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January 07 2009

Joss speaks about the buzz for Dollhouse. He also discusses the format and the timeslot for the show as well.

Great interview, thx!

So, we have confirmation on the finale: Written by Joss Whedon.

Shooting the last three episodes simultaneously sounds like fun.

And I really like this bit:

And ... now that's sort of happened, and after a few episodes, all of which are stand-alones, we're at a point where ... we know the characters well enough that there's a little bit of shorthand, and the interactions start to become really, really fascinating. And ... we hint at a lot of stuff in the early episodes, while we're doing stand-alones. We're sort of laying out threads, and now we start to get weaving some of them, and, ... without getting too caught up in its own mythology, that's where it starts to get really exciting. ...


That's how I like my Whedon. Stand-alone with hints and weaving. :)
That was one truly peculiar comment about "24" --

I was never comfortable being paired with 24. That's not exactly the kind of thing that I'm behind.


I get the first part -- pairing with "24" hasn't been the ratings pop that "American Idol" has been, for instance. But "not exactly the kind of thing that I'm behind"?

Regardless, I'm looking forward to "Dollhouse", and I'm glad that Joss and FOX both seem to be in sync about what they want ratings-wise and how much time they might need to get there.
One assumes because its massively jingoistic and seems to condone torture, but one is assuming.
I think one's assumption is correct in re: Joss's opinion of said show. But one is only thinking.
But "not exactly the kind of thing that I'm behind"?

Presumably he doesn't like the subject matter or view-point the show often takes (pro-torture etc.).

ETA: One presumes cos that's entirely different to assuming or thinking, making this an original comment. Ahem.

Is having two photos of Eliza that are the same a sort of visual pun on Echo d'ya think ?

(nah, me neither ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2009-01-07 17:22 ]
I've never seen 24, partly because I heard that there's Serbian terrorists and torture involved. Isn't it like... kinda ... well... how shall I put it... unpopular... from... erm... a leftist point of view? And maybe Joss is... well... you know...

Ah, yeah, zeitgeist summed it up perfectly. :)

whew.

(But what does jingoistic mean?)
Is having two photos of Eliza that are the same a sort of visual pun on Echo d'ya think ?


I had a video instead of the first pic the first time I clicked the link. One that I couldn't watch, of course, since I'm not in the US. By the time it took me to launch Hotspot Shield and reload the page the video was gone and Echo... echoed.
Too much jing, over-jinged, all jinged out - y'know, jingoistic.


ETA: Ah, just noticed you may not be a native English speaker wiesengrund (looked at your profile ;) so just to be clear, I wasn't making fun of you. Jingoistic just means too patriotic i.e. in an overbearing way.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-01-07 17:25 ]
Overly nationalistic. Think of a room full of people chanting "USA!" while wearing American Flag T-shirts that say "My Country Right or Wrong" on the back.
Me too Wiesengrund, unless of course we are dealing with a stand-alone Hugo Weaving. Waitaminute, Joss and Hugo Weaving? What a pairing! Adding to wish list....

Oh man, I can't wait for some Jossy goodness. Is there a Dollhouse countdown clock somewhere? (Maybe on the Joss Picnic-o-meter site? And btw, after reading this interview, we are on bright green!!!)
I really wish we had a clip of Eliza walking up to Joss and saying, "Wanna make out...I'm a little sick." And then Joss' resulting answer, "I like you, I mean, I love you, as a friend..."
Seems an odd thing to say, at least, about your network's top scripted property. I don't really watch the show, but the TV movie was pretty great.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-01-07 17:26 ]
Very much so, and why I will not watch 24. I think it contributed to the acceptance of torture by the public during the Bush Administration- but that is a discussion for a different board.

My thoughts here are, honestly, Joss sounds a bit down- he rarely gets to talk up the show, but is put into positions where he has to defend it, and that was much the case here.
Seems an odd thing to say, at least, about your network's top scripted property.

Yeah, Joss has clearly only been partly assimilated, somebody call the thought-police.
That was completely uncalled for and hardly my point at all. It just seemed a bit strange for him to be defending the show, and the network's schedule and plans for it, while throwing their top-rated show under the bus in some vague way.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-01-07 17:30 ]
You know I expected flak about how badly written and puerile the article was. It was one of those rare times where I felt embarrassed about posting something at Whedonesque.

Oh, bite me, that was completely uncalled for and hardly my point at all.


Play nice.
I wish he didn't have to constantly defend or justify Dollhouse. But such is the nature of the beast. I've been sick of all the countdowning and handwringing (while engaging in it, against my better nature) and now, suddenly, I cannot *wait.* Maybe it's because I can smell it coming - it's close, brothers and sisters, it's close. A new Jossian production on TV! It's been too long.

I'm not sure it's so odd a thing to say, KingofCretins. Joss is hardly being revolutionary in saying it. It may not be the most diplomatic thing to say, but I like that Joss, while tending toward diplomacy much of the time, can also be a little acerbic. Unctuous he tends not to be. Love that.

Heh, Saje. Joss will disappear for a while then come back on air, clutching his Victory Vodka (am I remembering correctly?) and retract his earlier statement, calling it "Doubleplusungood." (Edited to add: NOT a flame thrown at KingOf. Just playing along with the 1984 thing. Plus like saying "Doubleplusungood.")

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-01-07 17:32 ]
Diplomacy is what I was thinking -- "I never thought the two really matched audiences/themes" or something much more general than that he's "just not behind" that show, when that show makes the network a ton of money which, amongst other things, lets them feed a bit more line out to shows that will need to build an audience such as "Dollhouse".
Calm down KingOfCretins, no-one's biting anyone ;).

To me it seems strange that you would think he should just toe the party line about a show it makes sense for him not to like given what we know about him (and the show). Besides, "That's not exactly the kind of thing that I'm behind." is non-specific enough that he can back-pedal if he gets into really deep shit for expressing an honest opinion.
I get your point, Kingof. He usually does seem to try hard to be diplomatic so it's striking when he's not being so.

Off topic, but I'm getting a little alarmed at what's happening over at the .org. What's going on? Has .org been mindwiped by a malicious programmer?

Sorry. Back to Dollhouse. Simon, the lamest thing I thought about the article was the double posting of that picture. Odd production choice.
That picture looks like someone hired Echo to reenact an episode of "Lost" :) Programmed her to be Kate for them?
Hey, that WoW gold is handy stuff, I used mine to buy a virtual spambot (it virtually worked too).
, the lamest thing I thought about the article was the double posting of that picture.


The following made me wince considerably.

Joss Whedon, creator of Fox's upcoming sci-fi drama Dollhouse, has a message for the haters out there: Give the show a frakkin' chance!


I mean please. We're not 12. Don't insult the fandom's intelligence.
Yeah, that was pretty bad, Simon.

Hmm. Spambots hit the .org. I wonder if that's the first time. I wonder if it's ever happened before here in the black. I shudder to think...
There've been other spambots on the .org (none here AFAIK, probably because membership is only open at certain times so the bots can't join), it's just the admins do such a great job of despamming that they're not always there long enough to spot.

One of the few 'Dollhouse' articles I actually took issue with was from Sci-Fi Wire so i'm not amazed that this one also isn't exactly brilliantly written.
It hasn't happened on the black and I just deleted them from .org. As always, just PM me over there or email me directly if something gets weird and I'm not on top of it.
I for one wholeheartedly agree about the anti-24 pairing. I mean, season 1 was pretty enjoyable, in the turn-off-your-brain kind of way: it was something new and hectic, kind of like a decent b-action movie as a series. Brainless, with excess torture included, but action packed and entertaining nonetheless. When they did the same plot for season 2, it was still quite watchable, the action kept it going, even though you had to use even more effort to keep brains turned off. I couldn't watch through season 3 even with the 1/week schedule, it was just too much to watch exactly the same plot again, more violence sure, but there's a limit.

Now, imagine Dollhouse after an hour of fast action, where you have to concentrate not to think about the plot to enjoy it. Continue watching Dollhouse with the same brains turned off, I bet it would suck for many. Now, on the other hand. Terminator, time paradoxes (however simplified), grand plot, actually a plot(!), and I say a close to a perfect match.
Yeah, it is a bit nuts how everyone seems to form an opinion of this show before ever even seeing an episode.

Personally, I'm excited. If it's got Whedon's name on it, I know to just set aside any preconceptions and enjoy the ride. And I also loved his talk about weaving the threads laid out in the early episodes. ;-)
Oh, man. Press junket time. So good for fans, not so fun for the people answering the questions over and over and over. At least no one's asked if Echo is going to be one of those strong female characters he's so good at. Yet.
I tried to watch a friend's DVD of 24 and it left me cold. (Maybe I should have tried doing weekly episodes instead of long viewing sessions) From the 8 or 9 episodes I made it through, I'd posit that 24 is an action soap opera. It seems you could jump in on any episode and within a few minutes you're back up to speed and nothing had changed with the character development. Granted that's only after watching about half of the first season.

Top rated shows deserve respect within a studio but I don't think Joss is under any obligation to say he likes something he doesn't. Popular doesn't mean good. I seem to recall many years ago, The Dukes of Hazzard was the number 1 show in the US.
I love just about everything Joss has done since 1997, and have found my views usually jive with his. However, I am a big fan of "24." I have a range of tastes, and suspense and action are in there. I don't think it's an incredibly "right-wing" show, though I can see the "left-wing" issues taken with it. I'm not a huge fan of guns, torture, rape, but they're real things. I feel "24" treats those elements as real things that are part of Jack Bauer's life and career, not as glorified, pure entertainment aspects of the show.

That being said, this interview really got me more excited for "Dollhouse" than those before. Since it sounds like things really start meshing and culminate at the end of the first 13, I really hope Joss gets a chance to explore more in a second season. I have too many 13 (or less) episode gems on my DVD shelf.
I never suggested he was under an obligation to compliment "24", but I'd have thought prudence demand he not go out of his way to take a bite out of it (albeit a gentle one). If you don't have anything nice to say...

My preference would have been for "Dollhouse" to be teamed with... "House". I think those would have been great together. "Terminator" is slowly losing my interest, is why, getting far, far too convoluted when we should more often just have a cyborg trying to kill John Connor. All this three dots business and Shirley Manson almost shaming the badass legacy of Robert Patrick is starting to drag on. I'm glad it can be thought provoking, but really, pick up the pace. Or at least give us more episodes like the Richard Schiff/Adam Busch one.
24 isn't Fox's biggest Franchise. That would be American Idol by at least three times over. Second is probably Football, then Simpsons, then Family Guy, then House. 24 is way down that list. Sorry.
I know that it has a bad reputation. But so do the executives who built the sort of Terminator/Dollhouse entity, Anyone else read this as the executives having a bad repution at first? I do like it a lot that Joss is so open about his views of "24". The interview were he complained about having to reshoot the pilot made me feel like we had been lied to before, so it's really nice to hear Joss speak so freely again.

