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May 27 2010

"A view from the fence" - Buffy Season 8 so far. With #36 not out until September, it's time to take a breath and ponder on what has gone before. This essay examines the reasons as to why the comics could end up being great and the issues that need to be addressed to get the comics to work. All the major talking points get a look in - from continuity to the aftermath of Twilight's reveal.

Well, they left out one major talking point...
Yep, that article pretty much sums it up.

Not sure which talking point is missing. But oddly enough, after Lost, Dollhouse, BtVS, SGU, Caprica, BSG, and about 30 other shows I followed and had fan opinions, I think I'm getting past caring.

It must be frustrating for writers. To expend so much energy on your creations and either no one knows you exist, or everyone knows you exist and you can't make them happy.
I don't think any major talking points were left out. Maggie did a fantastic job summing up Season 8's strengths and weaknesses in an essay that's very well-written.

I hope having it posted here gains the attention of TPTB because I think this essay hit most of the issues I have seen brought up at livejournal. And they are issues that need to be addressed.
I think Dana5140 means "Saffy" or "Butsu" or whatsomever.
I dunno, the Buffy/Satsu thing is still floating under the radar, at least with Satsu's character. Even during the current arc we've saw her less than overly-happy reaction to the Buffy/Angel...event.
It's good to see such a detailed, thoughtful analysis without the partisanship that is sometimes seen on the discussion boards. Much of the following is taken from my response to Maggie there.

I agree with Maggie about the potential the series had - and that, in many ways, it hasn't yet come close to meeting it. I take the feminist issue rather more seriously than she says she does, and I find the objectification of women's bodies uncomfortable from the opening frames of the first arc. There's far less male flesh than we had is the TV show, and far, far more female flesh. It's hard not to see it as playing to the stereotyped fanboy gallery.

What happens to Angel in the Twilight arc is very disturbing - not only is Connor no longer an issue, nor are any of the other survivors of NFA, which isn't mentioned. Nor are the core Scoobies who were explicitly central in Chosen. Does Angel really expect Buffy to abandon them? I suppose he might base that on Buffy's reckless abandon in IWRY, but that was many years ago now.

My other big beef with the comic is that many of the characters seem to have regressed to their S2 selves, and the hard lessons of the five intervening seasons seem to have vanished. It will take a very great deal to win me back at this point.

Joss is an extraordinarily talented man. I respect him, this side idolatry. But his greatest strengths to me seem to lie in assembling and guiding a team which works together - what we have had here may look superficially like that, but in fact there has been no real equivalent of a writers' room or a production crew. TV has the input of writers, whose work is crucial, yes, but also of actors who bring their own creativity to the mix, directors, lighting cameramen, designers. The result is greater than the sum of the parts - and in the comic book there have been fewer parts and a result which is less than it could have been.

I was so excited when I learned of the comics; my love for the Buffyverse is great and abiding. But so, now, is my disappointment.
Very well-said, Gill. I agree with all of that.

DaddyCatALSO-I don't think the Buffy/Satsu should be a 'talking point' this late in the season. There are more important things to be worked out than who Buffy slept with.
Nope, not Batsu- the issue left out was the one we don't like talking about- the idea that Buffy and Angel had sex without full consent involved and the implications thereof.
Which is a huge talking point for me and many others. Exactly, Dana5140.
Dana5140: Sorry I misinterpreted. (I was actually unaware of that issue; shows how little attention I'm paying to these stories anymore.) cc Emmie

menomegirl: I was analyzing another poster's comment, incorrectly as it turned out. I wasn't advocating anything myself. Perhaps I was bit surprised that it wasn't mentioned, but I had no issue with its absence.
Perhaps consent is a matter of interpretation, rather than an actual issue? IMO, neither party is acting like they were violated. There was the blissful glow. They were urged on, but not forced. Buffy "chose" to be happy. So, to me, it's not a matter of consent. Yes, the circumstances were strange, and yes I understand the cosmic roofie analogy that's been made many a time, but I think it only applies if one, or both parties react negatively. "Afterglow" doesn't count as negative, IMO.

