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July 28 2009

Buffy vs Torchwood. Big Spoiler if you have not seen Torchwood: Children of Earth.

I notice that American audiences don't find Torchwood and Russell Davies' Dr Who incredibly lame, unwatchable pap. Maybe the accents are exotic.
That's a really big spoiler right in that one line...ain't it?
Thanks for the huge Torchwood spoiler!
Aaaaaargh. I had successfully managed to avoid being spoiled for Children Of Earth until your post popped up on my RSS feed! Damn you...
Yeah let's try to be a little more careful with that and keep the plot details to the extended description field rather than one that show without being clicked through :). As far as 'pap', well different strokes and all of that. I really doubt it's down to accents, though. I can't believe some of the garbage that we successfully export, though. There's great and poor telly that does well coming from both sides.
Very sorry everyone, that was very stupid of me, I didn't mean to spoil. I have changed the description now, but I am very sorry for those that it is too late for.
I notice that American audiences don't find Torchwood and Russell Davies' Dr Who incredibly lame, unwatchable pap. Maybe the accents are exotic.

Have you seen Children of Earth? One of the great televisual mini-series of all time. Torchwood before that had been a VERY mixed bag. This new mini-series blew everything before it away. In some ways it was better than New Who - which I had always enjoyed more than Torchwood.

As to the article - I actually come to the opposite conclusion. I think Ianto's death is more important to that story than Tara's randoming death was. Ianto's death comes BECAUSE of Jack's poor leadership - which is a character trait.

Of course, Tara's death was played as a random accident - and both fed the stories of the lovers they left behind. But at least Ianto went down toe-to-toe with an alien. Tara got shot by accident; melodrama at its finest, for sure. But melodrama.
I notice that American audiences don't find Torchwood and Russell Davies' Dr Who incredibly lame, unwatchable pap.

I haven't seen it myself but I've heard nothing but good things about the Children of Earth mini-series.
I would add that you probably could've expressed your dislike off RTD's work without being rude and condescending to those who might enjoy it, doublemeat.
It's still very spoily to me announcing someone dies! Ugh, and just accidentally scrolled up and saw who. Guess I can skip it now. I only came in the thread to complain about the someone dying spoiler.

I normally don't even go into Spoiler marked links but felt I needed to complain so I guess it's my own fault for seeing who gets killed but announcing someone dies is a major spoiler IMO.
Sorry. I'll have all five episodes of the miniseries within an hour, as I can't ignore recommendations such as those above.
But is someone dying in Torchwood really a spoiler? At this point it's very Joss... to me its a spoiler when someone doesn't die.
Okay, people skipping COE just because they know that one spoiler is cutting off your nose to spite your face. The spoiler enhances the drama - I'd actually compare it more to Wash's death in Serenity than I would to Tara's death. (Though obviously the article is taking the LGBT tack.)
Actually I thought COE was BOOOOORRRRRINNNGGGGG, even before Ianto's death. After Ianto's death it just got stupid...if this is the "future of sci-fi" I choose to live in the past. Captain Jack doesn't even inspire me to turn up the volume, much less fight for the future.
"nor that he knew the emotional impact his decision would have on many GLBT viewers"

I think that was the main reason to kill her off. If it doesn't have an impact there is no point in doing it at all.
It's aired in its native country and in at least America. Or are we still putting a spoiler tag about Tara for the people who might maybe one day watch Buffy?
On topic they are very close to each other in many ways but very different in others.
Both broke my heart into itty pieces but I have naughty for Ianto so that one probably upset me more.
But it does leave him open for a return as Zombie Ianto in the musical episode of Torchwood thats been discussed as of late.
That would be worth all the tea in China to see. And I say that with absolutely no clue about how much tea China has or hasn't got.
Peter Capaldi is in it! You should have said. Watch 'The Thick Of It', everyone.
I really can't even compare RTD writing with Joss'. He's not in the same league. I'm glad he brought Doctor Who back but frankly I hated the eps he wrote. If I have to see one more Dalek or Cyberman I'm gonna scream. As far as Torchwood. It had good moments but never lived up to the character MOFFAT created. I have real issues with wiping the team out and leaving the least liked character and broken Jack and frankly I have real problems with RTD treatment of fans. It's almost like he hurt the fans out of spite. I hear Torchwood is coming back. Hopefully Moffat will take over. Didn't RTD say he was moving to LA?

Joss deaths {MANY!!} are painful but I've never resented him for storylines. And I've always felt he respected his fanbase.
I didn't like the first two series of Torchwood but Children of Earth > Dollhouse for me this year. Best thing on the telly in ages and a great fan event too.
CoE > series 2 > very bad TV > series 1 (IMO).

I don't buy the fundamental premise of the article - a writer including gay characters has one obligation as I see it and that's to create interesting, complete, rounded people instead of cliches and stereotypes (it's not like Ianto was brought in just to be killed off, he's been a major character from the start - also, wasn't Tosh bi ? And yet nary a mention. Jeez, she was ethnically Japanese too, she should've been frikkin' immortal, right ?).

That said, for me Tara's death was more emotive, can't quite put my finger on why but Ianto's passing fell slightly short (and he'd become one of my favourite characters after starting out as easily my least favourite in series 1). Maybe Alyson Hannigan just did a better job than John Barrowman (it's her reaction as much as the event itself that really does me in) ? Though i've always "liked" that Tara's death was random and senseless, made it feel more real to me.

I really doubt it's down to accents, though.

'Children of Earth' was a bit of a smash hit success over here too (enough to put a show that seemed close to cancellation - mainly because it's so expensive apparently - over the bar for a fourth series) and the accents are hardly exotic to us ;).
Simon wrote: I didn't like the first two series of Torchwood but Children of Earth > Dollhouse for me this year. Best thing on the telly in ages and a great fan event too.

After watching COE, I'm even more in awe of James Moran, one of the key writers of the COE series (together with RTD and Julie Gardner). He wrote one of my favourite episodes of Dr Who (Pompeii) and is likely to remain on the series as a writer.

I'm actually really excited to see where they take Torchwood. It was due for a re-imagining/re-boot. Put Jack back in the big wide universe! He's spent over 150 year on earth (not counting the time he was buried underground before Cardiff was a city), and it's time for something new.
When Ianto died I could instantly imagine Joss sitting in a fireside chair and stroking his beard thoughtfully, saying "Yes.. yes.. you have learnt well young Davies."

Wow. Well that came out a lot more creepy than I'd hoped.
CoE > series 2 > very bad TV > series 1 (IMO).

Well maybe I'll give Torchwood another shot. Because I watched the first 6 or so episodes of Torchwood and couldn't believe how bad it was (apart from the first episode which I quite liked). You can see what the writers took from Joss (particularly Angel, I think) but you can also see that they completely misunderstood what makes Joss's stuff so great
Well, there's no telling what one person will like or not (and without exaggeration I think 'Torchwood' series 1 divides opinion more than any other TV series i've seen - very few people are on the fence, put it that way ;). I also thought the first half of series 1 was terrible (also excluding the first ep.) with e.g. 'Cyberwoman' being almost mythically bad but it got less bad towards the end ('Random Shoes', ep 9, was my favourite - almost 'Doctor Who'-ish IMO but with a 'Torchwood' twist) and series 2 was, a few eps towards the end excluded, very good TV (it's like everything just "clicked").

CoE continues the upward trend in other words, and then some.
I'm with those who were upset about the spoiler in the title of the thread. I mean geez! Give a guy a chance to catch up on his shows! I have it recorded, of course, but I hadn't gotten to that episode.

...Tara dead? I-- I'm speechless with shock and sadness. (Good thing Willow learned her lesson about abusing magic, otherwise she might go a little crazy with the spells out of grief, huh? ...Right?)

Okay, okay, I keed...

Ianto's death... Well, I'd get it if Jack had an idea about how the aliens would react based on evidence or argument which might be presented so the audience would also feel it valid and everyone just got it wrong, or if he was just giving the 456 a chance to stop their bad behavior the way The Doctor would and things got out of hand, but it didn't really come off that way. I also thought there was the opportunity for the writers to have the 456 continue their playing on the "humanity doesn't really care about losing children" angle until the moral ground got all low and swampy until Jack and Ianto got flustered and made an impulsive move, or Jack made a Doctor-like declaration of his unstoppability which resulted in their simple but effective response, but it didn't happen that way, either. (Also, how many viruses will kill that quickly that cleanly and magically go away afterwards?) It really seemed like Jack thought he'd stand up to the 456 with nothing but a few harsh words and they'd back down because nobody had ever done that before. Jack isn't supposed to be the greatest leader, but that seems to me to be really thoughtless, especially after his insistence that Torchwood is THE authority on dealing with aliens. Almost as bad as Ianto trusting he'd be safe because he was with Jack.

Joss needs to write for Torchwood. Then death, even senseless death, would make more ...um.. sense. Also, Jack would become an omnisexual Mal Reynolds and Gwen's teenaged daughter would be an unpredictable Rift-sensitive psychic butt-kicking partner for him.
I've loved TW from start to finish, didn't even hate Cyberwoman all that much. Although it was definitely one of the weakest eps of the entire run, it still beat anything I've ever seen of Dr. Who, which I find totally unwatchable.
(Hold the fruits and meats folks, it's all IMO.) ;)

As for the death comparisons, I can see both points of view. I think they both served the story well, but we had another several eps of Buffy season6 to ascertain just how well, so there's more to contemplate.
I'd come to love Ianto, so I was initially just pissed. And who didn't think of Joss at that moment?
Never saw Torchwood. Thought the author was quite correct in his assessment of Joss not fully understanding the impact of his writing decision, but I have felt this for years now. Thought this statmeent was right as rain: "Indeed, Tara’s death was possibly the single most significant event in the whole seven-season series..."
Wow, I had no idea that there were people who were into Torchwood in it's own right independent of Dr. Who. (I don't mean to insult the makers nor the viewers with that opinion, I just always felt that of the people involved with both programs, they mostly brought their A-game to Who first.)

While I did think Children of Earth was pretty great (especially the talky and unaffiliated bits in the 4th episode where the character-in-question died) I was not really big on the death nor the provided reasoning for it though. Basically it goes to that whole "woman in fridges" trope from comic books which is the tendency for the romantic interest of a protagonist (generally women obviously, for straight males) to get brutally killed off in service of the hero's journey.

Though Tara dying kind of reasonably sends Willow into a murderous rage (in hindsight now I forget if she actually did kill anyone though, since Warren came back skinless?) I'm not sure that there really was much of a correlation between the TW death and the choices of the surviving character beyond the next half hour. (Yes he deals with the repercussions of his plans falling apart for about 20 minutes but in the endgame it's pretty inevitable Jack would have taken the same actions.)

