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August 08 2002

"I come to bury Tara, not to praise her." E.A. Week slates the "unrealistic" Willow-Tara relationship at SciFidimensions, blaming poor acting and wretched scripts. She says: "Willow and Tara were never about female empowerment or gay equity; they were a straight male's girl-girl fantasy: pretty, passive, long-haired, and childish."

And continues:

"Their lives had no larger gay context: they had no interest in gay art, no involvement in gay politics or a gay community. They had no gay friends. They conformed to heterosexual norms in every way. They weren't written for a gay audience; they were written to be non-threatening for straight viewers."

Sounds to me like the author wanted an after school special. Sorry, it was 'don't do drugs' this year.

It seems as though Week is stretching for some sort of fresh critique of Buffy, given that the dead/evil lesbian cliche criticism is quickly becoming a cliche itself. Week apparently wanted the show to become Ellen. Apparently, Willow should have stumbled around for three months in some sort of rainbow-colored angst-cloud while she came to terms with her sexuality. And then she and Tara should have attended a pride parade.

It's funny, though. There was no fanfare when I came out. No parade. Not even a streamer. I didn't instantly becoming "involved in gay politics or a gay community." (And since when are the people on this show interested in politics or art??) There was definitely no gay art, although I have now seen the Broken Hearts Club, Trick, Get Real and even Chuck & Buck. I kept the same friends I'd always had, and to the extent that I was on the lookout for gay friends, it was (admittedly) with hopes of finding the gay friend, which Willow already had. As for the Scoobies not being shocked and appalled when Willow came out, we're talking about a group of people who have dated vampires, werewolves, demons, cyberdemons, reanimated corpses and giant insects. I don't think it's that much of a stretch to imagine that Willow's dating a girl didn't add up to a whole hill of wig. But ostensibly, according to Week, although W/T weren't gay enough, they were also too gay, with their "gay jokes, breast jokes, and blatant insinuations of oral sex."

When did Willow and Tara kiss in public? And what is Week talking about with the no chemistry? The couple's first onscreen kiss in "The Body" was the most natural, unforced thing ever. No, they weren't written to pander to a "gay audience," and I think we're all happier for that fact. It was never exploitative; their romance was never played as a selling point for the show. The "hot girl-on-girl action" Week imagines seems to have existed only in her mind. She argues that the relationship was absolutely harmonious, casting aside all of their problematic interactions in the sixth season because it wasn't a "truly organic disagreement." Riiiight. So that breakup never really happened, did it? And Week goes on to point out that "every one of [Whedon's] couples has ended in disappointment, if not tragedy." She uses W/T as an exception to this. WTF??

Matt Roush never called the W/T romance "the sensitive exploration of Willow's sexuality." That was Robert Bianco from USA Today. And I'm fairly certain he wasn't referring to Miss Kitty Fantastico when he said that, as Week implies. And what is the subtext of "Miss Kitty Fantastico" that a "ten-year-old with a dirty mind" could so easily translate?

Well, if Week wanted to offer a fresh perspective, she got it. Too bad it was a kind of pointless, self-contradictory polemic.
Thanks a lot grrarrgh00. I was going to get all upset when I read the article, but then there was your intelligent, funny and very well written comment. You made my day :)
Oh gee I dunno. I can see how someone would mistake Willow & Tara as a heterosexual fantasy of sorts, but upon closer inspection the assumption holds no more water than the theory that Tara's death was a blatant attempt to ruin the only positive lesbian relationship on prime time TV. What is it about the Willow Tara thing that has caused so much hostility? I always just took it as a sweet relationship, and a welcome change from the more predictable romantic situations that television writers usually regurgitate upon their scripts. Why do people insist on trying to muddy the memory with such unnecessary controversy? It just seems silly to me.
"Sounds to me like the author wanted an after school special. Sorry, it was 'don't do drugs' this year. "

Oh, I thought it was "Buy American". Must have gotten buried.
I'm sorry, but I found the article pretty ridiculous. For example, she snorts at the idea that people wouldn't react to Willow and Tara holding hands, kissing, etc. in public. Hello? The show is set in Sunnydale, where people don't seem to notice vampires and demons and who knows what the hell else, where high-school girls break in everywhere and order adults around routinely and nobody ever thinks it's weird. Nobody's going to notice a couple of women kissing. How cliched would it be if they *had* made a big deal of the relationship? This isn't Dawson's Creek or a very special episode of "Blossom". It's *Buffy the Vampire Slayer* ferchrissakes. Making a big deal of Willow and Tara's relationship would have detracted from the plethora of plotlines we already had. Keeping Tara in the show was dramatically useful, as was giving Willow a reason to go all nutty at the end, and the Willow/Tara relationship was a useful device for those purposes, but no more. Making the show into a public service announcement about gayness would *not* have served a dramatic purpose, and therefore was not done.

Secondly, the whole bit about gay art/community/politics just makes me want to gag. My first romantic relationship was a gay one, nurtured in a gay community, but being gay always has been and always will be about *what happens between two people*. "The community" doesn't have any more right to intrude on that, or appropriate it, than the theocrat-conservatives do. The idea that you can't be gay if you don't make gay community the center of your life has always offended me, even...*especially* when I was in a gay relationship myself. They're gay, but they're not gay like you. Get the hell over it.

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