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That Whedony Feeling

by Ethan Tussey

by Casey McCormick for IN MEDIA RES

Like any good Whedonite, I have been following the social media buzz surrounding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the past several months. A few weeks ago, i09 posted this promo with a caption calling it "just ridiculously Whedon-y.” I watched the 40-second spot and agreed--it did indeed have that Whedony feeling. The i09 post hints at why the promo felt Whedony, citing the music, cinematography, and characters “looking forlorn.” But this headline got me thinking about our use of the term "Whedony" in the fan culture. To a large extent, it seems like “Whedony” is something that you "know it when you see it." On the other hand, there’s a whole set of specific narrative tactics, visual aesthetics, and thematic inflections that are evoked when we use this term. I conducted some casual polling on Twitter and Facebook, and Whedonites cited elements such as strong female protagonists, rag-tag ensembles, dark humor, self-referentiality, unlikely and/or lonely heroes, apocalyptic stakes, and heartwrenching character deaths as some of their associations with "Whedony." Of course, none of these elements are exclusive to The Whedonverse, but somehow they comingle to create that Whedony feeling.

Some responses from my crowdsourcing focused on how "Whedony" differs from “Whedonesque,” another authorial signifier in circulation (and the moniker of the registration-based community weblog that, on occasion, serves as an official platform for Joss to communicate with his fans). Others noted that their use of "Whedony" coincides with the term's pervasiveness as a hashtag in the Twitterverse, especially during the weekly Whedony Chat (Mondays @9pm EST). 

Whedony. Whedonesque. Whedonite. Whedonverse. What other fandom can claim such an array of neologisms? It seems nearly impossible to speak of the narrative world in question without these words, but they also perpetuate a problematic single-auteurist impulse (even as most fans recognize the sort of dispersed auteurism at work in Whedon narratives). I want to suggest that these words, in their flexibility and functionality, enact the same kind of linguistic playfulness that we find in Whedony dialogue. Furthermore, this lexicon establishes a cohesiveness within the fan community, reinforcing the idea that these narratives exist in one big, happy Whedonverse. 

Feeling and Whedon

Promo for ABC's The Shield

from Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (2013)
Creator: ABC
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey
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