Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Transcript Of Joss Whedon's Equality Now Speech

If you can't be bothered with the video of his speech, which can be found at the bottom of this post, or if you are, perhaps, deaf or hard of hearing, or maybe just can't turn the sound up on your work computer, here's a transcript of Joss Whedon's Equality Now speech. As you'd expect, it is both very thoughtful and very witty.

Meryl Streep is on stage to introduce Joss. She says "Mothers are often the vanguard of cultural institutions and transformation. And tonight, as well as paying tribute to Joss Whedon and the wonderful female characters that he's created, we'd like to pay special tribute to his mother, the late Lee Sterns.

It's nice when children credit their mothers for their success, and I've heard a lot about Lee, whose radical ideas about women's strength, and independence, and passion, and empathy inspired Joss to create not only Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but many other strong women characters in Firefly, in Serenity and his other work. Lee Stearns also inspired the creation of this organization, Equality Now, which was co-founded by Jessica Neuwirth, one of her—one of Lee's favorite High School students. She would have been very proud of you Jessica, and Joss, for all you've done and continue to do, and her spirit is here with us, tonight.

Joss also has an extremely energetic and ubiquitous fan base, that's organized fundraisers across the country for Equality Now, his superhero's favorite charity. So, it's my great, great pleasure to introduce our special honoree, Joss Whedon, the wonderful man who's about to bring us Wonder Woman. We commend him for his outstanding contribution to equality in film and television.Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Joss Whedon."

There is LOTS of applause. Mr. Whedon comes out, is greeted by Ms. Streep.

He then begins his speech with "Thank you, I didn't know um when I came here tonight, that that was going to happen. No, I knew I'd be here - the part about my mother - and I just want to thank Meryl Streep and everybody for speaking so eloquently about her.

I'm surrounded, tonight, by people of extraordinary courage. And I know a thing or two about courage myself, because I read a book with some courage in it, one time, and, ah, it sounds really like a lotta work, so I'll just keep writing.

I write. The most courageous thing I've ever done is something called a press junket, which is actually pretty courageous, believe me, because they ask you the same questions over and over and over.

And over and over and over.

I've done as many as 48 in a day, these interviews, and they really, they don't come up with the fresh stuff. So, there is one question that I've been asked almost every time I've been interviewed, so I thought tonight, briefly, I would share with you one question, and a few of my responses, because when you're asked something 500 times, you really start to think about the answer.

So now I will become a reporter. It's going to be amazing, the transformation.

So, Joss, I, a reporter, would like to know, why do you always write these strong women characters?

I think it's because of my mother. She really was an extraordinary, inspirational, tough, cool, sexy, funny woman. And that's the kind of woman I've always surrounded myself with. It's my friends, particularly my wife, who is not only smarter and stronger than I am, but occasionally, actually taller too. But only sometimes - taller. And, I think it all goes back to my mother.

So, why do you write these strong women characters?

Because of my father. My father and my step-father had a lot do with it, because they prized wit and resolve in the women they were with, above all things, and they were among the rare men who understood that recognising somebody else's power does not diminish your own. When I created Buffy, I wanted to create a female icon but I also wanted to be very careful to surround her with men who not only had no problem with the idea of a female leader, but were in fact, engaged and even attracted to the idea. That came from my father and step-father, the men who created this man, who created those men, if you can follow that."

Joss tries on a French accent for the next sentence -

"So, why do you create these strong... how you say—the women.

I'm in Europe, now, so it's a very... it's international. I don't know where, though..."

So he now tries something like a Spanish accent to finish the 'reporter's question'

"Strong women characters?

Well, because these stories give people strength, and I've heard it from a number of people, and I've felt it myself. And it's not just women, it's men. And I think there is something particular about a female protagonist that allows a man to identify with her, that opens up something that he might - an aspect of himself that he might be unable to express, hopes and desires that he might be uncomfortable expressing through a male identification figure, so it really crosses across both and I think it really helps people, you know, in that way.

So, why do you create these strong women characters?

Cause they're hot.

But...these strong women characters...

Why are you even asking me this?

This is like interview number 50 in a row. How is it possible that this is even a question? Honestly? Seriously? Why are you ask - why did you write that down? Why do you - why aren't you asking a hundred other guys why they don't write strong women characters?

I believe that what I'm doing should not be remarked upon, let alone honored, and there are other people doing it. But seriously, this question is ridiculous. And you've just got to stop.

So... why do you write these strong women characters?

Because equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it.

We need equality. Kinda now.

So, why do you write these strong female characters?

Because you're still asking me that question.

Thank you very much for including me tonight. Thank you all."

And that was the end of that. Nice work, Joss.

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