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May 27 2008

(SPOILER) Pencils from Buffy season 8 'Wolves At The Gate' part 4. Fan meeting Georges Jeanty leads to two snaps of pages from next issue. HUGE spoilers for two particular characters.

Just in case some people find my post spoilery I'm not adding anything that you haven't found out after reading what Perseo posted,

now onto my blabber...



[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2008-05-27 07:25 ]
I've invisibled your comments, Mirage because, while the linked article does contain spoilers, those spoilers are hidden, and we should be cautious about posting them here, even when the thread is spoiler-tagged.
As I said on the thread to which the story links, I refuse to acknowledge that that is a spoiler. I really don't know what they could have done to be less ambiguous.

As to the 8.15 panels, very strong art by Jeanty, and I look forward to seeing these pages in full color with the text.
I know, SNT *grin* That's why I did a quick warning. I never really got the hang of the spoiler tag... so thanks for invisibling my text (yes, I also winced when I -ing-ed the word).
Very interesting spoilers. It's so odd seeing penciled drawings like that. I guess I never realized how much a colorist added to the artist's rendering before.


I don't see any pictures on that thread.

Warning: I am in a pissy mood.

It has occurred to me that with the most recent turn of events that Joss could manage to do absolutely everything I was hoping he would not do, thereby destroying many of the themes and story lines I liked most in the TV series. I hope he waits until the next arc since I have committed myself to buying this one. Then I am getting out and letting Buffy lie in peace.
Interesting. That's also how I feel, newcj.
newcj-You have to click on the links provided on the first post of that thread to see the pics.
As cruel and strange is to say this, I'm happy Joss went this route and didn't choose the cop out after last issue's end. I always felt Buffy was too light on death and mayhem for the harsh reality of the show's fictional universe. We're talking about a very small group of people fighting all the world's most powerful villains, and yet during a seven year run, very few characters died in the name of the cause. It's not how it'd happen. If Buffy's war was real war, a huge number of her comrades would've fallen in battle. I always found Angel to be more realistic, in this aspect, and it's ironic, yet timely, that losses start to pile up now that Buffy has a proper army.
I just reread the "No Future For You" arc and realized how much more I like it than I do this current arc. I'd much rather have a Vaughan-penned Faith/Giles spinoff at this point than more arcs like this last one.
menomegirl, I thought she did, but I wasn't sure. Alas, I guess this means a trip through season two as punishment for my mistake. Woe is me.
Ha! What a dire punishment that is, too. *g*

I've recently re-watched seasons 1-4 of Btvs and there were things I'd forgotten about. It's really easy to recall the large things that happened and forget the small (but no less important) ones. Epecially if you frequently rely on transcripts when you want to know something.
I'm with newcj and Dana5140. This just feels like Joss using the same damned gimmick over again, and as far as I'm concerned it's a potential Jump the Shark moment, it's going to leave that bad a taste in my mouth.
Well, as ever I'm waiting to actually, you know, read the book before deciding whether everything's gone to hell in a handbasket. But I am enjoying this arc very much so far. JW brings the pain, absolutely. And, part of me at least is a willing masochist. :-)

At the risk of repeating myself, I've never found that Joss repeats himself - yes, death happens. The Real World is pretty damn boringly repetitive that way too. In his work, though, an event may superficially resemble some other event, but that doesn't mean it is thoughtless repetition: there is context and nuance and shades of meaning. Jenny's death does not equal Joyce's death does not equal Tara's death does not equal Anya's death. (But, obviously, YMMV in terms of liking the book or not as a whole).
SNT:
Well, as ever I'm waiting to actually, you know, read the book before deciding whether everything's gone to hell in a handbasket.
I'm with you. I'll admit to being ambivalent up front, because I didn't care much for the original run of "Buffy" comics, and care even less for the fan-f-- er, tie-in novels. But I gave the comic a chance, and so far, I'm glad I did. Although, I guess it would have saved me some trouble if I'd just made my mind up ahead of time...
How is death a gimmick ? Death happens. Couples are separated by default when one half of the couple dies, both in RL and in fictional worlds where characters fight evil monsters. Then creating new couples is a gimmick too, because it gets repetitive as well. I'd wait to see Xander's evolution as a man after another huge blow before dismissing.. you know, that hack called Joe Sweden.
The difference is that I am not judging without having read it. I have NOT liked the book so far. I have been giving it a chance. I had no negative expectations going in. I actually tried to have no expectations at all going in. Right away, however, I did not like the choices Joss presented within the first few issues, that Buffy was most likely going to get together with Satsu or Xander.

As I saw it, hooking up with Satsu would destroy the themes that a straight woman could be strong and competent and that straight women and lesbians can have close, trusting non-sexual relationships. It also reinforces the stereotype so casually stated by the lead on the reality show Workout a few weeks ago that every woman is as straight as the amount of time until her next cocktail. Hooking up with Xander would destroy the themes that women really can think for themselves, they do know their own minds and bodies and that they can have close relationships with men without ending up in a sexual relationship with them.