Plus I suppose in a way it's sort of like the deaths reflected on the characters. While I loved Tara, I grudgingly accept the fact that she had a background to be dealt with and a generally long lasting romantic narrative. With the other death, of a character that was basically a cipher up until this point, I was more annoyed at how they gave hints towards some interesting themes or concerns about identity but with no opportunity for follow through. Yes that does bring some verisimilitude to real deaths and what not, but it's more disappointing they never even tried touching on these points when the character was around.
I thought COE was very very very very very ambitious. It didn't always work, but it was largely tonally consistent, enjoyable and fascinating in spite of the 'meh' solution to ridding us of the 456. I think that its forgivable given that it was more about exploring character reactions and human nature than 'OMGSTOPTHEALIEN!'. It reminded me more of RTD's "The Second Coming" than anything. I was not a fan of the first half of TW S1, but I've enjoyed the rest of it enough to keep watching. Also, it's not like anyone can be a 'Who' fan and not accept the occasional deus-ex-machina and technobabble solution. Of course there are those who love TW and couldn't care less about DW.
Willow killed Rack along with Warren- though the Warren retcon was just horribly bad, imho, as a writing decision.
She killed a hell of a lot of magic books too. Rack and Warren are one thing but disrespecting books is beyond the pale.
I'm reserving judgement on the Warren thing until we find out where it goes (if anywhere). I mean, bringing back Warren was kinda lame, took away some of the impact of the Dark Willow arc and didn't make a lot of sense. But the bad might end up being outweighed by the good once we see why Joss brought him back. (Though it is at least possible that Joss just brought him back for the hell of it and so that the readers had more things from the show to latch onto)
Willow killed Rack along with Warren- though the Warren retcon was just horribly bad, imho, as a writing decision.


Yeah, but you thought that about killing whats-her-name, too! ;)

p.s. - please note that I am being sarcastic and only saying this to tease Dana5140, fellow whats-her-name fans!
She killed a hell of a lot of magic books too. Rack and Warren are one thing but disrespecting books is beyond the pale.

I second that!
Right ? And yet I don't see Joss writing the books back into "season 8". Pure paperism is all it is.

(Though it is at least possible that Joss just brought him back for the hell of it and so that the readers had more things from the show to latch onto)

And Joss did say when called on the whole appeared-as-The-First-and-yet-not-dead thing that he just forgot (course that may well have been a humorous feint and he's got a whole finely crafted thing planned).
Yeah, that's true. I didn't really mean, though, that we'll get some good explanation of why Warren is back. I'm pretty sure that was just a mistake on Joss's part. I meant more that I think there's some story reason why Joss brought him back. All I'm confident enough to guess is that it involves Willow. And if it's really good I'm willing to forgive the fact that my initial response to Warren's reappearance was eyerolling
HEY ZG WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING TWEAKING ME??????????

:-)

Two can play at that game...

All kidding aside, regarding the Warren retcon, partly Joss has admitted at least one mistake in this decision since The First Evil was able to mimic Warren in S7; thus, Warren had to be dead for real. I totally agree that bringing him back really alters the meaning of what happened to Willow during S6, and for me that is pretty unexcusable. First you kill Tara- removing a character I love and whom I felt represented a marginalized group as well as anyone ever has (though this is not my complaint about her death- I do not wish to conflate her importance to the GLBT community to the writing decision that killed her, which I think was unnecessary and bad)- and you use that to drive the descent of Willow into despair, only to later essentially make it a sort of Christ allegory (saved by a carpenter by pure love), try to absolve Willow of what she did (which I argue has not been accomplished so far, though the story of S7 would suggest otherwise)- and then you bring back the one person whose killing was one of the most shocking developments in the entire 144-ep storyline, therefore completely altering the importance of everything that came before. What the what? It is partly why I have given up on the comic, which seems to be diminishing as I watch- knowing a Willow one-shot will be coming tells me Willow is not in any immediate danger, at least until that one-shot is over, etc. It is just product, something I thought I would never say. No resonance now. No real reason to care any more. And we are all moving on anyway, Dollhouse and CITW and maybe a new Dr. H etc...

ETA: Using Roger Ebert's "Law of Economy of Character," itis safe to assume that in a comicbook that gets 22-24 pages per issue, the use of Warren as a character has some importance to the story. Arguing that Joss has a reason to use him is sort of meaningless at present- his presence there at all means Joss intends to use him. Whether or not that use is meaningful remains to be seen.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-28 15:23 ]

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-28 15:26 ]
I'm with those who found TW very spotty, but good enough to keep watching, until CoE. Loved this series. It made sense to me that Jack needed to suffer & that the best way to do that was to kill Ianto. But although I liked Ianto and was sorry to see him go, I don't love Jack nearly as much as Willow, so I felt Tara's death much more.

I'm hoping that this story will add some depth to Capt. Jack to make him more compelling to me--I enjoy the character (and I think Barrowman's a hoot)--but I've never really felt for him.
Personally I think Barrowman doesn't always convince with the darker stuff, he seems happier playing the lighter, roguish Jack-the-lad more than the tortured immortal soul.

I meant more that I think there's some story reason why Joss brought him back.

Yeah I get that Let Down, my point was more that not examining the ramifications of Warren's return in much detail (i.e. enough detail to realise that technically he shouldn't really be able to come back - or at least not without explanation) might indicate that Joss "just" thought "It'll be cool to bring him back, it gives people something to grab onto and also old enemies returning is a very comic-y sort of thing so it stamps the medium on the story nice and early".

Course it's also consistent with Joss really needing Warren for something intricate and for the story's sake just missing the continuity stuff (not for the first time ;). So, yeah, as you say, wait and see.
I reluctantly agree Tara's death was a necessary evil, so as to take Willow to the darkest place she'll ever go. It was good story telling. And yet, I'm dissatisfied. I'm dissatisfied because Warren has been brought back in Season 8 without also reviving Tara in some fashion, even if only as a memory. Tara was the love of Willow's life, her "Always", and yet we've barely see any mention of Willow's sweet lover with the quirky smile. Willow's off cheating on Kennedy in the nether realms, rolling in the vapors with "Snake Lady", and yet we don't see hide nor hair of a pretty blonde angel? Come now.

IMHO, there needs to be a balance between the fiend and the soul the fiend took. So far Joss has been reluctant to go anywhere near the Tara event horizon, and I'm not sure if that's because he's avoiding her, or because he has something planned. I know Scott Allie says nay, but it'd be nice if Scott were wrong. Hope springs eternal.

As for Ianto's death, I was moved, but not by much. It might have something to do with my own preferences, but I just didn't get into them as a couple. I felt sad for Jack, but I didn't feel devastated for him as I did for Willow.

[ edited by quantumac on 2009-07-28 17:42 ]
Have you read Always Darkest, quantumac?
Loved, loved, LOVED, COE! But a great part of what sold it for me was Peter Capaldi's superb portrayal of Frobisher. He was stunning.

Out of the two I still think that Joss is the superior writer though, but judging by how season 8 is shaping up I may not think that for much longer though.
I gave up on S8 so long ago, I do not know what is happening. Warren's resurrection and the parade of earlier characters, among other things cheapened the story for me, so I let it go.

I am not a huge Torchwood fan, though I did find S2 and CoE enjoyable television. I also feel like the series has been getting progressively better. I agree John Barrowman is wonderful at being charming, but lacks ye olde gravitas to make what the character has been through ring true. (Sometimes the writing does not help. 1000 years in the ground and he pops up with no psychological side effects?)

For making a death make a difference, there was no way they could make Ianto's death as important as Tara's. First, what the author says about Jack being...um...not smart in his actions is true. Second, the relationship that Ianto and Jack had was in its infancy. It was still unbalanced and unsure. Tara and Willow had a relationship that had been through the wars and proven to be seated deep within both of them.

I found the title of the article a bit misleading.

“Buffy” Vs. “Torchwood”: Which Did a Better Job Killing Its Gay Character?

It sounds like there is one gay character on each show, and they got killed. Ianto indicates Jack is his one and only male interest among earlier female inerests. So how is he the gay character and Jack and Tosh aren't? (...or Cap't john if you want to include recurring characters.) On Buffy, of course we had Willow and later Kennedy.

Hey, I just had a thought. On Torchwood Jack is gay if Ianto is, and Jack is immortal. They can kill "the gay character" over and over and have him always come back. Is it a metaphor that you cannot kill nontraditional sexuality...or, since Jack is referred to as omnisexual, human sexuality in general cannot be killed no matter how hard groups have tried. Gee, maybe Torchwood is deeper than I thought. ;-)
It's simple: Buffy did a better job of killing off its gay character.....because Ianto is not gay.

my ranty screed on this:
http://thespian.livejournal.com/1371891.html
Let Down: Yes, I've read "Always Darkest". I don't count it, though, because I don't see any interaction between Willow and Tara. Being Buffy's dream, it's centered around her. Tara's appearance felt like a jab from Buffy's subconsciousness rather than an affirmation of what Willow and Tara once shared.
I think it was because Tara and Willow were in a loving relationship and everyone was rooting for them that made Tara a good (for the story) character to kill off , regardless of the fact that they both were female. And now, looking back, I should have seen the solidifying relationship between Ianto/Jack as foreshadowing that Ianto was going to be killed off. I've watched enough TV in my life to know that no one is ever really allowed to be happy and stay that way.

Suggesting that Joss/RTD were discriminating against gay characters is one thing, but then to suggest they should have practiced reverse discrimination and specifically killed anyone but Tara/Ianto? Lame.

This article was an interesting analysis of the two deaths, but it was a huge WHINE about killing characters. From now on, should we just vote on what we want to see in a show and have the writers tell stories based on popular opinion?
quantumac- well said, well said!
I haven't watched Torchwood but I like the basic reasoning, that the elements of a story look better when the story makes sense, has a real point, or both.

I'm reluctant to get into an s-8 discussion in this context but I have to say Warren's being back makes sense in terms of: he's working for Twilight, Twilight is the Big Bad, ergo Twilight is probably allied with/being used by forces much deeper, darker, and stronger than himself, and Warren is back in their service.


(Heck, in my main "children of the Dale" ficverse,w here Willow gets tara back via a Quest, Warren is unaffected. In my lesser "World Beyond the Wall" series, both Tara _and_ Katrina come back fomo beyond, by their own choice, to help build the colony. So I felt compelled to let Warren out of whatever Hell he was in. Albeit not free and clear; he has four arms to be more useful in hsi community service, but only one leg (read Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and while he retains his latraballee for sanitary reasons, he has no latraballeros under it to provide him with, err, motives.)
Loved, loved, LOVED, COE! But a great part of what sold it for me was Peter Capaldi's superb portrayal of Frobisher. He was stunning.


Amen!

