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July 11 2008

"I need a witch, I need a librarian". James Marsters talks about his idea for a Spike movie and his lack of love for the Potentials. All this and much more.

"my kids"? I thought he had just the one.
Don't want to be that guy, but Spike got more than enough face time in Season Seven, imo. I would say, and I think even SMG said, that Xander deserved a better farewell, especially in the finale. Love Spike and all, and I know I'm in the minority, but I feel like he became the Wolverine of the Buffyverse, cuter in small doses, but a bit much after a while.

Regardless, I appreciate James' bluntness in his answers. He isn't giving watered-down, empty answers to please any and everyone. He says what he feels.
I was never too big on the potentials myself. Most of them just annoyed me.
Well, I didn't even know he had a child. News to me.

Anyways, I wasn't a fan that much of the Potentials either. I mean it was nice to know that Buffy & Faith weren't alone in this and if it wasn't for those girls Buffy or Faith (maybe both) would've been dead, but they annoyed me as well and they seemed childish.

I agree CowboyCliche, I really thought Xander should've gotten a better farewell. After all he is the heart of the show.
The end of that show was not about Spike, it was about the Potentials. I would have liked the Potentials not to have been on the show. Lovely women, but I would have liked [Spike] to have chosen to sacrifice himself.


What? He didn't choose to sacrifice himself? Did we watch the same show? S7 to me was largely about Buffy losing her grip and then getting her groove back and Spike becoming a triumphant, good man choosing to sacrifice himself for the greater good in spite of his monstrous past. Sure the potentials crowded out some of what that could've meant, but... what? Also:

he’s a loser


Not sure that I would ever describe Spike that way. Hmm.
zeitgeist said:

S7 to me was largely about Buffy losing her grip and then getting her groove back and Spike becoming a triumphant, good man choosing to sacrifice himself for the greater good in spite of his monstrous past.


So very well-put; I completely agree.

The potentials taking up so much screen time definitely frustrated me, though I didn't think they took much away from Spike at all. It was the other major characters who suffered most from the potentials' presence. I would have liked to have seen more of Willow to try to come to terms with the fallout of of her fall at the end of S6--that was barely acknowledged. I would have liked for Xander to do something. I would have liked to see more of Dawn (though I'm probably in the minority in that); she was just beginning to get truly interesting and there were lots of places they could have gone with her character. Spike was, I thought, just about the only major character besides Buffy who didn't get robbed of screen time and then he also got an awesome death scene full of beautiful self-sacrifice as well.
Dawn in season seven is great. I'm very glad they took the make-her-like-school-like-Willow-did route. It made her more interesting and more useful. She was actually kinda cool for parts of that season. Too bad there wasn't more of her.
Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I was thinking, zeitgeist. It's great that James Marsters gives such honest answers in interviews, but he does sometimes leave me scratching my head. Spot on about Xander though. ;)

[ edited by cypher on 2008-07-10 23:20 ]
Yeah, nice re: Xander :). Count me in for the "Suprisingly, we actually could've used more of Dawn." camp. In re-watching this last time I really appreciated MT/Dawn way more. She was whiny and annoying when she was meant to be and slowly showed growth and she was becoming one hell of a character/young woman.
I agree, Lirazel. The potentials took away from the main characters. I also agree with James Marsters (and cherish his bluntness) that season 7 would have been better without the potentials. From the moment that I learned the series would end, I hoped to see the series return to its roots--the central four. And I got that in the last 10 minutes or so (DVD time) of the very last episode when Buffy, Giles, Xander, and Willow were in a circle talking about random things--much like they were in the very first episode. Gosh, how I wish season 7 would have been a true build up to that scene! And wouldn't it have been nice if Buffy would have kept her promise to Dawn at the end of season 6 and trained her to be mini-Buffy--a passing of the torch to someone I actually cared about. Oh, wishful thinking! Still, I liked some of the potentials, and I think that Spike got enough screen time, so Mr. Marsters shouldn't be complaining.

P.S. The last episode was just awesome overall!
To Melanie: He's the legal guardian of his niece.
I agree, zeitgeist. Add me to the "Surprisingly, we could've used more of Dawn" camp. :-)
Although Xander didn't get as much screen time as he should have the more mature Xander and his relationships to the other Scoobs (particularly with Buffy and Dawn) made S7 Xander probably my favourite season for that character.

I know a lot of people felt like the finale was All About Spike but for me Spike's arc in S7 is actually all about Buffy. The season is about power and Buffy's own feelings of disconnect. The reason Spike can zap the vamps in the end is due to Buffy's connection with him, her belief in him and how she empowered him with that belief through the whole of S7. She is the only reason that he's there at all. Her ability to forgive, connect, (love if you take that) and empower (the Potentials as well in a more obvious way) saves the world.

James’ comment may be to do with his complaint before about Spike not going down fighting. For me Spike had a pretty good idea there was a big chance of him dying when he took the amulet.

[ edited by Leaf on 2008-07-10 23:41 ]
I think I'm in the minority. *shifts eyes worriedly*

I really liked the Potentials, with the exceptions of Rona and Kennedy. I especially loved the beginning episodes where Buffy was dreaming of the Potentials getting killed.

I was kind of getting sick of Spike, to be honest, and his death really didn't affect me all that much. *nervous shifty eyes*

And yes, I would have loved more Dawn, as well as more Xander. Definitely more Xander.
Hahah yeah zeitgeist I thought that was an odd thing to say too--Spike (who is my favorite character) was most definitely featured enough in season 7 and most definitely chose to sacrifice himself in the finale.

James has a son (from his previous marriage I believe) as well as legal custody of his niece.


[ edited by wytchcroft on 2008-07-16 18:08 ]
The Potentials could be a bit of a drag... but Joss was building towards the now-classic enSlayering of all of them. That was such a perfect ending that it had to happen, and in order to make it work at least some Potentials had to get some screen time. (Personally I was rather fond of Amanda.) Also, as they were dealing with the nature of Slayerhood, Faith had to come back too, so things were getting a bit crowded as it was.

What I think is, "Chosen" might have done better as a two-parter, but frankly, Joss knew it couldn't be one long cavalcade of goodbyes, and so that final circle scene ("The Earth is definitely doomed") was a pretty good balance.

For me Spike's finest hour came an episode or two earlier, in his magnificent speech to Buffy, and also his sacrifice feels lessened somehow by his return on Angel -- so Marsters' complaints, while understandable, don't bug me much.
He got the right answer on the Xander question for the right reason -- Spike is lighter. Xander has no investment in either of those guys.

Surprised to hear him vocal about the Potentials; considering the backlash blitzkrieg I've seen thrown at Sarah over having an opinion on the storylines, and seeing a quote once of James saying something to the effect of the actor just being an instrument of the writer, I wouldn't have guessed he'd be willing to be that candid.

I wonder exactly what "dangerous" things he thought might get voiced at Paley? Too bad it wasn't formatted to filter out the banal nonsense of "Angel or Spike?" and "what's on your iPod?"
From my side, it was kind of a letdown – there were good questions, but we didn’t say anything really dangerous. Well, Seth [Green] did. I felt like we were trying to protect something. I felt like the audience was ready, but we weren’t.

Nicholas Brendan & SMG's secret lovechild perhaps?

I wonder what he's talking about...
Personally, I had way more than enough of Spike in Season Seven. I actually liked the character, but just about OD'd on him before the end of Season Six. I liked several of the Potentials, too - including Kennedy - and, while more core Scoobyage (Scoobiage? Scoobage? Whatever...) would have been great, if the choice was between the Potentials and More Spike, I'm happy it went the way it did.
What dangerous things at Paley, KOC? Well, to start, a real discussion about how the loss of Tara affected people. That'd be dangerous, and to my knowledge has never really taken place. I appreciate James' bluntness here more than I can say. For once, some non-diplomatic answers.

As to the Potentials, I did not like them. And for those that did not, not to worry- S8 ought to get rid of them. :-)
I think the big problem about having the Buffy Reunion at the Paley Festival is that it should have been two hours, or even three. That could have led to some "dangerous questions". As for his opinion about the Potentials, maybe they should have been more interesting, like Vi. Adding Oz into the mix would have been great, too. Maybe add some potential Watchers, too. Otherwise, James has some interesting comments there.
Yeah, place me in the "wondering what he meant" department as well. Altough, to be fair, there are quite a lot of divisive topics in our fandom to this day. Still, I'm not sure that those need to be adressed in any way by the creators and actors and are maybe best left to the fandom itself.

Also: James was hoping Spike would become a big bad? Well, him and me both, then. I've always preferred the 'evil-with-just-a-tiny-twist-of-screwed-up-humanity' Spike of S2. Certainly one of my favorite villains of the series, ever. I never liked the 'spike being chipped' storyline or the build-up to him getting his soul. I know it's a topic that's been beaten to death in this fandom and something that's very divisive, so please don't read this as anything other than the opinion of one single fan: but despite everything I've read and heard on the topic, I still don't see the Spike of season 2 turning into the Spike of seasons 4 to 6 with just the addition of a simple chip-in-the-head and a newfound healthy Buffy obsession. It was only once he had a soul, that the character started to make sense to me again.

As for James' complaints about Spike's role in S7 - that I don't get. Yes, it may have been a long stretch of basements and caves for him, but what happened felt true to Spike's new re-souled self and he got more than enough room for his final development to boot. Having said that, I did prefer him in S5 of Angel. At first I was skeptical of having him there (and a little afraid that it would become 'The Spike Show'), but his character fit right in there and even made the season better.

And yes, I too would have liked more to do for Xander and more of a focus on the core scoobies who'd started out that seven year journey together (one of the reason's I adore that scene in 'Chosen'). I did happen to like the potentials as characters, but in season seven, where the amount of characters battling for screen time was getting to nearly-ridiculous levels, we maybe could've done without them.

But, in the end, the season we got was very true to the empowering theme of Buffy overall, so I'm at peace with the choices made, even though I probably would have made different ones.
James Marsters - the ultimate whiny Spike fangirl.
lol. Amen to that.
I think the Potentials were necessary - thematically, structurally, dramatically. They filled a number of important functions. They increased Buffy's isolation, for one, which was a crucial component of the whole Buffy-losing-her-grip arc. Faith's remark that she'd never felt so alone when she took command is an illustration of that. The loneliness and isolation had to be so great that Buffy would either buckle or come up with a new paradigm. Staying in her familar role of superb, improvising, group leader of the scoobies wouldn't accomplish that. Thinking she had to be a general for this group of young women, and feeling the responsibility for every loss, was what forced her to see that that patriarchal way of wielding power was a dead end.

The Potentials were also the personification of the empowerment that the whole season was about. They had to be green, naive, unformed, reluctant, or even rebellious, like Rona and Kennedy (who were hardly that different than S1 Buffy, by the way), annoying as that may have been to some. That way, as they were formed into seasoned fighters, their final fight alongside Buffy could potently, no pun intended, illustrate the theme of shared power.

I'd also point out that they didn't even appear until the tenth episode, I believe, or about half-way through the season. I agree that the core scoobs didn't get enough time in the latter half, but there were other characters who contributed to that who haven't been mentioned, and weren't thematically necessary, unlike the Potentials. Not only that, they took up two or three episodes worth of time. I'm speaking of Robin Wood and Andrew.

I loved Principal Wood and I see why the writers fell in love with him, too. But, as originally conceived, he was to die early. With him gone soon, there'd have been no faux-romance with Buffy, no faux-mystery as to why he's burying Jonathan's body, and no romance with Faith, all of which could have led to more time spent on the scoobs. Giles would have had to take on eliminating Spike on his own, thus giving the writers more time with his motivations and how, perhaps, killing Ben and seeing the Council destroyed had sent him down this road and into conflict with Buffy.

With Andrew simply staying gone after killing Jonathan, except perhaps for getting his comeuppance at some point, you'd have again freed up far more time. This would have been good for Xander, especially, since Andrew usurped his role as the main source of humor in an ep. Xander could also then have spent more time with Dawn and/or Anya.

So, though Wood and Andrew were part of a couple of good episodes, LMPTM could have easily been re-structured without Wood and the only crucial loss would have been Storyteller. I for one would have preferred that. The emotional pay-offs we could have gotten with more focus on the core group could have resulted in far less dissatisfaction with the season as a whole.

[ edited by shambleau on 2008-07-11 02:31 ]
Way to raise the level of the commentary (posted prior to Shambleu's comments).

[ edited by baxter on 2008-07-11 02:22 ]
Since the Potentials are a metaphor for feminism -- for the heroic capacity of women -- I think they were what season seven was about. For me, Kennedy was the one who emerged the most as an individual, with an arc of her own, well-defined individual goals, and the interesting personality strength/weakness of brattiness. Others, like Vi and Amanda, were likable, but tended not to have so much individual goals as collective ones (don't get killed, learn how not to get killed, get somewhat killed, kick Buffy out, nearly get killed, accept Buffy back, get empowered by someone powerful and do a bit of demon-killing while the amulet warms up to finish the job).

Loving the Potentials more in Season 8. Satsu's decision to fight for the right to fight was important, as was her decision to take charge of the Japanese home office and step out of Buffy's shadow. And Kennedy's recent "Back off, B" moment was classic -- harsh, but not unfair. Buffy's still the hero, but the Potentials can't find the hero in themselves simply by following orders. That's not how Buffy found the hero in herself.

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-07-11 02:22 ]
Be nice.

Well, to start, a real discussion about how the loss of Tara affected people.


I could've placed money on you saying that ;). We certainly haven't discussed that enough as a fandom >:>. Or are you saying it hasn't been brought up in an interactive enough way with Joss? As opposed to the many interviews and message board discussions?
I guess I'm a bit behind, but what dangerous things is he referring to Seth Green saying?
I remember James saying something to the effect of wishing that he had sacrificed himself for something greater overall, and feeling as though he was doing more than what he ended up doing.

In older interviews, immediately after the show ended, he used to say that he knew it was supposed to be about the potentials, and he was totally okay with that, even though he was a bit disappointed about the way Spike went out.

In more recent interviews he's been more vocal in saying that he wishes Spike would've been more involved in it somehow, played a greater part in saving the world.

In this interview, from a Q&A in Toronto, in 2005:

"I was not happy with the way it ended on Buffy… Because Joss came in to direct the show. And I was told that I was going to die saving the world, and I thought "This time, he's going to use me." Cause every single time Joss came in to write or direct an episode, my character was sidelined, off to a half day. And I know I wasn't part of his original, kind of thought for the show, so I kind of understood. But I really thought that when I was going to save the world, we would be working together more. And, when I got the script, it really was a day of work. So I was really kind of depressed about that. Cause it was my last chance to work with him as far as I knew."
I see. To me, Spike saved the world, though. Willow did a neat trick, but I think that Spike is what saved the world.
And to everyone questioning what he meant with the dangerous comment, James has been saying that he wishes people had been more honest and less shy about their answers. I think maybe he felt the cast held back too much, whereas Seth was just throwing out random stuff here and there.