Many things I loved about BtVS are pretty well gone with what has already happened in this book. Now Xander is free to get together with Buffy. Will he? Won't he? Should I care? It doesn't seem like a natural story anymore. It seems like a parade of characters from past glories and a story line that is doing nothing for me.

Xander kissing Renee and her dying within a couple pages, yeah I've seen it happen metaphorically many times too, but IMO it is getting to be a bit too much of a cliche in Joss's work. Will he somehow twist it around? Sure, maybe...and if it is in only 3 or 4 issues it will only take until next winter. No, I am not judging before reading. I am judging based on the reading so far.
*shrug* Then we're reading two different stories, apparently.
Although it seems unlikely, it is less insulting than assuming that I made up my mind before reading it. It *is* simply possible that we get different things from the same story. That at least would not discount either of our opinions out of hand.

...and yes, I do know you were not speaking literally.
Yay, got the ability to post. These were my pics and I was pretty amazed to see them make it up onto Whedonesque. Having the actual preview pages posed not long after kinda takes the wind out of it, but anyway...

I have to say I can't disagree with the detractors more. I LOVED the BKV arc, and really was disappointed in WatG at first. But the last issue and this one very much have vaulted the run into pure awesome. Also if you tie your enjoyment of Buffy completely into who she boffs, you are likely in for a lot of pain.

Back to the scans, Jeanty's pencils are amazing. I used to think he wasn't as good as people were giving him credit for. But I was turned around byt seeing his actual pencils and sketchbook in person. I think we need a better colorist honestly, a lot of the fine detail of his stuff gets lost by the finished page.
As I saw it, hooking up with Satsu would destroy the themes that a straight woman could be strong and competent and that straight women and lesbians can have close, trusting non-sexual relationships. It also reinforces the stereotype so casually stated by the lead on the reality show Workout a few weeks ago that every woman is as straight as the amount of time until her next cocktail. Hooking up with Xander would destroy the themes that women really can think for themselves, they do know their own minds and bodies and that they can have close relationships with men without ending up in a sexual relationship with them.

I don't understand how sleeping with other characters makes Buffy any different than she was. She's still strong, and she still thinks for herself. This idea's been expressed here before, and I just don't understand it. Why do you think sex undermines her other character traits? I hate the straight-until-drunk stereotype too, but the context in the comic was very different from the reality show.
newcj:
Although it seems unlikely, it is less insulting than assuming that I made up my mind before reading it. It *is* simply possible that we get different things from the same story.

We certainly appear to:

As I saw it, hooking up with Satsu would destroy the themes that a straight woman could be strong and competent and that straight women and lesbians can have close, trusting non-sexual relationships.

Not sure how Buffy's entering a relationship - so far, just a one-night stand, at that - can be said to destroy that theme when Buffy and Willow have had exactly that kind of close, trusting non-sexual relationship for a number of years now; are these people demographic groups or individuals? (For that matter, I'm not sure where the idea comes from that the theme was ever "straight women can be strong and competent" as opposed to "women can be strong and competent".) And, for the record, taking what a contestant on a reality show says as some philosophical maxim that should be applied to... well, anything, really, let alone a completely non-related piece of literature just doesn't compute in my mind. So I dunno, maybe we are literally reading different stories...
"Not sure how Buffy's entering a relationship - so far, just a one-night stand, at that - can be said to destroy that theme when Buffy and Willow have had exactly that kind of close, trusting non-sexual relationship for a number of years now; are these people demographic groups or individuals?"

They are fictional individuals. Fictional individuals will usually stand for a group. Buffy is finding another woman sexually attractive and had sex with her. Being sexually attracted to two sexes equals bisexual. Willow and Buffy's relationship can now be looked at completely differently, and the lack of sexual interest has been called into question by Willow's questions of Satsu.

"(For that matter, I'm not sure where the idea comes from that the theme was ever "straight women can be strong and competent" as opposed to "women can be strong and competent".)"

It *was* women can be strong and competent until *every* strong competent woman whose sexuality came into play started finding other women attractive. Then IMO it became something else. (I was fine with most of the strongest and most competent not being straight, but all just plays into the stereotype again.)

And, for the record, taking what a contestant on a reality show says as some philosophical maxim that should be applied to... well, anything, really, let alone a completely non-related piece of literature just doesn't compute in my mind. So I dunno, maybe we are literally reading different stories...

I'm not taking it as a philosophy, I'm taking it as a stereotype that someone on this board had indicated was long dead, and using it as an example that it is still alive and kicking. And the woman is not a contestant, she is a business woman who runs a gym. Although I do not usually watch reality shows, I happened across that episode and was horrified to hear her say that while still being a bit annoyed that Joss was promoting the same stereotype...that I was being told did not exist.
Yeah, well, I've met black guys who steal and deal drugs, white rednecks who belong to white supremacist groups, Christians who think that everyone outside of their own little denomination is going to hell, and women who'll sleep with anybody when they're drunk. And members of those same demographic groups who don't do any of the above. Stereotypes don't usually die until there's no one left who believes them and no one left who fits them; but if you eliminate every possible plot because there might be a stereotype, we wouldn't have very many plots left; if someone writes a story wherein all thieves and drug dealers are white, all white rednecks are "tree-hugging liberals", every Christian (or whatever religion you prefer) accepts and tolerates every other religion, and only men ever get drunk and sleep with the nearest person - well, they're not promoting any stereotypes that way, but what they're promoting certainly would class as a fantasy world.

