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August 07 2006

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Future Is Now. A response to the essay "Messages About Sex & Violence in the Buffy/Spike Relationship" and a look at why Buffy started a new age in television.

Extract:

Buffy and Spike are natural enemies. Buffy's mission is to slay vampires, but she ends up falling in love with them; Spike's natural calling is to kill Slayers (he has already killed two of them) but he falls in love with Buffy; their relationship is as dark and complicated as prime-time TV can afford.

Just to put this in perspective, the writer of the original article was Ducks and the writer of this article is Moscow Watcher, who helps to run a well known Spuffy site. The two articles are a discussion between two shippers, one of Bangel and the other of Spuffy.

Here is the link to the original article: Here

For the first time in forever, I dont have an opinion on either article, believe it or not.

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-08-07 09:41 ]
Yeah I heard about the kerfuffle the original article caused. I have no wish to turn Whedonesque into a B/A versus B/S battleground (cause too many boards and forums got ruined as a result in the past) so I will be keeping an eye on this very carefully. If even one word gets said out of turn, this thread gets deleted.
Damn, Simon, and I was just about to let go with some really juicy stuff ;)

Oh well, good job, MW.
All I can say is I disgree strongly on the "he just misread the signs" part when he attempted to rape Buffy. By this time Buffy very clearly told Spike why she was breaking up with and the effect their very bad and abusive relationship was having on her. His attack on her had nothing to do with him thinking she was playing games and would give in. Nor did she deserve it because of their earlier joint beatings of each other.

I think both articles have thier points and both have thier very clear agenda's. But kudos for taking the time to write them and let the fandom read your oppinions. I have never seen or heard of these before.
I'm not sure I agree with the article that there's any distinction between 'professional' and 'amateur' writers apart from (obviously) that pros get paid and (presumably) get seen/read by more people and so may have a greater responsibility in that sense. Art is art though and whether it's paid for or not is, IMO, irrelevant. An artist must pursue their own vision (within the bounds of social responsibility), to do anything else is just hack-work.

And yeah, Spike didn't mis-read any signs or at least if he did he was being wilfully dense since, at that point, Buffy was playing a passive role which went against all her behaviour towards him up to then. She'd basically been using him and he mistakenly thought he could treat her the same way (and the attempted rape would raise interesting questions about why it's OK to treat an unsouled sentient being that way but not OK to treat Buffy that way if not for one salient fact i.e. Spike wanted to have sex with Buffy, wanted, in a sense, to be used, whereas Buffy categorically and clearly didn't).

I also don't think that Buffy actually did love Spike though she held him in high enough regard to lie to him - hence his '...but thanks for saying it' - but maybe something like 'extreme fondness' applies or the distinction between loving someone (as she did Xander for instance and possibly Spike) and being in love with someone (as he was with her).

Personally though I don't really get all the vehemence on either side of the Bangel/Spuffy divide. Both relationships were great and took we the viewers to interesting places for entirely different reasons. They both served as good indicators of Buffy's internal state at the time and the differences between them showed the necessary loss of innocence that growing up entails in all its gory details. But then i'm not a huge 'shipper so maybe i'm able to step back in ways folk more emotionally invested aren't.
the writer of this article is Moscow Watcher, who helps to run a well known Spuffy site


Shouldn't that be "the writer of this article is Moscow Watcher,a well known Spuffy, who helps to run a Spike site" otherwise I haven't the foggiest idea what board you are talking about
jerryst3161: Just to put this in perspective, the writer of the original article was Ducks and the writer of this article is Moscow Watcher, who helps to run a well known Spuffy site.


Just a little clarification: I don't help to run a well known Spuffy site. Don't give me the credit I don't deserve. I often post on Sarah Michelle Gellar's forum SMGfan.com and on Spangel forum CDS - but a) I have never been a mod or an admin, and b) these forums are not exclusively Spuffy.

Donna Troy: I disgree strongly on the "he just misread the signs" part when he attempted to rape Buffy.


I agree that the situation is much more complicated and the amount of the writings on that scene alone proves it. But in my article I had to boil it down to one-phrase description; and, since Fowler's paper presents an extremely one-sided opinion on the subject, I felt justified to bring up the opposite viewpoint, for the argument's sake.

I hope that we can discuss broader issues I mention in my article. Why Buffyverse continues to fascinate? Why we still discuss it three years after the ending of the show?

Although the direct incentive to write "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Future is Now" was Fowler's paper, the stuff I write about is the result of many conversations with fans and my attempts to rationalise my own fascination with Whedonverse.

I really believe that Joss Whedon created a new model of popular media - a model that shows the way out of current crisis of entertainment industry.
And I agree. Good to hear from the source, and there is much in the article worth discussing.

MW- we still discuss it because there is so much to learn from it, because it caught the zeitgeist (Sorry, Zeitgeist!) of the times so well, and because it can be read through so many different filters relarted to modern culture, philosophy, religion and critical theory and analysis. Even if some bonehead conservative activist over on the Dallas Star thinks it merits no stufy at all- but that is a different thread not yet picked up on Whedonesque yet (and one we have seen before).

But one thing caught my attention- Marti Noxon states that the Buffy-Spike AR generated more debate than any other occurence in the show's history. Can that be? I would think that the death of Tara did that, since even today I can find far more on that issue- which refuses to die- compared to the AR. Not to change the subject or anything.
Great essay Moscow, and a truly fascinating read.
My head hurts.
Dana5140 : But one thing caught my attention- Marti Noxon states that the Buffy-Spike AR generated more debate than any other occurence in the show's history. Can that be? I would think that the death of Tara did that, since even today I can find far more on that issue- which refuses to die- compared to the AR.


I read Noxon's quote on Restless Trivia Guide which in turn references SFX Year End Collector's Edition by Edward Gross. Maybe Noxon got all the criticism for AR and Steven DeKnight - for Tara's death?

Anyway, Tara's death truly devastated me, and Whedon's later confession that he planned to resurrect her but couldn't work it out with Amber Benson devastated me even more. Tara was a great character and it was sad to see her gone.
I never saw Buff's ILY as "in Love" but that he was now in a place very few got to in her heart. He called her on it and she did not correct him. He would alwasy be special and always be very close. I agree he was part of her need for that season. But like was said in earlier eps, she was now ready for him to not be there.

I remember is season three there was alot of discussion about Faith attempted rape of Xander. Weither is was attempted rape and how very dark that scene was to film and write by it's writers.Also in three was the HUGE disscussion on Buffy's right to kill Faith for Angel.

In Season 2 most centered around Xander's lie and if it was right or wrong of him to do. Five around Giles's killingmof ben and if the KNights were human or mystical and deserving of the deaths the recieved for trying to kill Dawn. OR if Spike REALLY meant o to go get is soul, even though the show really does lead to it but the writers insist he always was.

I think generalizations on either side by anyone is once again just oppionions. Every season there were massive conversations about certain key points or turning points. They might not alwasy stir our individual passions but certainly the fandoms in some sense.

Now MN might be referring her to the writer's debating over it and I believe that is the way I have always heard it. But really they also said they have all also strongly discussed who was in love and the soul thing strongly too.

My issue with the attempted rape, (I hate calling it AR because I think it trivilizes something that is really horriable)is the after effect of it. IF you feel you have to got here and it is the key linchpin of WHY Spike went to get his soul and why by Joss's own words B/S could not have a sexual relationship again, then it should have been treated that way. Angel turning into Anel follows him from ep to ep. It is why he left Buffy. It haunts him so that he feels the need to have his friends armed and be afraid to get really close to anyone. I thought it deserved more then a tiny flash and and pathetic whine by Dawn.

Him being crazy had tot do with what the First ws doing to him because once out the basement it went right away. So the attempted. rape did not have anything to do with it. I t would have been more satisfying to watch this reconnection play out with all the ugly bumbs that this kind of ugly act brings.

I loved Tara. But I also loved Oz. For me that was the one time the triangle had good things on everyside. I can say though I was glad AB was not willing to come back the way Joss wanted. Sometimes people just have to stay dead for it to matter.

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-07 15:18 ]
I'm a big BtVS fangirl, but I am also oh, so tired of the overanalyzing of S6. At this point, we all think what we think, and none of us are likely to change our minds. Can we just agree that we love the show, and let the other stuff go?
MW- for me, too. I still consider the death of Tara to be a terrible decision. But I do not want to hijack this thread, so I will defer any further comment on that.

I will note, though, that one thing that did bother me is that the death of Tara took place in the same episode as the AR, thereby decreasing its impact. The AR seems to have taken on a life of its own as a significant plot point, but I have always had problems with it. I think my issues arise because the sex that Spuffy had prior to that point was angry, painful and intense. Spike took Buffy from behind, in a semi-public setting, in one notable example. In another, Buffy's "no" turned definitively into a "yes" and brought down the house. History would suggest that the sex they were having led directly to that misunderstanding that occurred in Seeing Red- which does not dismiss "no" meaning "no." But Spike was still evil, and Buffy had erred in entering into that relation. It was abusive all ways 'round. Not close to healthy, and it reached its denouement in SR. But it played itself out so badly into S7, with no real effort made to deal with its effects, with Spike under the thrall of The First so that the AR got pushed off to the side and forgotten, until General Buffy needed Spike's help in her fight- the best tool for the job despite their history.

Then again, I never felt that Willow had her slate wiped clean, was redeemed and absolved, simply because she cast the activation spell and had her hair turn white. It was nowhere near enough to redeem her for the murder of 2 humans- and was Spike's sacrifice in Chosen enough to do so for him? Given he came back in Angel later?

Poor Tara, the only one who never came back at all.
First off, you have to make a decision whether everyone is responsible for their own actions, soul or unsouled, under influence of magic, depression or whatever. If so, then Angel is everything he was as Angelus and Drusilla is not guilty by reason of insanity.. I do think the soul is a big thing in the verse, but even with soul, most all of them would be in jail. Angel with soul has murdered humans--Do we really want our teenage daughter with him? Willow is cute and perky and sweet, but she also skins people alive. Shouldn't Kennedy's mother be concerned? Spike would be completely guilty of the FE taking him over.

IMO, we shouldn't view BTVS like a LIFETIME movie.

Him being crazy had tot do with what the First ws doing to him because once out the basement it went right away. So the attempted. rape did not have anything to do with it. I t would have been more satisfying to watch this reconnection play out with all the ugly bumbs that this kind of ugly act brings.

I disagree...he went on about never hurting Buffy again very much all through season seven. It was so much in him that when he tasted her blood in SLEEPER, he snapped out of the FE's control. I just don't think this is a show that would have Buffy attending rape counseling sessions-- if we are taking all this literally, she should have done that after the PACK, if this is the case.

Angel turning into Anel follows him from ep to ep..

And fic slashers rejoice!

[ edited by spikeylover on 2006-08-07 16:01 ]
I can say what makes me love Buffy after all these years is the template of the character herself. A girl with a silly name, so small. The fact that even though she has these powers,they are not what wins the day everytime, it is her courage, and heart. Something Buffy Summers never loses and always seems to have more then a enough of. I can say the romance I love is mainly because of the actors who play them. There have been times I have been willing to jump ship with one of them involved with another character because it was their portrayals of the characters that tugges at me. I was willing to look at the possibilty of F/A for awhile(until I realized they made the ultimate friendship) because the writting for those characters were so dynamic in a scene. It makes you want for more.

But it has always been Faith that grabbed me and has held on for dear life. After all these years I am still hungry for her story. I think it one of the most incomplete both backwards and forwards in the universe now. Even now as the universe fades into comics and fanfiction, I search out mainly stuff about her. But I think I like the broken bad girl's. It would explain my new facination with Starbuck

It brings up the question after all this time, IF the writting had been good , even with my dislike of the later years Spike, could I have been intrested in a roamce with Faith/Spike had the show happened. I can't say no and for me that is intresting.

Spike never acknowledged the rape, only that in the past he hurt her. The First muddled much of his remorse. It was such a big event that it deserved more time. Spike had been hurting her for many years, the soul now helped him to see that was not healthy, but that did not mean he was absolved of what he did. Faith did the same thing and was still paying for it even though she chose to come back and fight with Buffy when she did not have too. Spike needed to understand his actions in a larger scale not just hurt he inflicted on one person. That is something I don't believe he ever got till Angel.