That incredible list of names: Jane, Tim, Joss for the final tree episodes, really looking forward to the show more and more!Just one more month!
Speaking for myself, I love the long complicated storylines. My favorite season of Angel is S4, in which just about each episode picks up where the last one ended (although you could make an argument that S3 and S4 are really one long story arc). I was much less taken with S5 when they were pressured, once again, to be more episodic (though I love the Wes/Fred/Illyria arc, which gets to play out over a longer span).

I could well be wrong, but I suspect that the execs are behind the curve on this. The whole "we need each episode to stand alone" idea seems to me to hark back to the days when the great goal of all TV series was to hit the 100 episode mark and get sold into syndication. Back then, of course, the only way to see your shows was when they aired. If you missed the odd ep (especially easy to do if they were being stripped in syndication), it would be a real pain if you then lost some crucial step in the story. These days, though, it's easy for people to make sure they can catch up on missed episodes (DVRs, bittorrent etc.). I think the payoffs of getting an audience deeply hooked ("I've just got to find out what happens to so-and-so") are probably greater than the negative of raising a higher barrier to audience entry ("how can I start watching this show when I've missed half the story?").
I enjoy 24, to varying degrees. Those varying degrees tend to be about the writing being stupid at various times, not about torture, even though I oppose it. How many demerits does that get me?

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-07 19:42 ]
Two and a half.
For me, 24's stupidity and torture are intertwined, since torture works more effectively and predictably on 24 than magic works on Buffy. A problem arises when people mistake the show's fantasy depiction of torture for reality.
More generally, a problem arises when people are stupid.
More generally, problems tend to arise.
"The whole "we need each episode to stand alone" idea seems to me to hark back to the days when the great goal of all TV series was to hit the 100 episode mark and get sold into syndication."

I think the other issue is that stand alone shows seem to repeat better. Lost does well in the demo for first run episodes but it repeats horribly, which is why ABC now rarely bother airing re-runs.

As for 24, even without the politics of it, I can't be doing with mystery shows where the writers don't actually know where they're going at the outset so it never really appealed to me.
It's a special kind of stupidity that afflicts even the smart. I call it, "Violence Solves Everything." It could be a trope.
It should be said, that Joss's objection to 24 may not be (only) political.

As someone who likes subtlety and character evolution, he may not find the idea of a show that insistently takes place within 24 hours appealing.
Ironically, Fox also told T:SCC to be more stand-alone for season two and its ratings (and writing) plummeted. Now it's being allowed to go back to serialized.
It's a special kind of stupidity that afflicts even the smart. I call it, "Violence Solves Everything." It could be a trope.

To be fair, most problems in the Jossverse ultimately get solved by violence--and occasionally by torture. It always interests me that although the majority of Whedonverse fans (probably) shares Joss's basically lefty political leanings (because of his show's pretty clear commitment to left social positions--gay rights etc.), it's always had a strong following among certain kinds of Ayn-Randish righties (exactly the 24 crowd, of course--happy to see a black president, for example, but strongly believing that the bill of rights is a petty nuisance).

Mal, after all, (and it grieves me to say this) is pretty Rand-y (to coin a phrase): the heroic individual turning his back on the suffocating order of a civilization that does not allow for such individuals. Anyone who roots for Jack Bauer would have little trouble rooting for Mal.

Buffy, at least, used to agonize about the problem of exercising a power that was untrammeled by social checks and balances (but that strand in the show mostly dropped away after 9/11, when it became much more militaristic and "rah rah, we're fighting a WAR against EEEEVIL..."--one of the reasons I can't get on board the 2nd half of S7). Angel never much worried about those issues at all...indeed there's a strong Rand-y streak in the message of S5: the individualistic hero gets "captured" by the soul-destroying demands of bureaucracy: until, of course, he once again chooses to don the mantle of "champion" (very "Atlas Shrugged"--very "Fountainhead") and do battle against the world's evil.

I guess what I'm saying is that one shouldn't require fictional worlds to map directly onto one's political ideals. Or, at least, if you do, you'll probably end up missing out on some pretty great shows (not that I'd include 24 in that bunch--though the first series was certainly an entertaining thriller).
Actually, none of the problems in the Buffyverse are ever solved by violence against humans. Violence against imaginary demons, sure, but not violence against humans.*

And while individual stories are climaxed by killing people in Firefly, that's different from solving a problem. (IOW, a henchman in an engine doesn't solve the problem of Niska, and may aggravate it.) Serenity, the movie, shows Mal growing from a person who solves problems by killing people (even unarmed people) to sparing the life of his antagonist in order to convert him and the alliance by (of all things) showing a video. (River's fight with the Reavers takes care of whatever emotional need there is for a violent conclusion, but Reavers, like demons, are imaginary creatures.)

I think a pretty clear line is drawn between violence against humans and violence against made-up creatures.

*Some would say that Giles' killing of Ben solved the Glory problem, but the story itself still hasn't resolved the question three years** later.

**ETA: Oops -- I meant seasons. And left out an apostrophe.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-07 21:20 ]
Buffy distinguishes between threats that need to be dealt with by violence, and those who don't. Even among demons. Yeah, the S7 "this is war" speech is pretty hard to take, but that's because it's so effing unlike her most of the time. I point this out a lot here, but the scenes where her methods and the Initiative's are clashing are really revealing about how Buffy sees demons and deals with most evil day to day. S7-8 are kind of different because both carry a question of what happens to a hero when the stakes are raised even higher than usual and she's no longer just the front line fighter, but leading an army. So the story does go to a more authoritative place sometimes. But note that it's usually where Buffy goes to when she's struggling with a new aspect of her power: power of command. She's learning how to lead as she goes, and I think it's clear she is still developing a leadership style, just as she developed a fighting style and a strategic style in earlier seasons.
Giles killing Ben is still one of those stand out moments that revealed a brick ton about a main character and got totally lost in the progression of the storyline. What a shame.
Do you mean the "choke on me/we're an army" speech ? Man, I could take that over and over, great speech, very Buffy IMO. Course, she goes off the rails somewhat after that.

Actually, none of the problems in the Buffyverse are ever solved by violence against humans.

Not sure about that. Buffy acquires information by beating up Willie, he's human isn't he ? Pretty sure Angel does the same at times. And Angel also kills the WR&H "SWAT" guy in S5, pretty sure he was human too. And he chops Lindsay's hand off (and locks Darla and Dru in with Holland etc.). Pretty sure he would've killed Lilah too, had it come to that.

It should be said, that Joss's objection to 24 may not be (only) political.

As someone who likes subtlety and character evolution, he may not find the idea of a show that insistently takes place within 24 hours appealing.


That's possible but if it was mainly not a "political" issue he had I don't think he'd say anything. In that case he would be diplomatic since saying it's not the sort of thing he's behind creatively would be tantamount to criticising one of his peers in public and that would be new - whereas expressing honest opinions about his TV tastes is years old (political in quotes BTW cos I doubt it's a simple right/left thing, only the most naive lefty would equate torture solely with the right-wing).

And though there's torture in the Buffyverse, it's not endemic to it nor is it represented as being - as it is in '24' from what i've seen of it i.e. the first 5 seasons - pretty much 100% effective.

(it has to be said, I also think he's been slightly more, not aggressive but ... assertive ? towards the studios/networks since the strike)
Not sure whether Willie's status is human, non- or demi-, Saje, but I think when Angel the character tries to solve problems by killing lawyers, Angel the series raises questions about whether things get better, worse or iffy. Wolfram and Hart endures, and Angel (I think) has to work back to a less-dark place, IIRC. (And I may not RC, since I don't remember Angel as well as Buffy, being a bigger Buffy fan.)

And Sunfire makes the important point that even among demons, Buffy makes distinctions between those that are a clear and present threat and those with whom one can coexist, or even ally, or even hang out.
This is the first Joss interview about Dollhouse that gives me a real warm fuzzy feeling. Taking shots at those in need of shots, including doubters and the Fox execs, not out of anger, just balance. Nice.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2009-01-07 21:41 ]
Ok I re-read the transcript of the speech, and it's sort of 50/50 for me. On the one hand it is very powerful and very Buffy, and I especially love that last line. I like that she refuses to be hunted and afraid and decides to be the aggressor instead. But it does have an element of ruthless us/them in it that has always troubled me as I hear SMG deliver it. Mostly because her context is deeply fantastical-- she is literally fighting demons from hell to save the world-- but I have heard similar things said by real people in war who see real-world human enemies the exact same way. So I guess it bothers me because for a moment, I'm elsewhere, and it's not the Hellmouth.

I'm guessing Dollhouse is going to have similar moments for me, probably more in regard to things like human trafficking and the various subtle ways one person can control and manipulate the emotions and behaviors of someone else. Topher's using technology, and that's the magical gizmo that allows a bit of hand-wavey fantasy stuff. But I imagine they're going to have scenes that call to mind all too realistic scenarios.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-07 21:50 ]
or even hang out.


...and other refinements.
Never finger a zeitgeist.

I'm surprised that the genre oddness of the showdown between Mal and the Operative at the climax of Serenity doesn't get more notice. It's a strange Western that ends with the bad guy not being shot dead, just being forced to watch an important political message. (Using political in the non-partisan, non-electioneering sense of how power is distributed and wielded in a . . . verse.)

ETA You have to read today's Buffy, zeitgeist, all the way to the end. :D

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-07 21:59 ]
The Operative's not really the enemy, just their weapon. By disabling him and playing the tape, Mal disarmed and then shot the real enemy. Not fatally, but maybe bad enough so that it dies of complications somewhere down the line.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-07 21:59 ]
The Operative is the guy who decides Mal has to die and tries to kill him -- and can still order his soldiers to kill them all. He's the antagonist in the film, the villain.

The real enemy -- whatever arrangement of power is responsible for the Pax and the death of Miranda's inhabitants -- is not defined in the movie. The Alliance is kind of like The Railroad in a Western, a force that is viewed as both progressive and a trampler on individual rights in the name of progress. Even when the railroad's armed tools are killed in a Western, the railroad continues. Serenity departs from the norm of Westerns (I think, although I'm not expert in the Western genre) by implying that the tool of the Alliance, and by implication the Alliance itself, can be reformed.

ETA. John Wayne, IIRC, seldom decided that the bad guys really just needed to be presented with all the facts so they could see the error of their ways. Mal's solution is extraordinarily non-violent, something that's probably overlooked in the flurry of flying Reaver bits.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-07 22:16 ]
Giles tortures Ethan Rayne (a human) for info--and Giles remains a "hero." Angel arranges to have Lorne whack the human Lindsay--and I'm sure there are other human deaths in Angel that are presented to us as simply the best available solution to a given problem (some have been mentioned above).