As a sidenote, let's try not to stray so far as to make S8 and our own personal fic-verses the topic of conversation.
DaddyCatALSO-Gotta disagree. Having Warren back is just wrong. It made/makes no sense. In fact, I totally agree with what Dana5140 said earlier.

Ahem. Sorry, zeitgeist. :)

[ edited by menomegirl on 2009-07-28 18:09 ]
Ugh. Is this even a debate? I can understand why some writers are reticent to even bother writing a gay relationship into a story - because gay fans completely overreact when they end. I mean, seriously, there's a link there that accuses Russell T Davies, the gayest man in mainstream television, of HOMOPHOBIA.

A "fair" writer kills indiscriminately of race, gender or sexual orientation. The fact that of the original Torchwood cast three other characters, all of which are typically depicted as straight, have been killed off should have clued people into the possibility that it might happen to this character as well.

I couldn't help but feel that ultimately the disproportional attention given to the Willow/Tara relationship ended up affecting its direction in the show, giving it special treatment and ultimately watering it down. I mean, look at the outcry when Joss suggested Willow might consider hooking up with a man!

[ edited by daylight on 2009-07-28 18:52 ]
... that accuses Russell T Davies, the gayest man in mainstream television ...

C'mon, you're not being fair daylight. What about Graham Norton ?
Point to Dana5140, ZG. (You go, menomegirl!)

:-)

daylight, I think you might have gone a bit too far in your comments. You cannot possibly know how gay fans react to anything, you are stereotyping your thoughts and the gay community, and certainly it was not just the GLBT community who was upset over Tara's death. I am not gay, for one minor example, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who was more upset than I was, as everyone here well knows.

A fair writer does not kill indiscriminately. A fair writer simply serves the needs of the story. End of story.

However. Writers do not operate in a void; they live in a culture which imbues their work with meanings the writer may not intend. This has been my "authorial intent" v. "reader response" argument for many long years. You cannot escape your culture, so to say; witness Henry Louis Gates v. the police last week. Who was right, there? Have you read Mamet's "Oleanna?" Might be time.

What disporportionate attention was given to Willow and Tara? How was it specially treated? Compared to what? What are you talking about? And if you cannot understand why fans would be upset at Willow returning to men, I think you miss the entire point of who she is and who she had become. I could go on, but I have said this too many times before in too similar a situation and no longer have the time and willingness to school people. Joss can make a mistake just like anyone else.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-28 19:12 ]

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-28 19:15 ]
C'mon, you're not being fair daylight. What about Graham Norton ?


*water goes out my nose* Fair point and ow ;)

A fair writer does not kill indiscriminately. A fair writer simply serves the needs of the story. End of story.


The point was that a fair writer who needs to serve the story in a way that involves death will not hesitate to kill the "appropriate" character regardless of their race/ethnicity/sexual preference/incomprehensible love of seafood ;).

I think what daylight meant (and correct me if I'm wrong) re: disproportionate attention was that the relationship received so much attention for being a uniquely happy non-heteronormative relationship on tv that people started to assume that it was special in other ways as well - ie the Hammer of the Joss would not fall down bloodily upon it. Yay? Nay?
A "fair" writer kills indiscriminately of race, gender or sexual orientation.

True, but when a kind of character representing a disenfranchised group is rarely fully realized on tv, things that would normally disappoint or upset people take on an extra level of hurt. The best fan reaction I've read to date expressing deep disappointment with a character arc was about Alex Wilder, written by a black geek who felt they'd lost the hero they'd finally found, and in the worst possible way.

So I get where the people who feel strongly about this are coming from. That said, I'm gay, and I had no problem with Tara dying. It was dramatic and terrible and made Willow go crazy and I think it worked well. You're mistaken to attribute the reaction of a subset of a group to the entire group. People make similar statements about all Whedon fans based on the vocal outcry of a few. It comes across as pretty insulting in any instance. I agree with you that a good writer does what's best for the story and for a story like Buffy, where death is always a strong possibility, it means your gay characters can and will die too. But as long as people are writing in a world where a character is typically presumed straight until proved otherwise, and where well-rounded gay characters are rare, the reality is that killing a gay character will resonate differently. People will talk about it more, just like they're still talking about Buffy when a thousand wise-cracking guys who beat up people have come and gone since she was on tv.
disproportionate attention was that the relationship received so much attention for being a uniquely happy non-heteronormative relationship on tv that people started to assume that it was special in other ways as well - ie the Hammer of the Joss would not fall down bloodily upon it.

I'd have to agree with that as well.
ZG, as I parse the paragraph, I cannot agree that this is what was meant. daylight said this: "I couldn't help but feel that ultimately the disproportional attention given to the Willow/Tara relationship ended up affecting its direction in the show, giving it special treatment and ultimately watering it down. I mean, look at the outcry when Joss suggested Willow might consider hooking up with a man!"

Specifically, he posits that it affected "its direction in the show." How else to read that? What else could he mean by "watering it down?" What would it mean for it to NOT be watered down? How was it specially treated? Again, compared to what? All I can look at is the end result, and for damned sure looking there shows it was not specially treated; Tara died, right? Finito, and never ever to come back, the only major person in the Jossverse to which that was inflicted. And to not understand why people got upset at the idea of returning Willow to guyhood? Jesus? Are we back to square one here, fighting the same fights that existed at the time it all happened? Have we learned nothing along the way?

ETA: Sunfire says it well, as well.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-28 19:51 ]
I've certainly learned that Tara and the direction of the show in Seasons 6-7 are topics that fans just have to agree to disagree on.
I agree with daylight's post.

All this backlash about Tara's death doesn't seem to consider the following:
If I remember correctly, it was always the plan to kill Willow's lover and have that event cause Willow's downfall. Originally Oz would have been killed, but Seth Green left the show before that storyline was implemented. It was also always the plan that either Xander or Willow would be gay.

All I'm saying is the decision was made for the storyline, and it was made before Tara was ever a character and/or Willow began a lesbian relationship.

I think it's time to move on.
I'll go back and read the full text of daylight's post as today has been another in a series of busy days and I was reading very quickly. For now just assume that I was talking about the part I specifically referenced and not the rest of it, that's generally much safer :) I do have to say What Sunfire Saidtm in the meantime. RTD said something interesting re: subsets of fans at Comic Con, by the way. Someone stood up and asked what he was going to do in the face of the massive outpouring re: Ianto and the fan campaigns. He explained that the massive campaign to send coffee packets to the BBC had yielded as of that morning nine packets and that he would continue to do what he felt served the story and the characters.

daylight is more than capable of speaking for themselves when it comes to this, but my read is that she/he seems disappointed at a perception (whether true or false) that the very specialness ascribed to the relationship was adopted in part by Joss, who deliberately left the couple to be happy for perhaps longer than any other character/couple on the show. True? False? Either way it doesn't seem an entirely unreasonable perception of events, does it? Discuss! I try never to ascribe to malice what can easily be ascribed to the variable precision of written communication divorced from the nuances of tone and body language :)
I think it's time to move on.

I foresee that never happening.
Passion, this is not the argument. Tara is dead and that decision was made for whatever reason it was made. What irritated me here was the comment which attributed a response to an entire class of people, which suggested that all writers act in a particular way and that there was something unusual in the treatment of a relation on TV that impeded what would have been its normal development, whatever that normal development might have been. I am not ready to move on from that, because I believe it is incorrect, inappropriate and in some ways hurtful. Those darn gays just won't let all those good writers write what they want for fear that if they kill someone everyone will be up in arms. And those writers just don't have the courage of their convictions, and are obviously influenced by and fearful of those darn gays. And Willow and Tara got some sort of "disproportionate" attention, though compared to what I have no clue.
I think it's time to move on.

You're right. In fact we should all move on from this Buffy thing.

Just as soon as I watch "Selfless" one more time.
Dana5140 - points taken, however... you see people like Michelle Bachmann protesting the movie 'Orphan' because it portrays an orphan as a sadistic killer or something (I don't even know what the flick is about, but its a horror movie called orphan, bear with me) which is a stone's throw from the protests that Sharon Stone and her icepick depicted all lesbians as cold blooded ruthless killers. The movie Psycho is also not about all white males. I understand that when a character's race/creed/religion/sexual orientation is unique it takes on a larger significance than if it weren't unique, but the next step in equality and the one that really makes the difference to mainstreaming/acceptance is if these characters are gay or black or what-have-you without any undue meta-influence on the arc of the character. THAT'S equality.

You're right. In fact we should all move on from this Buffy thing.

Just as soon as I watch "Selfless" one more time.


I love my fellow mods/admins :).
Ooooh, "Selfless".

Good choice.
Dana5140: It is partly why I have given up on the comic, which seems to be diminishing as I watch- knowing a Willow one-shot will be coming tells me Willow is not in any immediate danger, at least until that one-shot is over, etc. It is just product, something I thought I would never say.

It's my understanding that the Willow one-shot takes place between Season 7 and Season 8. So anything could happen to Willow in Season 8 before the one-shot comes out. Actually a major event happening would be the perfect time for such a one-shot happening to look back at how things got the way they did.

As for the comic being just a product, Joss has mentioned before the paycheck for comics is quite low compared to what he gets paid for movies and television, yet he still does work with comics because of a love for the medium. As he could be making a lot more money elsewhere if he wanted. I can perfectly understand people not quite liking the comic, but I think it's more than a product to Joss and other writers involved.

Getting back to the main topic, I don't think Joss or Davies took in account of their sexuality when they killed off the two characters. In a way it shows true equality when characters become just another cast member, rather than a character only defined by their sexuality or whatever other minority they belong to. Also I think both writers killed off the character to serve the story, through which writer pulled it off better is of course open to debate (which is exactly what has been happening here).
Also I think both writers killed off the character to serve the story.

I'm sure that's true for the most part but you know what one of the worst things about Seeing Red is? It's that expression of utter happiness on Dawn's face when she sees Tara all wrapped up in that bedsheet. The entire thing felt like a manipulation of the viewing audience from beginning to end.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2009-07-28 21:00 ]
Saje, I like your line of thinking, but I'd argue that Graham Norton is more flamboyant and less gay than RTD.

Dana5140, you're quite right, I did not intend to lump everyone under the same (pink) umbrella. The point I'm trying (more like floundering) to articulate is that the Willow/Tara relationship was perceived by many to be something a lot bigger than what it actually was. And I felt that this perception, in turn, fed its way back into the show. It's easy to forget that when this relationship was introduced it was done so very subtly; even to the discerning viewer it was very much in the background. And yet that year it was pretty much the talk of the interwebs. (Well, that and everyone hates Riley.) You're also far more accurate than I was in that the writer must serve primarily the needs of the story. My specific concern is when a writer serves the needs of a particular segment of the fanbase. Of course I understand why certain people got upset by the idea of Willow "returning to guyhood", but part of me hoped that Joss would be fearless enough to not let that put him off - mainly for the sake of Joss Whedon fearlessness, I hasten to add - and was disappointed that it seemingly did.

zeitgeist, I have no idea what I actually meant any more, but that sounds good!