If it is a show to bring in a subject like that to demonstrate the need for change through this action, then all the reactions need to be done as well. The story was rushed and the ending felt flat. We needed to see Buffy and her family process this. Xander had an ugly reaction, as did Dawn. But what about Wills. Did Angel ever know? Giles? We saw Buffy go through emotional termoil after Angelus, I needed to see that after the attempted rape and when Spike came back into her life.

The difference between unsouled Spike and Hyena Xander was that Spike has professed his love aand knew everything about Buff's mental state. He knew Buffy was not intrested in a sexual realtionship with him anymore. He also knew how to love and had the abilty to be in love. He had the choice to take the action or not. Hyena Xander was mindless.

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-07 17:21 ]
Donna Troy, please spell check your posts before submitting them.
Faith's redempion came on Angel The Series, a show that was all about redemption, so it fit in with the environment- she did not receive her redemption through any agent on BTVS. The question I have is, were Spike and Willow redeemed? I would argbue not, though I think Spike comes closer in his sacrifice than Willow does in her ability to cast a spell.

Spike was not the only one who did evil acts and was not redeemed. Willow killed two humans, Faith killed at least one, Anya killed an entire frat house before she went to D'Hoffryn and lost Halfreck as a result, Giles killed Ben with utterly no repercussion, Xander lied to Buffy and Warren killed at least 2 girls. Only Warren ever really suffered as a result, and that lasted about 3 minutes. Well, Willow lost her mind for a bit, I guess, and nearly destroyed the world. But now the AR has a context here- has it been elevated above all this other evil? Just asking.
Amen Caroline! My eyes are bleeding...

In a similar vein (no pun intended), it boggles the mind that this is still such a hot topic. Next up- is Angel's moment of true happiness equal to orgasm or not. Discuss and flame. ;-)

(and, of course, Simon, I'm teasing :-D)
No and Yes. I think it is in some ways worse because we are told over and over Spike loves her. He wants to help her. His non soul is different then Angelus because he has humanity in him He is capable of loving. Anglus was not. He was nothing but a souless evil.
So the fact that Spike did all this with his humanity intact is my issue. He was very aware that Buffy had firmly called it off and walked away, not to mention saw the bruises and how hurt she was in the bathrrom, even commenting on them.

I wanted more from him and the wrtters then, he has a soul now so it does not matter. Yet, some writters talk about the differences in Spike and Angel's soul issues. That difference is why I have issues. I guess I wanted to see the end of rape story have as much punch as the beginning did for all the characters involved. For me it was litterly swept under the carpet.

No Spike was not the only one who did evil acts. Many did and in the name of greater good. Both Giles killing Ben and Xander's lie are in that same line. They both did what they had to, there were no other choices at the time. Can the same be said for Buffy trying to kill Faith for Angel, Anya killing all those boys, Willow use of magic whenever needed( if it was supposed to be a drug story then should not her family be steering her AWAY from it?). I am not sure there.

I always felt like both Spike and Angel were given free passes because of the soul. Both did questionable things with souls as well, yet the continued to get the free passes. I never saw that with Faith. She payed her debt and I still never really saw Buffy acknowledge that she too had fallen, but on her own had crawled out and up. Buffy had touched that darkness so recently, you would have thought she finally would have understood. But on the other hand, I was amazed at how easily Faith and Wills resolved their differences.

Willow for me was never redeemed as she just went back to the magic. A few timeouts and she was back. White hair or not. Physical pain does equal redemption. Spike began his journey on Buffy,continued it better on Angel, but redeeming remains.

Like Angel told Faith:

Faith: "So, how does this - work?"
Angel: "There is no real simple answer to that. - I won't lie to you and tell you that it'll be easy - because it won't be. - Just because you've decided to change doesn't mean that the world is ready for you to. - The truth is - no matter how much you suffer, no matter how many good deeds you do to try to make up for the past - you may never balance out the cosmic scale. - The only thing I can promise you is that you'll probably be haunted - and may be for the rest of your life."

FAITH
(weak)
I’ve rolled the bones. You for me.
Angel decks Angelus and sends him reeling to the ground..ANGEL
Orpheus
46
ANGEL
I used to think that. That there’d be a point when I’d paid
my dues.
ANGEL
Our time is never up, Faith. We pay for everything.

Faith, Angel, Spike....none of them will have a set redemption time because as hero's they will always be to keenly aware of that slippery slop and how many times they fail.
Wow. I think I've read more criticism about Joss and his work in linked articles/blogs here since July, than the whole time I watched the three shows combined. I'm not saying criticism or questioning is bad but when I read statements like this,

The fan who writes very dark NC-17 fanfiction but contends that professional art should abstain from following her steps, is an intriguing phenomenon which reflects the ambivalent situation in culture in the age of Internet. (MW describing the author of the paper and fanfic),

or,

Fowler, a romantic fiction novelist, uses TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as prime example to illustrate her point that TV should be more responsible in telling stories about dark and unhealthy relationships ... "In this paper, I deal specifically with the message given by the complicated sadomasochistic relationship between the series' heroine, Buffy Summers, and the wildly popular arch-villain-turned-hero, Spike. [...] I contend that the message of this relationship to young viewers is a dangerous one.",

all I can think of is a line Mandy Patinkin had in the film Impromptu, howlingly inappropriate as it was in that particular situation to cover up an extremely rude action: "Art does not apologize!" Nor should it. Ever. And it really is as simple as turning the channel if you think subject matter is inappropriate. And why are young viewers (and how young?) watching the show or being allowed to if it's that harmful? There's a lot that could be said but I'll leave it at that.

And I loved, loved, loved what Marti Noxon said. She's very wise.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2006-08-07 17:28 ]
Donna Troy: "...now as the universe fades into comics and fanfiction..."


I think it's the fundamental difference between our perception of Joss' model of popular art. In my opinion, Whedonverse doesn't *fade* into comics and fanfiction. It *evolves* into them. It develops into new interactive media.
I think the Buffyverse is incrediable. It's characters are rich and bold. But I don't think it is or was the only good show on TV. Or that there is not the same incrediable and emotional writting out there to find. I think some of the problem is that we love these characters to much and are afraid to let some of them go. I know that is my problem with Faith.

The reason I say fade is that it will now reach a smaller auidence. The fandom has shrunken for sometime now that the actual shows are done. It happens to the best of shows.Comics and fanfic only reach a tiny percentage of the remaining fans even. To evolve something has to continue to grow. Fanfiction is not growing because it is a selective kind of writting. The Comics have been done before. IMO.
Angelus had humanity if we go by ATS, didn't he?

Spike called Angel his yoda and mentor but says in PASSION (season two): This new, improved one is not playing with a full sack.

Spike knew the old Angelus, even without soul, he was glad to see him when he first arrived in INNOCENCE. It appears that Angelus was balking at humanity having felt his soul and lost it again.

So, how exactly do you redeem what you do as an unsouled vampire? I think for having a soul for a couple of years, Spike had a pretty good start. If you look at it from the other souled vampire, it took Angel a hundred years to get to where SPike was.

Also, to turn this around a bit, wasn't Angelus obsessed with Drusilla?

DRUSILLA: (to Angelus) You don't want to kill [Buffy] do you? You want to hurt her. Just like you hurt me.

This is where I get confused, because the original author is a huge supporter of the Buffy/Angel ship. How is it okay because he only intended to rape/drive Buffy to insanity and kill all her friends but didn't actually get to go through with it? Why is SPike the only one held responsible?

To make it even more confusing, If unsouled SPike should be seen exactly as a human because he loved the slayer and fought on the side of good, then should we excuse Buffy for her actions? (Imagine a man telling a woman that he'd kill her if she told about their affair, for example) If he's more than an unsouled vampire, are the rest like Spike and Angelus is the example of something different? Is Spike different? But what of Holden? Drusilla? James/Elizabeth? Dalton? Does this mean that Buffy is committing Genocide?

Again, this show shouldn't be treated as a LIFETIME special.

[ edited by spikeylover on 2006-08-07 18:21 ]
Eh. I never understood why what happened in Dead Things was never as reviled as what happened in Seeing Red. Especially when you consider that the typical qualities of man/woman were reversed in DT, as the woman was actually the physically stronger of the pair. I should think that if Oz had given Willow a pounding like that, people would be more upset.
But I guess that's really it. We, as a society, don't like the visual image of a man assaulting a woman, but if a woman assaults a man(Buffy on Spike, or Faith on Xander) it's not so big a deal, because 'men can take it'. But in both those cases, the roles were virtually reversed: strong women victimizing weaker men(and in Faith's case, a VERY much weaker man). But it's still the visual we get...women assaulting men-so it's ok. (No, obviously it's not okay, I just mean that I think that's why people weren't as upset at the incidents with Buffy and Faith as they were over the AR.)

Damn you, Joss, for writing strong women. (BTW, why IS that??) Now you've gone and blurred the lines between the sexes and you actually make us think about stuff!
First off, you have to make a decision whether everyone is responsible for their own actions, soul or unsouled

Ah, but that surely is one of the bigger Buffyverse questions. If a soul really is a moral compass or conscience then why are Angel and post-soul Spike responsible for Angelus' and pre-soul Spike's actions ? After all if you can't tell the difference between right and wrong then all moral judgements are beyond you and so, therefore, is any responsibility for immoral ones. If Cordelia is clearly not to blame for stuff evil-Cordy did then why are Angel and Spike (and she can't even play the human card since she was part demon at that point) ?

(but then the Bverse has always played pretty fast and loose with the notion of morality since Buffy seems to have carte blanche to kill any number of sentient beings - i.e. demons - simply because they can't wave the magic soul card whereas an extremely dangerous human like Ben/Glory can't be touched except by the sullied and, by his own admission, non-hero Giles. I reckon, BTW, that Angel would've killed Ben if necessary, just another way, IMO, that Ats was all about the grey whereas BtVS was much more about the youthful notion of clearly defined lines)

And I think that's a good point Rogue Slayer that it's partly just the conditioning of how we react to images of a man beating a woman where in fact we should be reacting to images of a stronger party beating a weaker one whatever their sex.
Angelus was said to be clearly without ANY humanity by the Judge. Nothing. No love. TM said Angelus was obssessed with both Darla and Dru but was incapable of ever understanding love. Angelus was also obssesed with Buffy, but never in love with her like Angel.

If we go by ATS, Angel and Angelus are two very distinct and different personalities. Complete with their own taste in woman and and their own memories. Unsouled Spike and Souly Spike had no distinction. He was shown to think, talk and act the same both ways.

I have no intrest in getting into the who's vamp is better thing. I will say this though, Spike just started his journey. He has yet to feel any remorse that is not equated with physical pain for past deeds. He is nowhere near where Angel is. How could he be? He was the same monster, if not worse because of his ability to love as Angelus. Spike and Angel BOTH needed Buffy as their reason to change. Angel has found his own reason and been out on his own to seek his redemption. Spike just recetly a learned what it is to do for the greater good and NOT for Buffy's approvel.

Dru was evil and insane. She killed many humans and a slayer. Holden even though he was intelligent was still going to try and kill Buffy or anyone else. Same with James and Elizabeth. So it goes to theory that Spike is not the unique vampire, Angelus(or his demon) and his absolute loss of humanity is.

In some cases Buffy has been very wrong in her killing. Her being willing kill Faith for Angel was wrong. And yes, it does bring up the very big point that with so many different kinds of demons (like Doyle or Clem)and soul issues with vamps has Buffy committed murder? Should they not be more selective in how she kills? How the research is conducted. Is it time for the blanket he is a vamp or demon to be ended? I would say yes to all.

I remember being horrified by what Faith did to Xander. And likewise with B/S, they never really touched it again. But then again rape was used so much and in so many ways on the shows, maybe we just got so accustomed to it.(Cordy was raped by demons how many times, 3? Buffy and the girls in Him, even Xander as the hyena.) Maybe the in your face action of a real rape with all it's shocking images was what woke people up and made it more real.

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-07 18:20 ]
Donna Troy you seem to be going off on a tangent that bears little if any relation to the article linked to. Stay on topic.
I agree with previous comments that Buffy was a show in which moral issues are very complex. Good characters do evil things and sometimes they get away with it. However one puts it and whatever the motivations were, some of our favorite characters did do evil deeds. Giles, Willow and Faith killed while in possession of a soul and although there is certainly a context to view these actions in and reasons that can be found, they still do not excuse them.