I'll also point out that:

1. a business woman who runs a gym isn't necessarily any better judge or qualifier of other people's sexuality than anyone else, nor should anyone else be held accountable to her weird ideas of same, and

2. "non-sexual relationship" does not necessarily equate to "lack of sexual interest." I suspect most people have non-sexual relationships with a lot of people they might find attractive, and I frankly wondered long ago (like, when the series was airing) if Willow might not have some curiosity about Buffy.
I don't know whether you are purposely missing the points I am trying to make or not. I will try one more time and then I am finished.

"1. a business woman who runs a gym isn't necessarily any better judge or qualifier of other people's sexuality than anyone else, nor should anyone else be held accountable to her weird ideas of same, and"

As I said from the beginning, this was only an example that this stereotype is alive and well and has nothing to do with anyone being a judge of sexuality

"2. "non-sexual relationship" does not necessarily equate to "lack of sexual interest." I suspect most people have non-sexual relationships with a lot of people they might find attractive, and I frankly wondered long ago (like, when the series was airing) if Willow might not have some curiosity about Buffy."

I never saw any sexual interest in Buffy from Willow on the show and liked it that way. Again, I liked that people could be friends without sexual attraction being the real root. I especially liked that Willow's journey of sexual discovery did not affect her friendship with Buffy.

It is not a question of never showing a stereotype and I never said it was. I said it was about making all the characters start to fit a stereotype instead of presenting a diverse mix of people. I was ready to use one of your examples as an illustration, but they are all so negative that I did not want to use any of them in this case. It did not seem appropriate to imply that making all the competent women lesbians or bisexuals was the same as making them criminals, or racists. I doubt that that was what you were trying to say either.

Let me put it this way. BtVS started with a general feminist agenda, but that seems to have changed to something else. If it had started with an anti-racist agenda I would not have expected the show to start reinforcing racist stereotypes. I would have been dismayed.

Women have always had a problem with being culturally invisible. Lesbians and bisexuals have had that problem squared. So I have always been glad Joss included diverse sexuality in his work. However, BtVS got less diverse when Buffy started finding women sexually attractive. Because there were no other unabashedly straight adult women main characters left, straight women became invisible in that universe. Straight women leaders became totally nonexistant.

Maybe there will turn out to be an overwhelming plot reason that Buffy had to suddenly be bisexual. Maybe there will turn out to be an overwhelming reason why Willow is now Super Willow who has every power in the world. Maybe there will turn out to be an overwhelming plot reason why they had to do another replay of kiss and immediately die. Maybe there will turn out to be an overwhelming plot reason why every old character from the show is marching by. I would not put it past Joss to be able to do that, but Iím not ready to wait around or spend my meager funds to find out at this point. In a few years it will be all sorted out and I'll find out what he had in mind then.
But is Buffy just about its feminist themes? No. It is certainly a strong aspect but it shouldn't restrict storylines that I believe to challenge ideas and new themes. It's about characters and at the end of the day, every person I know has admitted to questioning their sexuality. I'm pretty sure I can't think of someone who hasn't.

Buffy having sex with a woman does not denounce her as a leader or a strong woman. Because she is now 'bisexual' (and personally I don't feel it is as simple as this, sexuality and labels, hello complexities), does that mean is no longer relateable for straight women? Are women culturally invisible? Not in this 'verse. Buffy is out there leading and fighting and occasionally she makes flawed decisions in the process but that shouldn't detract from her character or the story.

(Excuse my tired thoughts, it's all a little rambly.)

[ edited by brynmars on 2008-05-28 23:56 ]
newcj:
I don't know whether you are purposely missing the points I am trying to make or not.

Hm. I could have said the same, but I restrained myself. That'll teach me.

"1. a business woman who runs a gym isn't necessarily any better judge or qualifier of other people's sexuality than anyone else, nor should anyone else be held accountable to her weird ideas of same, and"

As I said from the beginning, this was only an example that this stereotype is alive and well and has nothing to do with anyone being a judge of sexuality

My point is that she believes in that stereotype; and it should be patently obvious that, no matter what the stereotype, there's gonna be someone, somewhere that believes it: stereotypes die hard. That doesn't mean that the rest of the world needs to cater to these people, who are obviously not as frickin' intelligent as they'd have us believe; nor does it mean that there isn't someone, somewhere that fits the stereotype - except that they aren't stereotypes, they're just individuals with personality traits that resemble those of the stereotype.

