17 May, 2017

Unlocked


            
          Joss Whedon made a Short Film.

            Those words should be cause for grand cheering (and they are) but they’re also cause for me to write a little something more on The Quiet Place.  You remember the last time we were here, two years ago.  That wasn’t because of a Short Film but because he’d made the $250 Million -- grossed $1.5 Billion -- Avengers:  Age Of Ultron and some people had issue with the way he treated its ladies.  I only digress to that because it caused him to leave Twitter for a while.  Then, in September [2016], he returned to Social Media to release a round of Short Films about Voting (yes, against Trump, but mostly just, “Get out there and do it.”)  These were cheered grandly and life seemed to move on (as well as it has given November).  Then, just recently, some people felt he stepped into it again with a Tweet about Paul Ryan (this is the least Alt Right one I could find) and another on Mother's Day (ditto).  Much like the issue with Age Of Ultron, the fervor was bonfired by people that don’t know Whedon too well -- if at all -- and, well, mountains from molehills.  Of Paul Ryan and his Mother, Whedon himself said, “I tweeted something that inadvertently offended everyone except the people I was trying to offend. I'm sorry. I'll be quiet for a bit.”  (And I only link to all this so you have full disclosure.  I can’t rightfully support or condemn without acknowledging.)  In any event, grand cheering or not, life moved on again.

            To just this morning when Joss Whedon released his new Short Film, this time in support of Planned Parenthood.  It’s beautiful and poignant and heartbreaking and hopeful -- and, PS, has no Dialogue -- and is the kind of thing we expect from him while still being surprised impressed by his masterful simplicity.  I support Planned Parenthood.  I say that to -- again -- disclose fully.  Because “for or against” isn’t what this piece is about;  that is, it's not why I wanted to write today.  No, this piece is about a ridiculous -- read "deserves ridicule” -- part of what I expect to get bonfired from his Short's release:  the inevitable, “Who gives a shit what a Celebrity Millionaire thinks?!"

           Because the answer is a lot of people.  More significantly, there are a lot of shits to give.


             I saw this Short early this morning and as I was driving into work I thought -- this is true now, this is what I was thinking about;  not how important Planned Parenthood is (undeniably so) or how much I liked the Short (admittedly, and a trivial point) but -- “Thank God there are people out there doing this.”  Doing what?  Saying something.  Thank God there are people that matter saying something.

             Hold on.  Joss Whedon matters?  Maybe not to you, but he sure does to a lot of people.  And there are a lot of Celebrities out there using their stardom for a little greater good.  (And, sure, we can say Stephen Colbert and other Late Nighters comedically spar but that's their job.  Some of it's honest and some of it's ratings and -- I mean this -- good for them, I thank them too.)  But I'm looking at you, Ms. Meryl Streep at The Oscars.  And you, Ms. Leah Remini taking on Scientology.  And you, Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio defending our, you know, planet.  (Christ, we can even throw one at Scott Baio.  Now you really might not care, but the man stood up and shouted.)  Look, [fill in any name] may not matter to you, but they are voices and they have a stage -- to thousands, millions, countries -- and they are heard.  So while you may not give a shit, there are many people out there whose opinion may very well be swayed by a thank-you speech, a TV Show, a Short Film.  More importantly (I hope) their awareness is raised and they can research more and decide for themselves.  But -- sorry, folks this is the very nature of Pop Culture -- sometimes that very awareness -- much less opinion -- starts with a Celebrity saying something is or isn't cool.  And, me, I appreciate when Star-Studded So-And-So shows up just for the cause.

            Why is Joss Whedon showing up now?  This, from a Huffington Post article:  The House of Representative recently voted to pass a Healthcare Bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, which is a critical provider of women’s healthcare. As Whedon shows in his video, Planned Parenthood provides in the form of general care, cancer screenings, contraception and education.  Most of the clinic’s controversy stems from abortion procedures which only account for 3 percent of its services.  According to CNN, the majority of services are in regards to birth control (about 34 percent) and treatment for STDs (about 42 percent).”  Whedon said, “If politicians succeed in shutting down Planned Parenthood, millions of people lose access to basic health services.  How can these be at risk?”  (This in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.)  Whedon’s Short Film -- titled Unlocked ­-- is what a world without Planned Parenthood would look like.  The piece rewinds to the exact moment that sparked these situations:  when Planned Parenthood closed.  In a reverse reality, where the clinic is open, the women are able to change their future with a cancer screening, birth control and a peer educator program on safe sex.  A girl goes to college, a mother lives to celebrate a birthday with her family, and a teenage girl is able to prevent her friend’s STD with a class on safe sex.  Unlocked asks, “What world do you want?”  Whedon again:  “I’ve supported Planned Parenthood in the past, but until I worked with them closely on this, I didn’t understand how many services they -- and for some, they alone -- provide.”

              So why do I care what Joss Whedon has to say?  Because, once again, he came out of The Quiet Place.  After Ultron and his Save The Day Campaign and the recent Twitter hits -- and, yes, still with a career and wife and children to consider -- he showed up.  Full disclosure again, I am a fan and have worked with him.  But none of that matters as much as the dude doesn’t need to say anything but still does.  He doesn’t need to make Short Films about Voting (on his own time, on his own dime) but he did.  He doesn’t need to make a Short Film about Planned Parenthood (ditto) but he did.  More significantly than “he can,” he knows he’s going to get flack for it and does it anyway.  You and I post something on Facebook?  We start a chit chat among our friends.  Joss Whedon posts something and -- they like it -- his (“nearing a deal”) upcoming Batgirl gets a boost at the box office.  They don’t like it?  Warner Bros gets death threats (and, worse than that, Batgirl doesn’t do well at the box office).  He knows this, is fully steeped in the consequences (not to mention berated by his PR People for doing it) yet, still, there he is.  And not quietly at all.  For me, I'm grateful there are still Celebrities using their stages -- and time and money -- to say such things;  to do something about their causes.  Doesn’t matter if you agree.  Joss Whedon says it because he needs to.  And -- as I was driving into work this morning I thought -- that’s something to cheer.
 
           Grandly.