As for the attempted rape storyline, I feel that something keeps getting lost in this discussion (ETA: appareantly it didn't ;-)). In the first six seasons of Buffy we saw a Spike without a soul. An inhertently evil creature. Not uncapable of feelings and emotions (The Judge already confirmed in S2 that Spike had some humanity in him), but certainly not possessing a moral compass to guide his actions. Now the events of the show slowly put Spike on a path of getting a soul. As far as I'm concerned it's up for debate if Spike ever consciously decided to get it, but that's another question entirely. Now in S7, we see a souled Spike, an entirely different proposition. He has fundamentally changed and now has the capacity to love in a normal, healthy way. At least in theory.

The reason I want to make this distinction is because we have two vampires with a soul. The difference is that we got to know one of them with a soul (which then seems like his 'natural state') and one without. However, when Angel loses his soul, people call him by a different name ('Angelus') and in Angel it is even suggested that though they share the same body, they don't share all their memories and are different in some fundamental way beyond the mere distinction of a moral compass (in the form of a soul).

This, to me, brings up the question of why we keep isisting on treating the S2-6 Spike in the same way as we treat S7 Spike, while we so obviously don't do that for someone like Angel. To me, at least, S2-6 Spike was inherrently evil, uncapable of true love (ie: not driven by purely egoism) and for such a person, attempted rape is in no way out of character or unlogical. Buffy's acceptence of a souled Spike, on the other hand, is no different from her acceptance of a re-souled Angel in S3 (after he had killed Jenny Calendar and nearly destroyed the world).

I do agree that there might have been some more discussion of the attempted rape scene in S7 (I would think that facing someone with the same face and a lot of the same characteristics as a soulless killer who tried to rape you would be more troubling than we ended up seeing in the season), but as it is, it is not surprising that Buffy choose to put her trust in Spike again and accept him into her inner circle, given the show's mythology and previous stories.

ETA: ah, I see the discussion already turned this way. That's what I get for doing other things in between bursts of typing...

[ edited by GVH on 2006-08-07 18:32 ]
"We, as a society, don't like the visual image of a man assaulting a woman, but if a woman assaults a man(Buffy on Spike, or Faith on Xander) it's not so big a deal, because 'men can take it'." -RS

And in the same regard, we, as buffy viewers, understand that while Oz (in a crazy whacked out world) hitting Willow would be all types of wrong--HOWEVER, we also see the transaction (fistfight) between Faith and Spike in "Touched" as not being a big deal for the simple fact that neither is merely human. I remember while watching "Beneath You" one day while my brother was in the room. When Anya realizes that Spike has a soul, he hits her across the room to prevent her from telling the scoobies. As soon as that happened, my brother (20 years old) did a double-take and said "Wait! What they hell?" My response being "It's okay, she's a demon".

As far as the beating in "Dead Things" vs the attempted rape in "Seeing Red", I find that juxtaposing the two makes me see both the similiarities and the differences. In "Dead Things" Spike is obviously one of the dead things being referenced too. Also, during the beating, Spike isn't fighting back (after a certain point atleast). He takes the severity of the beatings with little emotion while Buffy was the one sobbing. In "Seeing Red" Buffy is once again the one reacting the most emotionally to the situation (as she obvious would be.)

The thing about Buffy and Spike is that their relationship is completely unique to any of television (I should hope). They respective situations are the reasons why trying to psycho-analyze the relationship is so difficult and controversial. One of the main issues is of course the fact that Spike doesn't have a soul in season 6. Seeing Spike hit Buffy while he was in love with her was almost normal for viewers to watch. However, when Angel hits Buffy in "Sanctuary" it makes the audience gasp because not only does he love her, but he also has a soul (the double standard of course being that soulled-Buffy hits him first). Then again, with or without a soul, it's obvious that Spike wasn't an ordinary vampire--which is why he had such a strong fanbase and why the controversy over Spike and Buffy's lovefest will never cease.

I'm not sure if I hit a point anywhere in this post, but hopefully I made you think.
How does Angel pay? What do you do with Angelus? Angelus is evil, and will always be evil, and the best you can hope is that he remains buried in Angel- which, as we all know, does not always happen. Given that, what to do? There is only one answer for Angelus- he must be killed. But to kill him, you also have to kill Angel. Perhaps that is what drive Spike to sacrifice himself, knowing that his soul allowed him to live with feeling, but also knowing that he had a century-long period of evil and death dealing.

How does Spike pay for his AR? He never did that I can see. Perhaps by the sacrifice alone? Did Willow pay? Giles? We are letting a lot of badness go under the bridge here, and the AR gets the attention- because rape is a terrible violation? Which it is, of course, but we also have murderers here, including one who tortured and then flayed alive another human being. One who suffocated a helpless human being. One whom tore the heart out of 12 frat members.

We felt vicarious thrills at seeing Warren flayed. We understood the anger that drive Willow. But it was a horrible crime, yes?

It is odd to me, OT, that Spike came back in Angel S5. Why? He had dealt pain and death for 100 years. Why would TPTB bring him back (if not simply because he helps ratings, a given. I am sticking to the story here, not the economics of the show). Why did they not bring back Tara? She was goodness, not evil. Spike was evil and some goodness. Bring him back just to kill him again 15 episodes later?
It is odd to me, OT, that Spike came back in Angel S5. Why? He had dealt pain and death for 100 years. Why would TPTB bring him back (if not simply because he helps ratings, a given. I am sticking to the story here, not the economics of the show). Why did they not bring back Tara? She was goodness, not evil. Spike was evil and some goodness. Bring him back just to kill him again 15 episodes later?

I always thought it was the Senior Partners that brought Spike back(as in, they meant the amulet for Angel, but who knows).

And you're going under the assumption that being brought back is a reward, when we saw in Buffy's situation that that is not the case. I like to think Tara is in a happy heaven somewhere, and being brought back would probably feel like a punishment. I think Spike has more atoning to do, so bringing him back makes sense, if you go with the theory that TPTB brought him back. (Also, he was a powerful soldier in the fight for Good. Tara had magic, but she never really used it on the kind of level that would affect a change on the cosmic scale.)

Of course, where Spike would have ended up in the afterlife is anyone's guess. Maybe being brought back was a gift.

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2006-08-07 18:57 ]
If we go by the show, TPTB did not bring Spike back. W&H(Who I guess are the evilest of evils anywhere?)did. They gave the amulet to Angel, for what we have no idea really. The bad guys were hoping to use whoever fell into their possesion. I have to believe they thought they were going to get Buffy, but who knows.(RS,LOL, we posted at the same time)

So if Angel is a threat, then like Ben should he be eliminated? Was that why Giles tried to kill Spike? Or is once his soul grounded is he okay because he has it? Does the soul make sure he stays good? Not if you go by season 2.

Dealing with remorse and pain is harder. Faith wanted to give up. Angel has. Spike will fall at times as well. But it is intresting that the heroes of the story seem to deal very easily with what horrible deeds they have done and the auidence with them. Hmmm.

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-07 19:01 ]
Buffy doesn't fall in love with vampires. That makes it sound like a common occurence. I liked Ducks essay better. It seemed like an unbiased analysis instead of a generalization to fit a shipper purpose like this one.
I'm staying out of commenting on this topic for the most part other then to say my impression was that it was The Senior Partners plan to have Angel trapped in the amulet but it backfired when Spike ended up wearing it.Then Lindsey came in and used the situation for his own purpose.It seemed to me that it was Lindsey who magically fished the amulet out of the Sunnydale crater,had it sent to W&H and then had Spike,un-ghosted by that mystery package.Basically my feeling based off the first half of the season,was that it was Lindsey who brought Spike back from the amulet as a pawn in his plans for Angel.

Although we never find out what The Senior Partners plans were for the amulet and it's never made clear what Lindsey's real agenda was other then to use Spike to make Angel doubt himself.That arc seemed to be wrapped up in,"You're Welcome."

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2006-08-07 19:24 ]
Buffy doesn't fall in love with vampires. That makes it sound like a common occurence.

While I agree that the wording in the essay does seem to imply that instead of killing vampires, Buffy falls in love with them all-like some wonky spell gone wrong; it's doesn't make it untrue that she does fall in love with vampires. Or rather, she HAS. Maybe she will again, we just don't know. I suppose it's all semantics, but it's no less true to say "Buffy dies." Because she does. Or rather, she has...and I'm pretty sure she will again. But really, I think the problem maybe is just with the tense.
The show was about Buffy. Buffy made mistakes - her romantic relationships were all mistakes - major mistakes. Every one of them. But she eventually learned big, important lessons from all of her relationships - as did the men involved (excluding Parker).

It was such a great show. I wouldn't change a thing. The guys she was with were so right for the Buffy she was when she was with them. It made perfect sense that very young, "abandoned by Daddy" Buffy fell for Angel, that "determined to be more sensible and not get hurt this time" Buffy went for Riley, and that "I'm desperate to feel alive again" Buffy got all wrapped up in Spike.

I got such a sense, by the end of the series, that they were all three behind her. I was totally enthralled with it all when it was happening - but - it was so very right for it all to be over, too.
" I liked Ducks essay better. It seemed like an unbiased analysis instead of a generalization to fit a shipper purpose like this one. "


I found both essays interesting and both very obviously biased . One could not read Duck's essay without being very clear that Ducks is a BA shipper and MW's essay is openly written as a counterpoint.

Interesting discussions though . To me it's clear that both Spike and Angel consider themselves damned ... in fact they say as much in Hellbound. The best they can do is to live as well as they can and make ammends in whatever way they can for their centuries of violence.

Spike tells Buffy that he can barely live with what he's done . Angel fell into despair for the best part of a century but maybe by fighting on the side of good the two can at least attempt some form of redress.

[ edited by debw on 2006-08-07 19:36 ]
Sorry- senior partners, not TPTB. But that correction does not change my question one iota. Why did anyone at all bring him back, whomever than anyone might be? Why him, and not Tara? I do like the sugggestion offered by Rogue Slayer, that Tara earned her right to "Heaven" while Spike has not yet done so. That may be. In fact, I'd like to believe it was so.

Buffy and Vampires- well let's see, there is Angel and Spike and even, we are at least led to believe, The Immortal... All vamps, you know? She does seem drawn to them. Riley never had a chance. :-)

And Tara never got the chance to use her magic on a cosmic scale. More's the pity. I think it would have been awesome, what with her and Willow working together. That ol' white magic spell in Chosen? Think how much more powerful it would have been had Tara been there to merge with Willow in "perfect synchronicity," as opposed to Willow having to go it alone using Kennedy as a kite string.

Now, changing directions, what was the worst crime on Buffy by a Scooby or related? The AR, which did not succeed? Flaying Warren? Killing Ben? Lying to Buffy (which led to terrible repercussions even if the crime itself is minor- lying)? What was worst, and why does the AR grab the attention?

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2006-08-07 19:37 ]
Why did anyone at all bring him back, whomever than anyone might be?


The WB brought him back.

Now, changing directions. What was the worst crime on Buffy by a Scooby or related?


No I don't think we will discuss that. In fact I think we'll stick to the context of the article. Did everybody read it in full?

I was particularly taken by this phrase.

Whedon has never been condescending to fans and invariably treated them as clever people who understand that there are no easy ways out in real life. He consistently encouraged fans' creativity without pampering them.


Feel free to discuss that part. The AR/souled Spike/Ats season 5 debates have been played to death. Any general malarkey under this post and people will find their posts edited.
Is Morty a Vamp?

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-07 19:51 ]
No it's the generalization which is unsupported, that irked me. Even vampires plural isn't exactly true. Upon seeing it was written by a spuffy shipper I realized where the statement came from. This is more of 'my ship is tortured and deep and Buffy loved Spike, take that Ducks' thing than a fair analysis. It seems like Ducks hit home so MW ad hominem towards Ducks and the other opinions listed in the original essay instead of taking them on at face value. She lists Ducks hobbies, which are irrelevant but hold stigma. She refutes fans' opinions simply because they were posted at defunct message boards. In this new essay it's stated that, "Fans desperately wanted happy ending for Buffy and Spike". Semantics are definitely playing a role and it's coming from a shipper bias. The original had less of that, if any.

[ edited by cityof on 2006-08-08 11:06 ]
I always thought it was the Senior Partners that brought Spike back(as in, they meant the amulet for Angel, but who knows).