But, sure, I'll grant that the Buffyverse is more squeamish about the deaths of humans than the deaths of demons. The original comment was about the stupidity of believing that violence solves problems. In the Buffyverse, violence is the answer to almost all problems (of course, there's no permanent solution, because there's always more evil, but it sure puts paid to plenty of specific instances of evil--The Master, The Mayor, Glory/Ben etc. etc.).

But my real point was that there's a pretty imperfect fit between what I understand to be Joss's political commitments and beliefs and the fictional worlds that he creates. And necessarily so. The belief in a "hero" figure who swoops in and saves the world with a burst of cleansing violence is fundamentally right wing. Lefties prefer to believe in the power of institutions rather than the power of heroic individuals. Of course they believe in protecting individual freedom, but only within the context of a shared commitment to the good of the social body as a whole (thus yay to gay marriage, but boo to someone exercising their "freedom" to pollute, for example). Mal might be the kind of guy you want fighting in your revolutionary war, but he'd be a lousy legislator. He's a classic small-government, "just let people be" libertarian.

Now, such a character makes a great hero--precisely because he puts pressure on some of our key beliefs. What do we owe to the collective good? To what extent can we condone acts of piracy if we don't believe the legal order that is being flouted is legitimate etc. etc. But good stories aren't the same thing as good policy-papers.

ETA: while we're thinking about Westerns, one of the greatest Westerns of all addresses precisely this dilemma. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance gives us John Wayne as the Mal kind of hero--the one you need in a world where the law is not yet established, but it also gives you Jimmy Stewart: the hero you need when the world no longer (and rightly so) has a place for John Waynes.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-01-07 22:23 ]
Am playing catch-up on this thread, but the early bits on "jingoistic" got me wondering about the word, as I had no idea what a "jingo" is. According to wikipedia "jingoism" is a British term derived from a nationalistic song which featured the phrase "by jingo". It particularly connotes excessive patriotism combined with aggressive foreign policy.

Before the word was picked up in the US, American journalists used the term "spread-eaglism" to describe the same thing. I'm rather glad that didn't stick.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.
Giles killing Ben is still one of those stand out moments that revealed a brick ton about a main character and got totally lost in the progression of the storyline.


Aye. Shame it got cut for length in Lies My Parents Told Me.
Buffy did kill humans without any consideration of whether it was the right thing to do - she kills some of the Knights of the Byzantium in s5 (unless recovery from a massive axe blow to the back is possible).
In s7 there's plenty of killing of the bringers who are human - self mutilated and serving the orginal source of evil, yeah....but still.
I always thought the moral line drawn in Buffy was more about making the story emotive and engaging than demonstrating a moral code (though there's room for both in most cases I agree).
ETA You have to read today's Buffy, zeitgeist, all the way to the end. :D


Oh, I did, and the check is in the mail, Jane!
A few disagreements, snot monster from outer space.

Giles is a compromised hero. He manipulates Buffy by not telling her that he's killed Ben, knowing that she will not trust him if he doesn't share the value she places on human life. This character trait is amplified (and criticized) in season seven, when Giles manipulates Buffy to allow Robin Wood to kill Spike, who, it turns out, is needed for wold save-age. And in season 8 Giles is for killing the bad slayers, although it's clear (to him) that Buffy would not allow it and unclear (to readers) whether it's the right thing to do.

Yes, Angel has Lorne whack Lindsay. What problem does it solve?

Individual heroism is admired left, right and center. "Lefties prefer to believe in the power of institutions" is a problematic statement -- a lot of effort on the left is exerted taming the power of institutions to make sure they don't trample the rights of individuals. And not just within the "the context of a shared commitment to the good of the social body as a whole." Even the rights of people who don't share that commitment -- fascists, for example -- are defended by civil libertarians of the left. Right and left in the U.S. tend to agree that your liberty to swing your fist ends at someone else's chin, but disagree on where that point is. The polluter hits my chin; the gay husband doesn't come close. But someone else sees him as a threat to his family.

But the big thing about BtVS is that it keeps expanding heroism from an individual to a larger group. Buffy is distinct from previous slayers in that she doesn't stand alone. She has the Scoobs, who insist on joining the fight, and on whose strength she depends to win. (That power relationship is demonstrated in "The Wish," when loner Buffy dies, again in the second to the last episode of season four, when Buffy must draw on the power of Xander, Willow and Giles to defeat Adam, and most famously at the climax of season seven, when victory depends on empowering everyone who can be empowered.)

[And The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence does portray a west that was won by lone gunmen, but the real West was won by organized government power, including gun control laws that required people to disarm when they entered town. The movie, which makes a show of exposing legend, actually reinforces legend. Great movie, though.]

ETA grammar.

[ETfurtherA: lone fashionable wolf, I think the Bringers are like vampires -- former humans. And in season five, Buffy thinks the right thing to do is to kill anyone who tries to kill her sister -- IOW, to defend her family from the immediate threat of death. While that is Buffy's perspective, it's not clear that it's the show's perspective, especially since she explicitly abandons that position in season seven. She never casts moral considerations about human life aside.]

ETA correct name.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-07 23:14 ]
Am playing catch-up on this thread, but the early bits on "jingoistic" got me wondering about the word, as I had no idea what a "jingo" is. According to wikipedia "jingoism" is a British term derived from a nationalistic song which featured the phrase "by jingo".

Funnily enough 'jingo' is like 'jebus' or whatever i.e. it used to be a linguistic stand-in for 'Jesus'. So excessive, overbearing patriotism is, strictly, jesusism ;-).

In 'Serenity' i'm not sure there is an enemy in the ultimate sense (The Operative is surely the proximate enemy though) except maybe for the curbing of freedom since the Alliance are the "baddies" but they get there for the best reasons, they're not really evil.

And Sunfire makes the important point that even among demons, Buffy makes distinctions between those that are a clear and present threat and those with whom one can coexist, or even ally, or even hang out.

Yeah true but I don't think there's much doubt even then that these are lesser beings, Buffy doesn't go around killing willy-nilly because it serves no purpose (and because, as in all cold wars, there're rules to prevent it going 'hot') but she could and with moral impunity. Violence creates problems in the Buffyverse because it's part of Joss' worlds that actions have consequences (though admittedly - one poor sod on a camper van roof aside ;) - violence against humans largely only creates problems).

(fair point about Willie, we never see any evidence that he's a demon but AFAIK it's not categorically stated that he's human either)

Mal's solution is extraordinarily non-violent, something that's probably overlooked in the flurry of flying Reaver bits.

Mal's final solution is, don't forget that earlier he tries to shoot The Operative in - more or less - cold blood.

So I guess it bothers me because for a moment, I'm elsewhere, and it's not the Hellmouth.

I get that and even though it's very Buffy, it's almost the last time we see the One True Buffy until post 'Empty Places' IMO, it's the start of her journey down the wrong path (and I think it's explicitly intended to be too, her talk of armies etc. is the seed of "General Buffy". I think even though we've seen her dead, that's the most hurt we've seen her and it's tempting to say that that sends her off the deep end a bit, almost like post traumatic stress). Been a while since i've watched season 7 but I think it's one of/the last times we hear the Chosen riff until Buffy comes back to the fold too.

The belief in a "hero" figure who swoops in and saves the world with a burst of cleansing violence is fundamentally right wing. Lefties prefer to believe in the power of institutions rather than the power of heroic individuals.

Not necessarily institutions per se, more the power of individuals en masse (which, in theory, expresses itself in institutions) - left wing politics still celebrates and elevates the individual, just not at the expense of the group (Communism is fundamentally predicated on every individual being equal for instance, it only runs into problems because, y'know, they're not ;). But Buffy has other ideas also in keeping with the right-wing than the left e.g. the idea of being superior from birth, that though you have to work hard to improve yourself, if you're born with certain natural gifts you're gonna excel. As you say snot monster, that stuff is mostly just inherent in hero stories.

(and yeah, Liberty Valence is a great example of the "men left behind" trope that arrived on the scene surprisingly early in Westerns. Considering Westerns are historical by their nature, they're also about the arrival of the future quite a lot of the time - 'The Wild Bunch' being a classic later example of course. And again, this idea that there's something inherently worth saving about the past - worth conserving to put it in UK terms - is more right than left)
I watched 24 for the most reason seasons, as well as season 1. Its ok as pure action, but I don't like the whole 'terrorists attacking LA... again!' thing. And I don't like the fact it takes over the time span of a day... I like character development and stuff, please. Or at least some change or pace. The torture issue doesn't bother me, its fiction, not reality. The portrayal of certain groups bothers me a bit more, frankly.

I do want to comment on the violence in Whedon's work. I'm a Firefly fan first and foremost, and that's what got me into Whedon. I love all of the grey morality, and the willingness to kill bad guys that deserve it or torture them after beating them, like with Thatherton (sp?). When I started watching Buffy (after seeing Firefly), I was quite annoyed that she had such a big anti killing humans policy. Sure Willow went a bit overboard with Warren, but he deserved to die, and her killing him would be far more just than some trial by jury. For example the episode with Ted, I couldn't understand why Buffy was so upset. The guy deserved to die, regardless of being a human or a robot. Heck she had no problem killing Caleb and the Bringers, and they were all human (more or less).

It has been shown time and time again that some demons can be good, but just because their non human makes it better to kill them. That to me is moral dissonance on a scale equal to in when a movie when a 'good guy' doesn't kill the bad guy when he's defenseless, despite the fact it will save many many lives. That's why I loved when Giles killed Ben, and why I like Angel, its more grey morality (though not so much a fan of Season 4... 5 is awesome, though I'm still watching it). That's not to say I don't love Buffy, its just that I end up yelling (either out loud or in my head) at the characters way more often than in Firefly or Angel. I am also very glad that in the Season 8 comics, the grey morality continues, especially with Giles and Faith.

edit: To make clear, this is not an issue about my own values, but about fictional characters that I enjoy watching/reading about. I far enjoy far more a tortured, morally grey person than a morally upright, preachy person.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-01-07 23:19 ]
Well, I guess Joss does have reason to be worried about portraying irresponsibility. My oversight.
Well, y'know, it takes a village and all that. It's still mainly Joss' fault, don't get me wrong...

;-)
The "don't kill humans" ocmmandment that Buffy (sort of) lives by always struck me as jsut that, a commandment. Specifically, it was part of the traditional (Watchers') idea of what the proper role for a slayer was. In Watcher-logic, human=good, vampire=bad.

To my thinking, the show never really supported that logic, though (Angel, of course, being the first exception to vampire=bad). And, a lot of what Buffy did was change the definition of the slayer and question the strict moral commandments about who could or could not be killed, which is why she sometimes refused to kill demons and even *ahem* consorted with them.

