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January 01 2008

Joss' Quiet Riot. More on the WGA strike from Dreamwatch Magazine. Joss and Summer Glau are interviewed, and there is mention of the organizers of fans4writers and the good works they do.

but I think inevitably, class and class struggles and the people who get stepped on Ė those are the things that I like to write about. Thatís what Buffy was originally about,

It was? I can see it in Firefly. Buffy not so much. Unless demons are a metaphor for the underclass.
Maybe he meant the fringe bit of society...the nerds, geeks, "weirdos" that the Scoobies were a part of back in high school? I dunno.
Maybe he thinks of women as, in part, an economic, social and political class.
Still though, all the Scoobs were very comfortably middle class. Specific episodes could certainly be said to depict class struggle ("Anne" being the obvious choice) but the series as a whole ? Not so much. I reckon "Thatís what Buffy was originally about," refers solely to "the people who get stepped on" (which it was always about - according to The Message, "the people" principally being women).

(course, I have to ask - do we now see the interpretation of Buffy as depicting class struggle as canon ? Joss said so after all ;-)
Well Saje, given the socio-political nature of ....nah. I can't do it.
Always glad to see our gang given credit for their hard work.
I'd have to say that he must have meant the "stepped on" people, too, although, in the first episode, he did contrast Cordy and Willow, wearing her dress from Sears. And, of course, the show dealt with what happens when the breadwinner dies and one's grasp on the middle class becomes threatened, as in Buffy's working for the Doublemeat Palace -- even if she still seemed to have an endless supply of very nice clothes. But, yeah, the outcasts, those who are "invisible," seemed to be a primary focus.

And congrats to yet more kudos for fans4writers.
I think adolescents are sort of a class unto themselves. They do not have the social power of adults. Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles were in positions of real or at least comparative powerlessness in relation to parents, the Watchers Council, Principal Snyder, the police and the Mayor (to name a few) -- oddly, they were on somewhat equal footing, socially if not physically, as the demons they faced, all of them being outside the publicly-acknowledged social structure. I think *that's* perhaps what was being referred to in the quote, rather than conventional notions of social class.
I think there is a lot of comment about people being controlled by other people and society. I have never seen Joss's original script for the BtVS movie (Hint: a link sent to my e-mail address would be a nice New Year's present) so I don't know if the Watcher's council seemed benevolent in the original, or as self serving as they were revealed to be in the series.

That change, BTW is IMO one of the most unsung elements that pushed BtVS to another level just as much as the first appearance of Angelus did.
I read the "stepping on" comment as, some people have the means to defend themselves and others dont. Classes being defined by power not strictly economics. Joss' got the power and 99% of the writers affected by this strike have little to no power (influence, fans, street cred, etc.).

There's only one thing more powerful than the Alliance and that's us. Er, us when we are with Joss anyway.

Is he finally over that months-long cold? Hope hes feeling better in the new year!
I think that in a way Buffy did start by being about class but in a social kinda way, the outcasts so to speak, the fact that people are treated differently due to their (social) status, and i think that one of the many things Buffy did so well was to say that people are just people, in the end we're all the same-just people (you know if you ignore the demons, superpowers and the endless supply of designer clothing) :)
I think Buffy and Angel both had major themes of socialy outcast and "stepped on" people, though it was an obviously grander theme in Firefly.

And, completly off topic, this is my first comment on the site. I chose this day on purpose for my inaugural comment in rememberance of New Years Day, 2003, five years ago, when I watched a season one BTVS marothon on the FX channel and have ever since been ardent Joss fan.

Happy New Years all!
I don't see the socioeconomic class struggle so much in most of Buffy. It was there, but as a minor theme that was absent most of the time but done really well when it appeared. I've always appreciated that when we see Buffy struggle to deal with the aftermath of her Mom's death, it includes her financial trouble and unsuccessfully trying on various work roles after she realizes she doesn't fit in in college.

If class is a major theme of Buffy, I think it's more about the kinds of social classes that are often marginalized in mainstream society but given a home in found communities-- nerds, outcasts, women, gay people. One remarkable thing about Buffy is that while she never really fully fits in anywhere, she's able to relate to just about everyone. Maybe because of it. Riley had real trouble understanding why Willow would date a werewolf-- I always liked that contrast between Riley and Buffy a lot. Buffy was also the first one to defend Tara from her family.
November 2nd?

psst, Abbie, November 4th.
Must "class struggle" refer to a specific class, e.g., "underclass"? Didn't Buffy struggle to fit in, be accepted within her class? Wouldn't intra-class struggle, as opposed to inter-class struggle, also be a form of class struggle?

"...and people who get stepped on-" This is the most important part of the clause* to me. It amends what is happening to the "class" and the "class struggles." People getting stepped on, or trying to avoid getting stepped on, or doing the stepping, is what makes stories interesting.