I don't see the big mystery there as it was literally explained in the show. It was clearly shown it was Lindsey who dug up the Amulet with Spike 'in it', sent it to Angel, and later coporealized him. All in his plan to thwart Angel's position as a champion and as the guy the Senior Partners were 'backing' as their horse. All part of his big anti-Angel plan.

Well that and the WB of course....;)
Sorry- senior partners, not TPTB. But that correction does not change my question one iota. Why did anyone at all bring him back, whomever than anyone might be? Why him, and not Tara? I do like the sugggestion offered by Rogue Slayer, that Tara earned her right to "Heaven" while Spike has not yet done so. That may be. In fact, I'd like to believe it was so.


Well,again,my impression from season 5 of Angel was that Spike was brought back as a pawn of the bad guys to use against Angel.I don't think it was the Senior Partners who actually brought Spike back but they are the ones who created the situation that led to Spike's return via the amulet.

My speculation is that they wanted Angel bound to W&H but when Spike ended up wearing the amulet,that plan fell apart.I don't think they had any interest in Spike based off the Black Thorn's lack of interest in him in NFA.It was Lindsey who actually freed and restored Spike from the amulet.Lindsey had his own agenda which involved using Spike to make Angel doubt himself and to make everybody doubt Angel as the vamp of the prophecy.

So IMO,the reason Spike was brought back was so Lindsey,who took advantage of the Senior Partners failed design for Angel with the amulet,could use him against Angel.Spike's resurrection was part of Lindsey's revenge scheme against Angel.

ETA

Just saw Simon's post about Angel season 5 topic right when I posted this..

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2006-08-07 20:11 ]

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2006-08-07 20:12 ]
Thanks Simon :)

I thought that the comment about Joss not underestimating his audience and not pampering then with easy answers was spot on. I also liked the quotes in the article where Joss talked about looking for fan reaction on the boards and noting that, whilst the " soap opera" episodes were popular the more controversial episodes prompted the most passion and the most debate.

A show which provokes strong feelings in the viewers is a show which will live and inspire impassioned debate/ argument for many years to come.

And I love the fact that the viewer's desire to
* fix* things has led to some amazing fan fiction .

[ edited by debw on 2006-08-07 20:13 ]
Just saw Simon's post about Angel season 5 topic right when I posted this..


It happens.

One thing about Joss is that he doesn't play it safe. Buffy could have easily turned out as formulaitic as any of those late 90s teen dramas or as hokey as a Sci Fi Channel movie of the week. But it didn't. Joss takes risks, most of the time it works. And by god it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But he is to be commended for trying and stimulating the audience. The Buffyverse fandom is not passive and that is a result of what Joss did. It may occasionally drive me up the wall but at the end of the day I will always come back to it.

These days there's a horrible tendency in the fandom to focus on the negavitity. There is far too much emphasis on the shipping wars and the endless nitpicking of the so-called bad points of Buffy. No more pointless navel gazing, it's bad for us and is slowly crippling the fandom.

We should be proud of the show and what it accomplished. It wasn't perfect, no television show is. But it came damn close, sparked off a fantastic fandom, countless websites and articles and so many real life friendships and relationships.
Simon, I am not really OT with my question. I raise it because I have trouble with the general thesis of the original article, which discusses the AR as if it were the most heinous event on Buffy. Spike did not succeed in it- though Willow did in killing Warren, for example. Yet, a lot of attention is focused upon Spike and his redemption, while I feel that there were other events equally if not more heinous- which I then listed. I guess I was not clear in why I asked the question.
"We should be proud of the show and what it accomplished. It wasn't perfect, no television show is. But it came damn close, sparked off a fantastic fandom, countless websites and articles and so many real life friendships and relationships."


Word!!

And( because one word answers are a bad thing) I'm constantly amazed that I can get out the DVD sets , watch an episode at random and find something new every time. I was over at a friend's house the other day and FX were showing season one repeats ( gosh they all looked so young!) "Prophecy Girl" was showing and, though we both know it more or less by heart we were rivetted and yes, we both snivelled at the " I'm sixteen years old, I don't want to die" line .

Fantastic shows brought to us by an amazing team . Nothing I've seen before or since has come close.
debw said:
Word!!

And( because one word answers are a bad thing)

Word!!
(and sometimes one is all that's needed) :D
This is one of the best articles I've read in awhile. First, the response towards fanflick. There's nothing wrong with it, let the people write their thoughts. To each, their own. If you don't care for a certain topic, then pass on it and go your way. Just because you don't care for a certain subject doesn't mean others will have the same view. What's the harm?

Second, I cherish how open-ended Joss wrote his stories. From my eyes, I built an entire life history of Willow. It was a tragic story and one that I wrote a few fics myself. However, that's just the thoughts in my brain as I see it. I would love to read other views into this subject.

Joss gave us a wonderful story and he was wise enough to allow our minds to wander. "What if?"
"Careful the wish you make / Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take / Wishes come true --
Not free.

Careful the spell you cast / Not just on children.
Sometimes the spell may last / Past what you can see
And turn against you...

Careful the tale you tell. / That is the spell.
Children will listen...

Though it's fearful,
Though it's deep, though it's dark
And though you may lose the path,
Though you may encounter wolves,
You can't just act / You have to listen
You can't just act / You have to think.

Though it's dark / There are always wolves,
There are always spells / There are always beans,
Or a Giant dwells there.

So it's
Into the woods / You go again,
You have to / Every now and then.
Into the woods / No telling when,
Be ready for the journey.

Into the woods / But not too fast
Or what you wish / You lose at last.
Into the woods / But mind the past.
Into the woods / But mind the future.
Into the woods / But not to stray.

Or tempt the Wolf or steal from the Giant --
The way is dark / The light is dim,
But now there's you / Me, her and him.
The chances look small / The choices look grim,
But everything you learn there / Will help when you return there..."

-- Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods - Finale
QuoterGal, that was wonderful. Thank you for reciting the piece and a thanks to Sir Stephen Sondheim. This is another point that history repeats itself.

Thanks again, QuoterGal :)
Great QuoterGAL!

Speaking of INTO THE WOODS, the song AGONY reminds me of the Riley/Spike scene in the season five episode of the same name.. Also, I've vidded the song NO ONE IS ALONE. I can certainly understand why Joss is a fan of Sondheim.
As a woman I have to disagree with how she see the Buffy/Spike relationship. I see it as a disfunctual one at best.

Two people, not met to be together, but sexually attracted to each other. As Joss might say, it was a "recipe for unpleasantness."

Buffy used Spike and he became her puppy. She was done with him and realized that it was going nowhere and wanted out. Spike was not done and still wanted to play the game. The game got out of hand and he felt remorse and shame when he knew what he had done.

He made amends and went insane to get a soul for her. In the end, Buffy loved him for his pure love.

Do they belong together? NOT! Was it a bitter sweet story, yes. Season six will always be my favorite year.
I'm a Spuffy so of course I believe Buffy was in love with Spike when she said "I love you".

Having said that, I have no problem, morally speaking, with Angel and Buffy as a couple, even though Angel psychologically tortured Buffy in season 2, after he lost his soul. What he did to Buffy was ever bad as what unsouled Spike did in SR. So, if Souled Spike and Buffy set some kind of bad example, so do Souled Angel and Buffy.

Imo, what Willow did to Tara in 6 was more worse than unsouled Spike and Angel's behavior toward Buffy. Willow had a soul. After Tara explicitly told Willow that Willow's memory wipe felt similar to Glory's sucking her brain, Willow *still* does another spell. Plus, Willow knows how Tara felt about how her father and brother tried to control her. But Willow tries to control Tara anyway, basically creating a Tarabot.

I would never defend unsouled Spike or Angel; but when we discuss how badly lovers sometimes treated each other in Jossverse, and the list is very, very long, I place Willow at the top.
The Buffy/Spike relationship of season 6 is supposed to be as disfunctional as the Slayer herself. Just like all the relationships in the jossverse, this one was being used to say something bigger picture. Everything from Seeing Red to the very end of season 6 was about Buffy. It's not for nothing that 6 ends with the slayer unable to do anything to save the world. She's stuck both literally and figuratively in the grave, fighting endlessly until she tires and dies. The only thing that can save her/Willow and the world is the power of love.

Season 7 picks up this theme and continues echoing it right to the end. Considering that Chosen was supposed to be a happy ending, I think it's not an outrageous assumption that in the end spuffy was actually supposed to be seen as having been transformed into something quite important and affirming.

I don't think the story was ever about who Buffy belonged with...not in season 1 and not in season 7. It was always just about Buffy, and the fact was, Buffy had to be alone/ish in the end standing at the crater of the Hellmouth. All three of Buffy's relationships helped explore the girl and the slayer, but in the end, we needed to see a strong independent woman.

Moscow, that was a thought provoking essay, thank you.
I think Heather did an amazing job writing this essay. I feel compelled to say that although she USED to be a die hard shipper, she walked away from this fandom years ago. Left her own board before the series of Buffy even ended. To claim that this article was written purely from a "shipper" stand point would be incorrect, imo. The topic is something that she feels very strongly about and had it happened with B/A, she would have been the first one in line screaming foul play.
One of the main things in Heathers article that gets my attention is the way things became so vague in the latter seasons. Allowing fans to wank whatever they want to without giving a definate statement. That may be a form of art and that's all fine but I am not clever enough to get from point A to point B like Joss does. I am not a creatice genious. If I were I would be as rich and famous as he is. I'd be having lunch with him to discuss how rich and famous we are.
I pay money to get his story. I fell in love with the way he took me from point A to b. Could I make something up? Sure but his way was always so much better.

Moscow's view is something that I can't say I agree with but it is obviouly something she strongly believes in and took a lot of time to complete.
Cheryl are you saying that Heather wrote her piece never having actually watched the seasons in question?
Just a little clarification: I don't help to run a well known Spuffy site.


Ahh fair enough. I saw your name all over the site in question and just assumed. That and I know you. You know what happens when you assume...

You know, its interesting. We all have motivations behind everything we do, whether that be something as simple as raising your hand or something as complex as writing and creating a theory around BTVS. It doesnt matter who you are or what you do, we all have motivations that drive us to do the things we do. For instance, when garda39 wrote this:

"Shouldn't that be "the writer of this article is Moscow Watcher,a well known Spuffy, who helps to run a Spike site" otherwise I haven't the foggiest idea what board you are talking about"


She (and again with the assuming garda, if I am wrong please feel free to correct the hell out of me) could have been motivated by many things, two of which seem most probable. She could have sincerely failed to understand my sentence because it was that badly written or she could simply be trying to point out grammatical mistakes so that she could register her dislike of my sentence in general (in which case, you forgot punctuation garda). Either way, fair enough. For another example, when Rogue Slayer wrote this in response to the attempted rape:

"Eh. I never understood why what happened in Dead Things was never as reviled as what happened in Seeing Red. Especially when you consider that the typical qualities of man/woman were reversed in DT, as the woman was actually the physically stronger of the pair. I should think that if Oz had given Willow a pounding like that, people would be more upset."


Her motivation seems to be to defend Spike by placing the blame on Buffy, which is not a surprise given her post history and who she likes (from what I have noticed, Rogue loves Spike and JM and dislikes Buffy and SMG). Of course, thats not to say that when I try to defend Buffy in this scenario, that I am not motivated by personal issues either. I love Buffy (and I love SMG) and I cant stand Spike (or JM for that matter), so when you read a defense that I present against Rogue's claims my motivations play a pivotal role as well.