"2. "non-sexual relationship" does not necessarily equate to "lack of sexual interest." I suspect most people have non-sexual relationships with a lot of people they might find attractive, and I frankly wondered long ago (like, when the series was airing) if Willow might not have some curiosity about Buffy."

I never saw any sexual interest in Buffy from Willow on the show and liked it that way. Again, I liked that people could be friends without sexual attraction being the real root.

Who says it was the root of their friendship (especially since they'd been best friends for four years before Willow even realized she liked girls That Way?) Who said it's the root of any of the friendships I speak of? Just because I might think someone's attractive doesn't mean that's why they're my friend. I know lots of attractive people whom I wouldn't give air if I had them in a jar, and lots of people I like who are downright plain. The two circumstances do not necessarily correlate, and it's a pretty big leap of logic to assume that they do (not to mention, it assumes a fair bit of shallowness on my part; not that there aren't people shallow enough to consider only "beautiful people" friends, but then, if we assume that, we're in danger of reinforcing another stereotype, aren't we?)

It is not a question of never showing a stereotype and I never said it was. I said it was about making all the characters start to fit a stereotype instead of presenting a diverse mix of people. I was ready to use one of your examples as an illustration, but they are all so negative that I did not want to use any of them in this case. It did not seem appropriate to imply that making all the competent women lesbians or bisexuals was the same as making them criminals, or racists. I doubt that that was what you were trying to say either.

If all you can do is "doubt" that, then you really did miss my point, which is that some people do fit a stereotype, not because the stereotype is true, but simply because people are individuals, and some individuals are just "built that way." I come from southeastern Kentucky. I defy anyone to claim with a straight face that the stereotype of the "Kentucky hillbilly" is dead - all one has to do is turn on the TV at any given time to know that it is indeed alive and well. And I can actually find someone, somewhere, who, on the surface, fits that stereotype. Not because the stereotype is true, but because, y'know, there really are a few people here who can't read a newspaper when they graduate from high school. Of course, you can find the same people in New York, or California, or...
Sunfire, I'm sorry, I was at work when I was writing answers earlier and I did not see your post.

I don't understand how sleeping with other characters makes Buffy any different than she was. She's still strong, and she still thinks for herself. This idea's been expressed here before, and I just don't understand it. Why do you think sex undermines her other character traits?

I don't think sex undermines her other character traits or makes her different at all, I think a change in her exhibited sexual preferences either gender wise or towards someone she has been clear that she had no interest in before, changes the dynamics and the subtext of the story. It also changes the likely interpretation of events and relationships. IMO, her relationship with Satsu changes the dynamic as I stated in other posts. If she ends up in a relationship with Xander, after years of saying that she is not interested in him that way, it lends credence to the old saws that women don't really know their own minds and that they will eventually get into a sexual relationship with a man if they work together long enough.

I hate the straight-until-drunk stereotype too, but the context in the comic was very different from the reality show.

I agree that it was totally different but the underlying idea is the same. In Buffy's case she is in an all female environment for an extended period of time and all of a sudden coyly expresses a sexual interest in women, just before she plops into bed with one who finds her attractive. Happily Buffy did not need alcohol to do what she wanted. She walks into the situation sober, expresses enjoyment and later attraction to Satsu. (Though the whole, being turned on by a subordinate calling her Ma'm, creeped me out a bit.) But the underlying idea that all women want to have sex with other women and it is only their inhibitions that keep them from doing it, still seems at the heart of it.

I'm sure there are many women for whom that is true, but not all. It bugs me that people will push that idea while claiming to be open minded and condemn people who take exception to it. How about being open minded enough to think that maybe some men and women, both straight and gay, never needed to question their sexuality or only had to question it long enough to realize that they had no idea what people found so sexually exciting about one of the genders. I know several.

As far as other questions by posters, I think I answered them in other posts. I don't want to get into repeating myself. Yes, Buffy herself is still relatable for straight women, that was not my point. Yes, Buffy's sexuality does not have anything to do with her ability to lead or her strength, that was not my point. Yes, you will find examples of bad stereotypes of any group, that has nothing to do with any of my points. Yes, people are stupid, we agree on that and that does play into why I am not thrilled about some of the original themes being diluted or thrown out the window.
newcj, you are always so passionate about your views that I really wish I could understand where you are coming from. I simply don't see what you see. And I can't understand where you are seeing it. I don't understand why sexuality plays into it at all and the stereotypes you fear seem to be kinda not really in the text. I just don't think there is any there there.
I have heard it argued, more than once and more times than I really care to, that strong women depicted in fiction should not be lesbians or have any lesbian tendancies because it reinforces a stereotype that strong women are lesbians.

This is an insult. It is a false stereotype. It rarely happens. Strong women are called dykes for the same reason they are called bitches. It's not a stereotype, it's people using the term as a derrogatory slur towards women with the implication that if you're a strong woman, then you are less than a woman...you're acting like a man, just like those lesbians. It is meant to invoke homophobia in the strong woman being called that so that she will comply.