I guess what I'm saying is that, for my money, the questions of the efficacy and morality of violence in Buffy and Angel actualyl have little to do with the species of the victim. Avoiding actual killing of humans probably ahd more to do with keeping the show kind of "family friendly" than it did with any moral statement. (This is also why the us v. them language of Buffy's later speeches also give me the willies; it does nto really reflect the mroe complex vie wthat the show, and Buffy, has developed.)
I doubt we actually disagree all that much, Pointy. We're just emphasizing slightly different points.

Giles is a compromised hero.
Which is to say only that this isn't a bad story. All interesting heros are "compromised." Buffy, Angel and Mal included.

Yes, Angel has Lorne whack Lindsay. What problem does it solve?
It pretty comprehensively solves the problem of Lindsay moving into the power vacuum left by the Circle of the Black Thorn--which is precisely the problem that Angel wishes to solve. If you're going to say "ah, but some OTHER evil will no doubt arise" then that's true, but trivial. Every problem gives way to a new problem except for the end of the world. I could use the same reply to any example of a "non-violent solution" that you raised (e.g. Xander's crayon speech).

Individual heroism is admired left, right and center. "Lefties prefer to believe in the power of institutions" is a problematic statement -- a lot of effort on the left is exerted taming the power of institutions to make sure they don't trample the rights of individuals. And not just within the "the context of a shared commitment to the good of the social body as a whole." Even the rights of people who don't share that commitment -- fascists, for example -- are defended by civil libertarians of the left. Right and left in the U.S. tend to agree that your liberty to swing your fist ends at someone else's chin, but disagree on where that point is. The polluter hits my chin; the gay husband doesn't come close. But someone else sees him as a threat to his family.

Yes, and at a sufficient distance there's really no difference between humans and apes (they're all primates), or between primates and ungulates (they're all animals) etc. etc. You've risen to a level of abstraction where there's no difference between Ayn Rand and John Maynard Keynes--I don't think that's the most useful level from which to address this question. Sure, lefties "admire heros," but we want to create a society which doesn't need them--or needs them as little as possible. Hence the preference for, say, social welfare over private charity, and the belief that regulation (gun control, a strong SEC, higher CAFE standards etc. etc.) is a legitimate infringement of personal liberty for the good of the whole. Of course the Alliance is clearly an illiberal state, but Mal's objection is the state interference per se: you don't imagine him gladly filling out forms in triplicate to some benevolent government's Environmental Protection Agency to demonstrate that he isn't burning unsafe amounts of whatever Serenity uses for fuel, or what have you.

But the big thing about BtVS is that it keeps expanding heroism from an individual to a larger group.
Well, yes and no. The theme of the slayer's essential isolation is, in fact, one that grows in significance rather than diminishes. The Buffy of "Restless" is infinitely more confident in her extra-individual commitments than the Buffy of S6 and S7. Buffy is never more isolated in the entire series than in "Empty Places" (an episode I loathe, I should say--utterly contrived and implausible).

You could point to "Chosen" as the climax of a "socialized Slaying" trajectory, I guess--except that an elite cadre of "Superwomen" who get to take the law into their own hands doesn't seem like anybody's notion of a "liberal left" worldview: and the way Joss has highlighted the ethical problems posed by the Slayer corps in S8 shows precisely how little he sees this massive expansion of the slayer ranks as a "solution."

And The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence does portray a west that was won by lone gunmen, but the real West was won by organized government power, including gun control laws that required people to disarm when they entered town. The movie, which makes a show of exposing legend, actually reinforces legend. Great movie, though.
Very nicely put, and I entirely agree. And of course the film is at once "debunk" and "rebunk" (I think that's kinda the point: "print the legend" is the film's conclusion, after all). But note that even as legend, it's a legend of the exclusion of the "Hero With The Gun." Sure, John Wayne gets to make civilization possible--but he's utterly clear that there will be no room for the likes of him (or Mal!) in the coming civilized order.
Mal's final solution

Hey, even I don't think he's that right wing!

(Good point, by the way.)
Come on guys, Joss only said that that was not exactly the kind of thing he's behind.

In my opinion, you are being too detailed. If you look at the shows as a whole, policy in Buffy is way different than 24.


OMFG! I can't believe no one is talking about Eliza's dress!
Saje writes:

And again, this idea that there's something inherently worth saving about the past - worth conserving to put it in UK terms - is more right than left.


Ooh--very sage Saje. Of course, it's one of the delicious ironies of Joss genre mashup in Firefly that it gets to play all that deep nostalgia for simpler, pioneering times in the context of a futuristic sci-fi show. But yes, the Western is nostalgic at its inception; framing the "taming of the West" (even before it's tamed) as the closing of an age of heroes. It often reads it as a necessary closure, of course (as in "Liberty Valance"), but there's a deep belief that the people on the untamed frontier live truer, richer, more noble lives when freed from the corrupting touch of the cosmopolitan modern.
This is what happens when there are no pics or spoilers, Rikardo.
I think we interpret some things differently, snot monster from outer space. Giles is one of the two villains of "Lies" -- by trying to do with Spike what he did with Ben, he endangers the whole world -- the world he's trying to save. Like the Knights of Byzantium, he has good motives, but that's not enough.

It is possible that some "lefties" want to create a world that doesn't need heroes, but you haven't given me any reason to believe that most people on the left or center do want that. I, for instance, cannot envision a world without firefighters or cops -- people who have to put their lives on the line to save others -- though I understand that government action can reduce, though never eliminate, the need to fight fires or crime. That's not abstract.

The slayer's isolation is a problem to which Buffy finds progressively better solutions by expanding the heroic role from the individual to the created family to (currently) every woman who's empowerable. The story ain't over yet, but its genera trend is to spread the power and the responsibility around. Heroism in the Buffyverse gets less and less elite as the story progresses.

Re: Mal: The movie Serenity puts your Liberty Valence point in the mouth of The Operative -- that men like him and Mal won't have a place in civilization. I think this is one of the catalysts for Mal's transformation from a guy who solves problems by killing people, like The Operative, to one who tries to solve a problem by enlightening people. Mal doesn't like The Operative, and doesn't like to be compared to him, and by his decision not to kill The Operative, becomes less like him.

The story shows that killing people does not solve Mal's problems, but enlightening them might. It's his final solution in the movie because it's the one that works. It also earns Mal a place in civilization, one acknowledged by civilization's compromised-but-enlightened spokesman, The Operative.

ETA: The point being that Joss has updated the myth of Regeneration Through Violence in a fairly spectacular way -- by portraying degeneration through violence and regeneration through enlightenment. It's the sort of thing that deserves notice.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 00:00 ]
I never thought about Buffy (the character) in an Old West context before, but it's interesting. The only time Buffy really discusses her code versus the law is towards the end of season six when she refuses to kill Warren, or let Willow kill him (oops), because there's a human system to deal with Warrens. She deals with the stuff that the human systems don't deal with. She's a frontier character.
This is what happens when there are no pics or spoilers, Rikardo.


Sometimes imagination is even more powerful than pics. *malefic laugh* =P
Joss compares Buffy to The Man Who Knows Indians in frontier narratives, dreamlogic, the European who learns and adopts "Indian" ways to fight them.

ETA punctuation.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 00:10 ]
Haven't had time to do more than scim the comments & I'm sure I'd love to get into the spinoff Buffy discussion, but back to topic ......
Quoting Joss "....when people start deconstructing the show before they've even seen it ..".

Everyone here on Whedonesque who is guilty of this, please raise your hand. Just sayin', it's the main reason I stay out of the Dollhouse discussions.
Loved the interview. Love Joss. Totally agree with the sentiment "give it a frackin' chance".
I just find it amusing that Jack Bauer's grandfather founded the NDP.
Joss compares Buffy to The Man Who Knows Indians in frontier narratives, dreamlogic, the European who learns and adopts "Indian" ways to fight them.

Link-y, Pointy? I must read that.
Very interesting how strong a case for the interpretation of Whedon's work as a advocate for torture, war and violence can be made. I think Whedon would be pretty shocked if he read all this. Though than there luckily is something like this to ease his mind: The story shows that killing people does not solve Mal's problems, but enlightening them might. It's his final solution in the movie because it's the one that works.

Someone recently pointed out to me how strong the similar pro war sentiment is in Sorkins years of the West Wing, quite interesting to see in the work of such outspokenly left wing writers. Sorkinese left might even be a better description of those fans of "24", that also like "BtvS". Since someone known (to me) as a bit of a homophobic sexist might not be the greatest example of someone who shares Joss views on gay rights etc., yet beliefs the end can justify the means in the case of war/torture/violence. I my self am not really sure how I think of this. What I do know is that most of my personal hero's are of the Ghandi/dr. King variety. So I don't really believe in the necessity of the connection between hero stories and violance as a solution.

Wonder what happened to the carefull assumption Joss might be talking about the ideological layer of "24". The thread is a bit too long for me to go back and find out.:)

Loved the interview. Love Joss. Totally agree with the sentiment "give it a frackin' chance".

Yeah, me too.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-01-08 01:20 ]
I found the quote, dreamlogic, but not the interview it came from, by googling Joss Whedon and "The Man Who Knows Indians" and clicking on a cached, but now defunct, page (which is why I don't think I can link it, but do think you can find it). He got the phrase from Wesleyan Professor Richard Slotkin.
Hey, even I don't think he's that right wing!


Its always interesting to me that most people equate the Nazis (the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany) with the extreme right. It is also common to see fascism closely equated with the far right, when in fact fascism (which is kinda hard to nail down given its variety) is intolerant of both liberalism and conservatism except where they intersect with ultra-nationalism. Just thought I'd randomly mention that.
Its always interesting to me that most people equate the Nazis (the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany) with the extreme right. It is also common to see fascism closely equated with the far right, when in fact fascism (which is kinda hard to nail down given its variety) is intolerant of both liberalism and conservatism except where they intersect with ultra-nationalism. Just thought I'd randomly mention that.


Of course. That's why I'm being careful to delineate a specific kind of right-wing ideology. I'd call it "right libertarian" but I'm always amazed how many self-described "libertarians" are happy to support all kinds of unconstitutional extensions of government power in the name of "security." "South Park Republican" is probably as good a descriptor as any. There's clearly no comfort to be found in the Jossverse for either left OR right totalitarianism.
zeitgesit; From thsi corner of the far right, I thank you.

And Buffy was no more oppos3ed to klling humans than any other law-aabiding person, it wasn't a specific personal commandment.The Knights of Byzatium chose to wage war and were killed in self-defense. Altho even a Winnebago can out-run galloping horses , but the show was never long on logic.
It is possible that some "lefties" want to create a world that doesn't need heroes, but you haven't given me any reason to believe that most people on the left or center do want that. I, for instance, cannot envision a world without firefighters or cops.