Now before I get to my conclusion, let me first tell you a story. I got into Buffy in August when a back injury forced me to be bed ridden for about a week, and its on FX that I saw my first scene of BTVS. It was Xander and Buffy from Seeing Red (after the AR), and as I watched the series, I realized how deep and rich in metaphor BTVS was as its stories developed. Hence, I wanted to talk about it. But as I delved into the fandom, I was completely taken aback by the clear divisiveness of the fandom, and whether it was a Spuffy shipper calling me a mad person from Alice in Wonderland (among other insults and other Spuffy shipper stuff) for suggesting (before I read Seven Seasons of Buffy) that Buffy and Angel represented a complete friendship from Aristotle or Bangel shippers who constantly argued with those Spuffy shippers over the nature of Spike's relationship with Buffy, I became disillusioned with the fandom. This television show is ripe with moral, metaphysical, epistemological, and philosophical questions that few shows represent, and yet, everytime I tried to argue a point it would inevitably be brought around to some kind of shipper debate. Hell, even the argument I had with another member of Whedonesque about my paper was brought around to this notion when I discovered that she was a Willow/Tara shipper (BTW, Tillow shippers are kittens, Bangels are duck, where is the spuffy animal name?). All of this is meant to say one thing: when I posted the first post of the thread my motivation was to avoid a shipper debate. Though I am not really a fan of Joss Whedon himself (and here is where my motivations play even more of a role--and in fact, I would argue against the notion that he has never been condecending to his fans but I would never do it here out of respect for the site), I joined Whedonesque because of the intelligent and incredibly interesting Buffy debates that occur on this website. I even went to slayage and presented a paper because I love talking about the show, and in that sense, I dont care about the relationships all that much. When I see Ramses 2 and Cheryl arguing, I try to stay out of the way, and when I see Moscow write an article like the one above, I immediately have no opinion because she is a shipper.

And guess what? I am wrong. Her paper isnt wrong because she is a shipper, Rogue isnt wrong because she likes Spike, and garda isnt wrong because of either motivation she has. I once said that you should argue the argument and not the motivation, and thats what I should have done. Instead of trying to prevent a shipper war, which I would literally go crazy if I saw one here, I should have argued the argument. Because in the end, it doesnt matter that Moscow is a spuffy shipper, it doesnt matter that Rogue loves Spike, it doenst matter that Heather has walked away from being Ducks, what matters is the argument they present. The rest is motivation, and that doesnt matter either.

Cheers everyone.

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-08-08 08:18 ]

Cheryl :
I feel compelled to say that although she USED to be a die hard shipper, she walked away from this fandom years ago. Left her own board before the series of Buffy even ended.


Ducks submitted her latest fanfic "Every Other Hell" for a BA ficathon three weeks ago. By the way, highly recommend. It's Buffy\Angelus, very dark and powerful.


That may be a form of art and that's all fine but I am not clever enough to get from point A to point B like Joss does. I am not a creatice genious. If I were I would be as rich and famous as he is. I'd be having lunch with him to discuss how rich and famous we are.
I pay money to get his story. I fell in love with the way he took me from point A to b. Could I make something up? Sure but his way was always so much better.


Of course, Joss' version is much better :) but, for me, it isn't about comparation. Sharespeare is better than all the writers who came after him but this fact doesn't preclude us from enjoying their work. The phenomenon of BtVS is breaking the fourth wall, so-to-speak. When I watch other shows I can only look at at the tasty food; when I watch "Buffy" I can taste it.

You may not be a creative genius, and neither am I, but you do very beautiful fanart and I write my lame fanfiction, and it's Joss who inspired both of us.

[ edited by Moscow Watcher on 2006-08-08 08:39 ]

[ edited by Moscow Watcher on 2006-08-08 08:42 ]

[ edited by Moscow Watcher on 2006-08-08 08:42 ]
I agree that fanfiction isn't there to try and be * better* than Joss ( I am always deeply suspicious of anything which claims to in any way improve upon the original ... that way lies new formula Coke and much badness) It's there as a creative outlet and to let people express themselves and play in Joss' universe. Some of the art and fiction and analysis is very good indeed, some of it not so much, But I'm glad it's there and that Joss actively encourages us to have fun and join in.


On another note I think it's rather a shame that the kind of reasonable debate we have over here isn't really extending to the site the article is posted on . There's some strange system whereby readers get to comment not only on the article but on the comments, and whereby any comment with ten negative votes is removed. It's rather interesting to see that viewpoints which in any way support the article are quickly racking up the negatives and thus getting deleted, leaving a rather skewed impression of the feedback . It's an odd way to run a debate but their board their rules I guess. Anyway I'm glad of this thread where both sides of the debate are expressed in an affable and articulate manner and no one is so afraid of a dissenting view that they feel compelled to vote it off :).

If your argument is good and sound you should fear no challenge and a viewpoint which can't tolerate dissent is probably one which won't stand up to rational argument .

Joss is right, Buffyverse fans are a bunch of smart cookies and our ability to debate,discuss and play nicely is one of the things which I like most about this board and this fandom.

[ edited by debw on 2006-08-08 09:36 ]
Moscow,
Yes, Joss has inspired the hell out of all of us and you forgot to mention your avitars. You make wonderful avitars.
I guess for me I will always prefer Joss's method of storytelling over the fill in the blank method. That's not to say that I don't enjoy fanfic, I do. We need something to hold us over until the day that Joss brings the Universe back again.
Jerry....was I argueing with Ramses? My response wasn't directed to anyone in particular and everyone in general and I'd have to disagree that it doesn't matter that Heather walked away from being Ducks. I think some were getting the idea that Heather wrote this essay first and foremost as a shipper, when in reality she isn't part of the shipper fandom anymore.
I think if we left the term "shipper" out of all our discussions, we'd be a lot better off. Favoring one relationship over another is natural in a series chaulked full of relationships, it shouldn't be a dirty word. Like it or not, this Universe is full of rich and thought provoking relationships. To ignore them would be an injustice to the writer who put them in there. I guess what I'm trying to say is where it isn't right to make the series all about a love interest, it also isn't right to pretend they wern't significant to the story. It's a package deal. IMO.
Avatar. Chock. Sorry; it is the editor in me.
Not to muddy the waters, but apparently, what Cheryl said about Fowler leaving the fandom is true. Which means that this 'scholarly' paper of her's(that Moscow is responding to) is based not on text but rather on her feelings. Considering that this was also a paper handed in for a grade, this is an example of what can come out of the Buffy courses.(I believe Fowler has said she got a A)

Can you imagine a professor giving an A to a student arguing that Heart of Darkness is about a boat trip?(Because the student decided she'd had enough of Conrad's work and so put it down midway?) And yet, Fowler, not having seen a good part of what she's arguing about, has written a paper ignoring all the rich depth of the journey and has honed in on an element that a professor should have helped her understand was a construct to show the inner crisis Buffy is in, and not in fact a salacious waggle of the collective ME eyebrow.

I know it's quite common for some fans to say that Spike's actions were too true to life and that he could never.....insert anything here. But, when you're analyzing the text for academic purposes you can't do that, Spike exists within the BTVS story, you can't shunt him out of the story because you hate him....and you certainly can't argue that in a canvas of metaphor, symbolism and you name it, that he alone of all the characters must be examined through the eye of a crime scene investigator.

I wonder if Joss's wonderful permission to read whatever we want into the story may actually end up hurting the ability of BTVS to be taught in schools. I know that it's a very popular argument to say that Buffy was smirking at the edge of the Hellmouth and that she and the others ended up just as damaged and twisted as any BB there was. Does this paper get an A as well?

When does intellectual freedom just become lazy? When does analysis become mere personal opinion? If everyone's opinion is valid(even those that apparently haven't actually read/watched the text)what does that actually say about the value of the text in question?
I agree that fanfiction is not there to try to improve on the verse. Although there are a rare few that come mighty close. But I love it because it allows me to continue to experience that world that I love so much and for which I continue to hunger.

*hugs Jerry & Shoos the kittens and ducks back* I've never heard any animal names for Spuffys but I think Spangels are known as 'The Stallions'.
Her motivation seems to be to defend Spike by placing the blame on Buffy, which is not a surprise given her post history and who she likes (from what I have noticed, Rogue loves Spike and JM and dislikes Buffy and SMG). Of course, thats not to say that when I try to defend Buffy in this scenario, that I am not motivated by personal issues either. I love Buffy (and I love SMG) and I cant stand Spike (or JM for that matter), so when you read a defense that I present against Rogue's claims my motivations play a pivotal role as well.

Hmm, I like to think that I can analyze some situations regardless of my preferences. (BTW, I did have quite some dislike for Buffy, but have come around to being more sympathetic to her. As for SMG...I've certainly questioned things she's done and her motives in the past, but I'm not sure where I managed to wrangle the 'SMG hater' hat. I'd say I've actually been far more critical of JM than SMG, but I guess everyone has their perceptions.) But regardless, my point with the DT things was not to show my Spike love/Buffy hate. It was to point out my confusion at why it wasn't as big a deal as Seeing Red. And it certainly wasn't to somehow take guilt off Spike for the AR; but to show that these two people have hurt each other equally(in my opinion). To ask, "Hey, why isn't pummeling someone who loves you to pulp as bad as trying to rape someone you love?" Is it society, is it perception, is it...something else?

As far as defending Spike and placing the blame on Buffy...do you mean during Dead Things, or Seeing Red? Because yes, I think anyone would be crazy to not defend Spike in DT(again, my opinion). To me, placing the blame on him for that would definitely show a bias.
Just like, I think a clear bias would be shown if I were to put blame on Buffy during the AR, and absolve Spike. But I would never do that. But to put blame on Buffy in an situation where she's clearly the aggressor...I'm not sure why that is automatically a result of me being a bigger Spike than Buffy fan. I could certainly 'rationalize' both the DT beating and the SR attempted rape if I tried, but I also find it interesting how up in arms folks get when you give SR Spike the same rationalizations you might for DT Buffy(hurt, confused, scared, lost).

Eh, I think my post is getting a bit far afield. I guess I just mean...I think many people can look beyond personal favorites and preferences in analyzing a situation. I actually think I'm being fairly middle of the road when I compare SR and DT, but I know many folks see it as a 'Spike defender' tactic...which always boggles me. Which is where my original question came from...why is there a difference, and where does that difference come from?
I think fan art in general adds to the verse, but I don't think anyone is trying to make it better. Joss and the writers left alot of things up to interpretation. Four great examples? you have the scene where SPike/Buffy are staring at each other/fade to black. You have the "One time" with Spangel. You've got Buffy/Angel meeting after her death that we never saw. What happened after NFA? This is for our benefit, IMO, and so they write.

Rogue and Cheryl, I hate being categorized as a "Spike" fan, and so my opinion isn't valid. It shouldn't matter.

[ edited by spikeylover on 2006-08-08 17:15 ]
ramses 2, thank you. You pretty much put into words what I thought while reading her paper last night.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2006-08-08 17:04 ]
I thought Heather's paper was extremely well written but my conclusion upon finishing it is it was the work of a B/A shipper who was using the AR as a way to support her own ship, B/A, and had nothing to do with Spike, Buffy, Spuffy or rape.

It would be one thing if I knew she no longer believed Buffy and Angel can be a couple because of how Angel acted towards Buffy when he lost his soul, but since she has no problem with that coupling I don't see her problem with Buffy and souled Spike.

Just to reiterate, ColdDeadSeed is *not* a Spuffy site. Quite the opposite. It's run by a Spangel, who kindly tolerates other Spike/insert the man/woman/object ships due to the kindness of her heart.

[ edited by Reddygirl on 2006-08-08 18:18 ]
I just wanted to welcome back Rogue Slayer.
I just wanted to welcome back Rogue Slayer.

Oh lord, did I up and go somewhere and not tell myself again? That's always embarassing...
Dana5140 : Avatar. Chock. Sorry; it is the editor in me.


Dana, "avitar" was a reference to moving avatars (avis) I made for Cheryl on SMGfan. Kind of insider slang. Sorry. I imagine how editor's eyes hurt to read shipper coinages.

Ramses, I'm not sure that we can categorise Fowler as a fan who left the fandom. I like her writings and I know that she continues to write BtVSAtS fanfiction. She is a very talented writer but why she applies different ethical principles to fanfiction and professional art is beyond my comprehension. Of course, TV show has larger audience than ficwriter; but I think that TV writer also has the right to express him (her) self the way Marti Noxon did with AR scene.
Speculating on the actions of individual fans always leaves me cold and is not really what Whedonesque is about. We prefer to play the ball and not the man. It would be best to focus on the article not the person.
Avitar, got it- even an old editor can learn a new trick, or word, as the case may be. Reminds of poor Tara talking to Anya about how she really dislikes the net because no one spells properly. :-)And today I read a sign on another faculty member's door that said, and I quote, "Your on your way."

Ramses, I'm a little troubled that you put the word "scholarly" in quotes, as if to signify this pretends to be scholarly but really isn't. Given the recent article from Dallas wherein a self-proclaimed conservative activist derided Buffy scholarship as a waste of time and energy, I would prefer we accept that critical writing represents true scholarship even if we do not agree with the points being made.