I cannot count the number of straight female characters that have never questioned their sexuality. Buffy is one of the rare few characters that have. Gay people tend to notice how very few gay or questioning characters there are because it is disproportionate to how many there are in reality. Many straight people tend to be shocked when there's more than 1 or 2 existing simulataneously in the same season of TV, let alone in the same story.

3 lesbians, a kinda gay guy and a curious straight woman doesn't push anything that isn't proportionately realistic. The fear that this equates to "all" or setting a stereotype, is just that...fear.

Avoiding the so-called stereotype that strong women are lesbians would essentially mean avoiding making lesbian characters strong. And, I personally object to that.

Hi, I'm a lesbian and I don't watch Work Out, The L-Word or listen to Melissa Etheridge. I also have no interest in straight women however curious they might be.

[ edited by GrrrlRomeo on 2008-05-29 08:05 ]
Wow. With your spectacular and far-reaching debate on sexuality and stereotypes you guys have completely buried my original complaint, that at this point the "Girl Meets Boy. Boy Meets Girl. One of them dies horribly leading to existential angst and blather" routine is getting really tired. It seems really bloody mean-spirited, for a series that has always tried to present itself as life-affirming, to have Xander violently lose two loves in two seasons. I'll withold final comments until I read the issue, but I don't like where it's going.
I think that we all come at this from our points of interest. When we abstract the story too far from the characters themselves we can get upset about what it means in broader terms, when really its just about these characters (and yes, it makes complete sense to abstract them for analytical purpose and no, I'm not saying that anyone is wrong to feel the ways that they do). Is Joss falling prey to a cliche of making all strong women lesbians now? Was Joss falling prey to the evil/dead lesbian cliche when he killed Tara? I don't think that either of these things are true. I think that he is trying to do right by complex characters and to do less than that or to worry about how a character's choices affect anything other than the character would not be a good thing. The Ani DiFranco quote applies here:

"People talk about my image, like I come in two dimensions, like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind, like what I happen to be wearing the day that someone takes my picture is my new statement for all womankind."

So now, I am being portrayed as saying that there should not be strong lesbian characters. Where in the world did I say that? Ever? EVER!

I have repeatedly said that I was happy that diverse women were portrayed on the show, lesbian and bisexual included. It is more reflective of life and of women. And yes, they should be a variety of strong, and weak, and bitchy and sweet and vulnerable and kick-ass and so should all the women.

I didn't give a rat's ass about any of this until there were *no* unabashedly straight women left. I had noticed it was going that way, but figured making up for ignored groups needs to be done. I just had hoped straight women would not be negated from the show as strong capable characters completely.

Quite frankly I am not as passionate about this as it may seem. I would not have said this much or seemed as passionate about it if people had just taken what I had said at face value without saying that I had made up my mind before reading it, that I was judging the plot by who Buffy was "boffing", and other totally untrue and irrelevent put-downs and misstatements. That got my back up and it has lead to people reading whatever they please into my statements, which is very disappointing considering the respect I have for the people on this board.

As far as how could I possibly be saying that *all* the strongest and most capable women ON BTVS have now come out as lesbian or bisexual, fine, maybe I am missing someone. Who hasn't? Willow is the strongest woman on Earth at this point, a plot point I don't like for the same reason that I am not a big Superman fan and I don't like magic pills that solve everything, Satsu is the most capable potential, Kennedy was the most capable potential before that, Tara was the strongest witch until Willow took over, Buffy is the leader of the pack. That leaves Renee, (now dead so out of the picture) who not only did we barely get to know, but was timid, insecure and a throw away character plot device to make us all say, "Poor Xander." Another plot point having nothing to do with who Buffy is sleeping with that I don't like because it seemed to contrived and been there, done that. It also leaves Dawn who is not really an adult yet and who would have been a pretty logical candidate for the lets experiment with my sexuality storyline. Anya (also dead so no longer in the picture) who was clingy, greedy, needed a man to give her identity and turned into a vengence demon when wronged by men. Jenny (also dead so no longer in the picture) who was the tool of her family and betrayed Buffy in the name of vengence. Faith, that rock of capability and leadership is still around. She seemed to be having fun taking bubble baths with her new girlfriend/target before that ended suddenly so I don't know where that was going. All the other potentials' sexuality and personalities have been totally unexplored. Who am I missing?

You know what, don't answer. Think what you like, say what you like about me, I'm done.
Sorry, was on my way out the door and didn't get to finish (yay Air Card! I write to you from a moving train). There was a fair bit of attacking things that weren't even said, which is incredibly counter-productive and inflammatory. Also, our backdrop for debate seemed to shift post by post - are we talking just Buffy? All narrative fiction? Modern televisual narrative fiction? I also want to say that I understand where newcj is coming from. Its the same place that some lesbians were coming from when Tara was killed - "That's ME up there being symbolically excised from this narrative." Put yourself in that place and consider what that would mean to you.
I'm largely... well, bored with this overall debate. I made many of the same points about the stereotype, that old "that dyke can play" (pace Dodgeball) mentality, taking hold once Buffy became "bi-curious". I never met such a thing as homophobia, but things like that stereotype, and something GrrrlRomeo said (which I'll come to) more make me wary of another thing that happens to characters in stories like this when they are made "curious" with no real set up. Sorry to spill some Maslow on the thread, but it makes me think that there is an implication that a person who hasn't started second-guessing themselves sexually, or more to the point, *acted* on that, is never going to be fully self-actualized. That's a seriously condescending proposition there, it suggests some gnostic truth is revealed to gay or bisexual people that the poor old breeders will never grasp.