Well, Pointy, I can understand your love of firefighters when you're so free with the straw men. I'd be careful about naked flames.

Come on--do you seriously think I'm suggesting that people on the left have some kind of systematic opposition to firefighters??? Do you seriously think that by "heroes" I mean merely "those who act with great courage"? Firefighters represent precisely the kind of institutional solution to problems that in many cases affect individuals in rather random and unpredictable ways that the left approves of. In fact the American left has taken to offering firefighters as a parallel case when making the argument for universal healthcare (if I remember correctly, that's an argument that Michael Moore uses in Sicko). I assume you'll grant me that it is a "left wing" position to argue for universal healthcare, right? I assume you'll grant me that the right wing anti-universal-healthcare position is one that leaves the world in more need of "heroes"--people who act in ways utterly out of the social norm in order to bring relief to the unfortunate. I assume you'll agree that left wingers do honor the work of such people (just as they would honor the bravery of some amateur who did their best to fight a fire in the absence of professional firefighters), but that what they hope to see is a system in which such extraordinary (and necessarily unsystematic and sporadic) efforts are not required because there is an entire professional cadre of well paid people providing that service for free.

Now, you can--if you like--say "well, even a well-paid professional physician is a 'hero' to the people whose lives s/he saves" and there is a sense in which that is true. There is also a sense, however, in which it is true if that well paid physician replies "nonsense; I'm just doing my job." In any event, to insist upon such an argument would just be to descend into playing with semantics.
Pointy writes:

The slayer's isolation is a problem to which Buffy finds progressively better solutions by expanding the heroic role from the individual to the created family to (currently) every woman who's empowerable. The story ain't over yet, but its genera trend is to spread the power and the responsibility around. Heroism in the Buffyverse gets less and less elite as the story progresses.


I have to say I'm amused that you are so persnickity about the use of "solution" when it is applied to Buffy or Angel's use of violence, but use it here when, really...just when do we see Buffy voicing satisfaction about having "solved" the problem of the Slayer's isolation?

"Heroism gets less elite as the story progresses"? Buffy has a gang of fellow superbeings. That's not "bringing power to the people." She's not working at founding collective farms for oppressed peasants in Guatemala, she's robbing banks to fund an elite secret demon-fighting force. It's pretty clear that, in S8, we're meant to feel--at the very least--that Twilight have a point, that it just may not be tenable for the human race to tolerate the existence of the Slayers.

All of these questions, by the bye, are canvassed in that terrific movie The Incredibles. Note that that film became a cause celebre precisely among the kind of right-wingers I'm describing. I'm pretty sure Brad Bird's much more a lefty than not (I'd instance his work on the wonderful Iron Giant--but he runs into the same problem as Joss. There is something inherently satisfying to the conservative viewpoint about the idea of the Superman, which is inherently problematic to a more collectivist leftwing point of view.
What I'm suggesting is that your statement, "Lefties prefer to believe in the power of institutions rather than the power of heroic individuals," is mistaken.

Come on--do you seriously think I'm suggesting that people on the left have some kind of systematic opposition to firefighters???


I can see how you'd disagree with that suggestion if someone ever actually made it. But I didn't make it. I simply pointed out that in a world where government action does all it can to protect the lives, health and safety of citizens, there would obviously still be a need for heroes, and I don't know any liberals who don't recognize that. I don't know of any liberals who don't enjoy contemplating the power of individuals to act heroically on behalf of others. IOW, I think the straw men in the argument are these "lefties who prefer to believe in the power of institutions rather than the power of heroic individuals." They seem in short supply.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 03:35 ]
For the record Brad Bird is an Objectivist from way back :). I will also say in snotty's defense -can I call you snotty?- (and I trust that this will not offend anyone) that the left in this country is traditionally associated with collectivist/socialist/communist ideals and the right more traditionally with the rights of the individual and free markets. Of course that all falls apart pretty quickly in modern times where the party claiming to be conservative nationalizes a failed banking infrastructure (not saying it was wrong or right, but that's certainly a socialist move, right?). I do think that the either/or type of lefty or righty seems to be more in short supply these days, which is encouraging to me as it seems to foretell the possibility that we can come to some consensus and get some things done.
I have to say I'm amused that you are so persnickity about the use of "solution" when it is applied to Buffy or Angel's use of violence, but use it here when, really...just when do we see Buffy voicing satisfaction about having "solved" the problem of the Slayer's isolation?


Persnickety? I simply disagreed with you.

Buffy explicitly voices satisfaction at not being isolated, at having friends whom she can turn to when she needs help saving the world, in her dream confrontation with the first slayer in the last episode of season four. And Buffy's satisfaction at having empowered many more slayers is self-evident at the end of season seven.
Zeitgeist, I don't know whether you're offending anyone, but your interpretation of history unduly flatters the right and fails to recognize the contributions to individual freedom made by movements from the political left.

All the civil rights movements in our history -- all the movements that led to protection of the right of the individual to be free from government oppression on the basis of race, creed, color, sex or sexual orientation -- have been advanced over the objections of the political right, often against strong opposition by the political right.

ETA: For example, the luminaries of the modern political right in America, Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater and Willam F. Buckley, opposed federal legislation to dismantle Jim Crow segregation laws that abridged the rights of individuals to participate in their own self-government and interfered with free markets in former Confederate states.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 03:38 ]
I couldn't find the quote but this:

http://richlabonte.net/exonews/xtra/josswhedon.htm

is a nice one that mentions Slotkin and I can't believe I haven't seen before.

Be calm, Pointy. Think of who you're talking to. Most of us already know all this, and those that don't want to know never will.
Pointy - it wasn't my interpretation, its what "conventional wisdom" holds. Whether thats worth anything or not is part of the topic up for discussion. My point was actually the opposite of what youa re reading in my post - that the left isn't really all about groups and socialism/communism and the right isn't all about the rights of the individual. In other words, my point is -as it often is- that the truth doesn't lie at either edge, but somewhere in the mess in between :). Rereading it I definitely shouldn't have cut my post down - I was in a hurry and there were about six more paragraphs that got condensed in there and it muddied things immensely.
Pointy ain't persnickety! I'm going to make my glaringly obvious statement of the day, side-stepping the whole left / right / up / down thing (I'm currently horizontal and having a hard time distinguishing among any of those), and say that what makes for good social policy (or bad, depending on what you think, I guess) doesn't necessarily make for good story-telling. So it's interesting, to what degree (if any) Joss lets his politics bleed into his story-telling. My own guess is that Mal "enlightened" rather than shot the Operative because it was so much more powerful and unexpected, not because he (Joss... or Mal) opposes violence as a solution or as a fun part of a movie or TV show.

Am I even on-topic?

I really enjoyed the first season of 24 but was left needing no more of it ever, and so I haven't seen the rest.

In other words, my point is -as it often is- that the truth doesn't lie at either edge, but somewhere in the mess in between :).

The truth lies? That's just confusing.
"Heroism gets less elite as the story progresses"? Buffy has a gang of fellow superbeings. That's not "bringing power to the people."


Well, it's bringing power to all the people she can bring it to. Which is less elite than keeping it all to herself. And it builds on what Buffy previously did to lessen the isolation of the slayer, to be a slayer with friends.

By the bye, did any non-straw person say she was "bringing power to the people"?

She's not working at founding collective farms for oppressed peasants in Guatemala,


And it would be a heck of a comic book if she were. But she is undeniably sharing power that she had pretty much to herself.

she's robbing banks to fund an elite secret demon-fighting force.


That's bad. Don't know anyone who's for it, but I haven't consulted the straw people, who may think that empowerment leads to bank robbery.

It's pretty clear that, in S8, we're meant to feel--at the very least--that Twilight have a point, that it just may not be tenable for the human race to tolerate the existence of the Slayers.


Pretty clear to whom? Just because Buffy's wrong about bank robbery -- as she always is about something in every season -- doesn't mean that the human race can't tolerate the existence of slayers.

The season's about how the world responds when women gain power. Spoiler warning: Twilight's response is wrong.
OK, zeitgeist, but I think what you consider the conventional wisdom is only the CW on one part of the political spectrum, not on the left or in the middle. Plenty of people consider Martin Luther King a defender of the rights of the individual and the leader of a movement from the left. But I get that the view you were stating is not your view, thanks for clarifying.
Why is Buffy wrong about bank robbery? She's doing good, saving the world! So what if she has to steal from some people, who are not saving the world, to do so? They owe her! In the greater good, her stealing from the rich to save the world is certainly justifiable.
Faith would definitely agree with you! ;-)
And that is why Faith is awesome. (Well after the whole 'working for the evil snake-mayor and trying to kill everyone thing'). ;)
Again, the "follow laws where they exist" thing. Nobody seems to be reading me. Am I that boring?
But Wolfram and Hart are lawyers (thus in some ways, follow laws... not necessarily human laws, but I think it somehow connects). Sometimes the law isn't good enough.
Ooh, and moral relativism is waiting somewhere in the shadows ;). I've always found bank robbery to be (theoretically) empowering as long as you get away with it ;). The next person to mention a straw man in this thread is getting banned and then I'm going to build a straw effigy of them and burn it! As for the CW, that network has nothing to do with... oh, I see. There are probably other word choices I could've used in expressing the so called conventional wisdom that would've had you agreeing with me, but I won't bother because my point was really that the conventional wisdom is an oversimplification. And, yes, catherine the truth lies.
Ooh chee wawa! I go away for a few hours and come back to find that Snot Monster is me! I could not have said my thoughts better, so all I can say is, what he said (assuming he is a he, snot being an ambisexual moniker. Sort of like my own name: Dana!). There was a reason that Buffy S7 was embraced by the right, you know.
S7: you can't always sleep with the vamps?
The right wing in Canada is strongly opposed to sleeping with vampires and thus loves season 7 of Buffy. And this thread is PACKED with adult human males made of dried stalks of grain! You could thatch your roof with 'em.
*builds a straw catherine, puts a Murder Rubicon tea-shirt on it*
*shudders, waiting for z to *light match**

*is feeling flammable*
I can't really contribute too much at this point, but a few quick points:

1. I think that much of Buffy's mentality in season seven was very much meant to be seen as a mistake; I read somewhere that "Empty Places" was seen as the most important episode of the season in the writer's room, and that it was essential that, in order to come to her ultimate conclusion ("power must be shared") she must first come from the opposite perspective--that she has to horde it herself. And so a lot of the Us vs. Them speeches were meant to be "wrong"--even though she already implicitly included the potentials in the original "Us," by "Empty Places" Us had become Me, which then became a global Us, if that makes sense. So the heroism of the individual is not discounted, but the most heroic thing(s) that Buffy does in "Chosen" are to empower others--Willow, Spike, the potentials--and very little that she actually does herself (besides slicing and dicing Caleb--a nod to the show's female-empowerment roots). So taking most of the content of Buffy's speeches, even to some extent "Bring on the Night's", as the show's message is not correct, IMO.