So yes, it's a talking point, but it's a point of interpretation and discussion. And some people may take issue with it, and others won't. And some may deem it more discussion-worthy than others.

[ edited by wenxina on 2010-05-28 01:49 ]
I didn't mean the list to be exhaustive. I just ticked off the things that came to mind as problematic for me.

That said, I tend to agree with Wenxina. The glow was off in #35, and Buffy wanted reassurance that the sex really happened and wasn't just something she imagined. That's not the reaction of someone who was forced into something against her will. Based on what we know at this juncture the glow/cosmic force reads to me more like a ginormous pheremone rush, and that's present in lots of non-coercive, fully consensual sex.
Maggie: Your piece was very well written and thought out.
I do disagree with your last point (and Wenxina) though. If someone slips a woman a Mickey, she may feel "a glow," but it's illegal whether she's glowing or not. I don't think anyone needs to apologize for being wigged out or talking about it. Otherwise, I'm disappointed in Buffy. I don't think anyone can come up with anything to save Angel from #34.
But that just mean that the writer didn't think there was an issue. Stories that ignore issues because they didn't mean to raise them (and this seems to happen a lot when consent issues are raised)don't get a pass just because it wasn't the writers intention that anyone be bothered by something they wrote. I agree that the indications that this whole element is going to be ignored by the writers and that those readers bothered by it are not going to see it addressed in the text.
I think the squick factor is full-fledged and acknowledged textually by Willow who notes Buffy should be staking him, instead she's boning him. And Maggie, if you're expecting Buffy to give Angel what-for in manipulating Buffy all season, then how else to explain Buffy's 180 from trying to slay Angel to suddenly glowing and then having world-destroying sex?

If that's something that Buffy wouldn't do when she's 100% in control and clearly the turn-around correlates with the glow and her surrender, then it's not kosher. It's the universe influencing and manipulating her feelings, pushing down her affront while slicking the necessary organs to get it on.

Remove the glow and then it's all about Buffy surrendering. But because the universe is an outside force manipulating feelings, the sanctity of consent has been violated.

It's similar to Willow in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Willow at that point had harbored an unrequited love for Xander when the spell turns up her love to mindless adoration. She waits for him in his bed, seeking to have sex, have him be her first... even while she's dating Oz. Similarly, Buffy has just as many reasons to not sleep with Twangel from denouncing his actions to saying "you don't know me anymore" which drives home a distinct lack of emotional intimacy. Yet the glow strikes and voila! Romantic feelings take over and mindless, destructive sex is the result.

Maggie, if a man wanted to sleep with a woman, and sprayed her with a "ginormous pheromone rush" to get her in bed, what then? Stacking the deck is about compromising a person's ability to consent. And as such, it's still a violation of consent.

Angel is just as compromised (though he still acts the same once the glow is off), but with Buffy is clear what she's leading up to before the glow chimes in.

As for after, rationalization, physical effects of incredible mindblowing sex, the stereotypical "I love him so it can't be 'rape'" scenario.

What's relevant is the set-up. Would Buffy have hopped on Twangel like that if the universe wasn't urging it on? I say no. Emotional distance "you don't know me anymore", righteous indignation over his lies and manipulation, and finally 206 corpses she emotionally blames him (and herself) for. Again, when Buffy apologizes, Willow returns, "You don't know what came over you." Actually, we do know. The readers know--glow and the universe. Just as Willow knows. What's clear is that Buffy doesn't know, so why would we expect her to realize she was being manipulated? She doesn't know about the universe, she probably thinks those were just her feelings and her choices--we as the reader get to see how bizarre a turn it is. Meanwhile, Buffy is blaming herself for once again being 'selfish' not realizing that someone else was stacking the deck to "push" her.

Buffy wanted reassurance that the sex really happened and wasn't just something she imagined.