Basically, everyone was just too "safe" and gave too many generic answers, perhaps. Then again, yes, not all of the questions gave them the opportunity to really give those kinds of answers.
"We never saw Spike proactively say, ‘I want that’"

.... and again I'm left wondering if JM ever really understood the character that he was playing - certainly not in the way I understand him. For the record, I liked the potentials, loved season seven, loved Spike in season seven and though his end was very self-sacrificing.
Yeah, there aren't a lot of dangerous answers to "What's on your iPod?". Actually I wasn't going to speculatively post a few dangerous answers to that, but I'm going to stay on topic instead. I understand the want to cut Wood/Andrew as not thematically necessary to the overall arc, but I feel that their contributions had important resonance for sub-themes of the final season and the show overall. Why kill off misguided Andrew when Darth Rosenberg gets a vacation to England and then all is forgiven? Wood kept us guessing for a bit and then helped contribute resonance to "Slaying is a lonely/isolated gig" amongst other things.
And now he's not being dangerous, he's being a dick. And while that doesn't raise the level of discourse, it needs to be said.
crossoverman - are you calling James a dick? If so, you'll need to consider this a warning to please not hurl personal insults around. You could have said what you were trying to say in a more polite way.
Zeitgeist, you could kill off "misguided" Andrew, and spend that time on not giving Darth Rosenberg a free pass, for one. He'd mostly been a villain anyway, and one who actually admitted that he knew the First was lying to him and that what he did was wrong.

I agree about Willow being forgiven too easily and the psychological ramifications of her actions being given short shrift. It was a major disappointment for me in S7, although I'm beginning to think that is going to be remedied in S8.
He was only a villain in the sense that he let himself be lead along by Warren and the First. Is that still wrong? Absolutely. But its way more understandable/forgivable than some of the villians we're given. I hope that you are right about Willow in S8 (my favorite character the first time through watching Buffy, decidedly not on rewatch).
I think Marsters is too fixated on the 'shiny bauble at the end' bit of his character's heroism. To me, it was the other moments of S7 - coming home with the soul he won to honor and support a previously abusive lover, defending Buffy and helping to re-purpose her when all her 'dear ones' had abandoned her and tossed her out of her home, keeping faith as her warrior despite the obstacles since she was 'not ready for him to be gone' - that were his marks of heroism. I didn't count screen time but those are the pieces of S7 I recall years later, not the potentials' scenes.
Baxter-quite well said.
I always felt that basically season 7 in & of itself needed to be a two-parter. It's one beautiful coherent story, but it's sort of like a great movie version of a long & much more intricate book.
Also, it needed Caleb to show up sooner. The Ubervamps just didn't cut it. And while I think I, too, would have rearranged some time priorities in S7, I'd swap some of the "Spike's crazy/chained in a cave/chained various other places" for some decent character development of... oh, anyone, really. There's this whole middle bit of Season 7 that just sort of sags.

I wouldn't sacrifice Wood, however. Awesome character. And we simply can't do without "Storyteller," which has some real meat to it under the funny voice-overs.
Yo, ZG, yes, I am predictable, but that really is the albatross hanging out there (whoa, shades of Malcolm Reynolds!). You asked: "I could've placed money on you saying that ;). We certainly haven't discussed that enough as a fandom >:>. Or are you saying it hasn't been brought up in an interactive enough way with Joss? As opposed to the many interviews and message board discussions?" And my answer is, yes. :-) There is a reason this remains an issue, and I am not the reason why. :-)

As to other issues, I read JM as really just saying, look, I want to work; I don;t just want to show up for a day and that's it. I sort of understand that, because that is how I feel about work. When I go in, I want to give everything I have every day. What we do know about JM is that he has always taken his acting very seriously, and he has always given thoughtful answers to questions about what he does. Much more so than just about any other Buffy actor I can think of, outside of maybe Amber Benson, and she often quips her way through interviews. So I read his answers as honest answers to things he has thought about deeply. I do not read them as harsh criticisms.

As to the potentials, I still feel the focus was all wrong in S7. I feel that new writers felt that they had to do something different, and so they did- they focused on players that long-time fans found less intriguing- Andrew, Wood, Kennedy (honestly, by Joss's admission a late add due to the Tara fall-out), and maybe a little Vi- but this was at the expense of established characters who resonated with fans. Xander was left in the cold, really, and Willow was diminished in many ways, and Spike was left crazy for a long-time and we could not identify with him. And Buffy was spouting Bushisms, while in the end she ended up activating a lot of people who were given no real choice in the matter, with potentially dire repercussions (Dana, anyone, and I don't mean me. :-)).

And I really, really agree with shambleau about the failure to address Willow, her being forgiven too easily, etc. This is the single largest failure I see in S7. And the way things seem to be going in S8, well, not sure if it ever will.

(In the end, we are left knowing that Willow cast a spell that activated all the potentials- again, I note, against their will). And for that, she goes white, leading Kennedy to state that she is a goddess. Whether she is or is not we still do not know. But we do know that magic is now out of whack, so that spell Willow cast in the end might not have been a good thing to do at all- and if so, that casts a large doubt on the message of S7, the whole idea of female empowerment. This is a dangerous road here).

(And gearing up for RAGBRAI at the end of next week, any Iowans or midwesterners! Time to get the chammy butter! If you know what I mean, and I think you do.) :-)
There is a reason this remains an issue, and I am not the reason why.

It doesn't remain an issue. It might remain a flaw in a television show that finished five years ago, but it's not really an issue any longer.

Except when you continue to make it an issue... particularly in a thread that has nothing whatsoever to do with Tara.

[ edited by crossoverman on 2008-07-11 04:53 ]
ManEnoughToAdmiIt, agreed on Spike. And if Joss was going to jettison the ubervamps-as-superpowerful aspect in the finale, just because he was too tired to think of a way to get around that, then yeah, Caleb should have been brought in earlier. He was a much cooler character, evil preacher cliche notwithstanding.

Still think someone had to go because of the character glut, and Wood and Andrew should have been sacrificed for the greater good of the Buffyverse, no matter how bitter the loss.

Why, dropping them is practically Becoming 2 writ large, so it's thematically appropriate, too!

Dana5140, there is no evidence whatsoever that all the potentials were activated against their will. Without their consent is not the same thing. Not only did every potential in the room with Buffy agree to it, 500 of the ones not consulted joined up. And the others are perfectly free to never use their powers at all. They have THAT choice and presumably, that's what most of the remaining slayers are doing.

Nor does the idea of female empowerment have to be a completely good thing. In fact, it follows from having the choices that power brings that it will be a double-edged sword. Males have been abusing their power for millenia, but no one thinks that that means they shouldn't be empowered, so I don't see how that clouds the message of S7.
(In the end, we are left knowing that Willow cast a spell that activated all the potentials- again, I note, against their will).

I fail to see how giving a bunch of women strength is something that requires their consent. You're not forcing them to use that strength if they don't want it, and as the comics have shown, they're not forcing the slayers to fight if they're not interested. I don't really see how this is any different from, say, giving women the right to vote. Sure, some of them may not have been interested, or may not have wanted to--and they weren't forced to.

Unless I'm misunderstanding you. In which case, my apologies.

On the topic of James's interview... I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm glad that he was honest about how he felt. On the other... I don't like it when people are discontent with the state of something :(
Keeping an eye out on the in-fighting there . . .

I think JM might be right in suggesting that it was the on-stage folk at the Reunion who were not "ready" to be dangerous; on the other hand, I don't believe that a large disparate group of 12? 13? people, including a creator, several writers, and a bunch of cast members of differing levels of involvement, interest, and eloquence, is ever going to provide danger or great searing insight at an event of this kind.

The Reunion was essentially a celebration of the show, and not a place to get brutally honest answers about the most controversial issues. That's one reason why I didn't mind (wow, I said it again) the audience questions - because, essentially, there are relatively few inquiries that every guest could respond to other than questions along the lines of: what was your favorite moment/memory/scene/sweater? Furthermore, if you asked, why did X character behave that way in that scene or episode?, or even deeper questions about the show's arc or meaning, chances are the actor wouldn't know what you were talking about, remember, or have a strong opinion about it (we're the fans, they do this for a living, and I don't think they go back and rewatch eps endlessly like we do). I get James' frustration, but I don't know that it could have worked out any differently. For that you need a smaller group, a more intimate setting, and a few strong drinks. :-)
Just curious. Is it actually acceptable to refer to the actors or crew on the show as "ultimate whiny fangirls" or dicks?
I thought this was a different kind of site.
I don't read any of this interview as being particularly subversive. Rather, it sounds like JM was in somewhat of a flippant mood, and we may just be analyzing his comments too much.
But here goes, anyway.

As for the reunion, it sounds like the actors are still protective of their characters and their time on the show, which is kinda nice. James obviously wanted to get a few things off his (no longer naked?) chest, but didn't feel it was the right context. Or, he could be peeved as he couldn't get a word in during the limited time the panel ran for.

I always liked Big Bad Spike more than whining, Buffy-whipped Spike. That's why I loved his turn in 'As You Were', you can neuter a bad guy, surround him with goodness but you can't inherently change their nature. Thus, actor interpretation aside, when he eventually chose to wear the amulet, he did make the sacrifice after all. (Alternate ending- Faith in flames would have been an absolute corker and still freed up Spike for S5 of 'Angel'. Which we all knew was happening, anyway, thus the 'power' of the sacrifice was, for me at least, kind of negated.)

Given that the end of S7 was about sharing power, it would have been a little dodgy to be Potential-free. They were a means to an end and a lead-in to S8. But I never did understand why Dawn, made from Slayer blood with all it's inherent mystical properties, was never a Slayer herself.

I grew to like Xander less and less and I always felt his story was kind of done. (Shock revelation- I didn't even miss him in CWDP!) I would have liked to have seen HIM on the outer over the whole 'Willow says kick his ass' biz, which was hinted at, but quickly glossed over. He could have been off rounding up the Potentials and training them to make a last minute surprise army for Buffy, thus redeeming himself and making a nice segue into his role in the S8 comic. It would have freed up room for the notorious 'fat suit' epi as, Andrew aside, S7 was lacking in funny. Also the famed Tara 'Shoe Wish' one. (That's just for you, Dana 5140.)

And added bonus, no live-in Potentials would have prevented the rise of 'Loves-To-Lecture-Buffy'!
Just curious. Is it actually acceptable to refer to the actors or crew on the show as "ultimate whiny fangirls" or dicks?
I thought this was a different kind of site.


You may have seen me warn him for that; it is absolutely not acceptable.
I've seen a few videos of James talking extemporaneously at conventions in responding to fan questions, and he can really be out there. I was kind of like, "Whoa," at one thing he was talking about, something really personal. So I don't see anything very egotistical or malicious about what he was saying in the Sci-Fi article. Just seems like James. And the man has a right to his opinion. It seems the Paleyfest Reunion was a bit on the bland side, but when I think about whether I would want there to be a down and dirty discussion of things that went on, personal revelations and so on, my mind automatically screeches to a stop, shrieking, "No! Don't destroy the mystery that exists."

I just hope James never writes a Barbara Walters tell-all (yes, I'm joking). :-)

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-07-11 05:45 ]
Aside from the iPod question, I thought the Paleyfest Reunion was pretty interesting. There were simply too many panelists and not enough time.

As for what JM said in this interview...well, he's not the only Jossverse actor who's expressed displeasure or concern over storylines at one time or another. A short list off the top of my head of the actors who've done the same would include Seth Green, Robia La Morte, Amber Benson and Christian Kane.
Could you give more detail about Seth Green's? I haven't heard anything about this.
"It makes me appreciate that you guys are letting your freak out! I had a lot of the best times of my life with Spock ears [at conventions]. There are a lot of intelligent, interesting, wonderfully weird people in my fan base."

He *so* rawks my socks. :)
Two observations: one, this is a convention panel -- it says right at the start "talking with the audience" -- not an interview, so Mr. Marsters is indeed in convention panel mode.

Two, I took it from the context of these comments and previous other interviews that what he means about Spike not sacrificing himself is that Spike took the amulet not knowing *what* it did. He knew it was dangerous, but not lethal. I think he meant that he'd rather Spike make an informed, intentional choice to sacrifice himself rather than, as it were, going with the flow once that sacrifice was in motion.

[ edited by Shapenew on 2008-07-11 07:50 ]
Good point, Shapenew. There is an important difference there, isn't it?

(And one final S7 comment before I go crazy and fall asleep: a lot of BtVS gets better on a re-watch. Might be there's gold in that season we're overlooking.)
ManEnoughToAdmitIt, I think that in interviews with the press, interviewees -- whoever they are and whatever they are being interviewed about -- tend to think about how it will look in print or on the TV screen, whereas people appearing at a convention panel tend to be more aware of how comments will go over at that moment. Also, the interview format, particularly one-on-one, lends itself more to follow-up questions, including the ever-popular "What did you mean by that last answer?", whereas at convention panels, it's more likely the next question will be totally unrelated, because whoever got up to ask the next question wants to ask whatever originally got him or her on their feet to ask it, rather than thinking, "I'd better try to get clarification on that quote ..."

Or did you mean the distinction about the sacrifice was the important difference? :)
I found the thing about Joss underusing Spike in "his" episodes, since Spike always had such great stuff in Joss' episodes (though he is MIA in "The Body") but: he's got plenty of fun in "Hush", reveals Tara's un-demon-ness in "Family", he's got some speechiness and heroism in "The Gift", he saves the day in "Once More With Feeling", and yeah, for serious, gets to save the world in "Chosen."

I dunno, just saying.
Furthermore, if you asked, why did X character behave that way in that scene or episode?, or even deeper questions about the show's arc or meaning, chances are the actor wouldn't know what you were talking about...

Now, granted my experience of actors is with theater actors when I was growing up, almost all of whom were capable of engaging in precisely that sort of conversation, but in all honesty I'd rather not even attempt to get into a discussion with any actor if they (the actors) are of the type you describe there. How boring.

Or, maybe that's just me. I'd far and away rather have a conversation with an actor, or a writer, about the creative end of things, about precisely things like "why did X character behave that way" or "the show's arc or meaning", and I'd have zero interest in knowing what's on their iPod or getting them to sign my DVDs. Perhaps that preference blinds me to not all actors being like the ones I grew up with.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-11 08:39 ]
Is it weird that my vision of a Spike spin off wasn't too far off what JM said? (Only mine had Illyria as sidekick.)
I completely agree with James about the Spike comment. Spike ended up being Buffys champion, and wearing that amulet (which nobody had any idea about, really) when they opened the hellmouth with no actual plan besides just staking the countless amount of ybervamps (one of which proved to almost be a match for Buffy earlier...).

Now, spike wore the amulet, joined the fight, but he didn't choose the sacrifice, it just happened and he accepted it as an afterthought. Ended saving the world as the original plan was clearly failing and the übervamps were overwhelming the slayers, but there was no choise on the action.
Sometimes my beloved Buffy fandom makes me so happy...

Sometimes, like now, it makes me die a little inside. I dont really want to explain why.
To me, Spike saved the world, though. Willow did a neat trick, but I think that Spike is what saved the world.

