As an avid reader of Entertainment Weekly, I’m always excited when Saturday rolls around and a new issue lands in my mailbox. Unless it’s a week when Twilight has taken over the cover, but that’s another story.
Upon flipping through the July 9 “Best of Summer” issue with the bizarre Will Ferrell-as-a-fish and Mark Wahlberg -as-a-life-guard cover, I found something a little disconcerting. In the Pop Watch section, usually a hodgepodge of blurbs about reality television and quotes from pop culture figures, there was a poll entitled “What is Joss Whedon’s best work?”
Even ignoring the fact that 9% of Entertainment Weekly readers who found this poll answered with “Who is Joss Whedon?”, the outcome was disconcerting at best. If asked that question, I would answer Firefly without hesitation, just like any good Browncoat would. On second thought, I might venture towards Buffy the Vampire Slayer since it did last the longest and still has a cult following that sustains a comic book series even after years off the air. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog would be in my top three due to its ingenuity alone. But none of those Whedon created works tops this poll. What did?
Somehow the critically deplored disaster that only redeemed itself after its imminent cancellation has been named by EW readers as Whedon’s best work. A show that’s premise made FOX so uncomfortable the brass made him rewrite and reshoot the pilot at the last minute, that had fewer than three million viewers for most of its run, and that never had its first season finale on the air. Who voted in this thing?
Prior to reading these results, I had never heard of this poll or seen the poll on ew.com, a site I frequent. The fact that Dollhouse beat Buffy 37% to 29% (with Firefly trailing at a measly 16%) makes me question the circumstances of this poll.
After a short bit of googling, I found that it was posted on June 23 as part of the Popwatch blog on ew.com in a post celebrating Whedon’s birthday and still shows the same results reflected in the magazine. As early as a few hours after posting, comments pointed out the strong showing of a less-than-loved Whedon original, though it still lagged behind Buffy and Firefly. The comment section gives a snapshot of how the poll grew with a number of people trying to figure out how Dollhouse had pulled ahead of Firefly 24-hours after the poll began.
While there are a number of write-in votes for Toy Story or Titan A.E., the majority discussed the merits of Buffy vs. Firefly, all the while Dollhouse moved ahead. Eight pages of comments didn’t include a single one in support of Dollhouse as Whedon’s best work, with most Dollhouse mentions including the phrase “wtf?” So how did it win?
A spambot, of course. Or more likely a well-known obsessive Eliza Dushku fan rigged up a Firefox add-on to repeatedly vote for Dollhouse, out weighing the devoted Browncoats and Buffy fans who took over the website to argue over the merits of each in 200+ comments.
Which leaves me wondering why Entertainment Weekly thought it was a good idea to run the poll in their magazine at all. Any person with a modicum of knowledge of the general pop culture zeitgeist (which I would assume would be on the top of the magazine’s hiring requirements) would see these results as bogus right away.
Not cool, EW.