Editors: Dean A Kowalski & S Evan Kreider
Known for his rich characters and meticulously planned storylines, Joss Whedon has achieved something approaching god-like status among his fans (despite managing to get a lot of shows axed). The Philosophy of Joss Whedon examines the plots and characters of four series (Angel, Buffy and Firefly and Dollhouse) and discusses the philosophy and morality behind them, along with the questions and debates they raise.
I approached this book with something akin to joy, expecting some nice pub philosophy mixed with some fun stuff about my favourite Joss shows Angel, Buffy and Firefly (and Dollhouse which I neither liked or watched, but got the jist of). So I was quite surprised, and not that pleasantly, to find that this is a fairly weighty academic tome, masquerading as pop culture. Many moons ago I got a philosophy A-level (grade B if you’re interested) and even though I’ve forgotten quite a lot of it, I like to think that I’ve got a fairly good grounding – enough to get me by in a pub quiz or to make me look clever when watching University Challenge. But reading this I found myself floundering, drifting off and generally not paying attention. While it is interesting to see the sheer amount of philosophical questions that Whedon’s managed to generate around existentialism, feminism, liberty, morality and sex, it’s bloody hard work to read about the answers.
That’s not to say it’s badly written or a ‘bad’ book. Unfortunately I think I’m just too stupid to appreciate it. In the same way you wouldn’t pick it up without a thorough grounding in the Whedonverse, you probably shouldn’t bother with it unless you have at least a rudimentary understanding of existentialism, nihilism, Daoism and the works of Descartes, Aristotle, Nietzsche et al. For me and my grade B philosophy A-level, I’m afraid it all proved too much.