Interesting. I still maintain that Buffy saved the world (again ?! Jeez, talk about hogging the limelight ;) when she (literally) stood in the face of evil after The First delivered what would, to others, probably be a mortal wound (and even to a Slayer it was arguably a "lay down" wound i.e. she could have just quit there and then, given up the ghost, without being seen as defective or cowardly).

I don't think the plan was "clearly failing", the tide had turned back in the Slayers' favour - after Buffy stands we see Faith fight off her multiple attackers, we see a couple of the Potentiateds kill their uber-vamps and, just as important, the music swells ;). Would they have won as quickly ? Absolutely not - I could even envision a long drawn out war where other Slayers were needed to come and defend the hellmouth - but they'd still have won IMO.

(really, if the whole thing led up to them needing to be saved by a man with a very deus ex-ish device then, for me, The Message would have been pretty much cast aside. Course, the amulet might well have been charged by the Slayers' kills or even by Buffy's stand so maybe The Message was about equality in the true sense i.e. helping each other and complementing each others' frailties)

And I can understand JM's comments, even if I don't agree (since for me Spike's arc is second - some days ;) - only to Wesley's as far as Whedonverse journeys go) and certainly respect his honesty. It's a different bag of kettles when you're in the day to day making of the show, filming scenes out of order etc. He probably has a fairly different view of Spike's arc than we, with our 7 year, long game overview might.
Re: James' contention that Joss tended to underuse him in his scripts, I think it is somewhat true but incomplete. The Joss episodes from season four onwards included "Who Are You," "Restless," "Family," and "Lessons" which all had a small amount of Spike scenes (though I would argue the ones there were pivotal), and "The Body" which included none at all. For the most part, there are simple reasons for this: "Family" and "Who Are You" had tight focuses on Tara and Faith respectively, "Restless" sidelined everyone besides the Core Four, "Lessons" saved his reveal for the end, and I think it's quite reasonable to expect him not to appear in "The Body." "Hush," "The Gift" and "Once More, With Feeling" were all pretty ensemble-y, so no real problems there.

The thing about "Chosen," is that it was a very, very Buffy-centric episode--Spike probably had the second most material of any character, but it was still less than James might have been used to.

So I understand where James is coming from, but I think that Joss still does understand and write Spike incredibly well; even if the quantity isn't there, the quality is.

On another note, I agree with many of the criticisms of season seven, but want to chime in to say that Wood and Andrew were strong contributions. I think the season probably could have stood a lot more explicit structuring; Spike got a lot of material later in the season, but started it just being crazy in the basement. Willow had terrific, quiet material early on but her darkness was never really dealt with after "The Killer in Me." Xander was really cool in season seven, but didn't have much to do. And so on. A lot of these are being dealt with in Season Eight, in my opinion, and I do think that the Willow material is building in the right direction. Her speech to Kennedy in the flashbacks of "Anywhere But Here" was one of the strongest and most revelatory Willow moments since the end of S6.
I understand what James is saying about Spike not being able to choose. It would have been more of a heroic moment for Spike if he had known what the amulet did, and chances are, he would have chosen to wear it anyway. That line of thinking ties in with the "journey of the hero".

On the other hand, Spike had a habit of throwing himself into the fray without knowing how things would turn out, or just deviating suddenly from whatever plan he had carefully worked out. So again, he would have chosen to wear the amulet.

Either way, Spike helps save the world and is a hero. I remember watching that final episode with my son, and we were both devistated that Spike died, but also in awe at the sacrifice. At the time, it worked. It's only afterwards, when I understood how deeply involved Wolfram and Hart were in all the workings of evil and how easily Lindsey managed to manipulate the return of Spike, that it bothered me that so little was known or explained. If anything was glossed over, it was that.

[ edited by MysticSlug on 2008-07-11 11:51 ]
I pretty much watched season seven for Spike's story, because the Potentials drove me crazy. They sucked up time for the rest of the cast. And I still don't find the end 'empowering' as a woman. A bunch of girls got super-powers, and a bunch didn't. I guess it's supposed to be a metaphor, but it doesn't work for me.

I think by James means he wanted self-sacrifice for Spike in a more pro-active way - not putting on a necklace that nobody knew what would do, and standing there.
Shapenew got it right. Spike had no idea that his end was going to be in a fiery dusting via gaudy amulet. I don’t think Spike ever minded in his vampire years to die (be it for the good, the bad or just for the hell of it)– if it was going down fighting with fist and fang. We all still recall his comments to Angel in the final fight about not wanting any amulets.

First off, I'm not wearing any amulets. No bracelets, broaches, beads, pendants, pins, or rings.


I think he died a heroic death. But, taking a moment to precariously place my self in Spike’s boots, it was really a sad death. Poignant for his fans (and maybe Buffy) but I think he was standing there, can’t move because well, he can’t – thinking “Bloody hell, I signed up for a fight, not to stand and look pretty as I burn in a heavenly glow”.

Btw, I hated how the potentials took so much time from everyone. So much ‘potential’ storylines were driven out: I like my chars bonding. I needed them to bond. *sniff*
Xander would probably make it look like he was saving Spike but then let go of his hand as he was pulling him up, dropping him on Angel in the process. Why save one when he could let both drop. ;)

I get what James was saying about the choice Spike didn't have in the way the story played out. He went into the situation knowing the amulet was dangerous but I'm certain he had planned to walk away from the battle given half a chance. If it had been written that whoever wore the amulet knew they wouldn't be coming back, no matter what, it would have been a completely different deal for the character to choose to make that sacrifice.

I've always believed that the Potentials were a mistake, but not so much in relation to Spike's role in season seven. I'm as big a Spike fan as there is. Frankly he was the reason I loved the Buffyverse as much as I did and the reason I still refer to "Angel the Series" as "Spike's Sire Gets His Own Show Until Spike Is Free To Come To LA In Season Five" (just kidding, Angel fans ;)). Even so, I think season seven of Buffy was very kind to the character of Spike and his fanbase. Xander, Anya and Dawn were really the characters that suffered with the arrival of the Potentials.

Interesting that James still feels so protective of Spike the character to the point where he is afraid to read ATF. It's nice that he still cares so much about the role. I'm happy to be proven wrong but my instinct is that if DB were asked the same question about Angel in the comics, he would be far less inclined to care about what they do with his old character. Again, could be wrong, but I'd be interested to hear his opinion either way.

And, James, I know you are still kidding but no matter how often you mention it, your Spike movie plot idea sucks. ;)
Interesting. I still maintain that Buffy saved the world (again ?! Jeez, talk about hogging the limelight ;) when she (literally) stood in the face of evil after The First delivered what would, to others, probably be a mortal wound (and even to a Slayer it was arguably a "lay down" wound i.e. she could have just quit there and then, given up the ghost, without being seen as defective or cowardly).


Well, they certainly all contributed, but I didn't see a limited number of Slayer wannabes closing the Hellmouth, I saw them them slowly getting overrun. I like the idea about the Slayers somehow charging the amulet and agree that a man saving everything with a deus ex machina at the last moment is a little bit counter to the story. However, he was just closing it off (and I don't think a man helping finish things up, a sort of balance of power, endangered the message of empowerment and subverion of patriarchal power structure that came from the 'shared power' choice that Buffy made and Willow helped enact -- both women, those two), something he (I believe) chose to do because of where he'd come to in his journey and I think he made that sacrifice largely because of who Buffy was and what she meant to him. I think that our William knew what he was in for on some level and chose it, so I still disagree about this being some "oh crap, wouldn't'a done that if I knew" sort of death that was thrust upon him. Re: his "no amulets" joke in Angel, it was a joke and was largely predicated upon the character of Spiking shedding what he'd learned in the last season and more of Buffy to go back to being Season Four or so Spike. I'm frankly surprised that James loved Spike so much on Angel given his talk of Spike's journey as a character. I also find that Spike and Wesley are my two favorite large and massive change-y arcs. One could even argue, if they chose to get all academic and film historical-y, that Spike often played a role previously relegated to women, while Buffy played a role more often occupied by a man. So what's wrong with empowering the woman's role as opposed to the literal woman? That's a rhetorical question ;)
"I also find that Spike and Wesley are my two favorite large and massive change-y arcs."

Thirding that, zeitgeist, although I'd probably have to add Willow to the list too. Those three characters were easily the most changed by their experiences over the years and for that reason the most interesting for me to watch.
I do wish to note a serious comment. In my real life, I serve as the human protections administrator at my college, and as a physician, I am enrolled in a master's of arts program in bioethics and public health- so when I speak of "against their will" and "consent" it has a very specific meaning to me, which it may not to others. You see, you cannot consent (to medical research, for example), if you are not fully informed. Consent requires comprehension, competence, and lack of coercion, and obviously not all of these were met when Willow cast her spell. It is simply impossible to determine whether anyone felt that they were activated "against their will" but we can quite definitively state that consent was never obtained, and an after-the-fact acceptance of "what is" would never stand a legal challenge- but of course, I am reading too deep here; it is just a story- but as we saw, there really were repercussions to that activation, which is why I mentioned Dana, someone who patently should not have been activated. And the instability of magic and slayers in the current story.

As to Tara and her controversy, that remains active. I may be the sole voice here harping on the issue, but on other boards, there is still a significant amount of debate. That's just reality. And no big, but it is still out there, and like I said, not just because I post on whedonesque and raise the issue- which got brought up because we were trying to respond to what JM was referring to with his comment.

In any event, S7 is the season I almost never watch. It just does not resonate with me, which is key to my viewing pleasure. And I need to identify with someone, and in Buffy that was always Willow, but she is so reduced in S7 that it is painful to me. The most incomprehensible issue to me was the elevation of Andrew, a character I honestly loath. I could live with Wood, as he has some depth- I like his fake out on Faith and his comment to her about her ability at sex. But Andrew is all surface, comic relief and all ambiguity.

redeem makes an interesting comment and one I need to think about: "A bunch of girls got super-powers, and a bunch didn't. I guess it's supposed to be a metaphor, but it doesn't work for me." If you did not earn you powers, but were given them, have you truly been "empowered?" Now, I accept the metaphor here, and I like it, but as an academic, I find this a question that might be worth exploring. Bringers were killing girls who were potentials but did not know it; Willow empowered them and Giles found them, and what did the girls do to earn any of it? Giles found them because they were in danger, without their knowing why or really anything. So did they come with Giles out of a willingness to fight the fight or out of fear, or what, and how did so many leave their families? Hmm, new questions! :-)
I've always hated the Potentials I'm afraid. In season seven they were but faceless canon fodder half the time, and just didn't 'do it' for me on any level. A tradition that carries as far as I'm concerned in season 8, but I digress.

The ending of season seven, with Buffy's 'so called' empowerment spell always gets to me. I mean she was guilty of doing to others what the shadowmen did to the original Slayer. She dumped a whole load of unwanted powers, together with it's life changing effects onto these girls who had no idea what was happening to them.

As a story I wish something else had been devised to defeat the First, as it just doesn't work me at all.

Back to the topic in hand. I've been told by a few online that this 'interview' isn't as such, but It's been cobbled together from various convention Q &A's which would explain a lot.

James is more then entitled to his own ideas, but he is after all seeing things from a different perspective to that of the writers, who are the ones who are capable of seeing the 'bigger picture' when it comes to the show. Unlike the actors who are mainly concerned with just their own character.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2008-07-11 13:35 ]
Good questions raised, Dana. I used to view the show primarily through Willow (I still love ya, Will, but we gotta have some words ;)), so some of this is of particular interest to me. You are right that this was something thrust upon them, and it has always been so with Slayer-hood. I think that they all coming running to the 'dale out of fear, personally rather that any desire to fight the fight that was forced upon them. They thought that being there might be their best chance of survivial. Of course the Tara debate is still out there, because of who she was, what she meant to fans, and what she meant to Willow and how what happened to her changed Willow's course.

I find that S7 is immensely better in compressed viewing, but anyone's mileage may vary on that. I also find Andrew to be fascinating and don't dismiss him as readily as others do. He is often played for comic relief or in a very surface-y way, but whats beneath that surface is really of great interest to me: someone who is kind of directionless and book smart, but emotionally immature being swept along by feelings they don't know what to do with. Someone who is not a leader, but who falls easily into sway of a great leader or great power or... oh, hey, he's kind of like another variant of Willow. Maybe that's why I feel strongly that is valuable.

PS - is it RAGBRAI time already? :))
That explains a lot, sueworld. I knew I'd read some of those quotes but not others, which makes sense if it's a compilation of quotes and not an interview.
I think the Potentials were necessary - thematically, structurally, dramatically ....
shambleau | July 11, 02:20 CET

And there you have it, in a nutshell. Otherwise, the entire season would have needed to be re-written, with an entirely different theme.
That being said, I think S7 is the only season that worked better in principle than in execution. And even so, there were some brilliant episodes, and even more brilliant moments. I just think it was a bit sloppy, (possibly because of Joss being stretched too thin).

As for James .... I adore the man, but he is a loose canon who frequently opens his mouth without engaging his brain, we should all expect it, by now.
He has said many times in the past that he preferred the more action-oriented arcs of Spikes character. Which puzzles me, because JM is nothing if not a serious actor, and season 7 gave him the opportunity to take the character to a completely different, more nuanced level, which he did beautifully. It was IMO, by far his best showing as an actor.
We got to observe the development of "souled Spike", struggling to come to terms with his new soul, as well as he and Buffy's twisted and complex past, while being manipulated by The First. And the depth he brought to this broader canvas was awesome to behold.
I think his finest performance in the entire series was in Sleeper (my favorite ep of the season). OK, I loved the Shakespearian ending of Beneath You, as well. So like it or not James, you do "tormented" as well as any actor, ever.

(Pre-emptive defense .... OK saje, Alexis Denisof does it just as well. But no better, IMO. ;-)

Spike is and always has been my favorite character. But he would be much less so, if he'd been nothing but "the Big Bad", start to finish.
As it consider this, I begin to believe the entire point of the S8 comic is to address the issues we are just beginning to discuss. Willow did somethinwho, we just lost power here and I am on batteries now- will post again when the power comes on.
All due respect Dana5140, but BtVS is a fantasy-horror show with a wicked sense of dark, irreverent humor and a pretty direct line back to Greek mythology, with a contemporary feminist twist.
I think it's more than a little unrealistic to expect a show with that description to conform to the guidelines of your specific field of work.
One thing for certain, it would take all the fun out of it. As well as most of the dramatic punch, the ambiguity, the complexity and the rich sub-text, as conceived by Joss and the rest of the production/writing team.

[ edited by Shey on 2008-07-11 14:39 ]
he is after all seeing things from a different perspective to that of the writers, who are the ones who are capable of seeing the 'bigger picture' when it comes to the show. Unlike the actors who are mainly concerned with just their own character.


That's right, which is why I mentioned that other actors have said similar things re:their characters.

Jobo, it's my understanding that Seth Green left the show because he didn't like the way they had written Oz cheating on Willow. I can't quote sources because it's been too long since I read them, however.

