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Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon. Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon. New Media for Theatre. The Big Screen. The Small Screen. Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon. The Horrible Website. The Internet. Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon.

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Presentation Transcript
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New Media for Theatre

The Big Screen

The Small Screen

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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The Horrible Website

The Internet

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

In the wake of the November 5, 2007-February 12, 2008 Writers Guild of America strike—during which Whedon walked the picket lines—another Whedon venture debuted, not in movie theatres, not on television, not in a comic book but on the internet. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (hereafter DHSAB) premiered, free (for a limited time) on the web, posted, one act at a time, July 15th, 17th, and 19th of 2008. Dr. Horrible then disappeared (midnight July 20th), available only on ITunes until its release on DVD in December.

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Dr. Horrible/Billy (Neil Patrick Harris)

The Horrible Cast

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Penny (Felicia Day)

The Horrible Cast

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion)

The Horrible Cast

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Moist (Simon Hedberg)

The Horrible Cast

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Watch Dr. Horrible (42 minutes)

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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In a letter available on the website, Whedon offers, in his inimitable way, Dr. Horrible’sorigin myth:

Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed. (They were very polite about it, though.) During this work-stoppage, many writers tried to form partnerships for outside funding to create new work that circumvented the Forest King system.

Frustrated with the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few.

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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In other words, during the Writers Guild of America’s strike (November 5, 2007-February 12, 2008)—of which he was a stalwart and outspoken supporter, Whedon hatched a scheme to create, with the help of scores of others, including his brothers Zack and Jed, Jed’s fiancée Maurissa Tancharoen, School of Whedonites Ben Edlund (uncredited), David Fury, and Marti Noxon,

________________

* In Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The Book we learn that both Moist and Bad Horse—originally pitched for Angel—were Edlundian ideas (10)

Ben Edlund

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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DHSAB was quintessential Whedon: naughty, hilarious, cultish, exhilarating, genre-bending, virally memorable—especially its catchy music and Sondheim-goes-geek patter lyrics: a near-perfect manifestation of the “loser aesthetic” identified by Richard Burt and elucidated by Matt Hills (Fan Cultures) that has been Whedon’s TV auteur signature in Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. And, needless to say, it was inherently collaborative.

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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DHSAB is set in a world populated by superheroes with a variety of powers (mention is made of “the Mayor’s dedication of the Superhero Memorial Bridge”) and supervillains (the “thoroughbred of sin” Bad Horse, Dead Bowie, Fake Thomas Jefferson, Fury Leika, Professor Normal, Johnny Snow , and, of course, Moist (Simon Helberg), Billy’s “evil, moisture buddy,” a friend indeed when anything needs to be “dampened or made soggy”).

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Anything but horrible, DHSAB, clearly indebted to Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (1979), was a complete success. The music and the acting are both delightful and hilarious, the production values and special effects amazingly good (considering the low budget). That was the master plan, after all:

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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to make it on the fly, on the cheap—but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first.

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Whedon discounts any claim to internet guru status—claiming to be so ignorant he can’t even find porn—or being a business pioneer--“Somebody coming to me for business advice is like somebody asking a guy who makes balloon animals how to pick up women.”

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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“I’m interested in being an Internet Roger Corman [pictured]. He’s responsible for a slew of the greatest directors of the last couple decades, because he was the only B-movie system that there was. Now the whole world can be that system.”

--Joss Whedon (Rosen 33)

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Dr. H, Captain Hammer, Penny

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Hammer and Horrible

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Dr. Horrible Hears About His Application to

Join the Evil League of Evil

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

The Horrible Cast

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who pursues membership in the “Evil League of Evil” . . .

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Horrible would eventually be released on a loaded DVD (including a unique sung commentary track: “Commentary, the Musical”), at which time DHSAB’s cast and crew got paid, proof positive of Whedon’s strategy to “turn Dr Horrible into a viable economic proposition as well as an awesome goof” that he hoped would “inspire more people to lay themselves out in the same way.” “It’s time for the dissemination of the artistic process. Create more for less,” Whedon would proclaim.

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

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Tired of struggling against the men in suits, bored with “there’s no business like show business” clichés, he has now established himself as a major figure out to change “the face of Show Friendliness.”

With his usual humility and generosity, Whedon refused to take much credit for DHSAB: “I would like to say I directed this thing, and occasionally I told the camera where to be, but every one of these guys showed up so dialed in that I was just like, “I’m happy to be here.” (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The Book 78).

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon

Special Topics in Film Studies: Joss Whedon