Wanrer Bros. has had more than its fair share of difficulties over the past few years, not only with the critical success (or lack thereof) from their feature films but also with more off-screen controversy than the studio ever wanted.
Much of the negative publicity from last year was brought on by the disturbing recounting of what happened on the set of 2017's Justice League after director Zack Snyder left the job.
Last July, Cyborg actor Ray Fisher accused replacement director Joss Whedon of unspecified abusive behavior on set for the movie when he took over for Justice League. Multiple angles of this story have been reported and dissected at length, and it won't be an issue that simply fades away with time.
This story is back in the limelight once again thanks to support from an actress who dealt with issues similar to Fisher's during her time working for Whedon.
CHARISMA CARPENTER STANDS WITH RAY FISHER
In a pair of tweets, Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Charisma Carpenter released a statement showing her support for DCEU star Ray Fisher in his legal battle with Joss Whedon.
Carpenter's statement reveals that she also went through troubling experiences with Whedon on the set of Buffy, similar to how Fisher dealt with Whedon's abuse on the set of Justice League.
For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatize me to this day.
Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at time, destructively.
Last summer, when Ray Fisher publicly accused Joss of abusive and unprofessional behavior toward the cast and crew during reshoots of the Justice League set in 2017, it gutted me. Joss has a history of being casually cruel. He has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career. I know because I experienced it first-hand. Repeatedly.
The actress went on to detail her abuse from Whedon:
Like his ongoing, passive-aggresive threats to fire me, which wreaks havoc on a young actor's self-esteem. And callously calling me "fat" to colleagues when I was 4 months pregnant, weighing 126 lbs. He was mean and biting, disparaging about others openly, and often played favorites, pitting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval.
He called me in for a sit-down meeting to interrogate and berated me regarding a rosary tattoo I got to help me feel more spiritually grounded in an increasingly volatile work climate that affected me physically.
Joss intentionally refused multiple calls from my agents making it impossible to connect with him to tell him the news that I was pregnant. Finally, once Joss was apprised of the situation, he requested a meeting with me. In that closed-door meeting, he asked me if I was "going to keep it" and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me. He proceeded to attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth.
At six months pregnant. I was asked to report to work at 1:00 AM after my doctor recommended shortening my work hours. Due to long and physically demanding days and the emotional stress of having to defend my needs as a working pregnant woman, I began to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. It was clear to me the 1:00 AM call was retaliatory.
Back then, I felt powerless and alone. With no other option, I swallowed the mistreatment and carried on. After all, I had a baby on the way, and I was the primary breadwinner of my growing family. Unfortunately, all this was happening during one of the most wonderful time in new motherhood. All that promise and joy sucked right out. And Joss was the vampire.
Despite the harassment, a part of me still sought his validation. I made excuses for his behavior and repressed my own pain. I have even stated publicly at conventions that I'd work with him again. Only recently, after years of therapy and a wake up call from the Time's Up movement, do I understand the complexities of this demoralized thinking. It is impossible to understand the psyche without enduring the abuse. Our society and industry vilify the victims and glorify the abusers for their accomplishments. The onus is on the abused with an expectation to accept and adapt to be employable. No accountability on the transgressor who sails on unscathed. Unrepentant. Remorseless.
These memories and more have weighed on my soul like bricks for nearly half of my life. I wish I said something sooner. I wish I had the composure and courage all those years ago. But I muted myself in shame and conditioned silence.
With tears welling, I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to Ray and others for remaining private about my experience with Joss and the suffering it has caused me. It is abundantly evident that Joss has persisted in his harmful actions, continuing to create wreckage in his wake. My hope now, by finally coming forward about these experiences, is to create space for the healing of others who I know have experienced similar serialized abuses of power.
Carpentar also explained that she took part in WarnerMedia's investigation into Ray Fisher's accusations against Whedon and Warner Bros.
Recently, I participated In WarnerMedia's Justice League investigation because I believe Ray to be a person of integrity who is telling the truth. His firing as Cyborg in The Flash was the last straw for me. Although I am not shocked, I am deeply pained by it. It troubles and saddens me that in 2021 professionals STILL have to choose between whistleblowing in the workplace and job security.
It has taken me so long to muster the courage to make this statement publicly. The gravity of it is not lost on me. As a single mother whose family's livelihood is dependent on my craft, I'm scared. Despite my fear about its impact on my future, I can no longer remain silent. This is overdue and necessary. It is time.
Both of Carpenter's tweets containing the statement can be seen here:
CARPENTER ADDS TO WHEDON'S DYING LEGACY
Charisma Carpenter appeared in nearly 60 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — a show that Joss Whedon created that ran from 1997 to 2002. The way Carpenter describes such specific and disturbing actions from Whedon on set seems to reconfirm that what Fisher went through needs to be taken seriously, especially considering Carpenter is recounting events from nearly two decades ago.
Fisher has never explicitly stated what Whedon did on the set of Justice League in his accusations from the past six months, although he has garnered plenty of support from his fellow DCEU co-stars. This is all leading to Fisher firmly deciding that he will not appear in another DCEU movie for the foreseeable future, which also ties back to DC Head of Films Walter Hamada allowing this abuse to happen.
It's abundantly clear that this story will be discussed for a long time, especially after the investigation into Warner Media was so inconclusive. Ray Fisher has continued to voice his feelings on the matter, and after continuing support from people like Charisma Carpenter, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before more stories from Whedon's past come to light.