I'd far and away rather have a conversation with an actor, or a writer, about the creative end of things, about precisely things like "why did X character behave that way" or "the show's arc or meaning", and I'd have zero interest in knowing what's on their iPod or getting them to sign my DVDs.


Me too! That would be wonderful. Unfortunately, the one time I've had to ask any of those things was lost by the fannish reaction of my mind going totally blank. Perhaps that's why the iPod question happened? :)


[ edited by wytchcroft on 2008-07-16 18:08 ]
I think it's more than a little unrealistic to expect a show with that description to conform to the guidelines of your specific field of work.
One thing for certain, it would take all the fun out of it. As well as most of the dramatic punch, the ambiguity, the complexity and the rich sub-text, as conceived by Joss and the rest of the production/writing team.


I don't think he is expecting the show to conform to anything. He is explaining what he means when he uses specific terms, which may be different than how we use them. There actually isn't a way the show would have to do anything to be judged by any specific perspective. The show just is, and I think that Dana's post was merely explaining how he interprets it via his viewpoint.

ETA - new folk, please try to use captialization and punctuation as appropriate. It makes it easier to understand and discuss.
I think Seth Green left the show because he didn't think his character was getting enough to do. The cheating I think was written specifically as motivation for Oz to leave.

Shey, I also loved James' performance in Sleeper. The body language and the expression of "do it quick okay?" get to me every single time.

The potentials were not a bad idea. But they did take time away from all of the other things I wanted to know about. Really, it wasn't the idea of the potentials but the time wasted with speeches,details, training etc.

When you think about it there were so many things being thrown into that season, Wood, Andrew, Potentials, Faith, Angel, the whole Giles as the first waste of time, devolving Ubervamps, Caleb, that you can't really blame one thing for the throwing of the rest of the cast to the side. It was an unfortunate combination.

And really, I liked the idea of Wood, the slayer's son seeking revenge, but they spent too much time on him. The long drawn out mystery at the beginning of whether he was good or evil, the attempted romance with Buffy, the actual romance with Faith, he was just overused. It was a bore and a waste for a new character I didn't care about in the least. If they had kept him as principal and slayer's son it would have helped.

And though I admit that I really like Andrew, think he's really funny, he probably was overused as well.

I can see where James is coming from on the way Spike died. He didn't choose it, he just wore an amulet meant for a champion, and really, how's he going to turn that down, and stood there. Disappointing really for such a vital and exciting character.

And from attending a few Q and A's that James has given in my opinion James talks at these things as though the only people who will ever hear what he is saying are the people in the room.
I am late in to this discussion and I have probably missed the boat on the things I want to say – while not adding much to the discussion as it has developed.

I am not entirely sure what JM means by his comment about the reunion not being dangerous. Was he really expecting anything else? As SNT says, in another setting things might have been different, but this was never going to be about saying anything to rock the boat. It was what it was. Possibly someone like David Fury, had he been present, might have been relied on to speak his mind, given the opportunity, but I think we all know that, to use the obvious example because she was always going to be the focus for many/most people, SMG is not one for opening up too much in the public forum - (and I think the same goes for some of the others present). This is not a criticism, although Gellar would probably have interesting things to say in different circumstances (although I am sure it would open up a whole Pandora’s box of gleeful misinterpretation).

This was a celebration of the show, not a forum to do anything much beyond a bit of Hollywood backslapping.

I agree with others here who have commented that Spike was given a great story arc in S7 and a great send off. I do kind off see what JM means about the story being about the potentials, but if it had not been that way the entire point would have been lost completely. I adore the potentials, including the ones who sometimes seem to create a wide division of opinion – Kennedy and Rona, in particular.

JM does seem to have invested a lot in his character, although it also seems that the story of Spike as told over the years was not entirely the way he would have liked it to be. Spike is not a character I have a particular opinion about, he was not one of the big reasons for my love of the show, but I tend to think differently to the way JM seems to feel, although it is interesting to hear the view of the actors on these subjects.
I mean she was guilty of doing to others what the shadowmen did to the original Slayer. She dumped a whole load of unwanted powers, together with it's life changing effects onto these girls who had no idea what was happening to them.

Someone that used to post on here (Ramses 2 ?) came up with a nice fan-wank about that in a previous "consent" thread. They reckoned that the scythe, being untainted by either the Watcher's Council or the 3 old men, served as a sort of filter that removed the nasty demon gunk and rendered the power passed on "pure".

Course, there's still definitely an issue of changing a person's future without their knowledge or consent and though I completely understand Buffy's choice (there was a war on - "needs must" and all that) I think there's definitely still a moral question there (which is cropping up in the comics). And at its most extreme you could (though I don't) consistently see Buffy as engaging in the same figurative rape of the Potentials as the 3 old men did of the first Slayer IMO.

I think that our William knew what he was in for on some level and chose it, so I still disagree about this being some "oh crap, wouldn't'a done that if I knew" sort of death that was thrust upon him.

Yeah, I agree with that zeitgeist, he may not have known the specifics but he knew that a champion might well be required to make the ultimate sacrifice, that part of that role is being able to take that last step if needed. That said, I do still feel like the alley in 'Not Fade Away' was more "Spikish". He was a scrapper and scrappers go out scrapping ;).
My apologies for leaving my last post- we lost power on our grid at work, and I have had to go home for now. I could not access the net via wireless since that was affected as well and it was only some battery power that allowed me to get that bit of a post up.

First, shey, please note that I stated that I understood it was a story and I was reading deeper than I needed to. But ZG has captured my concern correctly- these terms means something to me and stand out when violated nonetheless. Just as, if you were a lawyer, and you saw one on screen do something you just know they cannot ever do no matter what, it might affect your viewing. This did to me here, for the reasons I stated. But again, I know it's just a tale, and that's fine for all the rest of you- you should simply understand how I read it, because it influences how I view what happens.

But back to the point I was trying to make when we lost power- whether or not S8 is Joss addressing some of the issues we are bring up here. Willow casts the spell and powers up 2000 women, give or take. Many of them end up at slayer central through means we really do not understand, but as slayers they are now involved in a quasi-military organization fighting bad guys, while at the same time apparently doing a few things we would consider bad, like robbing banks. We also know this spell put things out or whack in some fashion- the balance is wrong in the universe as a result. We know some of the slayers might not be always doing good. We are seeing some "ends justify the means" things. We see someone trying to end magic and slayers- and we assume this is a bad person, because he is doing bad things to make that happen. But is he completely bad? Is there a real reason to reverse what Buffy and Willow did? And not all slayers are fighting- some are just wherever they were before activated- what of those? Some might be evil- again, think Dana (not evil in the conventional sense, just insane). We always assume that Buffy is to the good- but we see General Buffy a lot in S7, until she shares power- and now here we are again with General Buffy in S8. With a patriarchal power structure again, with her as leader and all her acolytes following her orders. This seems to fly in the face of the empowerment message of S7- and I think S8 is going to try to deal with this- perhaps not in a way I will agree with, but I somehow think this has to be dealt with, as well as Willow and her absolution. Those are the remaining mysteries from S7. Food for thought.
One aspect of the "consent" issue (which I agree is a nuanced one) I haven't heard much discussed is that, if Buffy and the others had failed at the Hellmouth, all those potentials elsewhere would have been hunted down and murdered, just as they were throughout the season. That, obviously, would also have been "without their consent." It's the quality of being Potentials that has been imposed without their consent, not their activation into Slayer-ness. In fact, the latter might be/might have been the only thing to save their lives. Not much practical difference to the girls, perhaps, but I think it exonerates Buffy and Willow from the accusation that they somehow violated the girls, at least in the context of Season 7. Take away that life-threatening context, and you'd have a stronger argument about consent, given that any one potential wouldn't have much likelihood at all of being Chosen in the traditional manner.

I continue to read the empowerment spell pretty literally as turning the original violation by the Shadowmen, who singled out one woman that they could control, on its head by creating a whole sisterhood of Slayers who would be beyond that kind of control. Buffy/Willow didn't create the potentials, but once created, they have been made able to defend themselves.

ETA: That's not to say there aren't continuing moral issues, which I think Dana highlights very well - and which I think add immeasurably to my enjoyment of S8.
oh, hey, he's kind of like another variant of Willow. Maybe that's why I feel strongly that is valuable.

I think he's more like Anya in that way, myself.
Sueworld2003, this isn't cobbled together from various Q&As, it's a report on *one* Q&A, from this year's Los Angeles-area Creation Grand Slam (a, says so at top of article; b, I was there and really, that's pretty much what he said).

Dana5140, as to the "dangerous" issue, I think it's not very likely James Marsters was talking about the Tara issue, because it's not one that affected him directly. I mean, I think he'd be interested in hearing a discussion of it, but he was probably thinking of issues that were at least more tangentially related to him as an actor and/or Spike the character. As I don't know his thoughts beyond what's quoted from him here and elsewhere, I can't say for sure -- maybe he did mean Tara -- but at a guess, I suspect he was thinking more along the lines of, "Are there plotlines you guys hated?" "Are there any creative choices you guys are sorry you made?" "Did anybody on set hate anybody else on set?" "What actually happened when 'Buffy' went from the WB to UPN?" That sort of thing.

As to the "consent" issue, they were all Potential Slayers already. If none of them ever encountered anything that would call for superpowers, they weren't likely to have problems with them, beyond a few initial "oops, don't know my own strength" moments. If they encountered a vampire, better empowered than dead. While I wasn't crazy about a flood of new characters this late in the game -- I wanted to see more of the characters we already knew -- I did like the empowering spell. I'd always thought that "one girl in all the world" wasn't the most efficient way of coping with a kazillion vampires and other hostile beings out there.
Nice one, SNT and very thought provoking re: death or empowerment specifically.

Sunfire - I don't really see that off the top of my head, but I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on that. Anya is way less prone to falling in thrall to some powerful/mesmerizing force as far as I can see. She's proven that she's more than happy to follow her own agenda, whatever that entails.

I'd always thought that "one girl in all the world" wasn't the most efficient way of coping with a kazillion vampires and other hostile beings out there.


Shapenew - indeed, it was a much smaller world back when the First Slayer was born/made. Perhaps the line should be "One girl in all the world... er, adjusted for [population] inflation..." ;).
Can I make one point?

This was a transcripted interview, we do not know what tone was being used to ask the questions or answer them. Nor do we know if these were the only questions asked or just the ones the writer choose to transcribe.

This interview is partially colored by the interviewers perspective of what they thought would be interesting. So like with all other interviews take it with a grain of salt, because we are reading from the writers perspective without the clear intent of who was being interviewed. We are then adding our own perception to the mix which sends the whole interview in numerous other directions. Was this the intent of the writer of the article, perhaps, but we don't know. I just know that after seeing Mr Marsters as well as others on numerous occassions you rarely get the same answer twice when the same question is asked. So I just take it is how he was feeling in the moment he was asked the question and go OK because he will be asked these questions again and what answers will we get then. Which even though it started some lively discussions here as to what he meant among other things. We will never know what he meant because we were not there when they were asked and answered. So, to me it was just another interesting read.

Ok that was my two-tenths of a cent take on it. Now back to regularly scheduled comments.
RavenU - Shapenew knows :) Also, I would hazard to say that there are some words that mean what they mean despite anything we might feel about them, so there is little doubt about what he said, though it raises broader question of what he meant specifically and where he was leading with what he said.
Now back to regularly scheduled comments.
RavenU | July 11, 16:15 CET

There are regularly scheduled comments? Am I on the wrong forum??
;-)
Yes, Shey, there are. Morgan Freeman makes them. Look over there <-, or maybe it's ->.
Dana5140 wrote

The most incomprehensible issue to me was the elevation of Andrew, a character I honestly loath. I could live with Wood, as he has some depth- I like his fake out on Faith and his comment to her about her ability at sex. But Andrew is all surface, comic relief and all ambiguity.


Ah, but I think Andrew serves several useful purposes. In "Storyteller," Andrew's story-inventing is neatly dissected and found wanting. I think Joss & Co. may have been exploring themselves through that -- their motivations, their complicity. After all, remember who's really to blame for all our heroes' woes: not the First, not Twilight, but a man called Joss. I think Joss felt a need to address that.

Andrew also is a dig at a whole class of people who sit and watch and enjoy but never get involved. A whole lot of nerds out there, oftentimes with lots of money and useful knowledge, who could be doing a heck of a lot of good... instead they sit around watching movies and TV.

You're not supposed to like Andrew. I think you're supposed to look at Andrew, then look at yourself, and think, "Hmm, maybe I should change."


If you did not earn you powers, but were given them, have you truly been "empowered?"


Well, what did Buffy do to earn her powers, before she was called? Not much. And she's the first to admit that. Moreover, the show often discusses about how she didn't have a choice but is doing the best she can with the powers thrust on her. I would say that most people don't earn the powers they have. Take me, for example. I'm a college-educated white male. I've got power that others in the audience never had. Do I like that? Not the power imbalances, for sure. Was it my choice? Not really; I kinda got born with it all (even the college stuff... I come from a scholarly family). Am I doing what I can with said power? Maybe not enough, but I'm trying.

Also, I would have to say that "earning" doesn't really figure into anything. Life isn't fair. You just have to play the hand you're dealt.

As to the violation of Calling all the Potentials at once... there may be violation there, but I think Joss's point is, men have held the upper hand for time out of mind solely because they are physically stronger, and that collectively men have done more violating with that strength than any violation by Buffy and Willow.

Also remember that in Season 8, only 500 or so joined, out of 1300 they know of. They may not have given the girls a choice about the powers (or nightmares) but they've apparently given them a choice about joining Buffy's army or not.


Gahh, epic post...
SNT makes some really nice points in his post above. Leading on from there all I could add is that, and this is purely my own personal perspective on the matter, all that Buffy did was give them super powers. Consent or not, whether she had the right to do so or not, that's all.

That might sound like I'm missing the point of becoming a slayer but really who said anything about any of the girls actually becoming a slayer in the truest sense? It's like someone handing you a gun and saying use it as you see fit. Nobody is forcing you to use that gun. You can simply put it in a drawer and never so much as look at it again, if you decide that is how you want to proceed. Same goes with the slayer power. Buffy gave it to every Potential in the world but she never forced any of the girls to actually use it. How could she?

As SNT said, had Buffy not had Willow activate the Potentials, their future would pretty much have been a meeting with a Bringer's dagger anyway. If Buffy hadn't been able to hold back the First then it would have ended the slayer line rather than turn it into the slayer army. Personally, given the two options, I'd take having super powers forced on me over death at the point of a sharp object any day of the week. Add that to the fact that simply being given the power of a slayer isn't the same as being told you have to live the life of a slayer, I'd have to say that the issue of consent becomes a lot less important in this situation, in my opinion. Not that I'm missing the point that Dana5140 is making. I just think that, as in every specific situation in life, nothing is absolute and sometimes what may be a morally questionable action in one situation is absolutely the correct thing to do in another.
Hamlet: I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

I.e. there's also more to being a Slayer than having super-powers, there's a certain amount of mental baggage too. It's true I think that a lot of people on the "curse" side are thinking of the new Slayers as the same as Buffy i.e. alone and isolated which obviously wouldn't be the case (or no more than they were before activation). But all that is missing the point IMO because it doesn't matter if you make someone better, you're still making them.