Grrrl's comment I read was this --

I cannot count the number of straight female characters that have never questioned their sexuality.


And my thought was... is there any particular reason why they should? Regardless of the nature of homosexuality (pre-cognitive, biological, discretionary), it is the only product of questioning sexuality in the first place. It would seem that the unambivalently straight person *wouldn't* question this, sensing nothing lacking in their life or tastes, unless being pressed to do so.

Also, as to demography...

3 lesbians, a kinda gay guy and a curious straight woman doesn't push anything that isn't proportionately realistic.


I suppose this depends on the sample size. If you're referring to the pool of characters who've been in, say, more than 10 episodes, it may not be pushing it, but it's definitely less than a coin-toss chance of coming up as a random draw of, say, 10 people in any given heterogeneous community.

EDIT:

Zeitgeist said --

Its the same place that some lesbians were coming from when Tara was killed - "That's ME up there being symbolically excised from this narrative." Put yourself in that place and consider what that would mean to you.


Call me cynical, but I don't think the door of sympathetic outrage would swing both ways if the straight fans of the series were to be deprived, either by change or as Tara was, of the unambiguously straight (Xander, Dawn, Faith) or nominally straight (Buffy, per Joss) characters as was the case when Tara was killed off.

Not to go "off" topic, but these sketches are really cool.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2008-05-29 13:32 ]

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2008-05-29 13:35 ]
Cynical! You're absolutely right (in general, no one gets outraged when the majority is poked/slapped around - perhaps because they don't have as few representations of themselves in media to relate to. Of course with something as strongly experienced as Buffy, all bets are off.), thats why I'm saying that for anyone who finds themselves not understanding newcj's disappointment, one only need put themselves in her place rather than assuming all manner of unkind things about her. We need to be careful in our passionate discussions not to cast aspersions on the people holding opposing opinions.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2008-05-29 13:47 ]
zeitgeist...the thing is...sleeping with a woman is not like death. I know that's not the comparison you were going for, but still...Buffy just slept with a woman, Tara got shot. If the character one relates to sleeps with a woman and it feels negative...there is another issue at work. Especially since Buffy is actually not gay or even bisexual.

Buffy slept with Satsu for reasons other than sexual orientation, reasons that I think fall into the complexity that is Buffy. In relation to Tara that would be like if she got shot, but didn't actually die. ;)

I think a better comparison would be what if Willow slept with a man? Well, she has. And I don't think she's any less of a lesbian or less relatable. I also have no problems relating to straight female characters and I've enjoyed many shows which contained no gay characters at all.

But, I can empathize in that for newjc this is a first and new experience whereas I am accustomed to not seeing myself represented in fiction in terms of sexual orientation. Still, what Joss had done here is unique and limited to a comic book. In the greater scheme of things, this is not a stereotype a generalization or even a trend in fiction.

So now, I am being portrayed as saying that there should not be strong lesbian characters. Where in the world did I say that? Ever? EVER!

I didn't say you said that. I'm not portraying you as anything. I'm just trying to say how it sounds to me when someone objects to strong women even having an inkling feelings towards the same-sex. And also how writing charcters in such a way that they avoid percieved stereotypes can be limiting in addition to creating the opposite stereotype.

I think that the avoidance of making strong female characters to avoid that stereotype has been in play in fiction for quite sometime...and some rather dreadful stories and dialogue have come from it. The femming up or heteronormalization of strong female characters to avoid any inference or implication that they might be lesbians implies fear of something percieved as bad. Indeed, this fear has even touched completely asexual children's characters.

Joss continually subverts fears of stereotypes and homogenization in favor of letting the story play out and letting the characters be complex and unique. And I think the result is characters that are actually relatable to a broader range of people. If you can't relate to this, you can relate to that. Men can relate to the female characters, women can relate to the male characters, gay people relating to straight characters and straight people relating to gay characters.

As an example, there are sexual situations in the series which I fast forward through on DVD. I don't object to it, or take exception...I just don't relate but I think it ought to be in the story for others who do relate to those situations.
And my thought was... is there any particular reason why they should?

King: No. Actually my point was, and perhaps I should've added, I cannot count the number of straight female characters that have never questioned their sexuality. But I can count the number of straight female characters that have, as well the number of lesbian/gay characters. GLAAD does this every TV season, and the numbers are appallingly disproportionate.