(Same I think for much of what she's doing in season eight--bank robbery? Really? But there's no clear answer.)

2. Angel killing Lindsey is All About Angel. It's like Angel's decision to confront the Senior Partners head on and to stop dealing with evil directly. And I think it's all about a lack of faith--in himself, in humanity. Lindsey has always been somewhat of a mirror for Angel, maybe in reverse; I think his certainty that Lindsey is beyond redemption is really a reflection of his lack of faith in himself. Putting aside the efficacy of offing a potential foe, how is it remotely okay to use someone for his fighting skills, assure him he's on your side, and then have him executed? If Angel really had faith in people in season five, I don't think he would have done this. At all. And he makes Lorne the most pacifist of them all, do it, and live with it. I don't think his action is celebrated at all. (It's like torture: it hurts the victim, and it hurts the perpetrator.)

As an aside: how interesting is it that Angel doesn't even have harmony taken out--harmony who has just betrayed them, whereas Lindsey actually did exactly what he said he would do?

3. Giles torturing Ethan: Is made complicated by their history, and the fact that Ethan seemed to be almost enjoying it.

4. Giles killing Ben: Man, would I like to see that brought up. Giles/Faith issues, man. Come on. (Really, "No Future For You" was the perfect time. Oh well.) I do think that "LMPTM" wasn't the best place to bring it up though, not because "nobody cares," but because I can't see Giles laying that information on Buffy, even on an older Buffy. (Same with his bringing up Jenny's death in a draft of "Empty Places." he's mad at her, yes, but I can't see him reverting to that.)

5. Individualism vs. group: both are celebrated in the 'verse, although the group dynamic and surrogate families are given greater focus in Whedon's work than in a lot of shows. And almost always, isolating oneself or keeping power to oneself = bad, even though individual acts of heroism are still celebrated.
Oh, right, and The Incredibles is a great movie. I wonder if Brad Bird, like Joss Whedon, might be drawing on himself a bit (if subconsciously) when writing stories about exceptional individuals/groups and the difficulties they face (see also Ratatouille).
Ooh, those were both fantastic films!

*is feeling very pleased about brand new, well-dressed, not-on-fire effigy of self*
I hadn't thought of that "beyond redemption" angle, WilliamTheB. That would make it much more central to Angel's arc.

*Off to read "The Bonfire of the Catherines." Hear it has a happy ending.*

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 05:03 ]
Is that a new title by Donna Tartt?

(old thread joke)
Is that a new title by Donna Tartt?

No, it's a bunch of silly, self-referential hijinks. Sometimes Whedonesque is disappointing, like life.
I find the silly and self-referential combined with waving a stick around does wonders for calming inflammatory threads. My diagnosis for you, dreamlogic? Make reference to yourself three times and then call the office in the morning if it hasn't helped!
Now seems like a good time to bring up that I think we should rename Murder Rubicon to be Deltoids of Compassion.
In all seriousness, though, how about Dollhouse, which was at one time the topic of this thread. Excited or picnicking?
I loves me an excited picnic, myself.

AHH! Bees!

I'm getting, mainly, anticipatory about Dollhouse commercials. Next week we'll be one month out. It's time for them to start.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-08 06:03 ]
Yeah, it's really kind of past time for them to start with the commercials. I was hoping to get whispers of it going into the Holidays.
Excited for the show, picknicking for its early ratings and how FOX reacts to them.

I guess by picknicking I mean not really picknicking, just waiting to see with light anxiety.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-08 06:06 ]
Excited or picnicking?

I thought picnics always brought excitement. Mmmm. Potato salad!

I can't wait for Dollhouse. It's almost here! I am curious how W'esque will respond to the episode. I've never been here for Live Whedon TV, so this will be a first for me (yay!). :) (I was here for Dr. Horrible, but those threads seemed to be quick delves and fun into dissecting the art, not the long drawn-out process that seems to be revving up for February.)

Hm. Maybe I should work-out before I attempt to post my comments on the episode. I definitely didn't make it through this thread. Sorry. Newbie, smoker, overweight... just wasn't prepared for the hard core stuff yet, I guess.

Glad you de-railed the de-rail before me, zeitgeist. Does that mean our train is back on track? But, because I had already wrote it, I'll include my small efforts:

Not like pie?

I'm waiting for the squirrels to come in and torture all the members by holding by their ankles over an edge with threatening math questions. Only then to sooth them with tempting tea. Where they're handed headphones and drafted into the All So Wars. Also Wars.

I'm quite excited about Dollhouse. The concept isn't as near and dear to my heart as Firefly, but its Joss, and Eliza is awesome. I just hope that Fox will give it a chance... and that viewers grow some brain cells and tune in (and tune into Terminator before it... I will be crushed if I don't get to see more Summer next year!)
dreamlogic: http://richlabonte.net/exonews/xtra/josswhedon.htm

Thanks for this, dreamlogic - I know I'd read Emily Nussbaum's "Must-See Metaphysics" before, 'cause I quote from it often, but somehow I'd skipped over little details when I last read it - it's really a great article, just chunk-rich with little goodies - and I was delighted to find this, which I'd totally missed - and just as pertinent as ever:

"As I learned, pride goeth before a fall season. Or, as my writer Mere Smith put it, 'There are no atheists in Fox shows.' "

My faith-based fandom is Joss-centric - that is, I believe Joss will always fight for the best show he can make, for his fellow artists and for his viewers.

But I find myself taking a distinct pleasure in the online & DVD smash-hittiness of Doc Horrible for an extra reason - that in addition to the joy I take in the multitudes that have seen & enjoyed it with me, the accolades and "Best of"s that have been showered upon it, and the increased revenue that I hope that J, J, M, & Z & the three principals are sharing, I am happy that its popularity and its independence will have increased Joss & Co's clout.

The Doc really worked, and that makes Joss a greater and more maverick-y force to be reckoned with, and I hope that Joss' PTB get that if he's messed with too much, he can take his toys and go home.

I know that there's stuff - for now anyway - that Joss doesn't appear to be able to make without studio money. But this strange thing that seems to have confounded the suits during the strike - this crazy, unpredictable "we-don't-know-if-we-can-make-money-from-it thing" seems to be laying in the palm of Joss & Co's hand, and I suspect that's reason for increased optimism about his ability to get Dollhouse moving the way he wants it to go.
"As I learned, pride goeth before a fall season. Or, as my writer Mere Smith put it, 'There are no atheists in Fox shows.' "

So spring shows are blessed, because of their humility. That's how I see it, and nobody's gonna talk me out of it.
Or, as my writer Mere Smith put it, 'There are no atheists in Fox shows.'

Hah, love it, Mere Smith rocks ;). If Joss ever writes an autobiography he has to call it "I was an Atheist in a Fox Show", it's the new law.

In all seriousness, though, how about Dollhouse, which was at one time the topic of this thread. Excited or picnicking?

Sshh, Joss doesn't want us to talk about it ! Bad zeitgeist, bad ! ;-)

It's like torture: it hurts the victim, and it hurts the perpetrator.
(my emph)

This, in my view, is a story nice people tell themselves (and each other) to make torture make sense. The truth is closer to Hamilton's "Yeah, but we won't care" IMO.

(good points though WilliamtheB)

My own guess is that Mal "enlightened" rather than shot the Operative because it was so much more powerful and unexpected, not because he (Joss... or Mal) opposes violence as a solution or as a fun part of a movie or TV show.

Yeah, I agree. Mal is the ultimate pragmatist (and something of an absolutist) and that extends to his morality too. If you try to do him (or his) harm you forfeit your right to not have harm done to you is his attitude and I think the main reason he doesn't kill The Operative at the end is because he doesn't have to (if he hadn't lost his gun there's no doubt in my mind that he would have). I also sometimes wonder if there might have been an element of deliberate cruelty to it, of wanting a more lasting revenge for Book and Wash by destroying everything The Op held dear (i.e. not just the Alliance but his own philosophical certainty too).

(did we set the cathigy on fire yet BTW ? Cos I brought marshmallows ...)

And it's the hijinks that make this place less like a 6th form common room (where being serious was always taken very seriously) and more like a gathering of grown-ups (who know better), long may they ensue ;).
About Dollhouse...

The three last episodes written by Tim Minear, Jane Espenson and Joss Whedon! That, to me, sounds quite like heaven : )
Yeah. And I'm very glad that Joss is writing the last episode (of the season!)
So am I (about Joss writing the last episode)... and mucho happiness about the "weaving" he he
Mal definitely doesn't arc into Gandhi, but he does believably change from a character who tries to solve the Operative problem by shooting it in the chest to one who does solve the problem by forcing the Operative to see the consequences of his ideas. He's the man who decided not to shoot Liberty Valence.
Yeah but through deliberate intent or "mere" opportunity ? When he lands on the platform and goes for his gun for instance, do you think he's going to just hold it on The Operative while he transmits the message or is he intending to shoot him ?

I think you could make a fairly convincing case either way (though I do like the idea that seeing the "third way" is part of Mal's arc).

He's the man who decided not to shoot Liberty Valence.

Heh ;).
I think the movie leaves it up to us to wonder why he didn't kill the Operative, even when he could not know whether the Op was going to decide not to Kill Them All.
"You wanna meet the "real me" now...?". Still sends shivers down my spine everytime I hear Mal say that line.
Oh yeah, that line also freaks me out every time. Was it Alan or Nathan that said about the other on the commentary "You were great in Firefly. I was great in The Deer Hunter."? (Or was it the other way around? Hmmm.)
... even when he could not know whether the Op was going to decide not to Kill Them All.

Hmm, maybe Pointy. To me it's fairly clearly because part of Mal becoming "fixed" is that he realises some things are bigger than "mere" survival, he finds something to believe in again. In other words, he's willing to die since his cause has been served, he's won his war. But yeah, I guess it's non-specific enough that we can interpret it how we like.

(don't get me wrong, I think he's betting pretty heavily that The Operative is actually a reasonable man - or at least has made that a part of his self-identity enough that he'll act reasonably - so I think Mal expects and certainly hopes they're all gonna make it. Guess he might also feel like he's got no choice - if The Op doesn't respond what are the troops' standing orders ? So even if he kills him they could all be screwed)
All true, Saje, and somehow it works, even though Westerns and other action movies almost cry out (in that haunting way that genres do cry out in the middle of the night) for a violent climax. I wonder if River vs. Reavers fulfills all the generic expectations so Mal vs. Op can violate them? Kind of "earning" the non-violence dramatically with an extra dose of balletic violence (from a real ballerina)!

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 16:58 ]
For the record Brad Bird is an Objectivist from way back :).