I'd always thought that "one girl in all the world" wasn't the most efficient way of coping with a kazillion vampires and other hostile beings out there.

No, but it's the most efficient way of coping with the "one girl in all the world" ;). Which is to say, the Slayer was alone IMO for precisely the reasons hinted at in the comics - lots of super-powered people have lots of super-power and that's threatening to those in charge. The Slayer scares people like the 3 old men so they wanted to make sure she was always outnumbered (in their chauvinism they probably also thought making it "one girl ..." would make her easier to control too. Then along came Buffy ;).

I haven't heard much discussed is that, if Buffy and the others had failed at the Hellmouth, all those potentials elsewhere would have been hunted down and murdered, just as they were throughout the season.

Yep, as would the rest of humanity (my impression was that The First wanted a hell on Earth scenario and hell is bad for you, I think I read that somewhere ;). In that sense it was the right thing to do but whether that makes it the moral thing to do is greyer IMO. To save a billion you might sacrifice a million but you've still killed a million people. Heroes are, to some extent, people willing to take that kind of decision and carry the weight of it afterwards.
Hang on, shouldn't empowering someone actually involve giving someone a choice? Not just saying I know whats best for you and doing it?

Yes, Buffy and co had their backs up against the wall, but morally she was on very dodgy ground indeed.

It wasn't just a case of giving some poor girl 'super powers', It's the sudden change in her life and all the other baggage it would bring with it that people forget about.

As far as I'm concerned that act wasn't empowering someone, it was using a huge group of women that she didn't know solve her problems for her, good motives or not.
My point was more that the Potentials, as Potentials, would have been specifically targeted by the First et al. after Buffy was defeated. Yes, humanity in general was under threat, but those girls were in the front lines, so to speak, without perhaps even knowing it. I think giving them the chance to defend themselves in that situation is a moral decision. But yes, it remains grey/gray, for the baggage reasons noted. I do disagree, however, that "empowering" necessarily and always implies consent.

And when you say "her problems," sueworld, you kinda have to remember that she was fighting for the rest of us. It wasn't a family issue, or a missed class, or a broken heel. She was, actually, trying to save the world (again). Doesn't mean all choices made by those in command are sacrosanct; not at all. But it's a little demeaning to suggest that this was purely "her problems", as if there wasn't this whole other backdrop at play.
Again though, Saje, if Buffy loses, then the First wins and all potential slayers die.

Even if we take the mental baggage into consideration, and honestly it didn't seem to bother Buffy herself much on a day to day basis, I'm going to have to assume that even with that involved it would be a better option than the knife in the chest choice. Occasional bad dreams or living in a world dominated by the ultimate evil until his minions finally track you down and kill you? Not really a hard choice, for me. ;)

And as I said above, sueworld2003, I'm not ignoring the moral issues of the choice Buffy made for so many unsuspecting girls but I would also say that the choice she made was about a little more than solving her own problems. She kinda had a world to save and that was a problem that all the Potentials would have shared in sooner or later, had Buffy not acted.

Bottom line, Buffy made the call she made, all the Potentials became slayers and didn't get stabbed (except the ones in the Hellmouth that kinda did ;)), the free world continued for another day. Was it the ideal answer? Probably not. Was it fair to every single girl involved? Unlikely. Was it entirely the morally correct thing to do? Is any act of war?

EDIT: To try and hide the fact that I really can't type.

[ edited by Highlander on 2008-07-11 17:27 ]
To save a billion you might sacrifice a million but you've still killed a million people.

Hmmm...isn't that was Jasmine doing? Do you think she was a 'hero'?
Unfortunately whether she was fighting for who for what, she was still making decisions on behalf a large group of people she knew nothing about.

When you're messing with someone without their consent, well, that doesn't sound like any form of female empowerment to me I'm afraid. Far from it in fact. She didn't know how these women would react to being altered like this, and so I was so pleased when later on in the AtS episode 'Damage' we got to see the other side of the coin.

Sure she had to do something, but from a story point of view I don't swallow the ending of Chosen as being such a positive manifestation of female empowerment as some.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2008-07-11 17:31 ]
Hang on, shouldn't empowering someone actually involve giving someone a choice? Not just saying I know whats best for you and doing it?


Should it involve choice? Maybe. Does it? Doesn't look like it. More when I catch up and yes, I realize that when we discuss the empowerment of these girls we are talking about something at once both fuzzier and more concrete than the simple dictionary definition of the word, but:

Empower Em*pow"er, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Empowered; p. pr. &
vb. n. Empowering.]
1. To give authority to; to delegate power to; to commission;
to authorize (having commonly a legal force); as, the
Supreme Court is empowered to try and decide cases, civil
or criminal; the attorney is empowered to sign an
acquittance, and discharge the debtor.

2. To give moral or physical power, faculties, or abilities
to. ``These eyes . . . empowered to gaze.'' --Keble.

There's a third definition at m-w that's of interest:

3 : to promote the self-actualization or influence of
Interesting... did Buffy do this?

Sure she had to do something, but from a story point of view I don't swallow the ending of Chosen as being such a positive manifestation of female empowerment as some.


Buffy treading grey areas? Astonishing! ;) I do agree that its not cut and dried, but we are seeing that play out in S8 and the aforementioned Dana episode of Angel (which was surely a stand in for dozens of situations where being 'empowered' in this way could go wrong).


Hmmm...isn't that was Jasmine doing? Do you think she was a 'hero'?


That's what made that arc so interesting. Was she? Maybe, but she was taking away free will and killing people on an ongoing (never-ending) basis, so I'm going with no, big free will nut that I am.
zeitgeist, so the question becomes, did Buffy take away the free will of all those girls who weren't given a 'choice'? (like the ones in Sunnydale were).
Well, one could say that was done by the Three Men way back when, though in any case Buffy is certainly not permanently taking away their free will a la Jasmine, merely activating or actualizing their potential. Which some would say is the definition of empowerment.
Yes, but most of those women probaly would have never been 'activated' in their lifetimes. Buffy took it upon herself to 'play god' with their lives. Pretty much like the shadowmen did really, and thats what I find so disturbing.

Anyhoo, strangely enough this thread is about the JM interview, or 'con report' as it apparently should be seen as. I don't always agree with what JM has to say about his views on certain things, but I respect the passion in which he expresses them, and May that never change. :0

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2008-07-11 18:07 ]
Buffy is certainly not permanently taking away their free will a la Jasmine, merely activating or actualizing their potential. Which some would say is the definition of empowerment.


Very well-put and I agree with you.

I'd also like to add that I don't think Buffy gave Dana or the other Potentials nightmares-they would have had those for years, as Buffy herself did before Merrick ever showed up.

She didn't put them in danger-Willow's spell to bring Buffy back did.

Buffy gave them-as unasked for as it may have been-the means to protect themselves.

To quote Giles from The Gift:

But I've sworn to protect this sorry world, and sometimes that means saying and doing ... what other people can't. What they shouldn't have to.

I agree that JM might not have been talking about Tara- in fact, given past interviews I've read with him, he was probably referring to the attempted rape, but the possibility is he might have meant Tara. We do not know; it simply raises the possibility.

Some interesting comments here, for sure: "I continue to read the empowerment spell pretty literally as turning the original violation by the Shadowmen, who singled out one woman that they could control, on its head by creating a whole sisterhood of Slayers who would be beyond that kind of control." So, let me see if I have this right: it was wrong for the Shadowmen to do it to one woman, but right for Buffy and Willow to do it to many women? No, that does not make sense. That would really compound the problem.

And SNT, it seems to me that if potentialhood was without consent, that does not lessen the fact that slayerhood was also without consent. I understand that the potentials were at risk here, but in all of this, they never had a choice- not in being a potential (and how does one become a potential any way- and where in Buffy did we really learn there was an army of these girls as opposed to just one, ie, Kendra, Faith, in waiting?) and not in becoming a slayer. Buffy regrets that she was made a slayer- not that she would deny what she is, but still. And so she inflicts that on 1300 or more young girls. Because she needs them to fight a battle- just like our army needs young people to fight its, and in the past has simply drafted those it will send to die. Again, I am not in favor of the military analogies I keep seeing in S7 and more in S8.

Another interesting comment: "It's like someone handing you a gun and saying use it as you see fit. Nobody is forcing you to use that gun." Well, this is not a great analogy. Of course, you are right, but also simplistic. If you never give someone the gun, they never have to make any choice at all. They cannot use it, period. Once they have it, it MIGHT get used, might not, might be accidentally discharged, etc. Because it is there. If it is not, none of those possibilities exist. And while we don't know whether or not any of these girls were ever forced to do anything, we do know that Giles went looking for them. Giles gave them information about what was happening, and Giles used that to gather a good many of them into the slayer army.

And then highlander asks the critical question, in my humble opinion: "Buffy made the call she made, all the Potentials became slayers and didn't get stabbed (except the ones in the Hellmouth that kinda did ;)), the free world continued for another day. Was it the ideal answer? Probably not. Was it fair to every single girl involved? Unlikely. Was it entirely the morally correct thing to do? Is any act of war?" This is where I think S8 is going, to answer this question. Leaving aside Willow and her absolution or lack of.

I know there is no consensus on Andrew- people love him or hate him, and I fall on the hate side. I understand he is supposed to represent the fan geek, but I thought that point had been made already with the Trio of Idiots. Andrew took time away from people, and I for one never found Storyteller a compelling episode, though I know for many it is.
Well, I this turn in debate is awesome, and I hope what I say contributes to the debate in someway.

It kind of reminds me of the debate about the "draft" during other times of war. She essentially "drafted" the potentials to become slayers. Is that morally right? Probably not, but it was needed.

It was the smart thing to do. She was fighting a war, and she needed all the man-power she could get. Sure, if there was a way to empower all the potentials with their consent and one-by-one, it would have been all tea and dumplings, but they did not have the time to do it that way. Buffy made her call, and I feel it was the smart thing to do. Yes, it isn't the cleanest, but Buffy and company did not have the time to debate the merits of forced conscription.

ETA: Gods, I sounded like the current administration, ignore what I said. :)

ETA part duex: When I say current administration, I don't mean the administration at the Esque, but the ones in DC.

[ edited by crazygolfa on 2008-07-11 18:42 ]
The potentials already had the dreams. It was in the movie and Wesley/Andrew confirmed it in Damage. What Buffy did was give them the power to act on them. Before that the potentials had no access to their powers and therefore no choice as to whether to use them or not. Afterwards they could choose whether or not to act. What Buffy and Willow did was different from the Shadowmen activating a single girl because for that girl the choice was to to use her powers or let the world go to hell. With hundreds of girls activated a proportion can choose not to be Slayers or to fight evil in a different way without leaving the world unprotected.

I’m not sure that consent in the context of medical procedures is the most appropriate analogy here. When women were given the vote or access to the universities no women voted those measures through and we weren’t each individually consulted or individually emancipated it was a freedom given to all women (or in the case of university education all those with the ability and inclination to take advantage of it) whether or not they chose to exercise it.
Very interesting debate. I agree with hayes62-- Buffy gave them the power but they're not forced to become Slayers. She also never chose them to be Potentials.

To attempt an analogy, it would be like if you, in Buffy's role, lived in a village and your village was under attack. You have an arsenal of guns and you hand out the guns to let your fellow villagers defend themselves. You choose to empower them. Now with their new power, they can choose to stay and fight or they can run away and not fight. Of course, the analogy fails in the sense that they can ditch their guns and the Slayers can't but again, I don't feel they're forced to use their powers if they don't want to. They can run away and not fight.
I haven't and don't have time to really go into this. However, there is an old theater joke, immortalized in "Shakespeare in Love" in which the actor playing the nurse is asked what "Romeo and Juliet" is about and he says, "It's about this nurse..." When an actor is talking about what he would like to see for his character, he is going to be talking about his perspective on things and he is going to be looking at it as an actor because that is his function.

Much of Spike's character arcs were done with relatively little screen time. I always find it interesting how much time is attributed to the character in S7 when he barely appears in most of the episodes at all. When he does, the writers and the actor usually made the most of it, but it is still a small amount of actual time except for a few episodes.

If I recall correctly, JM's complaint with Spike in Joss's episodes may also be partly because, since his portion was usually isolated and tangential to the story, he was often doing "2nd unit" filming, meaning that Joss was not actually directing him at all. The main Joss action was happening somewhere else while JM's scenes were being done separately. Admittedly, if I had to choose an actor to leave to his own devices with a scene, JM would be the one I would choose, so it may have actually been both a compliment and an unavoidable happenstance due to the pressures of filming. That does not mean that it would not frustrate him.

As far as the empowerment of the potentials around the world, the fact is that these women were being targeted for death whether they were activated or not and Buffy's actions gave them the means to fight back rather than be helplessly killed.

I think the power to vote, to own property, to testify in court, serve on a jury, to run for public office and to work at a well-paying job are better analogies than the one about the gun. Women today were not given a choice by the women of some years ago whether they would have these powers. Those women fought for them and now all women in the countries where they fought have that power. Some women use it and some don't. Some bemoan feeling forced to take responsibilities they felt they would not have had if they were still "protected" by not having those powers. However, they forget that women were still put in positions where they need those powers, they just didn't have them available to them and therefore were ready made victims. Before the potentials were activated they were ready made victims for the bringers just as much as a woman was who had no money and no male relatives to protect her was before we were given those powers.
"Well, this is not a great analogy. Of course, you are right, but also simplistic."

I'm gonna go with the idea you were calling my anology simplistic, rather than me, Dana5140. ;)

You are entirely correct that I was trying to create a simple analogy for this situation. However it wasn't intended to prove or disprove the issues I think you have assumed I was discussing, Dana5140. I was using this as a way to illustrate that Buffy didn't force a lifestyle onto any of the newly empowered slayers rather than trying to suggest that no harm could come of what she did. Naturally there will be many examples of slayers going dark side and many cases of untrained girls losing control and lashing out with their newfound strength. I won't dispute that for a second. All I wanted to point out is that at it's most basic all Buffy did was give the girls abilities they didn't have before. What they do with that additional power is down to the individual girl. Some will use it for good, some will use it for evil, some will do nothing at all with it.

And that is my main point. The girls that choose to go on with their regular, non-demon-slaying lives are free to do so and need never so much as look at a vampire, let alone slay one. The "gun" will be theirs to own but will never be used. Sure, there will no doubt be a small number of these girls that will suffer the consequences of having this power no matter what they choose (wouldn't be a very interesting fictional world if bad stuff didn't happen to good people now and again) but I hold to the fact that all these girls were going to die if the First had won. No matter what they have to face because of what Buffy did, it's got to be better than almost certain death.
As Sunfire wrote recently, newcj, you save me a lot of typing. And in my case, you save me a lot of thinking and formulating into words and writing, too. I'm not altogether sure that's a good thing, as my brainpan could use the exercise, but it can't be helped... you already dood it, and I agree.
When women were given the vote or access to the universities no women voted those measures through and we weren’t each individually consulted or individually emancipated it was a freedom given to all women ...

