Joss Whedon and Honesty Buffy James Marsters, Sarah Michelle Geller, Joss Whedon

May 2, 2008

For reasons that aren’t worth going into I read a quote from Ayn Rand last week. It was part of her HUAC testimony before Congress in 1947 regarding the film Song of Russia. Made during World War II, the film seemed to have the purpose of making Americans feel more comfortable about being allies with the Soviets during the war.

We are discussing the fact that our country was an ally of Russia, and the question is: what should we tell the American people about it — the truth or a lie? If we had good reason, if that is what you believe, all right, then why not tell the truth? Say it is a dictatorship, but we want to be associated with it. Say it is worthwhile being associated with the devil, as Churchill said, in order to defeat another evil which is Hitler. There might be some good argument made for that. But why pretend that Russia was not what it was?

The first thing I thought was that it sounded like something from a Joss universe. Joss is renowned for moral ambiguity but he’s always upfront about it. Characters don’t pretend that they’re doing anything other than something dark, dastardly and/or dangerous. But they’re convinced that even though it’s the dark side of the force, it must be done.

Ayla also pointed out, quite eloquently, that Joss also requires his characters to “accept both the demons it creates and the consequences of it.”

whyiwatch has put together a fantastic promo for Dollhouse that seems to bring this tarnished, haunted existence to life.

And I don’t know why I write about it except there’s something exceptionally appealing there. I’m certainly not advocating moral ambiguity or allies with dictators. Except there’s something respectable about not pretending it’s anything other than what it is.

Maybe that kind of honesty requires a certain kind of courage. Maybe there are so few examples in this world of people who acknowledge the potential consequences of their choices and take responsibility for them. Perhaps the confidence necessary to walk through life without trying to be anything but what you are produces the strength to accept the world you create.

Kay Warren made the point that we expect honesty from others: from our politicians and athletes and neighbors and coworkers. It seems to be such a given in our relationships. And yet, we don’t often hold ourselves to the same standard of authenticity we expect from everyone else.

All of us wear masks. They can be worn out of love and the desire to remain close to those around us; to spare them from the complicated reality of our frayed psyches. We trade honesty for companionship. And in the process never truly know the hearts closest to us.

Sarah Connor – The Sarah Connor Chronicles

So, I guess the question is: are we willing to give the world the same level of honesty we expect to receive?

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