As far as textual analysis, in many ways, anything goes. I am not saying I would analyze as you posit, but I see nothing wrong with doing so- it just allows for further dialogue on the issues. If we cannot read what we want into Buffy, then that would imply there are only some "accepted" interpretations. I don't accept that. This is not to imply that anything can mean anything, but in the context of reading Buffy, myriad ways of interpreting the text exist, and none are really more privileged than others, you know? But we all read it through our own lens. I am always shocked to find that people don't love Tara like I do, or experience the show through Willow, like I do. But they don't. I don't involve myself in shipper wars, though I obviously love Tillow; I just don't give it priority over Bangel, Spuffy, Xanya or whatever. It just makes me smile. :-) Which I just did.
ETA: Dana, I believe this answers you as well. And perhaps your stance is a perfect example of why pop culture can be a tricky proposition in the halls of higher education.(Which by the way, I absolutely believe BTVS is a perfect vehicle for) But, if every opinion becomes scholarly....what does that say about Joss, what does that say about other texts? Like dead guys text? If someone argues that Huck Finn is racist, is that valid? If someone argues that there is no such thing as subtext, is that valid? And why does a narrow, narrow reading of BTVS have to be given as much weight as say someone who might weigh and evaluate the larger piece and all it's themes and implications? When does pop culture get taken as seriously as Culture? You can't have it both ways, if you want BTVS to be taken seriously, then you have to take it seriously.

[ edited by ramses 2 on 2006-08-08 20:51 ]

[ edited by Simon on 2006-08-08 22:26 ]


[ edited by Simon on 2006-08-08 22:27 ]


[ edited by Simon on 2006-08-08 22:27 ]


[ edited by Simon on 2006-08-08 22:30 ]


[ edited by Simon on 2006-08-08 22:27 ]
But surely Dana5140 there are some accepted interpretations i.e. the ones best supported by the evidence provided by the text ? This isn't to say those are definitive (I don't believe there is such a thing in fiction) but they must surely carry more weight than opinions which are made for the sake of it without any textual justification ? (note i'm not saying this article falls into that trap necessarily, just that while I feel everyone's entitled to their opinion I don't agree that all opinions are equally valid, some are simply better considered than others).

I also think that attaching the label 'scholar' to anyone who voices an opinion about a text, whatever that opinion's merits, is exactly the kind of thing that leads to people condemning some lit-crit courses as pointless wastes of time. To be a worthwhile course of study there have to be standards to meet that exceed 'can express an opinion'.

(good to see your finger's recovering, BTW ;)

Also, guys feel free to ignore my non-moddy brown-icity but in the age old maxim 'Play the ball, not the man' (unless it's an old firm game ;). If the arguments are so baseless, negating them should be a simple matter without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

[ edited by Saje on 2006-08-08 21:21 ]
Echoing debw to some extent, but I am bowled over by the civilised discussion here (as almost always) and the fact that this show continues to inspire such thoughtful debate. I can't think of many shows that this could be said of over three years after the end, and four since the episode in question. Joss has explicitly said he likes to leave a few things open for the fans, and that is just more evidence of his awesomeness.
I see yellow in our future...
Folks, let's please watch the personal comments/attacks. Keep in mind that you will a) not really get your point across, b) anger the person you are 'debating, c) annoy people who might've been on your side before you began slinging arrows. Simon has already warned on this thread, so I expect I will see no further over-the-line posting.
Didn't expect to ruffle any feathers when I picked up on Cheryl's statement, and when not getting a response checked out Fowler's board for support of Cheryl's statement. And sorry, critizing an author is exactly what Fowler herself was doing. That's another thing one should learn in college, if you posit an argument, be prepared for debate.

ETA: Sorry Zeitgeist, I was posting at the same time.

[ edited by ramses 2 on 2006-08-08 21:45 ]
ramses 2 - understood :)

Let's try to focus on the article, and that message is for everyone in the thread. If you feel someone has missed something, point it out to them, don't write it on a 2x4 and club them with it. Your fellow posters deserve the same respect you would like to receive.
I hope our discussion will stay civilised and interesting. When I wrote my article, I used Fowler's paper as a starting point to reflect on current situation in popular art. Fowler's work (including fanfiction and essay) implies that there are two sets of writer's ethics - one for professional authors (who, according to Fowler, send "messages") and another - for ficwriters who just express themselves.

As an avid fic reader and ficwriter I found the situation extremely curious. Today censorship tightens and professional TV authors become targets to both TV censors and conservatively-minded fans. I've got the impression that amateur art on Internet gains more clout because it's uncensored. Joss gave us a powerful tool to express ourselves but could he channel his vision as sincerely as ficwriter? Should he abstain from controversy and leave dark themes to ficwriters whose audience is much smaller? I wonder what other people think.
I'm fed up with this shit especially after I said don't play the man, so I've edited some of the posts above.

You lot want to fight do it via email.
"Eh, I think my post is getting a bit far afield. I guess I just mean...I think many people can look beyond personal favorites and preferences in analyzing a situation. I actually think I'm being fairly middle of the road when I compare SR and DT, but I know many folks see it as a 'Spike defender' tactic...which always boggles me. Which is where my original question came from...why is there a difference, and where does that difference come from?"

Dangit, maybe I should have used a sport metaphor like Simon. What I meant was that it doesnt matter, even if it is a product of automatically defending Spike (which it may or may not be), what your motivation is, the soundness of your argument Rogue should be based on the argument itself. So when you say that we should take Spike's side in DT, the only thing that matters is the argument you present for that. Thus, is it true that Buffy deserves blame for pummeling Spike? Well...yes...and no. I dont think Spike is completely off the hook in DT either, because though his motivations MAY have been correct (to help Buffy--although thats not what I think his real motivations are--he wants to keep Buffy, he wants to keep her in the dark, and thus his motivation is selfish--Spike's morality is clearly not the same as Buffy's here), he went about it the wrong way. When you consider what happened earlier in the episode, Buffy is trying to escape Spike in the alley, and its understandable that when Spike tries to force the issue, she reacts as she does. Buffy didnt really resist when Spike walked up behind her on that balcony but she did say no, and its interesting to think that the reason she beats on Spike is that she is trying to get away not only from herself but from Spike as well (because Spike represents everything thats wrong with her at that point--thats how she is beating herself up). Its quite plausible that Buffy saw physical violence as the only way to get Spike to stop because when she says no on the balcony Spike doesnt listen. Doesnt make her right, but it also doesnt make Spike correct either.

"*hugs Jerry & Shoos the kittens and ducks back* I've never heard any animal names for Spuffys but I think Spangels are known as 'The Stallions'."

Awww thanks kitty. And I never knew that...stallions huh? Cool.

The main point of my last post was a long and boring way of saying what Simon said in one sentence, play the ball not the man. LOL, I dont know what that says about me...that Simon can make my point in one sentence where it takes me 5 paragraphs but there you go. Is that cool Rogue?

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-08-08 22:48 ]
Moscow apologies for moving the discussion away from your question. It's an interesting question, but I'm not sure that Joss's use of a dark unstable relationship to explore a dark unstable time in Buffy's life could possibly be considered a bad message(when it in fact was saying something about the need for knowledge and acceptance of self....and the message continued right through to Chosen. We watch the dark unstable relationship(with Self) almost destroy both characters and then watch a season of both characters(and Willow)struggling to learn the lessons and in the end, the message is clearly...clearly, that real strength comes with the knowledge of self and the rejection of self doubt and guilt. Some may have hated that message but I think you'd be hard pressed to find many people who see the bad in it and want to censor him.(See Joss being honored at Equality Now)

What brave uncensored self expression does the author of the paper you were responding too reveal in her fan fic? Is it that Joss sent a message that angers the author, or that he sent a message she didn't want to hear? Does the author have this issue with other creators/professional writers?

But I think the bigger question has to be what dark themes are fan ficcers actually tackling? Sex? That's only a theme if you use it often enough:) I think Joss's vision was far more sincere than any/or least many fan ficcers out there. We see sex, he saw the means to strengthen both his story about a girl growing up, and the mythology of the Slayer herself.

[ edited by ramses 2 on 2006-08-08 22:58 ]
Its quite plausible that Buffy saw physical violence as the only way to get Spike to stop because when she says no on the balcony Spike doesnt listen.

Well...hmm, to me, the balcony scene is a prime example of a situation where Buffy's 'no' meant 'yes'. Because she could have easily stopped him(even without physical violence) and walked away. But she didn't want to. Cuz she liked the thrill and the sex. And given their history, I think Spike read her correctly on that particular 'no'.

Also, in the alley scene, if Buffy were really fighting to escape him physically, she could have done that well before it went so far. To me, that was pure rage and pain, not really trying to get out of the alley.

The main point of my last post was a long and boring way of saying what Simon said in one sentence, play the ball not the man. LOL, I dont know what that says about me...that Simon can make my point in one sentence where it takes me 5 paragraphs but there you go. Is that cool Rogue?

I don't think I've really said anything about the writers of the articles myself, so I'm not sure how 'play the ball not the man' applies to what I've been talking about. Or do you just mean how you shouldn't concern yourself with the preferences of a person and just be concerned with their argument. That I can see. (And, in my own weird way, was what I was trying to convey...that I have to also put aside my own opinions and preferences to formulate a fair assessment of something, ie SR vs DT.)
Rogue(I so love your name), I never saw that Buffy was involved in the alley Sex. Infact it seemed to me, where her body was there, her mind was deffinatly not. SMG played that scene perfectly to show Buffy was anything but really there. Spike was just to lost in finally getting his prize to notice. I saw it like she was trapped and had no clue how to get out. I think yes, some of her was thrilled by the balcony sex, but also some of her was resigned to what he was saying about her being in the dark and different. She was lost.

I agree about paying attention to only the article.
Not to get in the way of flying beagles & stuff, but just wanted to say thanks everso to Madhatter & spikeylover from yesterday -- I've been keeping out of this thread from a chronic case of ennui holy sheesh & dental surgery pain, which most of this discussion exacerbates. I didn't want to miss the opportunity, though, to say that I appreciated your comments. I thought the Sondheim song applied very nicely. I still do.

And spikeylover, if a thread comes up where we can discuss the possible influence of other artists on the production of Buffy, Angel et al, I'd love to pursue what you were saying about "Agony", etc.

Okay, I guess, as you were.
Ow, dental surgery! Much worse than lacerated fingers- thanks, saje; feels good to type normally again- got the stitches out last night, and went out and bought Pure Reason Revolution as a present. Wow!

Anyway, Simon, one of the things I love here is that a starting post can lead in such interesting directions. One might start with a discussion about Spike and the AR and end up discussing authorial intent and textual analysis. I'm down with that, but then, I've spent my entire life in academia- clinical, mind you, but I've written over 100 papers and 14 books, so I just like talking things up.

Ramses: I understand where you are coming from, and of course, there are arguments, which I do not agree with but they are there, that Huck Finn is racist- hell, some school districts have tried to ban it for that reason. However, I did not mean to imply that every opinion is scholarly; many are just opinions based on whim or whatever. I did mean to suggest that when a writer sets out to present an idea, even if we do not agree with it it still has merit. Now, it may be well supported or poorly supported, and it will be easier to dismiss it if it is poorly supported, but it represnets scholarhip of some sort. As a professor, I well know there is good scholarship and poor scholarship, but they are both scholarship. And a narrow reading of Buffy does not have to be given as much weight as a broad reading; it just has to be given some weight.

Saje: yep, there are better arguments than other arguments, and not all merit the same level of attention. And there are accepted interpretations and less accepted ones, but I think that in most cases they are worth exploring- and let's be honest, we privilege our own interpretations, me as much as anyone else. But I work in a field that deals with this issue regularly, chiropractic, so I am sensitive to it in the face of medical hegemony for health care.