That's a very interesting comparison hayes62, I like that. Y'see, this is the thing with Mal's (and maybe Joss' ?) issue with "making people better" - pretty much every bit of social progress made since the enlightenment has revolved around people being made better (compulsory primary education for instance or the vote). So when is it OK to make people better and when isn't it ? It's definitely not as black and white as Mal and Possible Joss seem to think IMO.

Hmmm...isn't that was Jasmine doing? Do you think she was a 'hero'?

Personally, no BUT i'm the product of my culture which means i've been raised with a number of deeply ingrained prejudices one of which is so fundamental to "Western civilization" that most of us don't even question it i.e. we all "know" that it's better to be free than not free. But is it ? Why ? If you lived in a perfect society without war or crime or famine and you didn't even know you weren't free, what's so bad about that ? That's what Jasmine offered.

If it's moral (not just pragmatic) to sacrifice a million people to save a billion then you could make a case that she's a hero (ignoring Ats's blatant ad hominem attack with the "face of maggots" ;) because that's exactly what she's offering.

(to me the most interesting villains are those that actually have the same or nearly the same aim as the hero but are just willing to break a few more "eggs" in making the omelette - they make us ask the hardest questions)
More than just the "empowerment" was confusing behavior on Buffy's part. There are many parts of Season 7 when Buffy takes actions she's previously called unfair, including deciding to kill Anya (which was commented on) and locking up the Potentials with a vampire (which was not). I think that a theme of Season 7 was what it necessary in wartime. Were Buffy not up against the First, which she could not defeat alone, none of the rest of it would have come into play. She would not have had to train the Potentials so vigorously, or activate them with or without their consent. However, she was in wartime, and she as a leader really didn't have a choice. That's how the Watcher's Council, and the Shadowmen, felt originally, and that's why Buffy was locked up with a maniacal vampire (which was reprehensible in Helpless but fair training in Potential. I don't agree with most what Buffy did in Season 7. I think she reacted too quickly, was too panicked, and made bad decisions. But it was war, and she was the leader, so she did what she thought she had to.

And then unrelated, re:
He has said many times in the past that he preferred the more action-oriented arcs of Spikes character. Which puzzles me, because JM is nothing if not a serious actor, and season 7 gave him the opportunity to take the character to a completely different, more nuanced level, which he did beautifully. It was IMO, by far his best showing as an actor.
We got to observe the development of "souled Spike", struggling to come to terms with his new soul, as well as he and Buffy's twisted and complex past, while being manipulated by The First. And the depth he brought to this broader canvas was awesome to behold.

I believe I've read interviews with JM before where he said that he'd shoot a scene and not know his motivation. I think he said that he didn't know whether Season 6's end was supposed to be him getting a soul, or him getting de-chipped, and he didn't know whether that was to love Buffy or to kill her. So perhaps while we remember the nuances of his Season 7 performance and can clearly read the tone, he recalls only confusion, and feels that he could not play the part to his best ability.
this is the thing with Mal's (and maybe Joss' ?) issue with "making people better"

Joss has always said Mal is someone that he wouldn't naturally get along with - he'd prefer to have dinner with the Operative. Mal is a libertarian, Joss is a liberal (in the American sense of the word). Still I think there is a distinct difference between what was done on Miranda and compulsory primary education or universal health care, which is that the Pax suppressed a natural human tendency (aggression) while education (if UR doing it right) enables innate gifts to be realised.
My point was more that the Potentials, as Potentials, would have been specifically targeted by the First et al. after Buffy was defeated...


That whole post as well. I like the way your mind works, SNT. I'm pretty talked out on Buffy/Angel, but I must say if someone gave me the strength, power and resiliency like that what was given to the Potentials at a young age, unbeknownst, I'd gladly have taken it. I base at least part of this viewpoint on the montage shown of the various girls who would benefit, including the girl who rose up and restrained the fist of someone who'd been routinely abusing her. That was me at that age. Keeping in mind this is a fictional story that reflects a lot of reality, if the worst had happened and they were hunted down, those that did survive would at least have better odds of dealing with the human monsters out there.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-07-11 20:01 ]
Still I think there is a distinct difference between what was done on Miranda and compulsory primary education or universal health care, which is that the Pax suppressed a natural human tendency (aggression) while education (if UR doing it right) enables innate gifts to be realised.

And again, the distinction is arbitrarily made between making people do things "for their own good" and other interferences as if one is automatically OK and one isn't (universal health care is a red herring, no-one's being made to do anything in that situation - except pay taxes I guess ;). The Pax is close to a red herring because of course, hindsight is 20/20. But would it have been so easy to decide which side of the fence it fell on before Miranda?

And the "natural tendency" argument doesn't hold much water with me either, natural is emphatically NOT the same as good or worthy or even necessarily desirable so I don't see why suppressing a tendency is clearly wrong because it's natural. Revenge may be a natural human tendency for instance but we suppress that in civilised society and force submission to the rule of law. Is it wrong to do that if revenge actually is natural ? Or is it OK because, natural or not, revenge is "bad" ?

(and we know Joss has said he'd disagree with Mal about a lot of things, do we actually know what though ? Cos i'd love to read that interview if anyone has a link)
highlander- no, I meant you. ;-)

Boy, all you guys are sure arguing the ends justify the means! Buffy had to do it because....

This quote caught my eye: "However, she was in wartime, and she as a leader really didn't have a choice. That's how the Watcher's Council, and the Shadowmen, felt originally, and that's why Buffy was locked up with a maniacal vampire (which was reprehensible in Helpless but fair training in Potential. I don't agree with most what Buffy did in Season 7. I think she reacted too quickly, was too panicked, and made bad decisions. But it was war, and she was the leader, so she did what she thought she had to." This is exactly the argument advanced by our current administration for every depredation it does. So I have a really hard time with this argument for Buffy- which is, as I noted above, the ends justify the means. What others did (ie, Shadowmen) which was argued wrong, here is okay because it is needed for the fight. If you do what your enemies do, are you somehow moral because you are on the side of the angels? That is precisely the argument offered for torturing captured potential Al Qaeda members, right? Torture one to save many? But is it moral? I do understand that these were some of the questions that Joss was looking at, but my feeling here is that we are too quick to forgive Buffy her decisions because she was just trying to save the world- she was justified, by golly. But I think S8 is getting at the question of, was she?
As Sunfire wrote recently, newcj, you save me a lot of typing.

Also much using of words to communicate thoughts, which is even harder. I like what newcj said here about the empowerment issue as well.

Sunfire - I don't really see that off the top of my head, but I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on that. Anya is way less prone to falling in thrall to some powerful/mesmerizing force as far as I can see. She's proven that she's more than happy to follow her own agenda, whatever that entails.

Consider how each is a social outcast originally because they annoy and kind of scare others. A somewhat effeminate, seemingly gay nerdy man who won't stop talking. A woman who is direct in what she says and does and is skilled with reasoning and magic but has no tact whatsoever. They both try to fit in and often fail, and they're both considered inappropriate rather often. They both get a lot of grief for being themselves, and they both struggle to learn how to be who they are. They each always define themselves in terms of other people-- in Andrew's case, a kind of hero worship; in Anya's, rejection. Anya doesn't follow Olaf, but she does create a violent career for herself in reaction to his treatment of her. And tries to revert to that when Xander leaves her at the altar, too. Her lyics in "Selfless" are really good: I've boned a troll I've wreaked some wrath, but on the whole I've had no path, I like to bowl I'm good with math but who am I? Now I reply that- I'm the missus. Anya's personality isn't like Andrew's, but in terms of falling in with the wrong crowd because the right crowd doesn't like you, and the wrong crowd offers you power? Warren recruited Andrew. D'Hoffryn recruited Anya.

Willow's more like an introverted Buffy.
Very good points, Sunfire.
If Willow is introverted Buffy and Andrew is like Anya, who is Dawn like? A female Xander?
Not everyone is like someone else. Just sometimes there are strong parallels in how they approach things or how they're treated by others within the themes of the show. They're also all different in other ways. I can't see Andrew ever facing Buffy alone in a fair fight like Anya did, or at least not from what we know of Andrew currently. So he's not entirely like Anya-- what she gets done, he still mostly daydreams about. Except the giant robot fight that needed his geek knowledge, he can check that one off his list.

Dawn gets deliberately paralleled with Buffy and Xander in different parts of S7. I was pretty surprised when she started ordering the Slayers not to retreat in #15 though.
zeitgeist, anyone else who was offended: sorry, did not mean to come off as a know-it-all (maybe as a know-it-a-little? ?) ).

RavenU, completely agree that this Q&A report -- along with any other interview/report that doesn't purport to be an unedited transcript -- reflects the views of the writer, and very likely the writer's editor as well. In context, things may have sounded different.

Dana5140 et al, I think Buffy's empowerment decision is more like a doctor who gives a patient an emergency appendectomy when the patient is unconscious. Who knows, maybe the patient belongs to some religious group that objects to surgery or has other reasons for objecting, but without the surgery, the patient will die. Without the empowerment, most of the world's population (including unempowered Potentials) would die. The choices by that point seemed to be a) living as women with Slayer powers, b) dying as unempowered Ubervamp victims or c) committing suicide. There wasn't an "if I don't do anything, their lives will go on as normal" choice.
sn- but that only begs the question and again is simply justifying what was done. I am not saying that no good came from that decision, only that the moral basis for it is suspect. And to simply address your analogy, the law is written so that consent is not necessary (it is implied) when a patient is unconscious and efforts to contact next of kin cannot be made due to the immediacy of the problem. So again, I don't feel this analogy is right, but I understand the point you are trying to make. I am still getting at the morality of this decision, made for many by one, and in order to use them in a fight as cannon fodder, knowing that some of them will die. Which is about where we are in S8, right? :-)
Dana5140 Good points. I'm completely agree with you.
I am still getting at the morality of this decision, made for many by one, and in order to use them in a fight as cannon fodder, knowing that some of them will die. Which is about where we are in S8, right? :-)
Dana5140 |


No it isn't, not in my opinion. It is done so all of them will be able to defend themselves and some of them will choose to fight on the front lines. Your scenario never even mentions the fact that these women and girls were being targeted throughout S8 long before they had any powers. Even if Buffy did not open the Hellmouth, activating the potentials was a way of giving them a chance of avoiding being murder victims. Throughout the season they said a number of times that Buffy could not protect them all, they were all going to be picked off one by one, etc. They were given a means to stay alive, not a way to die.
Dana5140, fair enough. Just as long as I'm clear. ;D

I'll admit that I'm probably a little biased in this discussion because I know in my heart I'd have made the same decision as Buffy. Truthfully I'd probably have made it a lot sooner and with less debate on the rights and wrongs. Given the situation they were up against it wouldn't even be an issue for me once I knew that it was possible to activate all the potential slayers into weapons in the war I was steadily losing. I absolutely believe that winning the war and saving the world was a just reason for making this morally dubious decision concerning the lives of these girls. Honestly, the moral issue of the decision wouldn't even be a second thought for me, given the alternative outcome that I would be facing.

For me, personal morals have to be weighed against logic and reason. Sure, it may be that I'm changing the lives of a couple of thousand girls who may or may not be happy with slayer power but if I don't act then they will almost certainly die and the world as we know it dies with them. With that in mind I'd be left with no choice but to act in exactly the same way that Buffy did.

Mind you, I'm also one of those people who thinks Dexter has the right idea, so moral values may not be my strong point at the best of times. ;)
zeitgeist, anyone else who was offended: sorry, did not mean to come off as a know-it-all (maybe as a know-it-a-little? ?) ).


That's actually not what I meant, Shapenew - someone had said "We don't know these are even from the same interview/con/appearance?" and you know 'cause you were there. I wasn't tweaking you, I promise!

Sunfire - neat, though I'm not sure I agree, I see where you are coming from. Thank you for sharing that, it was fascinating to see from another angle.

I am still getting at the morality of this decision, made for many by one, and in order to use them in a fight as cannon fodder, knowing that some of them will die.


Hold on a minute there, Mr. over-reach ;) She called them to give them a chance at surviving and so that any who chose to could help her. She didn't call them up thinking, "Whew, more meat between me and sharp, pokey, agonizing death,", although certainly she hoped some of them would stand with her.
ZG, and newcj- but that was what happened, irrefutably. Again, I m not dumb here; I understand that the potentials were given means to defend themselves against a great evil. My argument is, is this enough, in moral terms? The arguments being advanced here touch perilously close to the arguments being made by the current administration to justify spying on Americans, to torturing suspects, to not allowing those held in Gitmo from legally arguing their captivity- it is the same argument, that we are doing this for the security and safety of our country. Now, I honestly don't want this comment to ignite a political discussion, since I don't feel that is productive, but everyone should understand I am what would be termed a "liberal democrat," proud and out on that issue- and this is why, or partly why, I had so much trouble with S7, where Buffy was all, I am the law- words to that effect were also used by Bush at times. And I do not feel that the ends justify the means. I understand realpolitik, but that is not my issue; morality is my issue- most people here are arguing in consequentialist/utilitarian terms, but that is scarcely the only way to argue- you could argue in Kantian (deontologial) terms as well, considering the Categorical Imperative and am I the single most boring person in the world? :-) (highlander, you do not get to answer that ;-))

Sheesh, all this from one James Marsters interview!
Yeah, but the world really was in danger of ending ;) I think people are more concerned with the utility because we all agree that it was a grey area morally. Some of us just really do believe that the girls were better off empowered without their consent vs. dead without their consent no matter how much it upsets you that you think Buffy seems to be sliding closer to the Minear end of the scale than the Joss one.

Authoritarianism doesn't really care what end of the political spectrum its on. Unilateral decisions are not by their nature politically to the right. So, yeah, I think the political baggage can probably go away in this question.

As far as what happened irrefutably? Buffy made the choice to empower these girls hoping that some of them would stand by her. She could no more order someone unwilling to do so to do so than I could levitate a hamburger in Davenport from New Jersey (I would have to be in at least Ohio for my far reaching meat levitation powers to reach the Quad Cities).
Don't know if this will be read, having fallen off the main page, but I absolutely agree with the people who said Buffy made the right choice, activating the potentials and as such saving them from "sharp, pokey, agonizing death", as our own man-in-orange would say ;-). And yes, the moral discussion is interesting: did Buffy have the right to make this decission for the Potentials even if it saved their lives? To which I'd also awnser "yes", by the way. This is not 'the end justifies the means' in the same way as Dana5140 uses it here, for this particular case (other decissions of Buffy in S7 might fit the bill, though). I think the medical analogies were much more to-the-point. Without Buffy's 'treatment', the potentials would have died. And in that case, you don't need an 'end of the world, big-old-war-going-on' scenario to justify her actions morally.

