Buffy is coming back and this time, she’s going to be Black

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the show. It was Season 3, part 2. I was flipping through the channels, looking for something to watch and for maaaaaaaaaaaaybe 30 seconds (possibly a minute, but, well, I wasn’t timing it, so…yeah) I landed on Buffy’s climactic battle with the Mayor. He had just transformed into a giant snake and graduation day had gone from “Wheeeeeeeeee, no more school, no more books, no more Snyder’s dirty looks” to “Um, there’s a giant snake AND WHERE THE HELL IS BUFFY, THIS IS HER WHEELHOUSE?!” i didn’t remain on the channel for long (see above, re: 30 seconds) as nothing grabbed me. I changed the channel right as the Mayoral Snake devoured someone (can’t recall who).

The next time I saw Buffy, I watched as Glory love tapped her way out of Willow’s force field barrier and absconded with Dawn (the antepenultimate episode of S5; Alexandra, that’s for you). I saw Buffy try to hit repeat on Glory’s actions–but without Glory’s strength–thus failing to save her sister.  For some reason, *something* about the end of this episode grabbed me. Maybe it was the feelings of complete and utter failure Buffy experienced, the sense of impending doom that permeated those last few episodes, or maybe it was the fact that Buffy collapsed into what looked like a waking catatonic state. Whatever the reason, I had to know more.

I made sure to set my VCR to record the next…did I really just type a sentence with VCR? Man, I feel like worn out aged cheese. Anyways…I recorded the next episode, which featured Willow venturing into Buffy’s mind to help her out of her catatonic state, and while it was entertaining, I wasn’t hooked.

What hooked me was the *final* episode of Season 5, ‘The Gift’. The snappy banter, the snazzy dialogue:

“You’re just a human. You can’t understand my pain.”

“Then I’ll just have to settle for causing it.”

 

“<gasp>…the Slayer’s a robot?  Did anyone else know the Slayer was a robot?”

“Glory?

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You’re not the brightest god in the heavens, are you?”

the quips, the emotional arcs, the action…it all was just a great big ball of wow (over time, especially when I watched the series from start to finish, this became one of my favorite episodes, in no small part due to the satisfaction of watching Buffy FINALLY kick Glory’s royally obnoxious ass).

As I mentioned, I eventually watched every episode of the series. I also watched every episode of the series David Boreanaz Is A Sexy Vampire Seeking Redemption, aka Angel (who had THE most bangin’ theme song in the history of ever), which in some ways, I found superior to Buffy’s show. Once the series ended and Joss Whedon made a deal with Dark Horse Comics, I even started collecting the comic book series which is an official part of the canon (recently picked up the first 2 issues of Season 12, in fact). The one thing I haven’t done though, is watch the Kristy Swanson movie. I know it’s part of the history of the show, and I know it is important, but the cheesiness of the 10-ish minutes I did watch (once, in days long ago) reeeeeeeeeeeeeally turned me off. It was groan inducing. Not in the good way either.

Over time though, I found that repeat viewings of the series were…hmmm…they were still enjoyable, but there was another layer on top. My appreciation of the series found itself sitting alongside some issues I had with the show. I hadn’t picked up on these issues when I first watched the series all the way through, nor when I did it again. It wasn’t until I started chatting with other fans, reading online fan sites, and perhaps most importantly, when I began hanging out in online feminist sites.  Among the many issues:

  • ableism
  • classism (Cordelia’s ‘softer side of Sears’ comment towards Willow back in S1 is one example)
  • stigma against mental illness
  • the series’ feminist rep is overblown
  • Xander–the epitome of the “Nice Guy” was actually a Grade-A douchebag (which says a lot about Whedon, as Xander was based to some degree on teen Joss)
  • ‘magic as a metaphor for addiction’ was far from the greatest idea,
  • Angel is a creepy, paternalistic stalker

aaaaaaaaaaaand (not that this is the only other issue, but it’s the one most relevant to this post), the depiction of People of Color on the series was firmly on the Not Remotely Good Side. I mean, come on…if a white guy is aware enough to notice the failings of the show vis-a-vis race, then you know it was P-R-O-B-L-E-M-A-T-I-C. Or, you know…racist.