I have never known how to read Buffy and Spike's balcony sex- it was simply dirty, and perhaps that was the point, how much Buffy was willing to debase herself to feel anything. But I am never sure on this point.
Rogue(I so love your name), I never saw that Buffy was involved in the alley Sex

I was referring to the alley fight in Dead Things, not the alley sex in Doublemeat. She was definitely not there during the alley sex.
Dana, I would still argue that parsing out a bit of a story, and then parsing still further to arrive at unsubstantiated opinion does not make for scholarship. There's a reason why there are things called opinion pieces and there used to be certain qualifications that needed to be met when someone was presenting a paper they wished to be considered scholarly. The paper was a perfectly fine opinion piece, but it did nothing however to advance BTVS studies.(Nor to advance studies regarding hurtful messages to girls) Even poor scholarship follows certain guidelines. There's at least a fumbling by the author to defend their position using textural evidence.(rape stats and assumptions regarding fans? These are the stuff of opinion pieces I'm afraid, they don't actually strengthen the author's argument one whit)

And yes, I'm aware that in some schools educators and parents have leapt to the politically correct assumption that the use of a word makes Huck Finn racist. It's too bad that people have stopped readng text for meaning and have decided that feelings and opinions are just as valid as analysis.(And I say this as someone who very recently read a 4 page essay where a 19 year old student defended his opinion that the Robert Frost poem Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening(miles to go before I sleep) was about Santa Claus. He had recieved a C+ for his efforts and I'm quite sure his professor was of the opinion that the student was full of it but hey, all opinions are valid)

And as for the balcony scene, yes, it was dirty. It played on all of Buffy's fears and guilt. We'd see the theme of dirty girls come back in season 7. And I absolutely believe that we were to harken back during the balcony scene to the season 1 balcony scene where Giles tries to get Buffy to accept her new lot as Slayer. It's also pretty key that Spike will speak of her belonging in the dark but it's te light he urges her to go to in Chosen.
And then, Ramses, there was the erudite analysis of the Cheese Man, a wonderful and interesting paper I read some time ago- though Joss had said quite clearly that the Cheese Man was a part he wrote that had utterly no meaning whatsoever... :-)
If the paper put forth the argument and backed it up with examples from the text, then it's a scholarly work.(There's lots of academic papers that seem way way offbase to me...but it can't be denied they add to the larger discussion in a thoughtful manner.)

But the Cheeseman paper does calls to mind the creator of Rocky Horror Picture Show who said he wasn't conciously trying to say anything but that later it struck him that he had been thinking a lot about the various themes that would make their way into the piece. He just hadn't made the connection of his thoughts during the creative process and the results. I think the biggest fallacy is that writers need to be aware of everything to be found within the text or it's not valid. Some stuff exists that speaks to the collective connection we all share.(Parallel myths, etc) Cheese however? Probably not:)

[ edited by ramses 2 on 2006-08-09 05:36 ]
ramses: “I think the biggest fallacy is that writers need to be aware of everything to be found within the text or it's not valid.”


Abso-tootly, ramses 2. Many artists are just following a vibe, or a story, or their characters, and sortof channel much of the richness that ends up in their work. The trick sometimes seems to be for them to stand back and not get in the way of what's coming through. (Not to get all mystical on your asses, and not to revile planning, which is also key.)

Sometimes they're not even aware of the symbolism and layers of meaning that pervade their work until much after they've finished -- and for some, not even then. Which doesn't mean it's not there -- they may be creating better than they knew, or planned, or can even understand.

"The story is more important than what you intend to do with it. And when it starts talking back to you, you listen!" -- Joss Whedon, http://www.wizarduniverse.com/magazine/wizard/000495675.cfm

(Dana5140, ow, yeah, dental surgery. Dental implant (a good thing), but my third bone graft for it (bad.) Swollen jaw (bad), delightful painkillers (good.) Can't chew (bad), partner waiting on me hand and foot (good.) Thanks for the sympathy...)
"Or do you just mean how you shouldn't concern yourself with the preferences of a person and just be concerned with their argument."

Thats what I meant.

"I think the biggest fallacy is that writers need to be aware of everything to be found within the text or it's not valid."

Of course, the opposite end of that is the idea that we inflate art to the point that we place meaning where no meaning was meant or implied. The real question is this: does art belong to the artist or to the viewer? If it belongs to the artist, then analogously when Joss Whedon says that the cheeseman meant nothing and thats what it was supposed to mean, then thats the truth. If the consumer owns the art of an artist, then we truly run the risk of inflating the meaning of pieces of art to the point that we become obsessed with a superficial search for meaning. In either case, however, we are faced with problems, the problems of the absolute and golden spectrum. Either we can find meaning in art and that art truly becomes something more or it doesnt, and in that sense, it seems that there has to be a happy medium between the two extremes (art owned by artist or consumer). Essentially, we have to be both willing to accept the words of the creator (and thus the cheeseman means nothing) and to seek meaning when we cannot find the true answers to something. Where that line is drawn is anyones guess, and you just found out why I am not an aesthetician.

"Well...hmm, to me, the balcony scene is a prime example of a situation where Buffy's 'no' meant 'yes'. Because she could have easily stopped him(even without physical violence) and walked away. But she didn't want to. Cuz she liked the thrill and the sex. And given their history, I think Spike read her correctly on that particular 'no'."

Well, yeah in the relationship of season 6, Buffy willingly gave up control to Spike because it made her feel something. Not to say that an S&M relationship is wrong or morally bankrupt (because sex, in any way, between two consenting adults is never wrong), but within the type of relationship Buffy and Spike undertake, there have to be clear rules about where that line is drawn. If not, the relationship can become dangerous to both parties, and in DT, it really is that Spike crosses that line. Of course, that doesnt absolve Buffy, but in context, like I said above with regards to the balcony scene, both partners are to blame because though Spike thought that this was part of their relationship Buffy had clearly made a different determination. And because Spike entered into the relationship willingly, they are both to blame when a misinterpretation leads to danger I spoke of.
and let's be honest, we privilege our own interpretations

Oh sure, Dana5140, I think that's natural. Either we've examined the evidence and come to the conclusion that it best supports one particular interpretation (most ideal approach) or we're solely influenced by our own emotional requirements (least ideal approach) but in each case the individual is bound to consider their reading the 'best' or they wouldn't have chosen it as theirs (and obviously in the real world even the most objective scholar will be biased by initial feelings and lean towards the interpretation that resonates on an emotional level since AFAIK there's no equivalent to the scientific method in lit-crit, nor does there need to be).

The problem, IMO, is when people become so invested in one interpretation that they defend it beyond all reason, no matter what the evidence against - or lack of evidence for - their position (those are the arguments that usually end with 'well, it's my opinion and i'm sticking to it' after much acrimony and which put me off becoming involved to any extent in online fandoms until comparatively recently).

I always saw the balcony scene as a way of showing how separated Buffy was from her friends (who had previously been one of her greatest strengths). Her and Spike have pretty dirty sex right out in public (presumably something 'normal' Buffy wouldn't do) with her friends nearby but unaware, away in a different, more innocent world. Buffy knows it's wrong for her (hence her 'protests') but needs any kind of connection, even a damaging one, and so carries on. It's a clearer example of the ambiguity of the Spuffy relationship, IMO, than the attempted rape since by 'Seeing Red' Buffy was on the mend and was very clear about where she stood with Spike, he just became frustrated at being 'cut off' and let his demon out of its box (and I don't just mean the vampire).

(I also suspect it may not be coincidence that the balcony scene takes place above the group, possibly as a nod-back as ramses 2 says, or maybe some slight foreshadowing of General Buffy's superiority complex and feeling of separation from the Potentials in S7)

ETA: And yeah I know we're way off the front page, I just couldn't leave it hanging at 99 comments ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2006-08-09 11:39 ]
If not, the relationship can become dangerous to both parties, and in DT, it really is that Spike crosses that line. Of course, that doesnt absolve Buffy, but in context, like I said above with regards to the balcony scene, both partners are to blame because though Spike thought that this was part of their relationship Buffy had clearly made a different determination.

How did Spike cross the line? Buffy resisted his advances a lot, only to give in soon after; and I can imagine Spike thought this was part of their little game. And the fact that she allowed it and enjoyed it during DT I'm sure didn't dissuade him from this conclusion. When did Buffy make a different determination? Certainly not in DT...I'd wager not until Riley came back. All the rest just seemed par for their course. Buffy regularly said 'no' or verbally resisted because she thought that's what a good girl should do; but you could tell in her actions that she wanted the sex and the thrill and the escape. (And no, this isn't a defense of SR, but just explaining that I don't see how Spike went over any line during the balcony sex.)
Jerry said:
"Of course, the opposite end of that is the idea that we inflate art to the point that we place meaning where no meaning was meant or implied. The real question is this: does art belong to the artist or to the viewer?"

I'm not sure that's actually the real question at all. I think the real question is do some people fear meaning where meaning is not easily detected, and why? Art and it's meaning, in order to be truly meaningful on a level where we as a society place it above other acts of creation must touch us collectively. It's what separates the Mona Lisa from a child's red crayon scrawl. Artist, viewer, society and on a multitude of levels all recognize that the art is an expression that speaks to and for everyone. And in every instance, the art touches both creator and viewer in ways he can't quite acknowledge or easily speak of. This doesn't mean that anyone has become obsessed with finding meaning where none exists, it simply signals the purpose of art and how it works. It's made to get inside our brains and hearts and make us respond in ways that aren't the same as looking under a microscope and recording exactly what we see.

The thing about art and meaning is that the creator and viewer need not be aware of why they're responding in order to respond. And the response is the same as the viewer or creator who understands the meaning.(The purpose of a metaphor is to help the average person understand something on a deeper level. He doesn't need to understand he's seeing a metaphor...unless he's in class and it's a test:)....but because of the metaphor(or symbolism, or use of icons and imagery)the viewer gets that maybe there's something more afoot than what the brain is simply picking up. He starts thinking.......

For example, you may never get why you like reggae music, you may never realize that the drum is utilized as a heart beat but it doesn't stop you from responding to the music for that very reason. You may like the Wizard of Oz, really get that it's so much more than a kid's book all without ever realizing that Baum was actually making some very strong social commentary. The art works because it works on many levels. BTVS is a show about a young girl coming of age. But the use of metaphors elevates the show in our conscious, we want to discuss this...think about it...we understand that something more is being said.

Finding meaning in art? It's what all humans are hardwired to do. If I had to guess, all the fan fights over meaning in BTVS really stem from a fear that we'll find meaning we don't want to find. In the Buffyverse it helps to view the entire show in musical terms. Themes rise and return, and whether they were ever intended or not, Joss and the others utilized a whole bag of artful tricks to show the slayer as young girl growing up and then much like Into The Woods, we got the girl as metaphor for the myth.

The problem I believe is not when viewers find meaning where none exist, but rather when viewers reject meaning because they don't like the story. Or a character.
Sorry for the double post but I just wanted to address the DT issue and whether or not Spike crossed the line. I think it's quite clear from Dawn's response and from Buffy's own dream that it's Buffy we see in crisis here, it's Buffy who's 'crossed the line' if you will. Of course it's not that she's crossed a line, it's that she's a girl and slayer in crisis. She's full of self loathing and fear. Spike's not a domestic abuse victim but he does stand in for Buffy herself when he takes the beating. But if there's any doubt as to who you're supposed to see as 'wrong' in this episode, just watch Dawn's response to Buffy.
If I had to guess, all the fan fights over meaning in BTVS really stem from a fear that we'll find meaning we don't want to find.

What an intriguing statement, ramses. Can you elaborate?
Rogue, I know many say balcony sex is bad, evil, but like you, I'm in the crowd that says Spike is playing with her kinky side. Obviously, he's mistaken that she belongs in the dark, (or even that he does) and she thinks she came back wrong because she kind of likes doing these things with Spike... As Ramses has smartly pointed out, mysogynist Caleb calls slayers "Dirty girls, sluts, etc. Obviously, we aren't suppose to think he's an authority on women, but on old school perception of what makes a "good girl".

When Buffy says no to Spike in the bathroom, she means it. Let's also note that no way did Spike blame her due to the nature of their previous sexual relationship. I know it's easy to say he was confused, but that's putting the blame on the victim and Fowler is right, we should never do that. In Spike's case, he IS a vampire, he has no moral compass, so I would look at this differently then if it were Giles or Xander because hey...Buffy kills vampires... After the fact, I felt Spike looked inside his heart and knew he had to have help with the demon inside of him. (meanwhile, the demon in him is kicking and fighting all the way)

Anyway, quotergal--This is OT, but I dont' know when I'll be able to answer it otherwise:

And spikeylover, if a thread comes up where we can discuss the possible influence of other artists on the production of Buffy, Angel et al, I'd love to pursue what you were saying about "Agony", etc.