But there's another interesting question that I feel is slipping through the cracks: given the fact of Buffy as a work of fiction, where the situation itself is a construct created by a writer, is what Chosen portrayed really the most effective way of driving home the message of empowerment to the public? In the way it was portrayed on the episode itself - Willow going 'white', like she was some kind of ultimate force for good, the montage of women showing them rising above their previous stations to swelling music and the triumphant defeat of evil - this was certainly portrayed as something great that needed to be applauded, while foregoing the moral objections that have been fittingly raised in this thread. That - apart from Buffy being right or moral in the show itself, which is an interesting enough question in and of itself - is what bothered me more than anything else: was this the best way to end Buffy on an empowering note? To which I'd answer: I'm not sure.

(and then I'd even like to ask the question if empowerment was the note on which Buffy should have ended its seven year journey. Did it epitomize what Buffy was about? Surely female empowerment was important to the show in subtle ways during its run and it was an implicit part of anything Buffy did and was, from the central premise onwards. But was it truly necessary to be so literal, in the end, and drive the point home quite unsubtely? I'm not sure on that count either, but that's probably a whole other discussion yet again, not to be had in a thread that's already dropped from the main page).

Sheesh, all this from one James Marsters interview!


Heh :)
Dana5140:
ZG, and newcj- but that was what happened, irrefutably. Again, I m not dumb here; I understand that the potentials were given means to defend themselves against a great evil. My argument is, is this enough, in moral terms? The arguments being advanced here touch perilously close to the arguments being made by the current administration to justify spying on Americans, to torturing suspects, to not allowing those held in Gitmo from legally arguing their captivity- it is the same argument, that we are doing this for the security and safety of our country. Now, I honestly don't want this comment to ignite a political discussion

Too late. As another (more or less) liberal Democrat, I call bullshit on that statement. Seeing as how all those arguments about spying on Americans, torturing suspects, etc, etc, have not one damn thing to do with giving me the means and ability to defend myself, and everything to do with increasing governmental powers while giving lip service to "liberty," trying to compare the two situations stretches credulity to the breaking point and beyond.

I've looked down the barrel of a gun before - that's why I carry one religiously and learned to use it very well. I look at it like this: If I'm actively being hunted by someone intent on taking my head, anyone who gives me a weapon that increases my odds of survival is on my side; anyone who tries to waffle about my having that weapon is on the other. Regardless of what excuses they might want to make for it.
I have also looked down a barrel of a gun,and that's why I don't own one. All kidding aside. But that is by the by, and not a discussion I will have here, since this is all Buffy all the time. :-) And also, I think it is unfair and perhaps a bit emotional to say that I have stretched credulity to the breaking point and beyond; I have been very careful here to argue clearly and without any ire about this issue, which honestly I am not invested in, but which I find simply interesting. It has helped me codify a lot of what I felt about S7 but could not articulate; to do so has been useful for me, and I hope, 125 posts in, interesting to others as well. Remember, fun is the game here. I only mentioned my political views because I think, and I am an honest fellow, it colors how I view the things we are talking about. It was in the sense of a disclosure to whedonesque, that's all.

I am delving into a major debate in philosophy and one I think the actual philosophers here can discuss better than I can, since I have to contextualize things in medical terms. My issue, which has evolved as this discussion has gained depth, is: which approach to decision making do we use: one that is consequentialist/utilitarian (ie, given the risks and benefits, which decision do we make based on creating the greatest good?) or a Kantian/deontological one (based on universalizing what we do to all such similar circumstances). And this is what I think Joss was beginning to get at in S7, if he were able to have devoted more time to it- the nature of power and of how decisions are made. The beauty of course is that there are no clear answers here; everything is shaded grey in moral terms. And so we all might disagree about what Buffy and Willow did- some are okay and some are not, but I am not sure there is one correct answer.

and the question asked by gvh is fascinating! I have to think about it, though it is likely we will lose this thread.

And we still never really dealt with Willow and whether she was redeemed... :-)
Dana5140:
I have also looked down a barrel of a gun,and that's why I don't own one. All kidding aside. But that is by the by, and not a discussion I will have here, since this is all Buffy all the time. :-) And also, I think it is unfair and perhaps a bit emotional to say that I have stretched credulity to the breaking point and beyond;

Why? My credulity was certainly stretched by that comparison. Granted, not as much as by the snake-oil salesman who tried to sell those arguments to us to begin with, but the fact remains that those two situations are, IMO, not even remotely similar in either intent or execution.

I have been very careful here to argue clearly and without any ire about this issue, which honestly I am not invested in, but which I find simply interesting. It has helped me codify a lot of what I felt about S7 but could not articulate; to do so has been useful for me, and I hope, 125 posts in, interesting to others as well. Remember, fun is the game here. I only mentioned my political views because I think, and I am an honest fellow, it colors how I view the things we are talking about. It was in the sense of a disclosure to whedonesque, that's all.

As was mine: You see, my experiences color how I view the things we discuss. An opinion was expressed, I disagree with it, and I said so - and why.

(And, on the subject of redemption, I don't think you'd get a positive answer one way or the other from Willow, either.)
Dana I get what you were saying. If you try and look at the morality of what went on Buffy was on very dodgy ground. I'm amazed that more folks can't see that, but oh well. :)

Also, as Buffy once said about guns, "nothing good ever came from one of these"...*shudder*
Saje - Aren’t all distinctions arbitary in some sense? But I wasn’t being clear. I wasn’t meaning that the difference between liberating and suppressing interventions was a difference between good and bad just that it *was* a difference and an interesting one in that on Joss’s shows liberation tends to be depicted positively. Actually its more complicated than that. Individual liberation in the form of vampires being liberated from conscience is a bad thing but mass liberation whether in the form of Buffy setting her people free or Mal letting people know what their government has done has been shown as a good thing to have done. Which is not to say that all the consequences of those acts would be good or good enough.

Links to interviews:
http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html

Q. And [the government-sponsored assassin] The Operative has an honorable point of view -- in his way.

A.
Oh, he totally does. Mal is somebody that I knew, as I created him, I would not get along with. I don't think we have the same politics. But that's sort of the point. I mean, if the movie's about anything, it's about the right to be wrong. It's about the messiness of people. And if you try to eradicate that, you eradicate them.


http://movies.aol.com/celebrity-interview/serenity-joss-whedon

Mal represents the right to be wrong, the right to dissent. He's not necessarily somebody that I like, and that's I figured the most powerful way I could make that statement. It's not that he's AWESOME and the Operative is a complete dick. The Operative is much smarter and politer, and you'd probably have a much better time with the Operative if he wasn't busy killing you. But that's kind of the point. The Operative represents the best of intentions with the worst of results. And Mal represents a schmuck. He's every schmuck.


[ edited by hayes62 on 2008-07-12 10:00 ]
"Dana I get what you were saying. If you try and look at the morality of what went on Buffy was on very dodgy ground. I'm amazed that more folks can't see that, but oh well. :)"

Again though, sueworld2003, as zeitgeist suggested above, I think that most people in this discussion understand what Dana5140 is saying and agree with the idea that morally Buffy may have been wrong. I'm certainly not going to agrue that. What I am saying is that even if she was morally wrong, she was still right to so what she did. I'm saying that the moral choice would have got her and everyone else killed, in this particular case.

If it turns out during season 8 that Buffy is forced to face the consequences of that same choice then so be it. I've no doubt that we will see exactly that. Had Buffy not made it though, there wouldn't be a Buffyverse to enjoy for an eighth season and every single one of the girls we are discussing would now be dead and buried, most with no idea why they were being hunted in the first place. Therefore I doubt anyone will ever convince me that the moral choice for Buffy to make, the choice to not activate the slayers, was also the correct one.
Oh, and Dana5140? See how I avoided answering that question? ;D
LOL, highlander. :-)

Rowan- I simply meant I felt your response was emotional and personal and could have been made without it seeming that way. We all have opinions here, right? That's all we can offer and for all of us they are colored by our beliefs- I simply wanted to make mine overt. Thank you for noting yours, but again, I want to avoid getting into politics save for its relevance to the issue at hand.

I think Willow could not even begin to think in terms of redemption. In Buffy, who has been redeemed? We could argue Spike has, and only Spike. Not Angel, since Angelus still lurks inside. But Willow? I think we are led to believe she has been- that was the point of her turning white when she cast that spell, to indicate that SOMETHING just happened. And we have Kennedy's word "goddess." But I never saw how that was atonement for what she did, and if S8 is any indication, it meant nothing.

(PS. I cannot seem to understand how to place a tag to italicize a word. I know, dumb me. But when I use and then place it again after a word, all remain italicized past the word I want to do it to. See how it works here? Help!)
I'm saying that the moral choice would have got her and everyone else killed, in this particular case.


In fact, one may even argue that given the circumstances and with the possibility of empowering the potentials out there (and no alternatives available at that time), doing nothing would have been an implicit choice to end the world and kill the potentials. Although neither of those would have been by her hand, she would have still allowed them to happen. Buffy had the power to stop it - and had to balance a fine moral line to do so, agreed - but I would say that stopping it at all is the moral choice here. But I agree that it's certainly open to debate (as this thread has shown :)). To quote Spider-Man: "with great power, comes great responsibility".

and the question asked by gvh is fascinating! I have to think about it, though it is likely we will lose this thread.


Most things on whedonesque are cyclic anyway, so chances are we'll still get to discuss it somewhere in the future :)

Also, Dana: you have to type an / at the beginning of your end-tag like so: < i > < / i >
... so chances are we'll still get to discuss it somewhere in the future :)

And have done before. Truly cyclic ;).

Incidentally, most of the pro arguments are based on a fairly large logical fallacy in that they're "false dichotomies" i.e. they claim that the choices are "do the spell" OR "all the potentials die". Of course, that doesn't need to be the case, the empowerment spell is only one solution, there may well have been others (if Buffy had found another we'd probably be creating false dichotomies over that too ;).

And to me the connection between e.g. torture and the empowerment spell that Dana5140 is making is transparently clear - if you justify one act based on pragmatism (a means/ends argument) then it's fairly trivial to justify any act on the same basis including slavery, terrorism, torture, rape etc. What we're wrestling with is where you draw the line (there're no answers of course, no calculus of morality that we didn't invent. Fairness didn't come with our universe unfortunately, sometimes I think we should send it back for a refund ;).

To my mind, in the real world everyone that doesn't subscribe to some arbitrary moral absolutism (i.e. religious or philosophical edict) makes decisions on a utilitarian basis - we all act morally when it can't hurt us or those we care about but if there're real consequences then we act pragmatically and then live with it afterwards. If some sicko handed you a gun and said "Shoot your child or shoot this total stranger, those are your options" then i'd call anyone a liar that said they wouldn't (probably after an inner struggle) shoot the total stranger. But morally i'd say one isn't any better than the other.

Aren’t all distinctions arbitary in some sense?

Absolutely hayes62, that's precisely my point. Which is to say, I find it very difficult to accept any claims of one interference being unequivocally a moral good and other kinds being unequivocally a moral bad (which is what I thought you were saying but it seems we actually basically agree, except on trifling details like precisely where we sit on the arbitrary moral spectrum ;).

Thanks for your quotes BTW but they don't answer my question. As I mentioned, we already knew Joss disagreed with Mal, those quotes don't tell us what about beyond the very broad and vague "politics". In fact "But that's sort of the point. I mean, if the movie's about anything, it's about the right to be wrong. It's about the messiness of people. And if you try to eradicate that, you eradicate them." indicates that Joss feels interference is morally bad so he does agree with Mal that you shouldn't "make people better". But I bet he's for compulsory primary education and universal suffrage so what he actually means (as with most liberals, of which i'm definitely one BTW - in the UK sense ;) is "You shouldn't make people better ... unless it's in the good way for 'good' - i.e. our - reasons". Which is inconsistent, especially given the arbitrary nature of the beast (if Mal is "every schmuck" and the point is, he should be allowed to be a schmuck if he wants, then shouldn't he also be allowed to be an uneducated schmuck if he wants ?).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-07-12 13:45 ]
And have done before. Truly cyclic ;).


Ah, but that was in The First Age Of Whedonesque, a time now long forgotten and turned into legend, which became myth and then faded from memory because we drank to much and killed the braincells desperately clinging to that last bit of information.

Of course, that doesn't need to be the case, the empowerment spell is only one solution, there may well have been others


But in fact, in Chosen, there were only two options. The one of doing nothing and the one solution they had come up with during the given timeframe. Sure, there could have been alternatives (and probably they should have been looking for alternatives all along), but that was a choice made at another point in the decission making process. At the point where they activated the potentials, it truly was a dichotomy.
But it was war, and she was the leader, so she did what she thought she had to." This is exactly the argument advanced by our current administration for every depredation it does. So I have a really hard time with this argument for Buffy- which is, as I noted above, the ends justify the means.
Dana5140 | July 11, 21:22 CET

I totally disagree that this is a valid analogy. The potentials were being hunted down and murdered by the Bringers, we (the U.S.) were not invaded by Iraq. It has never been a case of "go to war or you, as a specific individual, will absolutely without question, be killed".
Buffy's decision had the moral authority of giving women who were without question going to be hunted down and murdered, because of their identity as potentials, not something of Buffy's choosing, the opportunity to join together and work toward saving themselves, and each other.
They were also always free to leave Sunnydale if they chose, without the threat of Court Martial for desertion.
Dana5140:
I simply meant I felt your response was emotional and personal and could have been made without it seeming that way.

Certain things evoke an emotional response. And, frankly, it appears to me that it sometimes takes being blunt to make any headway, because there's a lot of dropping of loaded opinions and then trying to head off challenges to those. You compared Buffy's circumstance to the real-world political situation; I simply spoke to that comparison. Sorry.

sueworld2003, so... you think you're the only one who "gets" the argument? That doesn't really surprise me, but let me assure you, that's not the case. As incredible as this may sound to you, one can "get" it and still disagree with the particulars. Buffy has been on shaky ethical ground on more than one occasion; between a)making the choice to share her power with everyone who was capable of receiving it, whether they were physically there to make the choice or not, thereby saving not only their lives (there really does seem to be a lot of glossing over the fact that Potentials around the world were being targeted and murdered) and possibly the world - again - and b)saying, "screw this" and letting the world go to hell, I have to wonder why it requires any great degree of thought to decide which of those is the grayer area. (BTW, shudder all you want, but whatever liberties you enjoy were bought for you by people with guns. Like it or not.)

Saje:
they claim that the choices are "do the spell" OR "all the potentials die". Of course, that doesn't need to be the case, the empowerment spell is only one solution, there may well have been others
Sure, and therein is, as far as I'm concerned, the only valid support for the "gray area" theory. The problem comes down to, have the people involved found other solutions, and are those solutions available at the time? (Personally, where Caleb was concerned, I'd have probably opted to at least try Giles' "rifle" solution. At the risk of evoking another "shudder"...) You may not have the solution to a problem yet, but when life or death hangs in the balance, you can only wait so long for the solution to come along before it becomes moot.