*my pardons if I have been ignorant in my usage of 'clause'.

I am at a bit of a loss as to what "class and class struggles" means. Is it 'class-and-class' - meaning perhaps "class on class"? I ask because I'm not understanding how the first instance of the word "class" modifies "class struggles." Thanks in advance for clarification that may be offered.

EDIT: I forgot I wanted to say Joss may have a mind full of Faith memories as he tinkers with Dollhouse and this may disproportionately weigh on his recollection and Faith would represent a clear difference in class between the Scoobies and herself. I'm not saying this is the case but could be.

[ edited by RhaegarTargaryen on 2008-01-01 20:52 ]

[ edited by RhaegarTargaryen on 2008-01-01 20:52 ]
I think he was talking about the whole "blonde girl in the alley turns around and fights back" thing. Slasher movies tended to "step on" the female characters by depicting them as helpless and expendable.

That's my take on it anyway.
RCM, welcome (2007 has been my first year as a site member, I think)!

TamaraC, Friday Nov. 2 was the last day the writers were at work, so I think it could be argued that the strike has been going since they left their offices that day, even if it wasn't officially declared until Nov. 4 (nitpicking, I know:) ).

Rhaegar, I think "class and class struggles" refers to writing about class -- depicting the differences between groups -- and then "class struggles" as writing about the conflicts between those groups (there can be differences that do not lead to conflict, after all -- for example, Kaylee is quite different from Inara, in "class" as well as many other respects, yet they are seldom if ever in conflict). The *strike* is certainly about class and class struggles and people getting stepped on, so I think it may have been, here's what's going on in real life, and on reflection, this is what was happening in "Buffy" as well.
Shapenew, nice wank, but I don't think it works. :) Writers were frantically working that entire weekend and that has been very well documented. It is just an obvious mistake or typo in the article that I hope gets fixed soon.
Why not just "class struggles," then, Shapenew? Wouldn't that convey the same thing as "class and class struggles"? Maybe its just colloquial usage?

When the protagonist labors to be accepted within a socioeconomic class, is that also a form of class struggle or no?
I'm with Shapenew. I do not really see the problem. Not everything a person writes about class has to involve the struggle between classes.

Unless we are talking about school classes. Then all bets are off.
Must "class struggle" refer to a specific class, e.g., "underclass"? Didn't Buffy struggle to fit in, be accepted within her class?

Or it could be seen that Buffy was trying to escape her class and "rise" above it. Equate the working class role with being the slayer and you could argue that Buffy desperately tried to escape her place during the first few seasons. Then of course she realised it was all pretty much meaningless by the end of season seven and that class roles meant nothing.
Ah, newcj, I think you've hit the nail on the head: it is about between classes, as in how much the band hates the choir (the latter gets higher status and better practice space without having to wear dorky uniforms).
Does that mean we need to infer Joss's canonical meaning into why certain teacher type characters have been killed off?

Since we lost a science and computer teacher, Miss Frank, a janitor, a nurse, a swim coach, a guidance counselor, a psychology lecturer and 2 school principals- how do these deaths relate to and represent the 'class' struggle in schools?

Papers on my desk by Friday afternoon, please...
Missb, um, those class types taste better. Bar none. Period.

A little shorter than some of my papers but, still, the density of thought is worth an "A", right?
Can you supply supporting evidence from the texts? (Burps do not count as they could indicate indigestion just as much as enjoyment.)
I'm sure there's some lip smacking after Flooty and possibly Snyder so the tastiness of principals at least is canonical IMO ;).

Re: "class struggle", each to their own of course but isn't a struggle within a class just, well, a struggle rather than specifically a class struggle ? Though I guess you could make the point about struggling to move from lower middle-class to middle-middle class (and Buffy struggling to maintain her and Dawn's status as middle class qualifies as genuine class struggle I think, the implicit tension being between Buffy now and some potential future Buffy who's working class).

I mean, if we're equating the working class role with being a Slayer, surely we can equate pretty much any life role that people might not be happy filling with working-class-edness (e.g. being a Vampire) ? Seems a bit thin to me, mileage varies though, as always.
But you can tell a story about what life is like in a particular class, as in giving insight into what life is like for a particular group of people.
Yep, true but that's only a class struggle implicitly, if at all, IMO (because viewers compare it to their situation and if they're in a different class, assume the people are struggling to escape the one they're currently in).

I guess i'm saying, not all stories about people trying to survive (or even better themselves) are about the class struggle, some are just what you might call "life struggles". Mal, for instance, is in a constant struggle to keep flyin' but i'd bet folding money that he doesn't want to enter the leisure classes as we see them in the 'verse, his isn't a class struggle it's just a tough life (because the type of life he's - at least partly - chosen is a struggle. "Raggedy edge" and all that ;).
Besides the Class struggle debate that the majority of this post is about, Iím continuously surprised by the respect people who have worked with Joss seem to have for the man. All of the former colleagues and continuous fans that came out there to strike with him, very cool.

