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Celebrate Avengers director Joss Whedon’s birthday

by Cass Teague

Joss Whedon at the 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego. photo: Gage Skidmore

Joss Whedon at the 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego.
photo: Gage Skidmore

June 23 marks the birthday of one of pop culture’s most influential artists. Born Joseph Hill Whedon on June 23, 1964 in New York City, “Joss” Whedon has distinguished himself as a writer, director, producer, composer, actor, film-maker, and pop culture icon.

Celebrate as Middle Tennessee State University will play host to the second Joss in June Conference, Friday June 25 through Sunday, June 27, with attendees staying at Murfreesboro’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. After a reception on Friday night, the conference will resume on Saturday and Sunday. Details on the website at: www.jossinjune.net

Whedon wrote and directed two of the highest-grossing films of all time, Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) and this year’s sequel Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. The 2012 flick is #3 all-time in U.S. domestic box office, at $623,279,547.00; Age of Ultron is currently #8, at $444,743,000.00 and counting; as of June 15, 2015. As of this writing, Avengers is #3 and Ultron is #5 all-time, worldwide.

Joss is founder of Mutant Enemy Productions and co-founder of Bellwether Pictures, the creator and show-runner of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003), Angel (1999–2004), Firefly (2002–2003), Dollhouse (2009–2010), and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-), as well as Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008). Joss Whedon co-wrote Toy Story (1995), wrote and directed Serenity (2005), co-wrote and produced the horror film The Cabin in the Woods (2012).

A large academic conference is held every two years to parse his work. Attended by scholars from universities around the globe, it started here in middle Tennessee. In 2004 the first (and only, it was assumed at the time) Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was held in Nashville, Tennessee, an event hosted by MTSU and organized by David Lavery and Rhonda V. Wilcox. Interest in meeting again was so high that the conference became a biennial gathering of scholars and other enthusiasts.

The Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses has since convened at Gordon College, Barnesville, Georgia (2006); Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas (2008); Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida (2010); the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia (2012); California State University – Sacramento, (2014); and will be held July 7-10, 2016 in the U.K. at Kingston University.

Joss in June is held on alternate years to slake the thirst of those who need an annual fix of academic Whedonicty.

“The conference will bring together scholars and fans of the work of Joss Whedon in recognition of the significant and diverse body of work that comprises the Whedonverse,” says Lavery, “in the footsteps of the inaugural Joss in June Conference, which was created by Dale and Ensley Guffey in 2013 because the two-year wait between the biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses seemed far too long.”

Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning on ABCFamily starting Monday, June 29, daily at 4:00 p.m. Avengers: Age of Ultron is still in theaters, see it now at Carmike Wynnsong or Thoroughbred cinema.

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