Call me cynical, but I don't think the door of sympathetic outrage would swing both ways if the straight fans of the series were to be deprived, either by change or as Tara was, of the unambiguously straight (Xander, Dawn, Faith) or nominally straight (Buffy, per Joss) characters as was the case when Tara was killed off.

No, there would probably not be sympathetic outrage because you're comparing a minority to a majority. It would be like comparing how hispanics get upset when housekeepers are continually portrayed as hispanic vs caucasians being upset when a housekeeper is portrayed as caucasian. Because the vast majority of caucasians aren't portrayed as housekeepers, just as the vast majority of heterosexual characters don't question their sexuality, nor do they have a disproportionately high mortality rate. It is about ratios. And with such a small number of gay characters and gay storylines, it's impossible to have a fair ratio.

Plus we have a difference in POV, where you are looking at it solely in the realm of Buffy and I'm looking at it as Buffy in the realm of fiction in general.
zeitgeist...the thing is...sleeping with a woman is not like death. I know that's not the comparison you were going for, but still...Buffy just slept with a woman, Tara got shot. If the character one relates to sleeps with a woman and it feels negative...there is another issue at work. Especially since Buffy is actually not gay or even bisexual.


Hee! Thanks for understanding that that is not where I was going :) Whether someone is shot or not, the action happened that made that character no longer a gateway for someone into the story. We can discuss in greater the degree of severity of that 'removal' and what it means vis a vis specific orientations, etc., certainly. Whether you or I see Buffy as largely straight, bi, or even gay does not mean that newcj feels the same. It seems as though we generally agree, however. I understand newcj's position, just as I understood the outrage at Tara's death. Are these events equal? No, but the effect when looking at a specific view can be said to be similar. I also say above that when we abstract to the point of being able to generalize, we lose sight of the fact that this isn't about all strong women, this is about one strong woman, Buffy.

For me, it (Buffy/Satsu) doesn't kill her relatability. I relate to all of these characters to greater or lesser extents and those extents vary according to where we are in the storyline and where I am in my life. Rewatching the series highlights for me things that have changed in my own life by way of how and how much I relate to specific characters and situations.

Anyway, love the last part of your post and nothing else to add at the moment. Just trying to tear apart the argument from all angles.

ETA - I see you've hit on some of what I alluded to with majority/minority viewpoint and whether we're talking just Buffy or a broader realm of fiction. In any case, I have no reason to distrust Joss' instincts for his characters and his story. Sign me up for more of this rollercoaster.
If she ends up in a relationship with Xander, after years of saying that she is not interested in him that way, it lends credence to the old saws that women don't really know their own minds and that they will eventually get into a sexual relationship with a man if they work together long enough.

I don't understand how Buffy falling in love with Xander, should it happen, means any one of those things. I think you are projecting things onto the story that are not there.

But the underlying idea that all women want to have sex with other women and it is only their inhibitions that keep them from doing it, still seems at the heart of it.

Again, Buffy is not all women, and she doesn't seem to have issues with inhibitions. She's attracted to one woman, as far as we know. One. We have no evidence that she's generally attracted to women, and the story does not suggest that all female characters are straight until the realize they're not. You're interpreting the addition of a few lesbian characters and the one single-sex attraction experienced by the main, usually straight, character as a general statement about women, and I don't think it is that at all.

Straight women leaders became totally nonexistant.

Actually, this is what continues to keep us all invisible, regardless of who we're attracted to: confusion of a woman's sexuality with her character. Because people view everything else about us in light of that single trait. Buffy has never been about a straight woman leader. That's just what it's about to you personally. And that's a valid point of view, but it's quite different from what the people writing the show consider to be its mission statement. And so your interpretation is now clashing with their vision for the story, because they didn't see that as a fixed and defining trait, although it was rather defining for you.

It's still Buffy. It's still one woman fighting against darkness with help from her friends. Except now she's struggling to lead others like her but unlike her. She's felt some of that darkness, she's fallen in love with the demons she's supposed to kill, she's defied the Watchers who were supposed to guide her but ultimately limited and intimidated her, and she's changed how the Slayer power itself works. She's pretty much redefined everything that once defined her, and I can't think of a stronger general statement about feminism than that. How is any of that diminished by who she sleeps with? She subverts stereotypes on a regular basis, and because her behavior seems to conform to one, it all falls apart?

And how is Buffy matching a dangerous and destructive stereotype about women new, exactly? She's always been a blonde girl who isn't a strong student and routinely screws up the pronunciation of large words. She uses a lot of slang and pop culture references, and she loves to shop, for shoes especially. She was a teenage girl who fell for a mysterious older guy, a college girl who fell for one guy's deceptive charms, a self-righteous young adult who was attracted to a "bad boy" when she felt bad about herself. She's always been and done a few things that could be stereotypical, but that aren't when a rounded character does them while showing other traits that defy the stereotype. This is how stereotypes are subverted. You set it up in the right context, and you erode it.