So, when I read that joss Whedon is working on rebooting Buffy (YES, I JUST SAID THAT), I initially got more than a little bit cringe-y on the inside. See, not only is he rebooting the show, but he’s doing so with a Black lead. Given the way the original series treated Black women characters (sidelining them, giving them virtually nonexistent narrative arcs, literally forgetting about them once they died, using them solely as a vehicle to make white characters shine), such a headline filled me with the opposite of excitement. However. There is reason to hope. A very significant one. In the form of Monica Owusu-Breen:

 

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Buffy is coming back and this time, she’s going to be Black
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This is a lotta creepy

(image of Buffy’s first encounter with the Buffybot from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5, episode 18, ‘Intervention’)

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may remember the Buffybot from ‘Intervention’ (B:TvS S5E18). The lifelike robotic creation of the misogynist Warren, the Buffybot was created for Spike because he…I wouldn’t say he loved Buffy (though he thought he did at the time)…perhaps ‘infatuated’ is the right term? ‘Lusted’, even.  That’s probably more accurate, because for Spike, the Buffybot was a fuck machine. And that’s one big reason the robot was creepy to me. The idea of a man creating a robotic facsimile of a woman he desires takes objectification to a new level. From street harassment to sexual assault to sex trafficking, women around the world are accustomed to men viewing them as objects. Not as human beings, but as objects to be bought. Objects to be sold. Objects to be traded. Objects to own. But at least building an artificial creation that resembles an actual living human woman is something that only exists in fiction, right? Not any longer.

Continue reading “This is a lotta creepy”

This is a lotta creepy

Has it really been 19 years?

Time to get a little weepy eyed y’all. One of the best television shows I’ve ever watched has its 19th anniversary today. On March 10, 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted. Now, I didn’t start watching the show until the sixth season. If I recall correctly, the first I saw of the show was part two of the Season 3 finale (I remember watching the Mayor transform into a giant snake and start eating students). Years later, I happened to watch the final episode of Season 5, ‘The Gift’, where the Slayer sacrifices her life to save her sister Dawn and the entire world (the second time she died). I didn’t have any real attachment to the show at that point, but when I discovered FX was running repeats, I started watching it from some point in Season 1. Despite the uneven quality, the cheesiness, the ‘making shit up on the fly’ nature of the show, and other issues, I found myself liking it. By the second season I found I really liked it. By the time ‘Becoming Part 2’ was over, I was in tears and loving the show (in part bc Sarah McLachlan’s song was perfect for that ending). Sarah Michelle Gellar took to Instagram with some touching words about the show:

Continue reading “Has it really been 19 years?”

Has it really been 19 years?

Once more, with feeling

In Season 6 of my favoritest tv show of all time-Buffy: The Vampire Slayer-the Scooby Gang faced an outbreak of…people breaking out into song and dance. Joss Whedon, creator of B:TVS, came up with a way to do this musical episode (titled ‘Once More, With Feeling’) that worked in the context of the fictional Buffyverse. Then he wrote it. And directed it. And wrote the music and lyrics for the episode. Given that I’m going to be discussing plot elements for the episode and seeing as there are people who have never watched it (or the series in general), I’ll include the obligatory

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SPOILER SPACE

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One of the interesting aspects of this episode is that the mysterious force responsible for the outbreak of singing and dancing compelled the residents of Sunnydale to reveal their true feelings or deep secrets through the music they sang.The Scooby Gang was also affected and in their first meeting since the demonic epidemic of song and dance began, they speculated about the source of their latest troubles in the song ‘I’ve got a theory’:

I loved Anya’s portion of the song. Even though she mentioned her fear of bunnies several seasons prior, it’s still hilarious that a 2,000-year-old ex-Vengeance Demon-turned-mortal would suffer from leporiphobia.  So when I saw the following video at The Laughing Squid, the first thing I wondered was “Damn! Anya would probably drop dead of sheer fright!”

Giant bunnies are something straight out of the 1950s Hollywood B horror movies. I wonder if that one mutated as a result of radiation. I also wonder what super powers I’d get if I was bitten by a radioactive rabbit. Probably just amazing humping jumping abilities.

Once more, with feeling

"Bunnies! Bunnies! It must be bunnies!"

Hi there. Huge Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fan here (and no SMG, you are not too old to play Buffy. Even at 90 you will not be too old). Here’s one of the awesome songs from the Season 6 episode ‘Once more with feeling’:

“Or maybe midgets.”

"Bunnies! Bunnies! It must be bunnies!"

“Bunnies! Bunnies! It must be bunnies!”

Hi there. Huge Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fan here (and no SMG, you are not too old to play Buffy. Even at 90 you will not be too old). Here’s one of the awesome songs from the Season 6 episode ‘Once more with feeling’:

“Or maybe midgets.”

“Bunnies! Bunnies! It must be bunnies!”

Ayn Rand, Buffy, and morality

We all have nightmares.