Heh, this reminds me of victims of date rape not being sure if the sex actually happened. If Buffy's not even sure if that was real, how can we even begin to say she was fully in control when she entered into sex?

It all seems moot as Willow attests Buffy would be killing him if not for the universe urging them on and not letting her.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-05-28 02:26 ]
Unfortunately, I have to agree with the negative parts of the analysis. What I still can't get my head around is the whole Tibet arc -- why again were they there, what was their renunciation of magic supposed to do, why wasn't that a bigger deal, why does "good" Twilight let all those soldiers get killed needlessly, oh, and why doesn't the Chinese government go absolutely apeshit about having a whole bunch of American soldiers and tanks in Tibet? Too many unexplained things at once, introduced too quickly. Add the sloppy research (yellow robes for the monks) and that must be my least fave part of the story so far.

I still have hope that alle the ends can be tied up, but I must admit I'm losing hope here.
At best, their sex in Issue #34 was just Buffy/Riley in Where the Wild Things Are only on a larger scale. In that episode it was summed up with a big joke at the end, "terrible" "yup" "uh-huh" and that was it. On Ats it is comparable to when Lorne influenced Angel/Eve to have sex in Life of the Party and that ended with Eve breezing Angel off and saying she's had sex under mystical influences loads of times before.

Arguably the Twilight arc has treat it a tad more serious than those other two incidents and we still don't know if they'll be anymore fallout from it in Joss' arc. Now, I wasn't around at the time those episodes aired but I've been part of fandom for just over 5 years now and I don't think I've seen a single fan come down harshly on either episode for how it dealt with the consent issues. I can't say the comics have treat the situation any differently but I'd be willing to defend that particular issue (and just for the record I did find it gratuitous) and say that it's really not any different to how the verse has dealt with this before.

Anyway, that was a great meta Maggie and I enjoyed reading it. You know I'm not on the fence as you are and that I've loved the majority of S8 but I can agree with some of your issues. The public love for the vampires has been handled very poorly, I thought a lot of Retreat was quite a mess and I’m not sure Meltzer was the right guy to write the Twilight arc. But I’m loving how dense the season is, I love new additions like Satsu and Renee (sob), I love how amazing Dawn has become, I think Xander’s character has been treat incredibly well, NFFY was one of the best Faith stories ever, I liked Buffy/Satsu, Willow intrigues me again which is always good and I’ve enjoyed the majority of the issues.
Buffy was glowing during her slay attempt. She was glowing the moment she made contact. She didn't go a total 180 then. It was a lot more gradual than that. It wasn't because she listened to Angel that she came to the decision at the end of #33. It was because she listened to herself. But there is no blame here. Buffy doesn't blame herself. She's fully aware that something other than herself was involved... she says so herself (the comment about something being in the apple, since she's feeling a lot more than afterglow). But even then, there's no resentment on her part on the issue of the sex. It's the Daffy Duck cartoon world that she feels is a trap. Her irritation is not about feeling used, but rather the isolation from her loved ones.

Whether or not after the fact is pure rationalization, or real content seems to be another matter of interpretation. If you begin with the issue of consent being called into question, then you'll probably draw the conclusion that it's a matter of the former case.
scotws, I myself have noted the bizarre attitude towards international politics in Season 8 and specifically how the Chinese goverment should be going "apeshit" to borrow your words. It amounts to a failure to worldbuild. X-Men built it's own world. Season 8 didn't bother, just tosses at us that humans love vampires and the governments of the world are not doing anything about Slayers in their backyard. Setting the story in Tibet goes beyond ludicrous and the story needs to make it textual that Twilight's forces are cloaked in magic, that humanity is loving vampires because of magic, otherwise we're left to assume the Buffyverse world is the same as our world... only it's a world gone mad and desperately stupid to the point of insulting incompetence.

That's another bullet point in the negative: failure to worldbuild. When you take the story global, where's the world's hellmouth to explain the bizarre? Where's the Mayor encouraging mass denial through the police efforts?

