Wesleyan Prof: Joss Whedon Not Much of a Fighter
Since I'm discussing Wesleyan, I just stumbled across this fabulous 2008 blog post about a keynote address by Joss Whedon's professor and major influence, Film Studies Professor Jeanine Basinger. It's from the Slayage conference, and the lively writeup comes by TV writer Nikki Stafford (who has done companion guides to a bunch of the greatest geeky series, including Buffy and Lost).
She said the students had to run the movie theatre on campus and choose the movies, and his choices were The Bad and the Beautiful, The Furies, Laura, and The Scarlet Empress. She said her students feel passionately about their films, and they'd get into fistfights over them. She said, "While Joss is a very effective screenwriter, he is weak in the punching department." He liked Brian DePalma, and would defend those movies to the bitter end, while he hated Masterpiece Theatre–type films like Merchant-Ivory.
See if you can see the Buffy connection here: She said he loved Hitchcock, and when he presented a paper analyzing The Birds, he divided the movie up into 4 themes: The Watcher/The Watched/Isolation/The Role of the Viewer. In talking about Hedren's character, he said, "She has to give up her superficial life to survive," and added, "Stop thinking of why the birds are attacking ... they just are, that's all that matters." In other words, horror needs no explanation. It just exists.