Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Countdown to Slayage 5: Draft Program!

Hooray!  The day has come!  The day when they post the Slayage 5 draft program!

~Page break for rambling etc-ness.~

What are Angel's values?


This week's survey will have you examine the values expressed by Angel, the television series created by David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon. (The comic series will be the subject of a later survey.) It will be interesting to see whether there are commonalities in the values expressed here with other projects. You'll be able to find out how it turned out the week of June 12.


Reminder about The Cabin in the Woods survey: The survey is still open! It'll remain open for one more week, then we'll provide preliminary results next week. We've gotten about 50 responses, so we thank all of your for your efforts! There's over 30 incomplete surveys, so don't forget to finish by next Tuesday!

The Avengers Survey Results!

Today, we'll take a look at the results of The Avengers Rokeach Values Survey after two weeks. For those of you interested in results from prior surveys, there's a summary post here, which discusses the last major survey of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom (by Claudia Rebaza) and summarizes the results of the Rokeach Values Survey on that series in 2010.

Let's start with the question of who you are...
Over 300 people took the survey on what they thought the values of Whedon's blockbuster were, with more than 2000 unique visitors to the site. What's interesting is that more than 700 people took the Buffy the Vampire Slayer survey, with roughly equivalent number of page views. There were many more comments written for the series too. The Avengers may have been #1 at the box office, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains #1 in fan commitment.

But we have many series and films still to go, so take the survey on The Cabin in the Woods, and check in later today for the survey for Angel.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cabin in the Woods: Goddardian? Whedonesque?

This week's survey will have you examine the values expressed by The Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard and co-written by Goddard and Joss Whedon. While all films and series are the product of artistic collaborations between designers, editors, producers, actors, directors, and writers, this will be the first work we'll study in which Whedon was not a credited director. This horror film was the directorial debut of Goddard. The two of them had collaborated before when Goddard wrote and produced for Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Goddard also played the Fake Thomas Jefferson in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.) It will be interesting to see whether there are commonalities in the values expressed here with other projects. You'll be able to find out how it turned out the week of June 5.

Take the Survey!

Reminder about The Avengers survey: The survey on The Avengers is still open! It'll remain open for one more week, then we'll provide preliminary results in the week of May 29th. We've gotten 306 responses, which is amazing and we thank all of your for your efforts! There's over 80 incomplete surveys, so don't forget to finish by next Tuesday!

What do I need to know about these surveys?: This survey is one way of quantifying your perceptions of the meanings of The Cabin in the Woods. If you would like to learn more about this type of survey, it's called a Rokeach Value Survey. This survey's validity has been extensively tested over several decades, so the questions have been shown to avoid bias and allow us to compare responses about a range of works.

The survey will ask you to indicate the extent to which you see each value to be important in The Cabin in the Woods. For each question, rank the value's importance from 1 to 5 as represented by the film. There are no right or wrong answers. Fill out the survey to the best of your ability as an indication of what your perception of the film is. There are 44 multiple choice questions.

Each of those questions has a comments box. Comments providing your thoughts on the issues raised by the questions or why you made your decisions are welcomed and are an important part of the study.

Reminder about the schedule: We'll be posting surveys for each major work that Joss Whedon's been a part of over the next two months. Here's the schedule:

Angel: May 29 through June 12
Firefly: June 5 through June 19
Serenity: June 12 through June 26
Dollhouse: June 19 through July 3
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: June 26 through July 10
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8: July 3 through July 17

TBA: Angel (the comics), Buffy: Season 9, Much Ado About Nothing, Dr. Horrible 2.

As we did with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer survey in 2010, we'll post an overview of the results in two weeks, with more detailed information on responses to each question later. I plan on reporting the results to the Whedon Studies Association's bi-annual conference in July. We'll let you know what the scholars and fans at the conference think too!

A final reminder on privacy: KwikSurveys doesn't use or sell to a 3rd party any data collected. And since the survey asks no identifying questions about your demographics, I have no idea who you are or what your contact information is, so fear not.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Whedonesque is The Avengers?

I thought it would be a neat idea to see what people think the values of Joss Whedon's film, The Avengers are, especially since several film reviewers have argued back and forth about how "Whedonesque" it is. So I made up a survey to see what the audience has to say, especially since we had over 800 respondents to the Buffy the Vampire Survey once it was promoted by Whedonesque.

Take the Survey!

This survey is one way of quantifying your perceptions of the meanings of Joss Whedon's film, The Avengers. If you would like to learn more about this type of survey, it's called a Rokeach Value Survey. It is designed to measure what you perceive to be the important values and forms of social support in Joss Whedon's film, The Avengers.

The survey will ask you to indicate the extent to which you see each value to be important in The Avengers. For each question, rank the value’s importance from 1 to 5 as represented by the series. There are no right and wrong answers. Fill out the survey to the best of your ability as an indication of what your perception of the series is. There are 44 multiple choice questions.