Scratch that, Iím not surprised, seeing as I have that much respect for him, itís just always cool to see.
Mal, for instance, is in a constant struggle to keep flyin' but i'd bet folding money that he doesn't want to enter the leisure classes as we see them in the 'verse, his isn't a class struggle it's just a tough life (because the type of life he's - at least partly - chosen is a struggle. "Raggedy edge" and all that ;).

Raggedy edge - isn't that implying the "barely got anything edge" , i.e., the "have nots"? In comparison to the Alliance, Serenity and her crew are in a lower socioeconomic class; evidenced by the lack of necessities and barely scraping by. That they struggle against the "haves" doesn't that make it know..."class struggle"?

I like that (what I wrote, swoon, kiss myself, jump back, do it again! I can do fond or fond do) but a counterargument is Mal could do a damn site better running a moon than Patience and I believe it would be within his means to be able to do it, though it's not what he desires. But I think he easily could and he would be the Fancy of someplace, like Rance Burgess in wealth and more like Seth Bullock of "Deadwood" in action (s01, that's all I've seen). Point is, depending on who Mal is compared, he can be of the "haves" or of the "have nots." Did I just spend a bunch of words to describe "middle class"? Don't niggle me, I'll retract a swoon. Okay, a kiss, too. Leave me the fond do. I love cheese!

I wouldn't bet against your fold'n money; Mal doesn't want to enter the leisure class. Thought: "class struggle" may also encompass those who are trying to preserve a class rather than upjump to another class.

Mal being in a class struggle feels like a shoehorn-job to me, even though I made the case for it. His conflict is housed in ideology, he wants more freedom and the Alliance wants more control, that's the struggle. To say the Alliance belongs to a class feels like sophistry. Does the United States government belong to a "class"? It's kind of classless, isn't it? (Tiny swoon). Mal's struggle against the Alliance can't be a class struggle because the Alliance is a classless entity.

[ edited by RhaegarTargaryen on 2008-01-02 19:10 ]
I think there were very small aspects of class in Buffy, but you can pick up on them in different ways.

Cordelia was a really good example in the early seasons. There was an undercurrent of class snobbery in the way the Cordettes looked down upon people like Willow, Xander or Jonathan. Being attractive and well dressed also seemed to be linked to having as flashy car and wealthy parents. Aggressive bitchiness and snobbery was probably Cordelia's defense mechanism because she knew just how precarious her friendships based on popularity and wealth were, thus only further deepening the divisions between the social classes.

In season three, we see that Cordelia has been "reduced" to working in a dress shop, no longer benefiting from Daddy's credit card. The warmth of her on/off romance with Xander and on/off friendships with the Scoobies are possibly the only emotional grounding she has which eventually leads to her becoming a much more likeable and selfless character on Angel.

I think there may have been a couple of other examples from later in the series as well. I think it's a scene in "As You Were", Buffy is working at the Doublemeat Palace whilst her colleague is talking about Machiavelli, and I think there was a subtle undercurrent of snobbery associated with his college education, and Buffy feeling inadequate as she had to drop out of college.

So I can understand what Joss means, as the class undercurrent is one aspect of the very important theme of being an outsider and forming your own group that is so prominent in the early seasons of Buffy, but I definitely think he deals with class more explicitly in Firefly and even to some extent, Angel, because of the LA setting which introduces to the rich and famous, and those struggling to survive, like the kids in Anne's shelter, Gunn's friends or the girl Connor meets after first arriving back in the dimension as an adult.
This is kind of neat.
Nice, Pointy! This is tonight's show, right? Too bad I have to miss it.
Pointy linked _The New York Times_ article regarding Dave Letterman's nice, pro-WGA, pro-labor show.

Letterman walked through dancers carrying WGA strike signs. He then introduced the dancers as something like "The Eugene V Debs Dancers."
(Did anyone else hear that?)

[ edited by shinygroovyj on 2008-01-03 06:26 ]

[ edited by shinygroovyj on 2008-01-03 07:14 ]
Someone else must've booked the Joe Hill Dancers.
Pointy you are smart and funny (Joe Hill Dancers) and give great links :)
My time zone finally offers an advantage. I didn't realize this was tonight but it's just now 10:30 so I'm off to watch.
I stayed up too late to watch Dave, but it was kind of worth it: the WGA got more national exposure last night than they have gotten in two months. Monday Jon Stewart will be back on Comedy Central and I'm betting he makes sure the AMPTP gets blasted even more than the winners of the Iowa Primary.

I wonder if the networks/studios are regretting letting these pro-WGA guys back on air? Sure they bring the ratings, but they also support the writers.

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