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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with 'til ya understand who's in ruttin' command here."
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October 10 2003

Happy Birthday to Michelle Trachtenberg. She turns 18 today. Careful, guys. :)

I'm a fan. Wish others woulda joined me. It's kinda lonely at that link, but I sincerely thought Trachtenberg did a great job with the role given her, and think Dawn is singlehandedly the most daring character idea that Whedon ever pulled off. So Dawn's my favorite, with Xander a very close second.

Happy B-Day Ms. Trachtenberg, wherever ya are. And thanks for three great years of performances in BtVS. May you have as many more birthdays as you wish, as much success as you can bare, and may you outlive all of the Dawn haters out there.

It would be great to someday see Trachtenberg and Wil Wheaton in a movie together, and do such a great acting job together that all the critics fawn, and all the Dawn haters and Wesley haters would get put in their place.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2003-10-11 07:44 ]
Actually I agree that Michelle Trachtenberg was doing a great job at portraying a teenager at its aggravating best. I can't say I particularly liked Dawn though she had her moments (loved it when she kicked Buffy's shin and called her 'Dumbass'). But regardless of whether I like the character, Michelle Trachtenberg did a heads on portrayal of the role.

I guess the same goes for Wil Wheaton's Wesley in ST:TNG.
Gotta agree with beans. There's a difference between appreciating the actor and liking the character. I think MT did a fine job, but Dawn was the one we _weren't_ supposed to identify with -- which makes her a boring character.

Think about it. Throughout her run on BUFFY, she was always "other": kid, little sister, outsider. Her introduction in Season 5 was a means of approaching Buffy's character from a different angle -- that of sister -- not as a means of exploring the Dawn character herself. In Season 6, Dawn was the whiny kid looking for attention -- sure, we understand the character, but there was little attempt to make us identify with her angst as we were supposed to identify with Buffy's, Xander's, and Willow's angst. And in Season 7, well, she was less annoying but no more sympathetic; only two episodes even attempted to explore her character: "Him" and "Potential," and only the latter struck any chords. So that's it, out of three seasons -- one episode during which the audience is asked to identify with Dawn.
Not sure what show you were watching, but I identified with the character more often than once. Guess it's a matter of personal taste.
I don't believe it is just a matter of taste. Dawn was never a "full member" of the core group of characters. If you happened to identify with her, that's fine (I can't argue that point), but narratively, she was always on the outside. At the beginning of Season 7, it seemed that they were planning on exploring her character, but then they didn't. Or, at least, not very much. Her character was always used opposite the main characters, either as a mirror to them, or a foil for them, or a contrast to them, et al, but almost never as a "top tier" sort of character.

Think about it. In "All the Way," she sneaks out to have some fun with teenage vampire boys. If she were what I'm calling a "top tier" character (one we're supposed to identify with), then why does the episode end with her being caught and punished? A season 2 or 3 episode never would've ended that way, with Buffy, Willow, and Xander at home being scolded. The main point of that little drama was Buffy and Co.'s inadequate parenting skills, the difficulty of raising a young girl, tied in with all that Season 6 stuff etc., not about _being_ the young girl. Dawn's behavior was a means of commenting on Buffy.

And keep in mind that "All the Way" was pretty much Dawn's only Season 6 episode. Perhaps "Older and Far Away" qualifies too, but again, did the narrative really push us toward identifying with Dawn in that scenario, or was Dawn used mainly as a means of commenting on the extreme emotional disconnection between the "top tier" characters?

You see what I'm getting at? I'm not just talking about taste here; I'm talking about what was on the screen (and on the pages of the scripts).

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