Often these nightmares are extensions of activities we dread, such as public speaking, singing solo in front of your peers, giving a book report naked, being the only server in a restaurant on a Friday night with every table getting sat in succession with barely any time to get a drink order, let alone food order, and the guests all get so mad they refuse to pay, meaning you’ve worked your ass off and will get no tip and on top of that, they all leave reviews of the restaurant that are so bad that business tanks and you’re out of a job and your boss blames you and you’re blacklisted from all the restaurants in the city and have to move elsewhere except you can’t because you don’t have money and holy fuck can I get this sentence any longer (I tried, really I did)?

Then there are real nightmares.  Those things that would just be abso-fucking-lutely awful if they happened in the real world.  I was recently introduced to just such a nightmare. I won’t rank it in terms of absolute awfulness, but it’s gotta be up there-like in the top 1 (not a typo).

Put down the drinks.  Surround yourself with soft pillows.  Lay on the floor. Prepare yourself for:

  Ayn Rand does Buffy

GILES: In every generation there is a Slayer. She is the Chosen One. She alone will stand against the forces of darkness –

BUFFY: What does it pay?

GILES: What do you mean?

BUFFY: I’m being expected to risk my personal health and well-being on behalf of those too weak to fend for themselves, yes?

GILES: I wouldn’t put it exactly like that.

BUFFY: Surely this kind of specialized labor merits compensation, if my skills are so highly valued on the free market.

GILES: Well, we can’t really offer the Slayer money, if that’s what you mean.

BUFFY: Then I will find someone who can, and work only for the highest bidder.

[a group of vampires bash their way into the library and begin chewing on Giles]

GILES: Buffy, help –

BUFFY: If you really valued my services, you would pay me.

GILES: I’m dying –

BUFFY: This is emotional extortion and I won’t respond to it.

There are more examples at the link.

By the way, I actually do think the Slayers should have been paid.  They got the short end of Mr. Pointy-living an incredibly short and violent life. Given abilities they never chose and a destiny they never asked for.  All of this and they don’t get paid?! I think that people should get paid for their jobs, even if that job involves helping others, saving lives, or battling vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness.  The Slayer should be paid.

My gripe with so much of Ayn Rand’s Libertarian bullshit is the selfishness, as seen in the above example.  Not caring about the plight of others is pretty much the antithesis of who I am.  I might not be able to help others as much as I’d like, but I have a great deal of empathy and hearing of the suffering of others, including people I don’t know and never will has an effect on me.  If I was in the same situation as “Buffy” was in the above scenario, I’d save Giles.  Yes, there’s a risk, but given her power levels and her skills, that’s a minimal risk to her life, especially for the benefit of y’know, Anthony Stewart Head being able to keep his head.

Why?  Because of empathy. Because I know that if circumstances were different, I could be in the same car accident, have the same debilitating disease, face the same bullying, or deal with the same oppressive, theocratic government that calls for LGBT people or atheists to be killed. If I were in that same situation where my life was in danger, I’d want someone to help me if they could.  I wouldn’t want someone to sit on the sidelines and not offer assistance if they were able to (assuming they wouldn’t have to face too great a risk of harm to themselves [a risk that is up to each individual to determine]-I’m not saying that someone should rush into a burning building to save my life, although if they did, and saved me, I think I’d be a bit grateful). Moreover, since I don’t want to be made to suffer, I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. I don’t want anyone to suffer, and since I realize that suffering does happen, empathy causes me to react in a sympathetic, compassionate way.

I neither need nor want any divine commands to act in a moral way. At the heart of my morality is empathy.

Ayn Rand, Buffy, and morality

Any Buffy Fans out there?

“I lost a friend tonight and I may lose more.  The whole Earth could get sucked into hell and you want my help because your girlfriend’s a big ho’?  Let me take this opportunity to not care!”

“My life happens, on occasion, to suck beyond the telling of it.”

“The Slayer’s a robot? Did everyone know the Slayer’s a robot?”

Season 2.  Season 3. Season 5.

I’m a Buffy fan.

A big Buffy fan.

A huge Buffy fan.

(Although I do like Faith the bestest.  Due to her conflicted nature, she’s got more moral gray areas than Buffy, which allows, IMO for a greater range of stories.  Plus I love Eliza Dushku.)

Anyways, I stumbled upon a lil’ sum sum from Zimbio-a fan created intro to an animated Buffy show. Stephen Byrne knows his shit!

But what gang…there’s more.  Images.  There be images!

Any Buffy Fans out there?