Sunfire, I hope the Runaways fan in question felt placated by Alex's apparent redemption later on in the series. I think the real problem is that certain kinds of people are underrepresented in fiction, as it's not instinctive for, say, a white guy creating a character to physically define that character in a way that is so different to him. (I know some people call this Mary Sueism, but as Russell T Davies says, write what you know.) Although I think in its later stages, Buffy got its diversity about proportionally right on the gay front (if not, ahem, on the ethnic front...)
It took me a couple of series of new Dr Who before I really got into it. I watched the first couple of series constantly critiquing the show and wasn't aware of actually enjoying it, but yet I couldn't stop watching it. It took quite a long time for me to get into the style of the show, the balance of humour, the sometimes kitschy aliens and plots, with genuinely good drama and interesting characters. Above all, I had to accept that it is intended to be fun above all else.

I was looking forward to Torchwood, but the few episodes I saw from the first season disappointed me. It was too self-consciously "adult" and "dark", it felt like the writers were naughty children freed from the family friendliness of Dr Who indulging in immature swearing and sex references. I wasn't too impressed.

But then James Marsters was set to appear in the first episode of season two, and I gave it another chance, and I'm glad I did. Season two was much, much better and it felt like the writers had got over the novelty of the premise and settled into a nice rhythmn with the cast and stories. They were more ambitious in a lot of the episodes, and one in particular, "Adam", was very reminiscent of "Superstar" from season four of Buffy as it concerned a new cast member who suddenly appeared as if they had always been there. Although obviously influenced by shows like Buffy and Angel, it didn't feel at all derivative and was in fact very smart and enjoyable.

I was really looking forward to season three, and I think it lived up to expectations. The five part miniseries format worked very well and helped create a sense of a big drama event, and there was very little filler because it was obviously such a well crafted plot. I have read that season four was accidentally confirmed by Eve Myles, although another quote from John Barrowman suggests that the BBC may consider another miniseries rather than a full series because apparently the miniseries had the highest ratings they've ever had for Torchwood.

As much as I think the miniseries format worked, and was a nice way to continue the show after the massive changes caused by the ending of the second season, I'd much prefer they return to a full 13 episode series. And the first two seasons were shown on BBC2 rather than BBC1 as the miniseries was, so if a new, full series was made for season four and it was also shown on BBC1 and with similar levels of advertising, I'm sure they could probably achieve similar levels of success.
Which it was, of course (manipulation, that is), to the point of adding Amber Benson as a regular in the credits. No matter how much Joss claims it was to honor her, I cannot believe that is entirely the case. It was done just as much to heighten the emotional response, and I still believe that Joss did not expect the response he got, no way did he expect it. I am not saying he would have done anything different, for I have no way of knowing, but I am certain he did not expect the outcry that occurred.

Matt- it's a product to me. Got no claim on what it is to Joss, as I don't know him. I expect him to take it seriously, as much as I do the work I do because it is the work I do and I want to do it well.

ZG- there is nothing you say I do not agree with. But it is not my point. I am not arguing for separate treatment of gays in literature and never have; my issues with Tara's death are outside the fact that she was a gay icon- though I fully acknowledge how important an icon she was. I am honestly troubled by the tenor of the comments made by daylight, which I think are ill informed and incorrect. But I have made that point now, and daylight is nowhere to be found right now to defend him or herself. ETA: Oops, he/she just posted as I posted. :-)

(PS. Not to get political here, but Michelle Bachmann is an idiot.)

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-28 21:15 ]
I want to bring this up here rather than in my last post. But let me take daylight's new comment that "Of course I understand why certain people got upset by the idea of Willow "returning to guyhood", but part of me hoped that Joss would be fearless enough to not let that put him off - mainly for the sake of Joss Whedon fearlessness, I hasten to add - and was disappointed that it seemingly did."

Let us return to 7 years ago or so and Tara's now just immediate death. Feelings are raw, really raw, and a percentage of the fanbase is truly upset, and I mean as truly upset as a fanbase ever has been. And a marginalzied group, at least some of them, are so deeply hurt they cannot articulate their pain, some of them. And you know that somewhere down the road, Willow has to be brought back; you cannot leave her forever damamged, and her life has to go on. You want to create a new relation for her. How do you do this? daylight suggests it would have been brave to have her return to guys? Why? Was her gayness just a passing thing? Was there anything to suggest she really was not fully and completely gay now? What would you have accomplished if you did return her to guys? You would further rub salt in some very, very raw wounds. That is not being brave in my book- it would be thoughtless and create further pain. I know Joss and Marti Noxon talked this issue over and decided to keep Willow gay- a decsion I think is correct in every way. Absent a compelling reason to go back to straight (or bi or however you want to call it) I cannot see how making that decision serves the story. I personally believe it would have been beyond horrid to have Willow go back to guys; it would have, in the eyes of many hurting people, been an ultimate repudiation of her relation, a relation only just ended in terrible tragedy. Joss got lots of kudos for that relation; should he abandon it now after causing such pain to so many? This is really a no brainer in decision making.

This is not to say Joss may now go that route with Oz returning, but now it would be anything but brave; it would be predictable and banal and stupid. In my opinion, to be sure.
Don't you think it would have been extraordinarily brave for Joss to stand up to his own fanbase? I'm not talking 'social norms' here; BTVS had already made a habit of breaking those by that point. I'm talking Neville-Longbottom-at-the-end-of-Philosopher's-Stone kinda brave. :)

By the same token Dana, do you think her interest in Oz was just a "passing thing", because he's male? On rewatching the whole series last year, I was completely invested in the Willow-Oz dynamic, and I don't think that was some sort of passing phase. Even Vamp Willow, who Willow described as "kinda gay", was actually bisexual!

The character I thought Willow had become by the end of season four was one who chose her partners on the basis of who they are on the inside over and above any of their physical traits. That, I felt, was a lot more interesting (and, I suppose, idealistic) than her simply being "gay now".

[ edited by daylight on 2009-07-28 21:51 ]
The character I thought Willow had become by the end of season four was one who chose her partners on the basis of who they are on the inside over and above any of their physical traits.

I agree with this too.
It is sort of a "birther" argument; I am not sure what kind of proof one can offer to "prove" willow is now gay outside of the scenes we see that are canon, in which she refers to herself as gay and for which the Buffybot notes she is gay. She's gay. But I guess you see what you want to see; reader response in action, so who am I to argue? :-)
I admire your attempts to reclaim 'gay' for the homosexuals but I fear this one has been lost to the lamers for good.
CofE was an amazing series , I loved it and hated it at the same time, deeply uncomfortable but brilliant TV. BTW it was a smash hit in terms both of ratings and approval but those people it annoyed are VERY and loudly annoyed. Which reminds me of another fandom and another death :).


Seeing Red was also deeply uncomfortable viewing. But for me the death of Tara, whilst shocking, wasn't the bit I was most uncomfortable with.

And in CofE I found the same thing . The most uncomfortable bit was not the death of a much loved character.
(PS. Not to get political here, but Michelle Bachmann is an idiot.)


All we ask is to try to avoid name calling. Whoever bet me $5 that reader response wouldn't come up now owes me $5 :).

outside of the scenes we see that are canon, in which she refers to herself as gay and for which the Buffybot notes she is gay.


Characters are never wrong about anything ;). I know a number of gay folks who, for whatever reason, once identified as heterosexual and once had heterosexual relationships and I don't find anything that particularly needs explaining about Willow going from Oz to Tara. It's less likely that she would now go back as that would make her that rarest of breeds, the true bi- or omni- (that's for you, Captain Jack!) sexual. Or as a bisexual friend of mine used to call herself: greedy and indecisive :) THAT'S A JOKE!

I really only purssue this particular line of thought to point out that truly great characters -and people, for that matter- know what they know in the moment and then learn, recalculate, and restate as necessary. It's not necessarily indecision, but perhaps flexibility and curiosity... erm... I'm not specifically speaking of sexuality there, I'm talking about, to quote New Model Army (I can do that, it's totally allowed), "It seems so simple, but they just don't get it; I meant what I said at the time that I said it."

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-07-28 22:47 ]
Yeah, Willow being only interested in women nowadays has no bearing on the seriousness of her relationship with Oz at the time.

Is that the first ever citation of the Buffybot as a source of truth?
There's always going to be a certain part of the fanbase who disagrees with killing off one of the main characters.

When Serenity was being previewed, there was a certain part of the fanbase who tried to campaign to get Joss to edit or do re-shoots so that Wash survives. There still seems to be fans that want to completely ignore the Serenity movie and remain fans of just Firefly the tv show in part because of the killing of Wash.

There were also fans who were incredibly upset with how Dr. Horrible ended and thought that such a light-hearted and funny series should not have turned so serious at the end.

Personally, I think it works, and gives the stories emotional weight and a sense of danger for any of the cast members that would not be there otherwise. I didn't like that great characters like Jenny Calendar, Joyce, Tara, Anya or in the comics Renee had died, but without those deaths Buffy the tv show and comic book would not have been as great as it is.

I think the only thing that Joss needs to look out for is relying too much on killing characters as a story technique, especially happy couples, as he already has a reputation for it and too much and it becomes cliche.
Yeah, Willow being only interested in women nowadays has no bearing on the seriousness of her relationship with Oz at the time.


Or vice-versa :).
Seeing Red was also deeply uncomfortable viewing. But for me the death of Tara, whilst shocking, wasn't the bit I was most uncomfortable with.

Ditto.

There's always going to be a certain part of the fanbase who disagrees with killing off one of the main characters.

That's true. I'm still pissed off about Lindsey's death.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2009-07-28 23:00 ]
Though for me Seeing Red is one of the best Buffy episodes. It is a classic and Children of Earth's spiritual father.
Though for me Seeing Red is one of the best Buffy episodes.

You do?
It's a very powerful episode, very raw and bloodied. Great acting by everyone. Especially Adam Busch.
Only death that annoyed me was Wash. Felt cheap and unearned, just a dramatic beat. The rest were great, especially Tara.
Well....I agree that it is a very powerful episode and that the actors gave outstanding performances. :)
I think the only "Whedonverse" death that profoundly moved me was Wash. Although that might be because all the others got spoiled in advance. (Thanks internet, gossipy friends, and watching episodes out of order.)
Only death that annoyed me was Wash. Felt cheap and unearned, just a dramatic beat.