Perhaps, although here's what he himself had to say about that:

Some pieces compared the viewpoint [of The Incredibles] to the objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand. I thought that was silly and the writers were humorless. I was into Rand for about six months when I was 20, but you outgrow that narrow point of view.


But even if it's true, and he's just being disingenuous there, it proves my point either way: that the political beliefs of writers rarely map in any easy or simplistic way onto the stories they tell. If Brad Bird is an Objectivist (and lets that out in The Incredibles) then what do we make of the fact that The Iron Giant was a little parable about gun control? The US right loved The Incredibles and loathed The Iron Giant--but they're both products of the same mind.

Pointy. I really can't tell if we're just talking past each other or what. Let me have one last attempt to explain my position, and why I think you're misunderstanding it. The original comment I made about the left's general suspicion of "heros" was this:
Sure, lefties "admire heros," but we want to create a society which doesn't need them--or needs them as little as possible.

I called your response to that a "straw man" because you bleeped right over "needs them as little as possible" and suggested that the fact that lefties like firefighters proved me wrong.

Sure, lefties like firefighters (notice, again, in the very comment to which you were responding "sure, lefties 'admire heroes'"--you see why "But I like firefighters" didn't seem to me to be an entirely relevant response?). They also want those firefighters to be required as little as possible. That is why lefties like to pass regulations requiring that furniture and houses not be made out of flammable materials, and that stoves and lights and cookers and toys not be prone to bursting into flames. Lefties like to pass regulations about where houses can be built so that they're not so vulnerable to forest fires etc. etc. etc.

Righties--with their strong emphasis on "individualism"--regard all of this with some suspicion (and yes, of course, different lefties and different righties draw their lines in different places--but the overall tendencies are clear). Righties would prefer, on the whole, less regulation (hence their constant wittering on about the evils of the "Nanny state") so that individuals are more free. Free--they perfectly well realize--to make mistakes, to screw things up--in such a way that they'll find out whether or not they're "heroes" (who manage to battle off the forest fire that threatens their isolated woodsy dwelling, or who manage to claw their way up out of the ghetto without any state assistance) or regular losers.

We see the same deep divide over left and right attitudes towards crime. The lefty asks "what are the root causes of crime? How might we, as a society, eradicate the conditions that lead to crime." The righty says "bad people choose [again--the individual rather than the collective approach] to be criminals, we need to empower the Big Brave Hero Policemen to catch those Bad Guys and Lock Them Up (or Kill Them)." Now, few Lefties are so deranged as to think that crime will be completely eradicated, so they certainly continue to see the need for policemen and will continue to honor the bravery of individual policemen who act above and beyond the call of duty etc. etc. etc. They do, however, believe that that individual heroism should, in an ideal society, be as little required as possible, because society will have acted collectively to minimize the root causes of criminality in the first place (i.e., provided decent education to everyone, provided access to gainful employment to as many people as possible, minimized the social harm caused by economic disruptions etc. etc. etc.: collective responses rather than individual ones.).

Now, obviously the parody version of the lefty world in rightist propagandizing is that it contains no individuality whatsoever, that by minimizing risk (and the "socialization of risk" is the essential leftist principle I'm talking about here) you create a population of mindless drones: a heroless--or in Ayn Rand's terms and "Atlasless"--world. I say that's a parody because of course the left simultaneously believes that the socialization of risk allows for the fullest development of individual liberty and individual creativity (that, of course, is Marx's dream: that in the future communist society we will all be great artists, great poets etc. etc.). But if the "Nanny State" thing is a parody and a distortion, it does contain a grain of truth, which is that an ideal Leftist world is one that simply has less need for, and provides less opportunity for, the kind of individual acts of heroic endeavor that, to a Righty, are precisely the things that are most to be prized.

I'm interested, finally, that you are particularly taken with the conclusion to Serenity as an example of Joss's leftist ideals being transmuted into art. Much as I enjoy Serenity for its wonderful local writing and characterization, I was actually rather disappointed with its overall story arc. The fate of Miranda is precisely the classic old rightist parody of leftist utopianism. "The fools, the fools--they thought they could make everybody happy--but as soon as they were happy they just stopped caring!!!!" It's the lotos-eaters, its Brave New World, it's every second episode of the original Star Trek series etc. etc.. To me it fits perfectly with Mal's essentially right-libertarian attitude: this is what nanny-state government leads to: the obliteration of individual energy and creativity. Far better to embrace a world of chaotic individualistic struggle--even if that means that the vast majority are unhappy losers--than to seek the necessarily evil goal of universal contentment.

Now, sure, there are other readings open to us (this is the work of evil corporations seeking a passively receptive workforce/market--for example). I'm not suggesting that Joss has made an overt work of anti-Leftist propaganda. All I'm trying to argue is that there is precious little here that a right-libertarian audience need find objectionable. Mal's eschewing of violence at the end is hardly in itself an affront to such a philosophy: right-libertarians are not required by their philosophy to eschew education in favor of bullets. And, in fact, that whole "can't stop the signal" idea appeals just as much to right-libertarian enthusiasts of the power of the internet (RON PAUL!) as it does to lefty free-speechers.
The original comment I made about the left's general suspicion of "heros" was this:
Sure, lefties "admire heros," but we want to create a society which doesn't need them--or needs them as little as possible.


Your original argument about "lefties" and heroism actually was this:

But my real point was that there's a pretty imperfect fit between what I understand to be Joss's political commitments and beliefs and the fictional worlds that he creates. And necessarily so. The belief in a "hero" figure who swoops in and saves the world with a burst of cleansing violence is fundamentally right wing. Lefties prefer to believe in the power of institutions rather than the power of heroic individuals.


For the reasons I stated above, I think you're mistaken about the attitude toward heroism on the left. And I think that a lot of people on the left would probably find a better fit between their views about when violence is inappropriate and Whedonverse storylines in which violence against humans is shown to be dysfunctional.

For example: I think kiling humans should be avoided if possible. Buffy thinks that killing humans should be avoided if possible. The fit's pretty good.

Now, it appears that the argument you want us to focus on is this:

Sure, lefties "admire heros," but we want to create a society which doesn't need them--or needs them as little as possible.


I've already pointed out that a world that needs no heroes, no people who have to put themselves on the line to save others, is, AFAIK, impossible, and that even in a world of, for example, perfect fire safety education and building code enforcement, we'd still need firefighters. Again, I think the distinction you are making between right and left attitudes towards power and heroism is incorrect.

you see why "But I like firefighters" didn't seem to me to be an entirely relevant response?


One of the reasons it's not relevant is that no one made it. So no one misunderstands me, please don't put quotes around comments that no one made when you are ostensibly discussing comments that I made. Someone skimming through this might think you are replying to my actual statements. This would be misleading.

They also want those firefighters to be required as little as possible.


Sure, but so do conservatives, to be fair. They do not campaign against fire code safety and public education regarding the same. They are for the use of institutional power for the common good to reduce the need for individual heroism as much as possible in this case.

Again, the distinction you are drawing between right and left with regard to power and heroism is, to me at least, invalid. There may be distinctions between right and left regarding power and heroism, but AFAIC, they're not the ones you draw.

If you wish to discuss them, please try to tie them into the subject of heroic action in the Whedonverse. Otherwise, I don't see the point, so I'm skipping over "Nanny state," "less regulation," "the root causes of crime," "socialization of risk," and other things that don't tie into the Whedonverse in any way I can discern.

I'm interested, finally, that you are particularly taken with the conclusion to Serenity as an example of Joss's leftist ideals being transmuted into art.


Just need to point out that I didn't describe the climax "of Serentiy as an example of Joss's leftist ideals being transmuted into art" in case someone thinks I did.
Just want to say that if you guys are going to bring in John Wayne, I'm going to see your "Liberty Valence" and raise you one "The Searchers." The man of violence who ultimately cannot even remain a part of his family.

Of course, it's all mythologizing. From what I know of history, Hollywood's westerns bear as much resemblance to life in the real west as Sunnydale does to a typical Southern California town.
Quite true, barboo. I love The Searchers.

ETA: And I wish Firefly could've been shot in Monument Valley, because it looks like outer space and the mythic Old West in one.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 20:46 ]
Pointy writes:

One of the reasons it's not relevant is that no one made it. So no one misunderstands me, please don't put quotes around comments that no one made when you are ostensibly discussing comments that I made. Someone skimming through this might think you are replying to my actual statements. This would be misleading.


Oh, I'm so sorry. Let me clear this up, so that there's no possibility of mistake:

I wrote: Sure, lefties "admire heros," but we want to create a society which doesn't need them--or needs them as little as possible.

To which you replied: It is possible that some "lefties" want to create a world that doesn't need heroes, but you haven't given me any reason to believe that most people on the left or center do want that. I, for instance, cannot envision a world without firefighters or cops -- people who have to put their lives on the line to save others -- though I understand that government action can reduce, though never eliminate, the need to fight fires or crime.

I agree that that is a marginally more complex statement than "But I like firefighters." I do, however, continue to claim that it is irrelevant to what I actually wrote.

But I guess the fact that in your latest post you continue with the claim that "a world that needs no heroes is AFAIK impossible" as if this had some actual bearing on my position (which explicitly acknowledges that the absolute elimination of risk is impossible) shows that you're not really interested in engaging with the argument that I'm actually making, so I guess we should just drop it.
I've spent an awful lot of time engaging with your original argument:

To be fair, most problems in the Jossverse ultimately get solved by violence--and occasionally by torture.


That led somewhere interesting. But I kind of wish I had said this:

you're not really interested in engaging with the argument that I'm actually making

God, can I just say that I love you all? And I love this thread.

All this highly analytical digression into realms unintended by the original post is exactly why I wanted to belong to whedonesque in the first place. Even when I have nothing to add myself, it is all incredibly thought provoking. *sighs in great satisfaction*

That said, it has always been my understanding that Joss is all about the story and the character. So...IMO:

Mal shoots The Operative because he was in the way of his goal--to get the message out.He doesn't shoot him later because:

1. well, mission accomplished

2. the petty satisfaction of sticking it to The Operative where it really hurts... i.e. his "perfect world."

3. killing him would have made no difference, Mal had no belief they were ever going to get off that rock (tiny band against all those reavers and the Alliance? Pleeease!)

4. in both those instances it was the unexpected thing to do--better story

Speaking of story, conflict is the heart of story and in genre violence is the outward expression of conflict. The interest occurs (and this is what Joss does so well) in the how and the why and the reactions or non-reactions to the violence.

I know, I know, obvious much? I just don't think there's a lot of politics behind some of this stuff, as interesting as I DO find it. LOL

Analyzing Joss...scary place.
Point two rings true to me, BreathesStory, (cool screen name) and thnx!
Speaking of story, conflict is the heart of story and in genre violence is the outward expression of conflict.

