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Embattled director Joss Whedon also now tussling with the city of New York

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Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images)

Into every generation a man is born (allegedly). Sometimes he’s the creator of some of the most influential television programs of all time. Sometimes he directs the biggest superhero movie on the planet. Sometimes he then blows up his career, through a series of reportedly abusive actions that cause the world to do a series of re-appraisals on his entire canon, examining both the workplace environments in which they were created, and the underlying tropes that power them. And sometimes, this man has trouble with his birth certificate.

Such is the strange story currently swirling around Joseph “Joss” Whedon, the famed Buffy creator and former Justice League director, who recently sued the state of New York to get a copy of his birth certificate in a story that demands the question: Who is this “Joss Whedon” person, anyway?


Per Page Six, Whedon’s current issues stem from his recent wedding to Canadian artist Heather Horton, whose efforts to apply for a green card have been somewhat hampered by her marriage to a man who does not, in technical terms, exist. That is, there’s no such person in the government’s records as “Joss Whedon,” even though that’s what Whedon’s apparently been putting on his state-issued ID for many years, because apparently the brand really is just that strong. As such, Whedon can’t correct certain errors on the pair’s wedding certificate, because he doesn’t have a birth certificate, which he can’t get, because he can’t prove he’s “Joseph Whedon,” and not just “Joss”.

(And here’s where we’d like to note that there are, obviously, many good reasons to go by a name that is not the one that was assigned to you at birth, and that we’re not trying to make light of, say, trans people who constantly have to wrestle with the courts in heartbreaking and frustrating ways to have their names and identities legally recognized in similar circumstances. Our amusement here is strictly Whedon-based.)


What really makes this whole situation delightfully absurd, though, are those aforementioned wedding certificate errors. Apparently, the document lists the incorrect maiden name for Whedon’s mother, and lists his place of birth as “Santa Monica, New York,” a town that does not exist. All of which means that we can only conclude that “Joss Whedon” is actually a government plant, who has now gone rogue, after spending his career infiltrating a particular strain of quirky dialogue and surprisingly non-empowering female empowerment directly into the pop culture ecosystem.