My only issue with Wash dying is that it makes more sense for the mechanics of the script (which it serves admirably) than it does within the story. That said, deaths don't have to make sense to be powerful or feel true (almost the reverse in fact) and seeing Wash die was like a literal body-blow for me, incredibly visceral moment (that it seemed the entire cinema felt, reckon you could've heard a pin drop. If the cinema wasn't carpeted I mean). So glad I wasn't spoiled for that.

Guess I can see that complaint leveled at both Tara and Ianto in fairness but then I think that's an occupational hazard of portraying a textually senseless (i.e. arguably more realistic) death. Might've been Pointy that said before that people are more hurt by e.g. Tara's death at least partly because it doesn't make sense, because it doesn't adhere to the fictional norm of nice, brave people either not dying at all or only dying as a noble sacrifice (or at least while actively fighting the good fight). It refutes the story we all tell ourselves about death's purpose and worth.
Sometimes death doesn't have purpose. It just happens. There's no meaning or reason behind it.
There's almost never any meaning or reason to it IMO, which is a bit ... disconcerting. That's why we (normally) make up stories that tell us otherwise and also (partly) why, when those stories don't reassure us in that way, we go right back to being disconcerted.
What Saje Saidtm.
daylight suggests it would have been brave to have her return to guys? Why? Was her gayness just a passing thing? Was there anything to suggest she really was not fully and completely gay now? What would you have accomplished if you did return her to guys? You would further rub salt in some very, very raw wounds.

It always seemed to me until season 7 that Willow was bisexual. Yes, she had an amazing relationship with Tara and loved her. But she didn't just suddenly stop liking guys. Are we just forgetting how in love with Oz she was? Or Xander before that? I think daylight is absolutely right when s/he says that Willow was presented as just loving the person regardless of their gender. As Willow said: 'I was in love with woman not women (or something like that - i forget the exact words)

It seems to me that Joss and co decided in season 7 to suddenly make her only like women because of the vocal and angry reaction by some fans. And if that is why they made that decision then I agree with daylight that that was a cowardly decision that we wouldn't normally expect of Joss.

As for the evidence that she's fully gay, Dana5140, I'm really not convinced. The Buffybot was created by Spike / Warren - what it thinks at most tells us that they (or one of them) thought Willow was gay. On the other hand, there's a lot of evidnece suggesting she likes both males and females. For example, there's that comment I quoted above. For another, there's the fact that in 'Doppelgangland' she's attracted to women but also seems to have a thing going with Xander (and her torturing of Angel is quite sexual).

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-07-29 04:00 ]
I'll add that I think it would have been offensive if in season 7 Willow suddenly started being attracted only to guys
Hmm, well, I really got annoyed every time Willow said she was "gay now" and she started saying that in season 5, not S7.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2009-07-29 04:11 ]
I wouldn't find anything offensive. People are strange mercurial beings. Seemingly illogical behavior can have logical motives. The question would have been, "can you explain THAT change?!"

However, Willow was only going to go one way because I think it was a conscious decision by Joss. However, if her character is read in totality, you have a hard time making the case as to WHY she should be no longer attracted to men at all. If I had known Willow in r/l, I'd have a hard time believing she wasn't bisexual and was completely lesbian. Her relationship Oz just isn't hollow enough. NOW, if we'd gone straight from puppy love with Xander to Tara... I'd buy it. In this case, Joss is damned by his own good writing ;)

I think unfortunately (or fortunately actually) people take these characters so personally that you can't make a character sexually confused or ambiguous unless you set out to do it at the beginning before an attachment has formed. Because we identify with them, one side feels somehow "wronged" when the character changes their mind. If Willow has a dalliance with a guy, people WILL feel wronged by it. It's not rational, but I think it's natural.
Is that the first ever citation of the Buffybot as a source of truth?

and

The Buffybot was created by Spike / Warren - what it thinks at most tells us that they (or one of them) thought Willow was gay.

So does this mean Angel's hair might actually not go straight up ?

(see how I picked a 'ship neutral quote from that dialogue ? As renowned 20th century philosopher Francis Spencer might put it "Every day, in every way, i'm getting better and better" ;)

Willow certainly identifies as gay rather than bisexual, whether that's partly from insecurity over her "new" status or for simplicity (or even, sometimes, just for comic effect) is hard to tell but an assumption that she is doesn't seem absurd on its face to me.

Ianto's more clear-cut in that regard since he actually explicitly says something like "It's not men, it's just him". Kinda surprised no-one's mentioned that (that I can see, sorry if i've just missed it) since it could be construed as him claiming not to be gay at all (or maybe it's intended more along the "omnisexual" lines).
Look, everything is a conscious decision by Joss. Period. We have to take what we have and analyze only that. What is patently clear is that Joss decided that Willow was gay when he debated the issue with Marti Noxon in S7 to bring Kennedy in, and gay is what she is. Everything else is speculation- whether her love for Oz was part of her path to understanding that she really was gay, or whatever.

But tell me how it is cowardly for him to make that decision. Had he decided to make her straight again, that would be brave? You think he made that decision only to placate the angry people? I think that was part of it, but hardly all of it- and I am one not willing to give Joss a lot of credit here for the entire damned debacle in the first place. Was he cowardly when he gave Spike a larger role because people responded to him?

Again, I can go on only what I see. The evidence, such as it is, is that she is gay.

Which I fully expect the comic to screw up.
But tell me how it is cowardly for him to make that decision. Had he decided to make her straight again, that would be brave?

I think you're ignoring the part where I said it would be offensive if Willow was suddenly straight in season 7. To be clear: my point was that I think she was portrayed as bisexual up until the end of season 6 and that then after angry fan reaction Joss and the writers made her outright gay.

You ask why Joss shouldn't do that - isn't it good to respond to what fans want? And that's a reasonable question. But I think there's a key difference between using more of Spike because some fans wanted it and making Willow gay because some fans wanted it. In the second example it's contradicting what came before it. That's why I think it was cowardly. Joss likes to say the story is God but here he allowed a vocal group of fans to be God (if, in fact, it's true that he changed what he was going to do with Willow because of fan reactions which, of course, we can't be sure of)

When Willow first got with Tara I thought it was great storytelling. But I took it as meaning either that she was generally straight but fell for this one girl OR that she was bisexual. It didn't make sense - given her feelings (which were clearly partly physical) for Oz and Xander - that she was suddenly only interested in women. It would have been exactly the same if it was the other way around - if Willow had been portrayed as interested in women from the beginning and dated Tara in the early seasons and then fell for Oz I would assume that she was bisexual and would have a hard time swallowing that she was suddenly straight
Which I fully expect the comic to screw up.

I think my hopes and expectations are the reverse of yours. I hope the comics will use Oz's return to make it clear that Willow is, in fact, bisexual (because I think this will fix what I consider a major and annoying retcon in the series). But unlike you I don't expect it to do this - I'm pretty sure you'll have your way.
I don't find it a retcon at all that she identifies as gay. As I said above, real life friendship with gay folks has taught me that some of them have deep and real and committed heterosexual relationships prior to coming to terms with their sexuality. Not everyone instantly understands themselves and goes immediately to point A or point B, some wander at a leisurely pace ;).
In the end, Let Down, the one thing that truly upsets me is that I will never have a chance to directly ask Joss these questions. What were his plans with Willow in S7? Did he change them because of fan outcry? Does he view Willow as Gay or bisexual? What is the real truth as to why Amber Benson did not come back in S7? Was it due to her GOA commitments, her unwillingness to reprise Tara as evil, or a contractual disagreement? I often feel that this question- Willow bi or gay- is one that has no answer. As a reader response guy, I have my own opinions, of course. But there are times when I would like to know how Joss meant things. To my knowledge he has never referred to her as bisexual. But I also feel that playing with Willow like we are minimizes exactly how important she was in the national debate about accepting homosexuality; that is, not her role in the series, but her role in the culture, which to me is so much more important. I know this opens me for all sorts of criticism- conflating that role with the story, for example. I know many gay people who initially had sex with the opposite sex, because that was what was expected, was the norm, and they wanted so much to just fit in and be seen as "normal." But they were, and are, gay. Why should Willow be different? She tried so hard in the early years of Buffy just to fit in. Xander was someone safe to pine after, but that relation was never really consummated, if you will, and was chaste in the extreme. Her relation with Oz was hardly one that demonstrated much passion, did not last really very long, and led to them having sex at best just a few times. It was just sweet, that's all. Then came Tara, and Willow finding herself and growing into the woman she became.
Surely it depends on what we mean by "gay" ? I mean, if it means "not attracted to the opposite sex" then that's patently not Willow since her feelings for Xander and Oz are partly hormonal i.e. she seems physically attracted to them.

If it means "identifies as gay" then she's gay since she repeatedly identifies as gay from around S5 onwards.

But to say Willow/Oz lacked passion or was "just sweet" is to read the show to suit your own perspective in the extreme IMO (and how do we know how many times they had sex anyway ? Honest, less biased answer ? We don't).
I don't find it a retcon either because (a) I don't, and (b) like zeitgeist I know people in real life who now identify as gay but didn't when they were younger.

Willow said in S5 that she was, in fact, "gay now" ("Triangle").
saje- we have just what the show shows us to go on. In that case, I know Willow and Oz had sex once. Beyond that, I saw them in bed together sleeping a couple of times. Anything else is pure spec.
People often sleep after having sex and shows have to use hints like that due to network standards and the fact that the compression ratio for what's shown vs. what happens is usually at least 229:1 (if every ep covers a week and you assume a 44 minute runtime for eps). Chances are that they had sex more than once. Incidentally I love that you, Reader Response Guytm is suddenly holding to the text of what was shown :).
Hey, I can be as hypocritical as the next guy, when it suits my purposes! :-) And of course, I actually do infer that Willow and Oz had sex more than once and believe that to be the case, but as far as canon shows, it was just the once. I am really trying to say that while Willow had this loving relation with Oz, the fact that it happened at all is not proof positive that she is bisexual or is drawn to men; it is just what it was at the time it happened. As much as we can infer that she had sex more than the one time we saw, we can infer (or not infer) that she was truly gay and had sex with Oz because she wanted to be seen as normal and to have a boyfriend as a marker of her rise in popularity at SunnyDale HS. Of course, we can infer other interpretations as well. No way to know.

I think the interesting question here is, why do believe what we do about Willow? Why do I see her as gay, while others see her as bisexual? Why would it matter to me if she took up with men again, while to others it would be okay? I do not have an answer to that question.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-29 18:32 ]
Yeah that is an interesting question because if we're now sticking to the text i'd ask you Dana to count up (and, if you like, share with the group ;) the number of times we actually see Willow and Tara having sex. Or Willow and Kennedy for that matter.

Beyond that, I saw them in bed together sleeping a couple of times. Anything else is pure spec.

