We Should Still Celebrate The Women That Made Buffy So Great Despite The Joss Whedon Allegations

One rotten apple need not ruin the whole tree, and the women who made Buffy wouldn't want it to either.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Yesterday, Charisma Carpenter announced her support for Ray Fisher, the Justice League actor who was dropped from the upcoming Flash movie after speaking out against director Joss Whedon. In a statement posted on Twitter, Carpenter recalled her own experiences working with Whedon on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, alleging he ‘abused his power on numerous occasions’.

‘He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career,’ Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase, stated. ‘I know because I experienced it first-hand. Repeatedly. Like his ongoing, passive-aggressive threats to fire me…callously calling me ‘fat’ to colleagues when I was 4 months pregnant. He was mean and biting, disparaging about others openly and often played favourites.’

Carpenter went on to accuse him of manipulating and attacking her when she told him she was pregnant, forcing her to work unsociable hours despite her doctor advising otherwise and ‘then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth’. Only after seeking therapy did she understand the toll this took on her, she says, admitting she has lived with the trauma she suffered for decades and is still scared of what speaking out will do to her career, even now. Joss Whedon is yet to publicly reply to the accusations (Grazia have reached out to him for comment.)

Since posting her statement, other women on the Buffy cast have come out in support of Carpenter. Amber Benson, who played Tara Maclay, tweeted that ‘Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top… there was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later.’ Clare Kramer, who played Big Bad Glory, also added on Twitter: ‘For what it’s worth, I believe and stand with [Charisma, Ray, Amber] and others who have the strength to come forward with their truth. A lot of this industry needs a reset.'

Sarah Michelle Gellar, the infamous Buffy herself, has too released a statement.

What Sarah Michelle Gellar said about Joss Whedon:

‘While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon,’ she said. ‘I am more focused on raising my family and surviving a pandemic currently, so I will not be making any further statements at this time. But I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out.’

Sharing her post, Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Dawn Summers, added ‘Thank you @sarahmgellar for saying this. I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman to repost this because this must be known. As a teenager, with his not appropriate behaviour – very not appropriate - So now. People know. What Joss. Did.’

Erika Amato, who played Velvet Chain, a smaller role on Buffy, has also shared her support for Charisma, tweeting ‘I remember you and your kindness on set…I never liked how you were treated on Angel and I always suspected something like this was afoot.’

Of course, the world is now watching for other cast members statements. As Charisma Carpenter trends on Google, searches for, 'Alyson Hannigan', ' Emma Caulfield ‘and Amy Acker’ are also up. They are all yet to make a public statement, but we would suggest instead focusing on the many men who haven’t spoken up yet: Angel, we’re looking at you. (We’re not the only ones, David Boreanaz is also trending on Twitter as people wait for his response).

But more than that, while it may be intriguing to look at who isn’t showing support for the women alleging abuse, what we should be doing is celebrating the women on the show itself. Because, Joss Whedon being embroiled in this controversy doesn’t change the fact that the women on Buffy truly made a generation of incredibly powerful feminists.

We can still be proud of Buffy Summers.

Despite these allegations, the cast and crew on that show created a series so powerful to watch as a teenager, so culturally relevant and thoughtful that it deserves notoriety. As is echoed in Sarah Michelle Gellar’s statement, we can still be proud of Buffy Summers even if the man behind her creation is proven to be less than worthy of that same pride.

The show was fraught with metaphors that taught teenagers so much about what women have to deal with in society, from lessons about supposed ‘nice’ guys easily becoming monsters (see Angel and Buffy’s entire relationship) to how homophobia can be internalised (Tara fearing she her nature is demonic). The cast might’ve been acting on Joss Whedon’s ideas or words, but it was the women that brought these characters to life, that made us truly attached to their success and heartbroken for their pain. These are the women that deserve to be celebrated, above all else.

So, whether you’re disappointed that the man behind one of our favourite coming-of-age shows is now being accused of being a vampire himself (as Carpenter says), just know, it’s okay to still love Buffy – even if it is just for the powerful women that made the show so great.

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