I could be wrong, but I think that episode INTO THE WOODS was was titled particular due to the song Agony because of what was going on with Spike and Riley within the episode. (and that scene between them) the lament of the Cinderella Prince (Riley) in the song about being this wonderful guy yet she ran away (Xander's talk to Buffy basically calling him perfect yet Riley doesn't think she loves him) The Cinderella Prince is always behind her--(his strength is less than Buffy, she doesn't talk to him) Meanwhile we have the Rapunzel prince whose lament is that he's always beneath her (self explanatory) and her long hair... (again, self explanatory) Cinderella prince feels Rapunzel prince could have her (buffy) if there were doors (Buffy's love of monster in her man)

I vidded NO ONE IS ALONE, because this seems to be mirror BTVS/ATS. I especially love this part:

People make mistakes...
Fathers..Mothers.
People make mistakes,
holding to their own,
Thinking their alone.
Honor their mistakes
Everybody makes
Fight for their mistakes
One another's terrible mistakes.
Witches can be right, Giants can be good.
You decide what's right you decide what's good..

[ edited by spikeylover on 2006-08-09 19:04 ]
Well, the story of Buffy could have ended in many ways but it was always going to end with Buffy's transformation into someone who rejected someone else's constraints and in effect, grows up. But along the way IMO, people lost sight of the story being told for the story they wanted to be told. So canon was embraced to refute the things the storytellers were showing, and anger started to replace curiosity. Hack writing and pandering to fans became something one could hear in virtually all corners of fandom. While much of the anger appears to be shipping related, I actually think it goes much deeper than that. The various ships actually speak to the various potential endings of Buffy's story and what various fans felt they wanted to see.(I actually felt Joss's feminist statement was heavy handed until I saw the reaction to the idea of empowered girls running around without the need of someone to 'watch' them. I believe season 6 & 7 became so heavily iconic because it was apparent that for many, Buffy needed to stay the girl in the dark. Dark as in clueless, without self knowledge, without knowledge of the true source of her power as both woman and slayer)You had some fans that felt that a good ending would have been for Buffy to be able to give up being the slayer and settle down as a normal girl. Still others felt Buffy's real ending should have been with a reaffirmation of Angel's, 'still my girl' question. Others wanted Buffy to only need the core 4, just a girl and her friends. Or Spike's girl.

Some felt very uncomfortable with the text/subtext over the seasons that had sexuality and the slayer identity commingled. And because they were rejecting this, perhaps over fear that a sexual Buffy would lead them to confront and ponder their own issues with feminine sexuality and power they really weren't interested in picking up all the 'girl' nods such as guilty dirty girl, girl knows nothing, girl as unbaked cookie dough so much like sugar and spice(Marti's metaphor was cringeworthy but it should have made people remember the theme of Lessons) nor we they interested in the overwhelming textural evidence that Joss was ending this journey with the girl becoming a woman, rejecting all her history(including shahmans offering chains, the ultimate test of a slayer...putting mission before love..., the hellmouth, the high school, the damaging stunted loves that only reinforced the fear of being a dirty girl) In order for Joss's Buffy to end happily she had to reject being the girl in the dark we all loved to become a strong woman who's no one's girl.

Now complicating this was the fact that Joss and ME were using a character that many felt threatened 'their' story. And they were right, they were picking up that relationships mean exploration of self in the world according to Joss, and they were picking up that Buffy was transforming through the relationship with Spike but they feared what all that metaphor and symbolism would mean. Multiple hand imagery? Kittens becomng cats babble? Buffy using Spike to feel, even as she rejects emotionally connecting to anyone and retreats to the Slayer's strength? Buffy rejecting Spike and walking right into Normal Again. The scene in SR shot in afterschool normalacy where being a slayer almost fails Buffy, being unable to stop Willow and literally and figuratively playing out the cursed fate of being the Chosen one all while Spike is shown getting his soul. Where was all this destructiveness heading? After the scene in SR, there was a collective fandom sigh, surely a rape attempt meant Buffy was back to normal. They completely ignored the actual text of that scene. Yep, all the dialogue is about Buffy, and love and trust. No matter how politically correct it is for us to say that scene was about Spike, the imagery and dialogue tell us that this is a crisis moment for Buffy.(Just like the beating scene in DT) From this point on Joss hammers us with the fact that "strength is not enough", something is missing for the girl and the slayer. Something needs to happen for the girl to become a woman. Something missing must be restored. And a quick look back over all the seasons and especially The Gift would show that the girl had issues with love. It's a moment of triumph when Buffy chooses Dawn over the mission. When she comes back in 6 it shouldn't be a suprise to anyone that love and the Slayer would be the theme for the last two seasons. It's not about shipping, it's about Joss making a statement regarding the power and strength of women.

People complained about Spike taking over the show but what was at the base of all the discontent was that for many people Buffy was becoming a feminist heroine who didn't need a man to show her, teach her or watch her. She was a super hero who's greatest strength lay in her ability to love and share. For some people, they'd rather reject any meaning in the text than accept that they weren't watching a cliched tale about a fighting chick. And I think for many, many people the fact that Buffy didn't know her own mind in the end is far preferable to believing that their favorite male ending was rejected.
Boy, ramses, that's a heck of an analysis there, and I don't know how to respond to it properly. But in my case, I am not so sure that is a problem. The AR, while heinous, took place at the same time another event occurred which altered my entire world, being Tara's death. I never viewed the show through the Buffy lens, so her voyage was less importnat to me than Willow's. And for Willow, S7 was not all about the growth; it was all about the lack of growth, of the return of Willow to some of what she was back in S2 and 3, when she lacked confidence. How did the voyage end for Buffy? I don't really know, though the Scoobys were still looking to her for leadership in the final scene- "What do we do now, Buffy" as she smiles an answer. But, the bigger question to me, the one which can only be answered by fanfic (at least until Joss develops the S8 comic) is, how does the voyage end for Willow? If the AR is the event that begins to turn Buffy from girl to woman, what is the event that does the same for Willow? Tara's death? I don't think so. Xander's love? No. I think it happened much earlier but then was forgotten- Tara's love for Willow, which transcended when it first occurred. But in S6 and 7, it was completely forgotten, TKIM notwithstanding.
Dana, I've always wondered if we were intended to see Willow's story mirror Buffy's in that power, sexuality and guilt were very much thecornerstone of her story.

I think Willow's addiction to magic(up to that point a symbol of the lesbian love shared by Tara and Willow)was supposed to be seen as much of a sham as Buffy blaming Spike for doing things to her. Willow blames a lot on her 'addiction' but we never see her own it. Just as she doesn't really admit that she's a lesbian until her relationship with Kennedy. Until then, she thinks of herself as someone who loved a woman...one woman. And she'll play with magic as easily as she plays with Tara's trust. Is Tara's death her crisis point? Well, what's interesting is that she fully immerses herself in magic at that point.(If one is still equating magic/lesbian one could see the Dark Willow story as Willow realizing too late that she's not a dabbler, she's not just in a love affair with Tara, but that she's been playing with the source of her strength and power. Her sexuality.) We see her kill the symbol of her addiction but we also know it's grief and guilt that's driving her.

It's season 7 that shows us Willow is still afraid of her power, and coincidentally afraid to just be a normal lesbian out on a casual date. Gone is the high romance of Tara, the notion of two souls entwined, a truly magical relationship. Nope, in it's place is a girl who's unabashedly gay, who has no truck with 'magic' and it's spells. This is a girl who unlike Buffy or Willow has accepted who she is, she finds power in her sexuality.(Remember the remark about stakes:))

TKIM, does bring some resolution but like Buffy, Joss waits for the very last minute to show Willow's transformation. It's her acceptance of her power, her willingness to trust and forgive herself that allows her to perform the big O spell for all the girls. It's that acceptance of self and her own power that transforms her. Remember, Buffy wasn't the only one smiling at the hellmouth.
No, she was not. What is interesting is that the novelization of the entire season, Chosen, covers TKIM in an interesting fashion. In it, at the end, when Willow is looking up, she is described as looking at the window, where somehow some essence of Tara is there to provide solace to her as she is allowed or is able to move on. That alters the interpretation of the scene for me, though it is beautifully written in the book, which I wish I had in front of me.

I do think that Willow had to come to grips with her sexuality, to understand that she was who she was, though I still trouble equating her magic with her lesbianism, at least as it was later portrayed. I also feel she was not yet redeemed, as we understand it in the Buffyverse, not like Faith was in Five by Five, or by Angel during his later "life." The balance is still not square with her.

Willow kills the magic, only to find it is now part of her forever. Now that's a metaphor! And in the end, she uses it to better humanity and to protect it, and is momentarily transformed to White Willow- but what does this mean? I have yet to understand exactly how to read that. Was she a goddess? Or not?
I think perhaps the answer to Willow's redemption story is that if there's never any further story, than White Willow channeling Gaia the Goddess(and perhaps the women in white who protected the slayers and their history)was very much redeemed.(Much as Spike in Chosen redeems himself by giving the slayer/s what she/they need. Freedom from the Hellmouth. The spell channeled through the Slayer's scythe being powerful enough to cleanse the guilt and shame of everyone involved.(Hey, watch me wank!) So no, I don't think she was a goddess, but I do think she had become more powerful, and fully in control of that power.

But just as Spike needed to backtrack a bit once he was on Angel, I would imagine any further story about Willow would have dealt with things we learned about Dark Willow that were just overlooked by Dumbldore...err Giles.

I agree with you regarding Faith and redemption but for me, I found ATS 5's Angel very much struggling with his own crisis over self and power and I'm just not sure that much of what we saw wasn't boding ill for him and his struggle.(But would have made for a riveting series of TV movies)

But back to Willow, I adored Tara. She was one of my all time favorite characters. But the way the novelization sets it up takes away I think from the impact of Kennedy and Willow in that scene. And by impact I don't mean that the scene was highly charged romantically, rather that we see Willow freed from her own guilty magical punishment by a simple kiss from a girl. No more euphemisms needed. Willow is gay. It's as simple as that, no magic needed.
And your final paragraph makes me come to like Kennedy, who I do not.
What I think will be interesting is to see if Joss addresses any of this in his comic S8. I think he has to. And I am honestly intrigued.
I enjoy this and will return to comment more, but I am leaving for 3 days to attend a conference and will be busy and away from the computer each day until evening, and then I am staying with my son and will likely go out with him, so will at the latest comment back on Sunday evening- though I am not leaving today until later. :-)
Moscow Watcher, I really enjoyed your thought provoking essay, thank you for taking the time to write it. Such a big feast with so much to digest! *grabs knife and fork*

Should professional art serve the society - i.e. educate, create role models and set examples (as Fowler's paper suggests) or it should all art be about self-expression (as it happens in case of Fowler's alter ego, Ducks)?



Wow, interesting question that I don’t think should be an either/or answer, especially for writers.

If someone wants to write on how to set examples they can go look into a career as an After School writer or maybe something on the Discovery Channel (that you would flip through).

If they yearn to completely avoid anything with social redeeming value an option could be to write for porn movies (although I’m sure there are people who watch them for the riveting storylines).

I feel that the majority of writers want to convey a social message AND express themselves at the same time. I think Joss Whedon and his crew of writers exalt in this area and it is why we still care.

They gave us characters we could really care about, not in spite of their bad behavior but most times it was because of it.

We all saw the facts, Willow’s attempted to destroy the word, Souled Angel murdering or allowing the murder of innocent humans, Anya’s murdering the frat boys plus countless others, Giles murder of Ben or Xander’s big walk out on his wedding and attempted rape on Buffy. While some acts are far worse than others they are all bad, bad, bad.

We can also clearly see that the message was not that these beloved characters were corrupt and we were crazy for caring about them. At the same time they were not trying to sugar coat the bad behavior. They gave us reason to try and understand what the person was going through and why they did what they did. Even though they did bad things we still had compassion for them. That is good character development and good story telling.

Talented amateur artists and writers may become good professionals but there is a catch: the integration into professional showbiz may cost them their originality.


I can’t help but think of some of Stephen King’s movies and his reaction with what the ‘suites’ did to them. There was also a wonderful movie staring Kevin Bacon (ahh..can’t think of the name right now) about a writer who gives and gives and gives until his wonderful story is transformed into such a mess that nobody will touch it. In the end he goes with his own intergraty and the movie becomes a big hit.

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