Totally agreed. Anything else is pure speculation. Including, as it shouldn't need pointing out, the suggestion that they had sex "at best just a few times".
Willow and Tara- 2 times (really, about 6 times, counting in the fact that in SR they never got out of bed...) (OMWF, SR). Kennedy- once. But in the latter case, they were together for a really short time. :-)

But back to my question, if we would...

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-07-29 19:33 ]
I never actually SAW Willow and Tara have sex, as that would be in violation of broadcast standards for non-pay/OTA networks :). The fact that you gave a specific number of six also tells us something about your healthy fantasy life >:D.

The question of why it matters to some people and not to others is a rich cocktail of your personal experiences with the people in your life, mixed with your own sexual experiences/orientation and your perceptions of them, your social mores, and the unique way that you interface with the particular character in question. Do I need to vague that up some more? :)

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-07-29 19:50 ]
Uh huh ;). Personally I think they spent that entire time in bed playing Battleships (just my "response" of course).

As I said above Dana, to me the answer to your question depends on how we're defining "gay" in this context. If it's "not attracted to the opposite sex" then to be brutally honest I think you're calling her gay because you want to and others are calling her bisexual because they've actually watched 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' ;). I.e. Willow/Oz seemed to me to be every bit as loving and significant to both parties involved as e.g. Buffy/Angel and yet no-one is saying Buffy/Angel was just a flash in the pan, basically a phase she was going through.

If you've had a meaningful heterosexual relationship in which you were genuinely sexually attracted to the other person then you are (by that definition) somewhere on a sexual spectrum between the mythical extremes of "totally straight" and "totally gay", even if every relationship you have afterwards is homosexual. Similar to if you're heterosexual and then turn celibate you're still heterosexual (or in reality, somewhere on that spectrum IMO).

Conversely, if we define it as "identifies as gay" then I really can't see any argument - Willow identified as gay from season 5 on so by that definition she's gay, without much question in my view (just as a Brit might become a naturalised American and thereafter self-identify as American - by the second definition they are American, whatever they were before).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-07-29 19:48 ]
Oh, the fun we can have misquoting one another later:

"Do you guys remember that thread where Dana said homosexual sex is for true love and that heterosexual sex is to 'score points' and a 'status symbol' with the cool kids?"


Also...

Personally I think they spent that entire time in bed playing Battleships


I thought they were having a particularly rowdy session debugging their own home-grown assembly language compiler or updating the Online Demon Database to the latest version of MySQL and PHP5. Or not...
Boy, I never said that!

And no, we never saw anyone ever on Buffy having sex- though Spike and Buffy sure looked like it a couple of times. But in terms of what we could see on screen, I think we could safely refer to scenes from OMWF and SR as indicating sex, same as we could for one scene with Kennedy.

But I am calling her gay because I want to, saje. That's sort of my point. Why do I want to? I am not gay, myself. I think it is because I have always been drawn to the underdog and the marginalized, and somehow the idea of bi gets lots of play and acceptance, more so than being queer for real does. All the jokes about college kids sleeping with same sex- women more than men- just for the experience. Does that make them gay? Bi? Hell if I know. I just came from reading the WaPo and they have a series of articles on gay marriage and the reader responses to the blog posts are so hurtful and so damning, and it just kills me to have to have this discussion. I know this is a fictional universe here, but it exists in this larger culture where people hurt and are hurt, so it really matters, to me anyway. It is not just fanwanking the discussion, angels dancing on pins. Somewhere, it matters to real people. Sometimes I think that's why I care. But I also know I get drawn to damaged characters like Tara and Sara Sidle and Sophie of In Treatment. It is of a kind.
Well I think pretty much everyone's drawn to the underdog Dana, maybe because we all (at one time or another) feel like the underdog and want to see our proxies triumph. I guess I just always saw "Jewish, ginger, nerdy and bisexual" as enough underdog indicators (as far as society's concerned I should point out) for anyone to carry ;).

(and ironically enough, the time Buffy and Spike most looked like they were having sex was probably when you explicitly couldn't see them doing it cos Buffy was invisible ;)

I thought they were having a particularly rowdy session debugging their own home-grown assembly language compiler or updating the Online Demon Database to the latest version of MySQL and PHP5.

Pervert ! Why, i've seldom read such filth ! I mean, as if Willow wouldn't use Perl, the very suggestion ...
and somehow the idea of bi gets lots of play and acceptance, more so than being queer for real does.

Bi falls under queer. Queer's a very general term that encompasses a lot of the other labels. To be bi is to be queer for real.

Bi people actually often experience stigma from both straight and gay people, and I think they generally are dealing with additional misconceptions and stereotypes of their own. It's at least as difficult to be bi as it is to be gay, and from stories I hear from bi people my impression for awhile has been that it's worse in some ways.

But I also know I get drawn to damaged characters like Tara and Sara Sidle and Sophie of In Treatment. It is of a kind.

I can't speak for CSI since I didn't follow it so closely but I don't think Tara is damaged at all.
Pervert ! Why, i've seldom read such filth ! I mean, as if Willow wouldn't use Perl, the very suggestion ...


Haha... she definitely would NOT be using Ruby, I'll say that much ;). What Sunfire Saidtm.
If you've had a meaningful heterosexual relationship in which you were genuinely sexually attracted to the other person then you are (by that definition) somewhere on a sexual spectrum between the mythical extremes of "totally straight" and "totally gay", even if every relationship you have afterwards is homosexual.


Except sexuality seems rather a fluid thing in many ways - in that I think people really do "change," not infrequently. The type we're attracted to certainly changes, and sometimes the gender too. Most of us have a preference, but not only might that preference change, it can often "be changed" by a particular experience with a particular person. It doesn't take away from past relationships, but nor does a person need to remain defined even partially by the past.

I loved the Tara / Willow relationship a whole lot too, it may be my favorite in the 'verse, but I have to say, Dana5140, you've lost me as well when you dismiss the relationship with Oz or the Big Crush on Xander. That said, I agree it would be lame for her to "go back" to guys and I think the right call (artistically and morally?) was made to have her identify as gay from Tara onwards. But not my story so who cares what I think? ;) (Besides me. I care what I think).

Also, What Zeitgeist Said (the part where he said What Sunfire Said).
Sure but i've hedged my bets with the whole "spectrum" thing catherine (luckily I also happen to think it's true ;) since people can be at different places on it at different times (and some/most may well stay pretty close to either end for their entire lives).

But I don't believe there's a person that's lived that somehow fits precisely onto the mathematical point at either end of the spectrum because in my experience people are fuzzier than that. We're analogue and notions like yes/no or gay/straight are digital.

(and most of What catherine Said Zeitgeist Said Sunfire Said though I think you could make a case that Tara, with her shyness, stutter and low self-esteem was damaged to some extent - pre-'Family' anyway - even though in other ways she was pretty "sorted")
Sunfire took the words out of my mouth...especially about bi-sexuals not having an easier time.

I always felt that Willow's declarations of being gay were overly strident and found her insecurity about how Tara viewed Willow's sexuality very interesting. I always wished that Joss could have really explored Willow's sexual preference journey after Tara was killed. Not that she would go back to "the boys," but that the obvious confusion about what her next step should be (as expressed in her scene with Kennedy in the bar) could be really explored. She makes the comment about being in love with one woman rather than "women" just like Ianto with the one man comment. (Yes, Saje, I mentioned it earlier too. ;) ) Unfortunately, I get the feeling from the fan reaction, that a real exploration was pretty much out of the question, especially with what little time they had left in the series. They needed to hook Willow up with a woman, and fast in order to reassure everyone that she could be happy as a gay woman. That is my take on it anyway.

BTW, has everyone forgotten that Willow also expressed attraction to Dracula and a "crush" on Giles? Neither were serious, but still.

And while we are at it, I still do not understand why there is this insistence on labeling oneself completely gay or straight when one has been sexually attracted to both sexes. What is wrong with being bi-sexual? Yes, I know it was used by people who were probably gay to make themselves feel better about their sexuality in the bad old days. I remember that time, and had a friend who indulged in it rather ludicrously. But that was the 70's and 80's, isn't it time to move on?
i've hedged my bets with the whole "spectrum" thing catherine

Oh, I misread that as "If you've had a real heterosexual relationship you can't be on the Gay Now end of the spectrum" but fair enough, bet-hedger ;).

I don't know if I thought of Tara as "damaged" either... I mean, definitely break-your-heart unsure of herself in some ways, when we first met her, but by S6 she was a really strong and confident character, without losing her gentleness. Oh, loved her! *sniffle*

But it was a kick-ass story-death in my book, even though I missed her.
"They needed to hook Willow up with a woman, and fast in order to reassure everyone that she could be happy as a gay woman."

Interesting. I would have preferred a year of reflection considering what the death of Tara caused Willow to do.
Tara came from an abusive family, was so shy as a result she could not speak in public and would never, at the outset, offer her own opinion. Call it what you will, she was damaged, though she rose above and showed tremendous strength. When Tara stood up for Willow to Anya, that shocked a lot of people; that was not the Tara they thought they knew.

There is nothing wrong with being bisexual, newcj. I just wish these days I knew what it really meant. I have a really good friend, a gay woman, who every now and again has sex with a man but would bristle if you called her bi. What do I know?

I think the argument here may boil down to this: Those who call Willow gay are those for whom they wish her next relation to be with a woman, perhaps based in part of their love of the Tara Willow relation. Those who do not, who wish her bi, may wish for Willow to enjoy relations with a man again, for whatever reason- Oz relation or something else.
As I'm neither, any opinion I have as to who has it rougher, bi ore xclusive gay, would come from amgazine articles, so I'll not venture.

Of course,as Topping suggested, Joss steering away forme ven hinting Willow might be bi might have little to do with the outcry over the Taracide and more over a desire to avoid Jerry-Springer-izing BtVS.

As a fic writer I ahev my own paltform in which toe xpress my opinnion s, but then agin, unlike here, as far as I can tell nobody is reading those.

Willow's stated intentions, her actions of choice, and ehr inner "hormone-tivations" don't have to be identical, after all.