I don't think this relationship is any different. This was no drunk or casual fling. It seems to have been a one-night stand, but that does not a stereotype make. Neither does interest in women or one woman in particular. From the beginning of this relationship, we've seen it unfold in the context of a complex character dynamic and plotline. It's what Buffy writers do best-- show you a brief bit of a stereotype, and then show you all of the depth that makes a situation anything but. It's actually a good thing when these writers show you a stereotype, because usually you're not going to watch helplessly as they reinforce it. They usually deconstruct it, and in a pretty deliberate fashion. In someone else's hands, Buffy would be no more than a blonde girl with superpowers. She wouldn't be an icon if she wasn't so very subversive.
She subverts stereotypes on a regular basis, and because her behavior seems to conform to one, it all falls apart?


I don't believe that anyone actually said that or at least I didn't interpret anything that I read in that way (I could be wrong). Seems is perhaps the key in that sentence in any case, especially re: subversion of stereotypes from within.

ETA: actually working now, so 'me talk terse now' ;)
Is *that* how this all started? A comparison of Buffy/Xander to Buffy/Satsu? Not the same ballpark, not the same sport. Buffy/Xander has been written with intentional relationship subtext throughout the series (see Greenwalt commentary, "Reptile Boy"; Espenson commentary, "I Was Made to Love You"; Sarah Michelle Gellar interview). They always kept that afloat. And Buffy didn't "throughout the years" comment on this in any regard -- she turned him down in "Prophecy Girl" and cited their friendship as a reason she hadn't fucked him in "Bad Girls". That's pretty much all we've heard from Buffy on Xander. Well, that and her dream about dragging him to bed :)

Buffy/Satsu is irrelevant in this discussion other than to say that, whatever value you put on the surprise or unbelievability or inappropriateness of Buffy/Satsu, call it X, then Buffy/Xander's surprise/unbelievability/inappropriateness < X.

I'm hoping for them to get together -- it's been an elephant in the room each time both of them have been single, they live in each other's hip pocket in Season 8, it'd be very natural for them to fall into each other's arms, and perhaps (again, I would hope) stay there.
KoC, you must have missed the beginning of the thread. Buffy/Satsu is relevant in this discussion because it was cited up front as a reason why the comics were "destroying the themes of the story". The comparison between Buffy/Satsu and Buffy/Xander (in the beginning, at any rate) is that Buffy/Xander was also awarded that dubious honor. I don't believe either claim is valid, but there we are.
Here's some contradictoriness from someone who hasn't actually read the comics yet (so probably shouldn't be posting about them! but... contradictoriness! Not even a word!).

I don't think we need to worry about straight people being underrepresented anywhere, and as a usually-straight-acting woman who also digs women (because what's not to like?) I ought to "get" Buffy hooking up with a woman. When I read the comments here, I find myself agreeing with the "reasoning" of those who defend it, and failing to see the point of those who don't like it. And yet... (here's the contradictoriness) I didn't really like it when I heard about it. Haven't read it and may well love it in context, but I kind of went crinkly-browed "Buffy is hooking up with a girl??" and felt... not thrilled. Why? I really don't know. Maybe part of what I like about Buffy is how conventional she is deep down, such a regular girl (insofar as such a thing exists) in her heart in spite of the weight of the world being on her shoulders. I liked how she was kind of shaken when Willow first revealed her relationship with Tara. I liked how she couldn't fathom her own behavior with Spike. I can totally imagine they may do something cool with this (as with the Spike relationship, which I found fascinating precisely because it was so out of character).

So what is my point? Oh shoot... do I need one of those? I guess I'm just expressing a little sympathy and solidarity for those who for whatever reason didn't like it, while simultaneously saying "yes you're absolutely right" to those telling people like me to chill out and suck it up (but more politely than that).

That's my three and a half cents. I should get the comics, right?
Oh, HELL, yes!


*ahem* Er, that is, you certainly should give them a shot...
(Point? We don' need no steenkin' point.)
As a sidenote and apropos of nothing, I've seen the word 'fuck' in comments more in the past week than in the preceding year.
Fuck that! You're lying!
um...I mean... that's weird, huh? *sheepish*
It is a versatile word. I edit all my favorite expressions out of my comments here, I'll have you know. I figure it's good for me, better for you. ;)
I knew it was going to be funny a mistake to mention it ;)
Oh!
This means that I colud say all those terrible words in Portuguese that has no problem :)
No way, I have access to translation software :)
hmm... I kinda feel like everytime I talk about this the context gets lost. Even I forget the context. It's there when I read the comics though.

As far as Buffy knows, Satsu is the only person in her proximity that's in love with her. And she knows Satsu is in love with her, for sure. I don't think Buffy would be attracted to Satsu if that wasn't the case, because it wouldn't have crossed her mind. But now that it has crossed her mind, she considered it.

(That there might've been someone else in the room that could've awakened her is beside the point. What Buffy believes and what the reader believes is two different things.)

It's on theme because there is always a reason Buffy shouldn't get involved with the people she has.

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