in a particular episode, conflicts, flight delays—these all happen with people.  Good writers can take these real life events and make good stories out of it. For instance, when Gillian Anderson on X-files was pregnant, the storyline of her disappearance and reappearance became the hook of that season and provided a lot of story fodder for seasons to come. When Lucy Lawless broke her pelvis, there was a several episodes where Callisto switched bodies with Xena on the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess. These are stories I remember, that were awesome, that were in response to real life problems with real life people.

Disappointment in having to rewrite a story is no excuse to be an asshole. A TV set is still a workplace, even if we glamorize it. The actors were in their early twenties at the time, and I believe them when they say they didn’t recognize what was really going on and were too afraid to take a stand. It can be hard for anyone who hasn’t seen a healthy workplace to see that.

Unfortunately, being a good writer doesn’t make you a good manager. There are some people whose skill in is in finding groups that work together and can create something create. There are people whose true skill is bringing the best work out of others. There are people who are awesome collaborators, but their solo work falls short. We too often project that the people who make the stories that we love, who are clearly talented and skilled, are wonderful in other ways. Yes, there are some all around awesome artists that are awesome people too.  There are also complicated individuals, assholes, and abusers who are talented as well. Unfortunately, being talented doesn’t take away the flaws in humanity.

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