Analyzing fictonal chatracters is never-ending.
I think the argument here may boil down to this: Those who call Willow gay are those for whom they wish her next relation to be with a woman, perhaps based in part of their love of the Tara Willow relation. Those who do not, who wish her bi, may wish for Willow to enjoy relations with a man again, for whatever reason- Oz relation or something else.
Dana5140 | July 29, 23:51 CET


Assuming motivations and suggesting that the motivations you suggest are those of an entire group of other people is a dangerous thing, Dana, especially when you base it on nothing but supposition. For instance, although I don't have any personal stake in whether Willow is labeled gay or bi,if we are discussing terminology and labels, I may express my opinion on what label I think would accurately apply based on what I saw on the show. Furthermore, although I would have liked to see Willow honestly spend some time figuring out her sexuality for herself, in the end, IMO it makes sense for the story that she would have another relationship with a woman. So, I think she was portrayed as bi-sexual, but I think the relationship after Tara was the right call to be with a woman. (shrug)

On the other hand, I still don't see why there is such a thing about not wanting to say someone is bi-sexual in this day and age. In the comics Buffy is admitting to being sexually attracted to and having satifying sex with a woman, but she is somehow straight. In the series, Willow expresses sexual attraction towards men and women, as well as having sexual relationships with both, but she is gay. In both cases they seem to fit the definition of bi-sexual...unless as has been pointed out we are only talking about self-identification, in which case why are having any kind of discussion at all?
I don't know if anyone is still discussing things in this thread but Dana5140 with respect I think this:

I think the argument here may boil down to this: Those who call Willow gay are those for whom they wish her next relation to be with a woman, perhaps based in part of their love of the Tara Willow relation. Those who do not, who wish her bi, may wish for Willow to enjoy relations with a man again, for whatever reason- Oz relation or something else.

is a straw man. As myself and others have said the reason that some of us want her to be bisexual isn't because we wanted her to get with a guy in season 7 or because we're Willow Oz shippers but because we think (or at least I think) that it was a retcon to make her suddenly only interested in women. Personally, I wouldn't have had any problem if Willow's next 10 partners (if Willow suddenly started getting around a lot more) were women so long as it hadn't suddenly become the case that Willow now only liked girls. As far as I know the first statement of this was in 'Him' (and to my annoyance it was re-enforced in 'The Long Way Home' with the line 'I don't truck with the stubbly crowd'). I get that you disagree with this opinion but it's not fair to attribute motives for us that have nothing to do with what we actually think

Or in other words, what newcj said in the post above mine
Do many people actually care that much who Willow hooks up with next ? I mean, would her going with a man make her less bi-sexual or if with a woman, would she somehow be more gay, fit better in whatever box is more politically worthy for her to be in ?

I think the argument here may actually boil down to the difference between those who are happier with their own internal wants and desires "trumping" whatever the creators feel is best for the story and those that aren't as invested in what happens next conforming to their own ideas of what should happen next. To me, it seems an inherent danger of frameworks like pure "reader response", where your own interpretation is god, that you naturally start to see your own interpretation as not just right but actually correct and therefore when the creators don't conform to your own internal state they're not just creating a story you're less interested in, they're actually doing it wrong.

(Yes, Saje, I mentioned it earlier too. ;)

Ah bugger, soz newcj ;).

(I noticed last night that thespian sort of did too so another 'soz' seems in order)
I'm not sure if that's directed to the Danaists, the Willow is Bi Brigade or both

But if it's directed to me I disagree. I'm not saying Willow should be bisexual because it's my preference and I think that's therefore it's right. I think my position is fundamentally different to people saying 'I don't like this college setting' or 'I don't like there being thousands of slayers'. On those questions tough luck. My objection is based on internal consistency in the story. I think that Willow was presented as bisexual until season 7 and then suddenly as 'gay'. And on both those points I'm relying on the text rather than just my own preferences - and I'm happy to be proven wrong with arguments based on the text (though I find Dana's argument that Oz and Willow weren't all that serious unconvincing in the extreme).

(I do accept, though, that when it comes to justifying why I like internally consistent stories I can only do so on the ground of 'well, I like consistent stories'. So when you go back that far it does come down to my preferences. But I still maintain it's different to just saying 'I want Willow to be straight / gay / bi')
Heh, "Danaists" (dude, you have a movement !). Mainly directed at Dana5140 I guess Let Down (he's Reader Response Guy™ after all) - not at you, just after you ;).

But if we're pinpointing a specific "point of departure" from bisexuality within the text then i'm also not 100% convinced by your argument that she's explicitly bi all the way through until S7 (as others have said, what about S5E11, 'Triangle' and "Hello, gay now !" ?) i.e. if we accept someone can change from bisexual to "totally gay" (and I don't personally think that's very meaningful, beyond what you call yourself).

So long story short, people are looking at ambiguous evidence, reading between the lines and then making up their minds as they see fit based on assumptions and suppositions as much as the text. The spectrum idea fits fine with ambiguous evidence because it's an ambiguous position (OK, "wishy washy", if you insist ;), strict boxes or clearly defined character inflection points don't IMO.
Well, I'm using the terms gay, straight and bi to refer to what genders people are attracted to rather than what they identify as or what they say they are. I think those are three different questions. People might say they're something or even believe they're something that they're not. Now why would Willow do that? I think there are some good explanations - maybe she's uncomfortable thinking of herself as bisexual.

And in the case of Willow the evidence of her being attracted to males undercuts her own statement that she's gay. And I'm not just talking about Oz and Xander. Not long before 'Triangle' she found Dracula attractive and while she was with Tara she said she found Giles hot. So if all we had to go on was Willow saying she was gay then it would be best to assume she was. But it seems to me we have good evidence that she's not actually saying the full truth when she says 'gay now'.

Anyway, even if she was presented as gay sometime earlier (perhaps season 5) I'll just move my objection to that point in time (although I retract the bit about her becoming gay being because of the angry fan reaction)

Anyway, I think I'm just going over old ground now
Deleted cos I changed my mind

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-07-30 14:52 ]
I prefer "differently-different ground" ;).

And yep, I had a preview version of that comment that mentioned her saying a singing Giles was "kinda sexy" while she was actually with Tara, one episode before she's conflicted about going back to Oz (in which episode she tells her best friend she's in a same sex relationship) so i'm not denying it's all over the place textually before 'Triangle', i'm saying that (if we assume it can even happen this way at all and I personally don't) the text is about as consistent with both interpretations. And in my view it's more consistent to just say she was always on a spectrum (same as the rest of us) and leave it at that.

I'd also say the reasons each "side" considers to be behind her changing are critical to your point (as is when) and so maybe not so readily moved around (if we move her inflection point back to the first time IIRC that she explicitly claims to be gay in S5 and she's never shown to be attracted to men after that point - except via magic - then how is that inconsistent with her actually being gay from that point ?).

If you think it's due to fan-reaction then that supports the "inconsistent" POV, if it's earlier though and makes textual sense then the line between "inconsistent" and "character development" surely blurs ? I mean, right up until season 5 or 6 Xander wasn't a carpenter and then suddenly he is. Like, WTF, right ? ;)
There was that whole episode where Xander develops special interest in some lovely cabinets and slowly realizes he's always felt especially appreciative of quality craftsmanship. The early linoleum joke was a subtle hint of things to come.

Or, adopting a trade and coming out do not compare well.
My point is, anything that happens in a series can be claimed as inconsistent if it feels inconsistent to you but the more realistic a change and the more it's hinted at beforehand then surely the less you can claim that with any authority ?

If Willow seems bi for 6 seasons then suddenly becomes gay that's one thing, if we see her develop over the course of 2-3 seasons (the first hint is "Dopplegangland" IIRC) from apparently straight to apparently gay and then for 2-3 seasons afterwards very little happens to contradict that then surely that's another (more consistent) thing entirely ? Likewise, Xander tries several jobs after they leave school with little success then eventually lands in construction as a labourer, finds a talent for carpentry, works his way up to foreman etc. over the course of more than one episode.
Hmm, since this has been off the front for a while, I think I'll be like Bogie and do a little needling.

While Willow, in "Gingerbread," reacted negatively when she was the object of her mother's identity-politics view of things, she showed in "Pangs" that she shares that worldview. So it's not surprirising Willow would be prone to describing herself using terms which label her unambiguously.
I never got the whole Ianto is now gay thing at the start (which I put down to very bad writing). He's trying to save his girlfriend and then several episodes later, he's up to all sorts with a stop watch. I was like "where did that come from". There was no buildup. No foreshadowing.
Argh, it's 1.30am here and I can't sleep so I'll plunge back into this discussion

(if we move her inflection point back to the first time IIRC that she explicitly claims to be gay in S5 and she's never shown to be attracted to men after that point - except via magic - then how is that inconsistent with her actually being gay from that point ?).

If you think it's due to fan-reaction then that supports the "inconsistent" POV, if it's earlier though and makes textual sense then the line between "inconsistent" and "character development" surely blurs ? I mean, right up until season 5 or 6 Xander wasn't a carpenter and then suddenly he is. Like, WTF, right ? ;)


Well, firstly if we say that Willow is first presented as gay in Triangle then I would say that she's been presented as bi for about a season prior to that so it would still be a retcon.

Much more fundamentally, though, is that I don't believe anybody changes their sexuality. I think that, for example, a person might realise that they've only been with the opposite sex because it's the norm and realise they're actually gay. Or a person might realise after being attracted to one sex that they're actually attracted to both. But I don't believe that there are people who start off attracted to one sex and then stop being attracted to that sex in favour of the other. (Maybe this is just my ignorance? Does anyone want to set me straight? I've just never met a gay person who was initially attracted to the opposite gender)

So what I'm saying is that once Willow had been clearly presented as being attracted to males it would be inconsistent to present her as attracted only to females at all and this is regardless of when it occured, how much buildup there was or the motives of the writers (so I consider my suggestion that maybe Joss felt pressured into turning her gay in season 7 to be a quite separate point). For exactly this reason I don't accept the Xander analogy - real people change their jobs; they don't change their sexuality. (Btw, imagine having to go for sexuality interviews. 'So why did you quit your previous sexuality?')

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-07-30 16:47 ]
"What do you feel like you can bring to this sexuality ?" or "What sexuality do you see yourself having in 5 years ?" ;).

Well, firstly if we say that Willow is first presented as gay in Triangle then I would say that she's been presented as bi for about a season prior to that so it would still be a retcon.

Yeah but to play devil's advocate, how is her being "presented as bi" different to her being "presented as in the process of discovering she's gay (which reaches fruition in 'Triangle')" ? It's a matter of interpreting e.g. the significance of Willow/Oz and whether you feel someone can have a significant heterosexual relationship and then afterwards become "totally gay" i.e. it begs the question to some extent.

So what I'm saying is that once Willow had been clearly presented as being attracted to males it would be inconsistent to present her as attracted only to females at all and this is regardless of when it occured, how much buildup there was or the motives of the writers...

Ah, I was starting to wonder if that's what you meant Let Down. That's a separate issue really and is more fundamental, agreed. I've said all along that if we assume people can do that then blah ... but yeah, I don't really think they can either which is why a continuum that a person can move along in either direction (while never reaching the extremes) makes more sense to me in reality.

That said, anyone with more relevant experience please feel free to leap on my ignorance from a great height - can you be genuinely attracted to the opposite sex and then pass through a point where you no longer are, at all, ever after ? Is it even possible to answer that question (without being a ghost I mean ;) ?