In addition, we'll be posting surveys for each major work that Joss Whedon's been a part of over the next two months. Here's the schedule:

The Avengers: May 15
The Cabin in the Woods: May 22
Angel: May 29
Firefly: June 5
Serenity: June 12
Dollhouse: June 19
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: June 26
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8: July 3

TBA: Angel (comic series), Buffy: Season 9, Much Ado About Nothing, Dr. Horrible 2

As we did with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer survey, we'll post an overview of the results within two weeks, with more detailed information on responses to each question later. I plan on reporting the results to the Whedon Studies Association's bi-annual conference in July. We'll let you know what the scholars and fans at the conference think too!

A final note on privacy: KwikSurveys doesn’t itself use or sell to a 3rd party any data collected. And since the survey asks no identifying questions about you besides noting your IP address to prevent ballot box stuffing, I have no idea who you are or what your contact info is, so fear me not.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Joss Whedon Just Can't Win with the New York Times

So, as you saw from the previous blog post, the reviewer for the New York Times compared The Avengers unfavorably to Serenity.

What's funny about that is that the NYT review of Serenity was pretty mixed. That review praised it as being better than the Star Wars prequel movie Revenge of the Sith, but also ends up describing the film as nice, unsurprising genre fare that's uninspired visually. Dargis wishes it had been as innovative as Firefly...

Which the New York Times didn't like either. Their blurb reads: "FIREFLY -- A baffling new series from Joss Whedon, creator of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' with a young cast adrift in more ways than one. They're fighting a futuristic civil war in space; nothing makes a lot of sense, and the overt homage to cowboy themes seems an unlikely mix with the space stuff. Sci-fi in spurs? The cast of unknowns includes Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres. Fox, Fridays at 8 p.m., starting Sept. 20."

Their longer review by Caryn James: "Joss Whedon, who so breezily linked vampires with adolescent angst to create 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' has a new series billed as a 'sci-fi/western,' and this time the wrenching together of genres is tortured. In its rough first episode on Fox tonight, 'Firefly' is even more of a confusing mess than the description makes it sound. It's a crazy quilt of 'Star Wars,' 'Mad Max' and 'Stagecoach,' just to mention the most obvious films it calls to mind...." To be fair, at least she mentions that "Train Job" aired only because the two-hour pilot was shelved by Fox.

Her evidence that Firefly will get better? That week's premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

And, in case we've forgotten, O'Connor's review of the first season panned Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a 1997 article talking about how The X-Files and other shows should "not worry" about this supernatural show because "nobody is likely to take this oddball camp exercise seriously…." O’Connor goes on to describe the show’s audience as being "Humbert Humberts all over America" because the main character wears "hot pants and boots" and "changes from one skimpy outfit to another." He can’t seem to get past the concept of a feminine powerful girl as the main character, writing "What a bother, when there are split hair ends to worry about." He ends by saying, "The series is fun, but that’s a thought to make you really shudder."

So, to sum up: The Avengers isn't as good as Serenity, which wasn't as good as Firefly, which wasn't as good as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which they didn't like. Whedon keeps racking up mixed reviews for not living up to his past work, which the paper of record's prior reviewer didn't really like the first time they reviewed it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The New York Times prefers Serenity to Avengers

The New York Times review of The Avengers compares the blockbuster unfavorably to Serenity, saying, "while “The Avengers” is hardly worth raging about, its failures are significant and dispiriting. The light, amusing bits cannot overcome the grinding, hectic emptiness, the bloated cynicism that is less a shortcoming of this particular film than a feature of the genre. Mr. Whedon’s playful, democratic pop sensibility is no match for the glowering authoritarianism that now defines Hollywood’s comic-book universe. Some of the rebel spirit of Mr. Whedon’s early projects “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” and “Serenity” creeps in around the edges but as detail and decoration rather than as the animating ethos."

Myself, I think that... SPOILER ALERT OF MAJOR PLOT ELEMENTS IN BOTH AVENGERS AND SLIGHTLY CABIN IN THE WOODS after the cut

Friday, May 4, 2012

"I'm gonna shock the world" (..."gonna show Bad Horse")

Joss Whedon is certainly shocking the world now.  After his run of bad luck with studios, in 2012, Whedon has landed.  Just over 15 years ago, he broke into television production and directing (as opposed to writing) with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now... NOW...

The Avengers has already made over $281 million, internationally, and it's projected to reap $600 million, worldwide.  I think we all understand how massive this is for Whedon.  Next to this supergiant, Whedon had April's Cabin in the Woods, the loving deconstruction of horror films that he co-wrote and produced with Drew Goddard, which took three years and an exchange of studios to finally bring it to theatres.

And there's still more to come!  His highly anticipated (at least by English major nerds like me) adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, which he filmed at his Santa Monica home with several "Whedon regulars" — like Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, and Fran Kranz — is supposed to hit the festival circuit this year.  A brief glimpse of Much Ado was shown during Whedon's interview on CBS Sunday Morning, renewing buzz about this independent project.

That's not even all!  There's In Your Eyes, which he wrote and produced.  There's the long-awaited Dr. Horrible sequel.  2012 is seeing a unprecedented level of activity from Joss Whedon, and I can't wait to see how lit up everyone will be at Slayage 5 this summer.  And most of all?  I can't wait to see the array of articles that will undoubtedly hit Slayage and Watcher Junior thanks to this flurry of new material.