Postulating & Pontificating: Who Are You?

Just who is that man with the finely trimmed beard?

Imagine if you will being a successful writer. You’ve written episodes for a bevy of critically acclaimed TV shows, and you’ve written at least one positively received and money making movie. Then you decide to toss your hat into the directing ring. You take on a project with a friend, he produces it, you co-write it with him, and you direct it. The movie sits on the shelf for close to three years and then when it is released the majority of critics, genre fans, and movie buffs in general laud your film with praise. But there’s a bump in the road, no one is talking about you. You directed and co-wrote the film, your stamp is all over the film. Yet, everyone keeps talking about the friend who produced and co-wrote the movie with you. Hardly anyone ever calls it your movie, it’s predominantly referred to as his movie, and his ideas, and his great creation. That’s a terrible situation to imagine, but unfortunately it’s happening to someone as we speak.

The man in the picture and the man who gave me the impetus for this article is Drew Goddard. He wrote many great episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, and Lost. Mr. Goddard wrote the feature film Cloverfield, and he co-wrote and directed The Cabin In The Woods. He is a man who deserves to be praised, but if one were to form a pie chart of the praise being dished out for The Cabin In The Woods his slice of the pie would be a tiny sliver of the crust. The reason for this is simple, he made a movie with Joss Whedon.

I am a fan of Mr. Whedon, I don’t want anyone to mistake that fact. I love Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, and I’m really looking forward to The Avengers (the less said about the god awful Dollhouse the better). That being said I wouldn’t consider myself a Whedonite, one of the many affectionate terms that the followers of Mr. Whedon have given themselves. I respect the man’s genius, but I also realize he is not responsible for every great thing under the sun. I consider Apocalypse, Nowish to be the best episode of Angel’s entire run, but it wasn’t directed or written by Mr. Whedon. He most likely helped with ideas and such, but he was not the man responsible for that great episode. This is true of many other episodes of all of Mr. Whedon’s shows. He does great work, but so do those who work with him and I think they deserve their due.

The biggest slight has to be the current one perpetuated against Drew Goddard. He left the Whedonverse, he did great work in other arenas of television and film. He has established himself as a talent to expect great work from. He delivers a movie that is considered by the vast majority to be great, and his reward is lots of talk about Joss Whedon. I know that Mr. Goddard probably isn’t that upset about this. Mr. Whedon is his friend, and Mr. Goddard strikes me as a nice guy. All the same, I find it maddening to listen to all this talk about The Cabin In The Woods and have Mr. Goddard be treated like he was the equivalent of a floor sweeper next to Mr. Whedon’s all-encompassing demi-god.

I love the fact that so many people are talking and writing about The Cabin In The Woods. Anytime that horror seeps into the greater film world like it has with The Cabin In The Woods I am a happy camper. But, I have a simple request for everyone who is still talking or writing about the movie. The man who co-wrote and directed the movie isn’t Joss Whedon, it’s Drew Goddard. His personal stamp is all over the movie, it bears the markings in every way of a movie that Drew Goddard brought to life. Give Joss Whedon the credit he rightfully deserves, but let’s not turn this into another The Nightmare Before Christmas where Tim Burton gets all the credit and Henry Selick is treated like a nameless key grip. Praise Drew Goddard for the work he did, everyone seems to be happy with the movie he brought to life, so why not give credit where credit is due? That’s my simple request, give Drew Goddard the credit he so rightfully deserves, I know we can do this, whether Whedonite or regular film buff.

Cheers,
Bill

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3 responses to “Postulating & Pontificating: Who Are You?

  1. Great post, Bill. Cabin in the Woods is great, and I’ve been bothered, too, by how much Whedon (wonderful though he is) is getting all the credit, or at least, the vast majority of it. Many of the podcast conversations I’ve heard feature sentences like, “I love how Whedon chose to do [blank] in the movie” or “I wish Whedon had done more of [blank] in the movie” and so on, with nary a mention of Goddard.

  2. Once Goddard does a solo project and it takes off, then they’ll be praising his past work retroactively. Goddard needs to break away from Whedon’s shadow if he wants to make a name for himself.

    Nice piece, Bill. I agree completely that these guys, Whedon and Goddard, collectively and separately, are masters of their craft.

  3. Melissa- It was those sort of discussions on every podcast that I listen to that left me itching to write this piece. I really like Whedon, but Goddard deserves his share of praise for The Cabin In The Woods, and he just isn’t getting it.

    Dave – I do hope Goddard does more work of his own, over time I think you’re right that more people will come to appreciate his past work more because of his future solo projects.

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