I was like "where did that come from". There was no buildup. No foreshadowing.

Yeah, bit out of nowhere but then sexuality in 'Torchwood' has always been presented as fluid so in that sense there was maybe a sort of general foreshadowing ?
Interesting debate all around, and I think I will let saje and Let Down continue it. I do think my earlier question is of interest: why does it matter to us how we perceive her? I tried to answer that, though no one agreed with me (which is fine, because I was just offering a thought on this). But why debate this at all? Why does it matter? Is it political? Is it just how we "read the text?" Is there some deep-seated psychological meaning to taking a stance? Is it just fun, and to be contrary? Why does this issue return time and again?
Well, it took us many words to get there but I think we've reached agreement :) Maybe now I'll be able to get to sleep
Agreement, the one sure cure for insomnia. We could market that.

But why debate this at all? Why does it matter? Is it political? Is it just how we "read the text?" Is there some deep-seated psychological meaning to taking a stance? Is it just fun, and to be contrary? Why does this issue return time and again?

Why does the sun rise in the morning and are the stars just pinpricks in the curtain of night ? ;)

I don't think it matters much but for people directly affected I can see why they might want to know where they fit, we all want to belong after all. More generally, people the world over categorise things, it's part of dealing with the deluge of information that hits our senses every second of every day - when we see something that's not in a box we try to put it in a box. And the act of discussion (which is inspired just by asking the question) tends to a) force you to take a stance and b) reinforce that stance in your mind as time goes on - if you're embattled you tend to build fortifications. And it returns cos we keep discussing it and we keep discussing it cos it returns.

('angular momentum' and 'no' BTW ;)
"Concluding Unscientific Postscript;"

I don't think it's a spectrum or a continuum. I think same-sex and opposite-sex attraction are separate dimensions each of which can range anywhere from near zero on up. and need for physical contact,and need for sexual staisfaction and need for deep personal relationships, romantic and other types, are all separate as well. Just my opinion as sort of a 5-sided zero myself, tho :-).
DaddyCatALSO, would your "separate dimensions" be the same as "separate needs?" Because I could get on that train.
saje: There is a far braoder question embedded in my comments, and one that is well outside the specific discussion we have been having. Let me provide context: I find the concept of fandom fascinating. As a member of a few fandoms (Buffy, CSI/GSR, progressive music and distance running), I often see positions and stances staked out in which individuals argue fiercely for a particular interpretation/belief regarding their favored ship or fandom. Here, we have seen it arguments such as bangel v spuffy, or the Willow gay/bi debate (to a much lesser extent here). In CSI, the GSR shippers hate the Grillows shippers, who hate the GSR shippers in return, while both hate the Grissom/Lady Heather shippers. And they often fight to death on these relations; I was shocked at how vitriolic some people got toward me when I simply said I liked the character of Lady Heather. I was sworn at, threatened to be thrown off the board, etc. So, here we argue about Willow, and I just can't help but wonde why we do that- why do we even dsicuss something when we know there is no answer save for what we want to believe? Why invest the time- as I do? You've sort of kidded in your response immediately above, but you are also one who does engage the debate. Why? Just to kill time, or because it is fun, or it allows you a chance to use your faculties in intelligent debate, or what? I don't even know why I do it, save it seems important to me at the time. I think this is sort of a serious comment, but with the net, we can do this ad nauseum with no release of tension.
I don't really think there's a single definitive answer Dana, at different times it's all of those reasons, sometimes simultaneously. It's fun (on here at least, where we're fairly well house trained ;) and it kills time and I do feel debate can be worthwhile just for its own sake, as a way of practicing how to think critically about anything (probably the most useful skill a person can have IMO). And other perspectives are interesting because they're novel (among other reasons) and people seem to like novelty (within boundaries).

And then though kidding a bit, most of what I said above I meant - we really do prefer things to fit somewhere, we're hardwired to see patterns and try to find order in the world around us (however we choose to do it) and I think it's true of most people that asking them a question forces them to consider an answer (even over something they maybe ordinarily couldn't care less about - what i've called "opinionitis" on here before) and once you have that answer the fact that you're a person who believes that answer starts to become part of who you are.

And maybe ultimately when any fandom discusses anything we're looking for like minds, looking to be reassured that there are other people out there like us, looking for a connection basically (that sense of belonging I mention above).

(and how can anybody not like Lady Heather ? She was one of the first non CSIs to meet Grissom on equal terms, totally had her shit down. Plus, Melinda Clark, 'nuff said ;)
Does anyone want to set me straight? I've just never met a gay person who was initially attracted to the opposite gender)


To answer the first one - Hahahahaahahahahahhahaaa...! As for the second I know a number of folks now identifying as gay who were most definitely attracted to the other gender or even in long term committed monogamous relationships. Well discussed, my friends and big platonic love to you all.
Now, there is that, saje. That sense of connectedness and belonging may be more important than I realize. Yes, this has been a safe harbor for meaningful debate, and a respectful one. When I first came here, from the jetwolf board, I was hesitant to offer my thoughts; I was, after all at that time, an interloper into an established community where people's foibles were know (as mine are now) and it took time to establish myself to the point I felt comfortable sharing what at times were not mainstream opinions. I am not shy, but I am also rather reserved in real life (I am a hard ISTJ, for those that know). But I was also highly affected by Buffy- I was from its inception, but it was not until I could get large doses, via the DVD sets, that it all really sank in, and I could analyze the episodes, what was happening, my feelings, etc. I did not know about the Tara death, for example, nor about the Kittens, nor about the outcry, since I was watching after that had already happened. (Just like I began listening to John Coltrane in 1967- just after he died, not that I had known of him when he was alive). Media study intrigued me, I got into it, it allowed me to practice skills I don't normally use since I am just an academic in health care, not a postdoc in critical analysis. I began to see how people invested in characters, a point I have often brought up here in my attempts to understand why we invest, and how somehow they see themselves or their needs reflected in that investment, even if they are not consciously aware of that fact. It did help to explain the Lady Heather hate (and yes, she is compelling as a character and Melinda Clarke kills in the role)- she threatened their identification with the Grissom Sara relationship, their identification (usually with Sara more than with Grissom) and how they saw themselves related to Grissom as an ideal and sensitive and damaged man they could perhaps "fix." Or so I believe, because why else would they lash out as they did? Why do the bangels hate the spuffys? Why were shipper comments banned here? We know why- they have no resolution, people get all het up, and it could go on forever. I am no doubt way off track here, but these musings go hand in hand with looking at staking out a position on the Willow question. In real life, there is an easy answer to me- you are what you say you are. Gay, bi, whatever, it is all okay with me. In the fictional Buffy world, it somehow matters. But I do not know why.
In my case I find the gay-bi question intersting because of the attitudes it raises with people in real life. Why IS it so important for so many people not to be labeled bi? From observation of my friends and family, I agree with the spectrum or scale idea.

I understand that many gay people make a difficult journey through heterosexual relationships to find that they truly are gay, whether they feel that the heterosexual relationships were a total sham or whether they just realize they prefer their own sex so much more that they feel it untruthful to commit to anything but same sex relationships. (I remember a gay male friend of mine, after we had somehow found ourselves, kissing, saying that he had spent too many years getting himself to where he was, to want to get confused now. I totally agreed and we never approached that place again.) If Willow is one of those women, IMO she was not really written that way. She often seemed under internal and external pressure to label herself as gay, however. I always thought it would be amazing to have her really examine that journey more.

That said, my sister-in-law is bi and I am straight. I have seen the disapproval by gay and straight people at the idea of her bi-sexuality as well as having her tell me about it. It is as though nobody can get past their need to have everybody be like them. (I am exagerating of course since many people can get past it, just not the majority.)

[ edited by newcj on 2009-07-30 21:57 ]
And it's pretty tough to make them too cos, y'know, there's more of 'em ;).

Or so I believe, because why else would they lash out as they did? Why do the bangels hate the spuffys?

Well I must admit i'm with you there Dana5140. I've never really been a shipper and it's probably the thing in fandom (which I came to late-ish) that I have the most trouble getting my head around. It's not the concept, it's the vehemence that puzzles me. As you say, it must be down to very strong identification with particular characters to the extent that if the character is mistreated the fan feels they're being mistreated themselves (mixed with a bit of what I mention above about making what you think/feel about a particular thing such a fundamental part of your own identity that you literally can't bear to give it up, to do so would to some extent be a loss of self).

Reminds me (as a lot of things do ;) of a bit from Terry Pratchett (specifically "Witches Abroad" which is, handily, all about stories and how they mix with and change reality - **spoilers** follow) where witch and all round hero par excellence Esmerelda "Granny" Weatherwax ends up in a sort of "hell dimension" filled with mirrors going off into infinity, all showing her image. To escape she has to somehow find the real her among all the myriad copies. After checking if it's a trick (it's not) Granny, without hesitation, simply looks down at herself and says "This one". Same thing with 'ships. We can watch fictional characters, laugh and cry with them, grieve with them maybe even in some sense love them but ultimately they're not real, we are. And as ma boiee Kurt said "There's only one rule that I know of babies, god damn it you've got to be kind" ;).

I know a number of folks now identifying as gay who were most definitely attracted to the other gender or even in long term committed monogamous relationships.

Ah but identifying as gay is different to what (I think) Let Down means. Are they now no longer actually attracted to the opposite sex ?
Saje: I figured that would come up - my understanding is that they are not attracted to the opposite sex any longer. Of course, there are many places to go from there...
Oh, I forgot that part. I am currently having two parallel conversations with two different friends about how all of our sex drives and\or sexuality has or has not changed over the years and the possible reasons for it. (Yes. I like odd discussions about the changes real people go through more even more than the changes characters go through.)

We all had experiences with our sex drive waning during bad relationships to the point of thinking it was gone for ever, only to have it return with a vengence after we had moved on. One of the friends found an attraction to the same sex and a repulsion to the other sex after years in a bad relationship, only to have it dissipate to nothing when a new relationship started with someone of the opposite sex. That friend had started describing themselves as bi-sexual, but is now feeling somewhat perplexed.

My feeling is that often, if we are monogamous people, a relationship we are in is going to have a huge effect on who we are sexually attracted to or if the juices are flowing at all. If we are not the monogamous type, I'm guessing it will have a different effect.

I could see people having the opposite happen to what my friend is experiencing--being involved with one sex, getting involved with the other and not feeling attraction for the former sex. However, is it that they don't have that attraction in them anymore or that it is completely dormant while they are caught up in the relationship? I have no idea. It is only a thought based on what I have seen and felt happen with people in other situations.

People are interesting critters. (Puts away the magnifying glass.)
That sounds right to me, newcj.

Verdict on Torchwood Children of Earth: hey it's pretty good!

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