Yes, well said. I doubt Joss thinks that the fights between Angel and Connor, say, are meant to be taken as models of "good parenting" (even of "tough love" parenting), but they are dramatic externalizations (and metaphoric concretizations) of the "fights" that occur between all parents and children.
BreathesStory: "Speaking of story, conflict is the heart of story and in genre violence is the outward expression of conflict. The interest occurs (and this is what Joss does so well) in the how and the why and the reactions or non-reactions to the violence."


*hand-on-nose gesture signifying agreement and the hitting of it exactly.*

Hear, hear, BreathesStory.

(Heroic efforts here, by the way, by various folk in this-here discussion - without getting all up in its grill. Its grill will do fine without me.)
I wonder if River vs. Reavers fulfills all the generic expectations so Mal vs. Op can violate them? Kind of "earning" the non-violence dramatically with an extra dose of balletic violence (from a real ballerina)!

I think there's likely something to that, a similar thing happened with 'Babylon 5' and 'Deep Space 9' where they'd have large battles near the end of the series (or an arc) and then actually finish with non-violent solutions. I guess it's a way of satisfying the viewer and The Message.
Saje: I see your point, but I was also talking about when the torturer/killer is Giles or Lorne--or, if you want to get, gasp, political, when soldiers are ordered to torture someone, and they believe they have to for the right reasons. I think most people aren't Hamilton, and would care.

It's probably true that some people can do bad things (and I consider torture in this category, regardless of the circumstances), and it not actually eat away at them, although it's reassuring to believe sometimes that it does.
snot - Objectivism is a starting place not a destination (to me anyway). Transcend and include, my friend. Sorry to be so brief! Welcome aboard, BreathesStory!
P.S., Pointy, just for your edification, here are links to two articles from the well known conservative journal National Review arguing against increasing fire-safety programs and regulations because they represent examples of the creeping advance of the "nanny state":

Jack Dunphy

John R. Lott

Or how about British Tory columnist Hugo Rifkind mocking the Government's Christmas safety pamphlet:

you used to have a duty [NB: incumbent on the individual] not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Now, because nanny has taken on that duty, you have a right [NB: social, general] not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family.

Or have a look, perhaps, at this conservative blog ("Mr Minority's Conservative Emporium") taking on the terrible issue of a ban on outdoor barbecues on wooden decks. Does this conservative commentator see this as a simple commonsense approach to fire safety? Well, no:

All joking aside, here is the real issue with this story: People complain when the Gov't wants to stop their grilling, but then passively allow the Gov't to take away their Constitutional Rights without even a whimper.
Why doesn't the Press and the People cry Outrage when they pass Gun Control laws? Gun ownership is protected by the 2nd Admendment of the Constitution, grills are not (although they should be - I am a Texan). American has been taken over by the Nanny-Pinkos and it is their mindset, combined with the apathy of the people that is trimming the tree of Freedom.
I just shake my head in wonder at people sometimes.


Or, again, the website "Nanny Knows Best" ("A site dedicated to exposing, and resisting, the all pervasive nanny state that is corroding the way of life and the freedom of the people of Britain") rails against a regulation counterintuitively banning fire-extinguishers because when someone performed a risk assessment ("pass the sick bag" says the blogger at the very mention of the notion of assessing risk) they found that the presence of fire extinguishers put people at increased risk of injury because they tried to stay and fight the fire rather than evacuate.

So no, as a really quick and dirty Google search on "nanny state" and "fire safety" shows, it simply isn't true as a matter of fact or as a matter of (pretty self-evident) political philosophy that the left and the right hold the same attitudes towards the proper role of government regulation in the minimization of fire risk. And fire, famously (the point Michael Moore makes in Sicko) is one of the areas with the greatest agreement between the two philosophical positions.

ETA: And, er, um, Dollhouse will be smoking hot--hence the relevance of all this to the thread.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-01-08 23:12 ]
Thank you for the links, snot monster from outer space!
You are welcome, Pointy. Kiss and make up?
I believe snot monsters and sharp sticks can live in peace :D
Yay, someone else is roiling the masses! I pass the baton!
Human Rights First interviewed 24's executive producer, Howard Gordon, Lost's executive producer Howard Pinkner, and guys with years of experience doing real interrogations in the military or FBI or Special Ops. The result is 14-minute video called Primetime Torture.
Pointy, directly related to that video is an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" with a U.S. intelligence expert who basically explains why t.v. torture as a technique is bullshit.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15148243
I'll check it out, BreathesStory!
The most disturbing thing from my point of view was the fact that the popularity of '24' in ratings convinced the Bush Administration that the American people are cool about torture. That thought makes it impossible for me to tune into the show for even a moment.
Thank you for the article, embers, Kiefer Sutherland has an interesting lineage. Listening to the Fresh Air now.

Great program, BreathesStory!

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-09 05:07 ]
To be fair, most problems in the Jossverse ultimately get solved by violence--and occasionally by torture.

I would argue that as many problems in the Jossverse get solved by self-sacrifice, as by violence. Although this is less true in Firefly than in BtS/AtS.

Someone way up-thread said they were into Ayn Rand's "Objectivism" for about six months when they were around twenty. My experience exactly. Then I grew up and realized it's all just Social Darwinism dressed up in seductive prose.

To address another issue that keeps popping up on this awesomely all over the place thread: I'm as "lefty" as you can get, but I have a deep and abiding belief in the concept of individualism. Where is it written that you can't believe in a political system that promotes social justice and a fair deal for all over unbridled greed and materialism, and still be a champion of the rights of the individual to do basically anything that doesn't harm anyone except, potentially, his or herself?

Same for the "lefties want a world where heroes aren't needed" thing, to which can I just say .... huh? Heroes will always be needed, whether they be firefighters or Doctors Without Borders or the individual who risks their life to save another in a million different ways. So I totally fail to get the connection.

Great thread, it's why I love this site (even though everyone ignored my original "raise your hand" post). ;)
It's probably true that some people can do bad things (and I consider torture in this category, regardless of the circumstances), and it not actually eat away at them, although it's reassuring to believe sometimes that it does.

I think we're probably looking at it from slightly different perspectives WilliamtheB. I see it as "Given that you're torturing someone, I think you're much less likely to feel remorse", you seem to see it as "If most people had to torture someone, they'd feel remorse". If that's what you're saying then I agree (i.e. I think both those positions are true because the vast majority of people would struggle to torture someone at all "in cold blood" IMO).

(i'm not saying most people are incapable of violence BTW, far from it, it's just that I consider cold-blooded torture to be in a different category, or maybe at the extreme end of the same one)

Or, again, the website "Nanny Knows Best" ("A site dedicated to exposing, and resisting, the all pervasive nanny state that is corroding the way of life and the freedom of the people of Britain")...

I've only skimmed that site but wow, Little England much ? Stuff like that depresses the hell out of me because those that actually seem intent on "corroding ... the freedom of the people of Britain" must be laughing their arses off at people worrying about health and safety rules run amok when we have councils using anti-terror laws to spy on people misusing their bloody rubbish bins or trying to charge the country billions to introduce ineffective back-door compulsory ID cards. I'm a left leaning liberal (UK sense of the word ;) and i'm worried about the "nanny state". Fire safety risk assessments though ? Not so much.
Did Howard Gordon really just say that "it would be nice, if torture worked"? Am I the only one finding this statement a little bit odd?

Also, thanks for the Fresh Air link.
(Adam Fierro is btw the husband of our lovely Dollhouse-co-show-runner Elizabeth Craft [it's still a Dollhouse-thread! :)] and since this year part of the Dexter-crew [loved his ep])

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-01-09 11:58 ]
Saje: Yes, I think we probably don't disagree all that much. I was originally talking about the specific example of Giles with Ethan, and in a somewhat weird way Lorne-with-Lindsey-even-though-that-was-murder-and-not-torture. And in both cases I doubt they came away unscathed. Although Giles and Ethan is still a complicated case...Ethan delights (or, I suppose, delighted) in bringing out the worst in Ripper, after all.
But, Shey, it's so much harder to deconstruct a show after you've seen it.
;-)
But, Shey, it's so much harder to deconstruct a show after you've seen it.


I was gonna go the other way and say deconstructing it after you've seen it is for amateurs and we are clearly professionals ;).
If I understand this this article correctly, Jack Bauer will be arguing that torture is necessary on network television while 24's producer acknowledges it doesn't work on tiny web video.
And who're you gonna believe ? Big Jack of course, he's got such an honest face.

Our spammy friend's back on the .org BTW zeitgeist (seems to be for a Chinese Travel Agency and yet I don't see totalitarianism mentioned anywhere on the site, whatever happened to truth in advertising ?).
De-spammed, thanks!
"The most disturbing thing from my point of view was the fact that the popularity of '24' in ratings convinced the Bush Administration that the American people are cool about torture. "

I can't see anywhere in that article that it says that.

As far as the morality of torture goes it's quite possible to agree with Posner and the like (that if a nuclear weapon was about to go off and kill huge numbers of people, it would be right to torture someone to prevent it happening) while still being revolted by 24. Because 24 (if what I've been told about it is true; I stopped watching half way through season 1) it massively exaggerates the number of times that torture might be necessary and so goes well beyond presenting torture as a last resort to presenting it is as something that should be used more generally.
No, that article doesn't seem to support that statement. In fairness to '24', you can make a case that it's always necessary because every series (and most episodes) feature the extremely unrealistic "ticking clock" scenario that's most often used to justify torture.

Of course, in the real world, if you get to that point then you've already suffered a catastrophic failure in intelligence gathering and you're very likely already screwed (one of the ways in which '24' is most unrealistic is that the CTU - Counter Terrorism Unit - is portrayed as usually being hyper competent, well staffed and resourced and yet terrorists still manage to get e.g. nuclear weapons onto US soil so that Jack Bauer has to run around with only 24 hours to save the world).

(I haven't seen season 6 - supposedly the worst for flagrant use of torture - but i've seen seasons 1-5 and largely enjoyed it I must admit. It's an action cartoon, sort of a more violent "Boys Own" adventure series and within the format limitations, Kiefer Sutherland plays the hell out of Jack Bauer. It's a show I like to veg out in front of because it actively requires you not to think about what's going on, as soon as you do the whole thing falls apart - which, thinking about it, isn't necessarily fair to other "action cartoons" ;)
But, Shey, it's so much harder to deconstruct a show after you've seen it.
;-)
Pointy | January 09, 14:37 CET


I was gonna go the other way and say deconstructing it after you've seen it is for amateurs and we are clearly professionals ;).
zeitgeist | January 09, 14:46 CET


OK, so I can assume that there will be no deconstructing of Dollhouse after we've actually seen it? I'm betting we crash the entire internet within ten minutes after the first episode ends. ;)
Oh, wait .... BSG is on right after, head exploding now.

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