Saje:
If some sicko handed you a gun and said "Shoot your child or shoot this total stranger, those are your options" then i'd call anyone a liar that said they wouldn't (probably after an inner struggle) shoot the total stranger.
I'd probably shoot the sicko who handed me the gun (notes from the Real World: NEVER hand a loaded gun to anyone whose intentions you're not sure of) but maybe that's just me. (And, I suppose, he'd probably fall into that "total stranger" category, anyway. I hope...) Because, since we're taking the pragmatic route: what are the odds he's not figuring on killing me and my child, anyway? I figure I've got at least a 50/50 chance of taking him with me, thereby saving both my child and the total stranger. Better than no chance at all.

Saje:
Fairness didn't come with our universe unfortunately, sometimes I think we should send it back for a refund ;).
Cool! Think that would work?? (While I'm at it, think I could get a rebate on all these parentheses? Or at least, a quantity discount?)
"Incidentally, most of the pro arguments are based on a fairly large logical fallacy in that they're "false dichotomies" i.e. they claim that the choices are "do the spell" OR "all the potentials die". Of course, that doesn't need to be the case, the empowerment spell is only one solution, there may well have been others (if Buffy had found another we'd probably be creating false dichotomies over that too ;)."

True enough, but as others have already said, I'm working on the basis of the information and options the show offered to judge the decisions made by Buffy. It seemed to me that in this case we were being told that there really were only two possible options for Buffy to choose between. As things stood before the spell Buffy and her army of partially trained school girls were getting picked off one by one and that was before the First had even begun his real plan of attack. I doubt Buffy or anyone else thought that they really stood a chance once the Turok-Han were released from the Hellmouth. looking for that third option was a luxury that they no longer had time for.

So given what we saw on the show and the situation we knew Buffy faced, in that her time for finding another solution was quickly running out, I don't really see it as false logic to assume these two options were really all she had.
Saje - If you’re talking specifically about primary education then there’s the further complication of whether Mal’s parents should be allowed to let him be an uneducated schmuck, how would Mal know what he wanted to be when he grew up? I wanted to be a ballerina.

I think there’s a difference (a distiction even) between making people better and letting them be better. Between giving them the tools to be better and forcing them to use them. Votes, education and Slayerness are tools (or maybe fish, it feels like this this line of argument usually involves fish). Adding aggression suppressing mind altering drugs without a known antidote to the water is more on the forced usage end of the spectrum but it is a spectrum not a dichotomy and always easier to judge with hindsight.

For further clarity and more controversy I’m going to come out and say that I think what Buffy and Willow did in activating the potentials would have been the right thing to do thematically even if the First had already been squished. One of the main points of the season seemed to be an implicit critique of the series premise that giving all that power and all that responsibility to one girl and one alone was somehow feminist and liberating when patriarchal institutions from the Catholic Church to the British Conservative Party have always been quite comfortable with the idea of singular women - exceptions that prove the rule. There's also the way it speaks to the theme of existential isolationist Slayer crap and growing up and realising that you're not the only Buffy in all the world but that's straying a little far from the points being debated here..
Bloody hell, every time I hit preview someone else's put something insightful up I want to respond to ;).

I think we may just be abusing definitions slightly hayes62, to me a difference can be the tiny step along the spectrum you mention whereas a distinction is qualitively different. So in that sense I agree there's a difference but I don't think there's a distinction ;). Voting = good for instance but presumably compulsory voting = bad ? Or is it ?

I don't really see it as false logic to assume these two options were really all she had.

OK, but take it a step back then and ask, "Why was that the solution the writers presented us with ?". Clearly they thought it was OK (and textually, all the characters think it's a great idea too). Since we had one deus ex machina (the amulet), there's no reason they couldn't have come up with another way to seal the Hellmouth that didn't involve the empowerment spell. So wherever the buck stops, there's still an imposed (i.e. false) dichotomy, there were other options.

(BTW, shudder all you want, but whatever liberties you enjoy were bought for you by people with guns. Like it or not.)

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
- George Orwell

And thanks to those rough men (and women nowadays), may we never throw your lives away lightly.

I'd probably shoot the sicko who handed me the gun ...

Yeah I actually almost hedged that by making up something about how you can't shoot the sicko Rowan Hawthorn but eventually settled on "those are your options" to cover it - you can assume various nefarious devices or situational tweaks preventing you from shooting them if you like ;). More seriously though, I think your response might partly explain your antipathy towards "grey areas" - to me it's basically a thought experiment, to you it was "What would I do in that actual situation ?".

The moral greyness comes in because the question being asked is (I reckon), "Is the pragmatic thing to do always the moral thing to do ?". Maybe to you it is (that'd be Utilitarianism - big 'U' ;) in which case it's genuinely not grey at all - you do what you must and that's that. The issue I and others have with that is, it becomes possible to justify behaviours that seem, on their face, to be immoral solely because they act "for the greater good" (like torture, slavery etc.).

I totally disagree that this is a valid analogy. The potentials were being hunted down and murdered by the Bringers, we (the U.S.) were not invaded by Iraq. It has never been a case of "go to war or you, as a specific individual, will absolutely without question, be killed".

Well, the potentials weren't specific individuals in that sense either since they didn't know they were being targeted. You could substitute e.g. "people of the Western democracies" for potentials and "sponsors of terrorism" for Iraq and it might work a bit better (not to defend myself since I don't need to but more to head off a way off-topic tangent, I don't support the war in Iraq and didn't support the initial invasion either, in fact I remember being scoffed at when I said in 2003 that it might become a modern Vietnam - the invasion and subsequent war in Afghanistan is much more justifiable though IMO).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-07-12 16:09 ]
... so chances are we'll still get to discuss it somewhere in the future :)

And have done before. Truly cyclic ;).


Which is why I didn't get into it for a long time. Been here, done this. :-)

ZG, and newcj- but that was what happened, irrefutably.

Obviously it is not irrefutable because various of us are refuting it.

Again, I m not dumb here; I understand that the potentials were given means to defend themselves against a great evil. My argument is, is this enough, in moral terms? The arguments being advanced here touch perilously close to the arguments being made by the current administration to justify spying on Americans, to torturing suspects, to not allowing those held in Gitmo from legally arguing their captivity- it is the same argument, that we are doing this for the security and safety of our country. Now, I honestly don't want this comment to ignite a political discussion, since I don't feel that is productive,

There is no way that the argument *I* am making has any parallels to what the Bush administration has been doing. I disagree on the basic premise that some people have been arguing that this is about a military decision in which the ends justify the means and the potentials being activated in order to save the world. They were activated to be able to save themselves. If they wanted to allow the bringers or whomever to kill them after they had been activated, they still could. If those in the know wanted to help Buffy in the hellmouth they could do that.

Rather than Gitmo and spying on Americans, I would compare my argument to waving a magic wand that would give women everywhere a way to defend themselves against honor killings, state approved rape, forced female genital mutilation, etc. Is there a moral question there? Of course. Would it be right to interfere with the cultures involved? IMO, to give victims a way to defend themselves will always tilt to a yes. As was pointed out above, women did not get to vote on whether they should have the vote, because they were powerless. Does that make it morally wrong to have given women the vote? Did the US government need to get the slaves consent before setting them free? Those are much closer to the moral questions that my argument is coming out of.

Again though, sueworld2003, as zeitgeist suggested above, I think that most people in this discussion understand what Dana5140 is saying and agree with the idea that morally Buffy may have been wrong.

I don't believe the spell was morally wrong at the time it was cast. If Buffy had done it before the bringers started targeting potentials, I would think it might be morally wrong. If each of the potentials were not already on a list of people to be murdered, I would think it might be morally wrong. Since the potentials were being systematically murdered, Buffy withholding a way to defend themselves while she went off to die heroically, would have been morally wrong.
"OK, but take it a step back then and ask, "Why was that the solution the writers presented us with ?". Clearly they thought it was OK (and textually, all the characters think it's a great idea too). Since we had one deus ex machina (the amulet), there's no reason they couldn't have come up with another way to seal the Hellmouth that didn't involve the empowerment spell. So wherever the buck stops, there's still an imposed (i.e. false) dichotomy, there were other options."

Aaah, okay, I may have slightly misunderstood your previous comment, Saje. I'd assumed we were discussing the options being offered to Buffy within the story, rather than the possible options that the writers could have come up with as alternative solutions to defeating the First.

If we are talking about the choices that the writers had (and if we are talking Chosen then I presume that mostly means Joss) then I totally agree that the options were pretty much unlimited. Joss could have had Angel and his team turn up with the full force of the Senior Partners behind them. There could have been an asteroid collide with Sunnydale just at the right time and place to seal the Hellmouth forever. Willow could have used the scythe for countless other spells that would have resulted in defeating the First. Buffy could have woken up in the mental ward again and it turn out that the whole thing really had been her imagination (that last option would have made season 5 of Angel a little harder to explain, of course ;)). The possible ways that the finale could have been written are practically endless. In fact the entire season could have been written differently so that the First's plan didn't involve the potential slayers at all, in which case there would have been no mass slayer activation in the first place.

So yeah, if we are talking about the options that Joss had for how to end the story then there absolutely were a lot more than just the two we've been discussing. My entire argument is based on the options Buffy had within the story, which were obviously a lot more limited.
Personally, I always thought the best option involved using demolition equipment to get rid of the school building and opening up the hellmouth really w i d e at noon on an extremely sunny day, but that's just me. ;-)
I agree newcj. I mean, they already had a guy there who had expertise in demolition. :) He could make it all neat and tidy too.
Saje:
Yeah I actually almost hedged that by making up something about how you can't shoot the sicko Rowan Hawthorn but eventually settled on "those are your options" to cover it - you can assume various nefarious devices or situational tweaks preventing you from shooting them if you like ;). More seriously though, I think your response might partly explain your antipathy towards "grey areas" - to me it's basically a thought experiment, to you it was "What would I do in that actual situation ?".
Well... yeah. I mean, to me, that's kinda the point of that type of thought experiment: what would I do in a situation like that? I accept it as a given that killing either of those two people in that situation would be Wrong, so what do you do if presented with it? I'm kinda like Captain James T. Kirk - I don't believe in the "no win" scenario; obviously, there is such a thing, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go down swinging.

Saje:
The moral greyness comes in because the question being asked is (I reckon), "Is the pragmatic thing to do always the moral thing to do ?". Maybe to you it is (that'd be Utilitarianism - big 'U' ;) in which case it's genuinely not grey at all - you do what you must and that's that.

No, it's not always the moral thing to do - but it is, sometimes, not only the lesser of the two evils, but the only acceptable choice given the alternative. In the situation you presented, if there was absolutely no possible way I could hope to take out the Sicko, yes, I'm fairly certain I'd kill the total stranger before my child. But (assuming that it was a single psycho and not, say, ten or twelve) it would take an awful lot to convince me of that. Given a single opponent, especially with him close enough to hand me the weapon, I'm fairly certain I could kill him, even if I died in the process. "You do what you must and that's that" sums my attitude up pretty well - but that doesn't make things any less grey, it just makes the decision a little easier. Not necessarily any easier to live with (although, I figure anybody who'd put me in that kind of situation is pretty much past their expiry date, anyway...)

Saje:
The issue I and others have with that is, it becomes possible to justify behaviours that seem, on their face, to be immoral solely because they act "for the greater good" (like torture, slavery etc.).

Of course, the same could be said for any decision, including the opposite: for example, taking as a given that it's wrong to take a life, if we then accept that the moral decision is never to kill even if it's to save your own or someone else's life, then would it not be the moral decision for the police to refuse to answer a call because they might have to kill the criminal? And if we balk at that, then aren't we right back to the same place, i.e., justifying actions that appear, on their face, to be immoral?
While Mal might be more opposed to any sort of government than Joss might be, it seems clear to me that their common ground isn't the regulation of behavior, but the regulation of thought. (Slight misquoting here?) "...Telling us what to feel, what to think. They're in our thoughts and in our heads, and they haven't the right." There's a reason that Mal looks at River when he says "to make people...better." The Alliance may have used surgeries (and programming, and who knows what) in one case, and chemicals in the other, but both River and the people of Miranda were the victims of the government trying to physically alter their brains, their very selves. IMHO, anyway, there is a clear, qualitative difference between actual, forced thought-policing and alteration, and laws regulating behavior.
What is education if not thought alteration ? Do any of us that went through the state school system genuinely believe our way of thinking wasn't shaped to some extent by our schooling ? So again, i'd say continuum, different not distinct.

(and interestingly, the whole Spike/chip storyline seemed to be saying - or maybe just wondering if - you can alter thought by altering behaviour)

... then would it not be the moral decision for the police to refuse to answer a call because they might have to kill the criminal?

Nah Rowan Hawthorn, in that scenario they should answer the call, they just shouldn't kill anyone. There's no reason not to act just because you might face a moral decision afterwards (note the decision part i.e. they wouldn't have to kill anyone, they can still choose not to at the scene, even to preserve lives) otherwise no vaguely moral person would do anything.

No, it's not always the moral thing to do - but it is, sometimes, not only the lesser of the two evils, but the only acceptable choice given the alternative.

What does "acceptable" mean here ? And why is it different to "the lesser of two evils" ? (not rhetorical BTW, I genuinely don't really see what you're getting at ;)

We seem to agree anyway that it's a grey area (which earlier you seemed to be contesting) and we agree that most people would act pragmatically and so act at the time as if it isn't a grey area. In reality, this sort of debate is interesting (to me) and fun but it's drawing room conjecture. In the real world (where most people don't have drawing rooms ;) folk usually act out of instinct in perilous situations and worry about the ethics afterwards (if at all).

ETA: 'nd'. Can make all the difference ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-07-12 19:24 ]
Saje:
What does "acceptable" mean here ? And why is it different to "the lesser of two evils" ? (not rhetorical BTW, I genuinely don't really see what you're getting at ;)

I see greater and lesser degrees of "lesser of two evils". There may be situations where the distinction is so slight that it might take considerable debating to decide which path to follow, and others where I don't plan on debating anything, even with myself.

Saje:
We seem to agree anyway that it's a grey area (which earlier you seemed to be contesting)

Not contesting that it's a grey area so much as contesting some of the reasoning behind that thought and the connections being made to circumstances that do not, IMO, warrant - or deserve - the comparison.

Saje:
There's no reason not to act just because you might face a moral decision afterwards (note the decision part i.e. they wouldn't have to kill anyone, they can still choose not to at the scene, even to preserve lives) otherwise no vaguely moral person would do anything.

Bingo.

Saje:
In the real world (where most people don't have drawing rooms ;) folk usually act out of instinct in perilous situations and worry about the ethics afterwards (if at all).

"When you have to shoot, shoot! Don't talk." - Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez
wah wah wah, wah wah waahhhh. Good film (so good that I didn't have to google that ;).
Now about that James Marsters guy.....*g*
He's all right. I don't agree with much of anything he said in this particular interview - but he's all right...
After thinking about it, Saje, perhaps I can see a bit of a continuity between legally-mandated education and physical brain-violation; as killing a fly to killing a person...

Besides, where have we gotten the idea that Joss endorses mandated ed? River's nightmares are set in a (seemingly government-sponsored) school.... ;)

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