The Buffyverse world no longer makes sense, belies the complex logic of the world we live in, and doesn't bother to define how it actually works differently than the real world by giving us required phlebotinum (e.g. Hellmouth, worldwide spell of stupidity).

"Once you change the world, the world's all different" no longer makes sense. Internal story logic calling Season 8... looks like Season 8 sent it to voicemail.

It's the double-edged sword of Season 8's ambition. It took the story global, but failed to actually treat the story globally in all its inherent complexity.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-05-28 03:04 ]
I think the Retreat arc was handled very poorly but I think we got most of the answers to those questions.

“Why again were they there?” – They were running from Twilight who just launched a massive assault on their hideouts. They find out that Twilight keeps locating them because of their magical signatures so Buffy goes to Tibet to find Oz because he works on suppressing the wolf side of him.

“What was their renunciation of magic supposed to do?” – See Above. If they suppress their magic sides then Twilight would no longer be able to track them.

“Why does "good" Twilight let all those soldiers get killed needlessly?” – Disagree about “good” Twilight because I’m not so sure that’s what they’re setting up. However, if you go with Angel’s explanation in Issue #33 (that he was working to protect the slayers) then letting the entire army of men be wiped out by the goddesses actually eliminates a major threat against the slayers. Ruthless? Yes. But it would get the job done.

Angel’s “they’re mortal, they have to die sometime” actually fits with his attitude in Issue #35 but I’m still not sure how Angel became so disillusioned with the world. After emailing Scott Allie I’m a little more confident Joss will explain that as I was told we will get Angel back story in the final arc.

“Why doesn't the Chinese government go absolutely apeshit about having a whole bunch of American soldiers and tanks in Tibet?” – Honestly, this kind of stuff doesn’t bother me in the slightest. BtVS isn’t exactly known for being realistic when it comes to these sorts of things. Though, you could easily fanwank it that Twilight’s men were all teleported in and not welcomed by the Chinese government.

Same for the colour of the monks robes etc. Couldn’t give a damn. Sorry.

I think Retreat overall was written pretty badly (except for Issue #26 & #28) but a lot of these questions were answered pretty clearly in the text.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-05-28 03:44 ]
I don't think we actually need someone to say, "Oh, and then Twilight magicked an army into Tibet". Tanks don't really roll up mountains particularly well. We have textual evidence that there's a lot of magic going on in Twilight's camp. We have Amy tracking down the sub. And then being a cat. And the fact that Twilight has witches in his midst, first cloaking his hideout 3 seconds in the future, and then performing that confusion spell.

The Buffyverse world in S8 is set in the same world it was for the past 7 seasons. The fact that they were on the Hellmouth was never used to explain the bizarre. Hardly anyone in Sunnydale knew they were on the Hellmouth, what more what a Hellmouth actually is. The population at large has displayed a ludicrous level of ignorance, even when attacked by werewolves, vampires, giant Mayor serpents and random demons. The explanations have always been absurd; i.e. gas leak, gangs on PCP, etc. Once the Mayor was gone, who was coming up with more absurd explanations? Denial is why the people bought the absurd explanations, and denial perpetuates denial. It's not just Sunnydale. Vampires and demons are a global occurrence. And yet, their existence isn't a widespread knowledge. The Hellmouth was a convenient plot device to explain why Sunnydale was special, why so many ghoulies congregated there. And it was a plot device for various physical manifestations of metaphors. But Sunnydale isn't unique in that there are things that go bump everywhere. LA is pretty much the same way.

I'll agree that the "P&P" arc wasn't executed the best. It is more of a stretch to go from intentionally ignorant to fawning. But given the general attitude towards the supernatural that we've seen before, I'm not that fazed. There isn't really a need to world build from scratch. The launching point was the old world, but with a new status quo. And then that status quo changed again. And now, the world is changing.
cmbackshane If I thought Buffy had been slipped a Mickey, then I would agree with you. But that's not my best read -- though watch me throw my hands up in the air and say, who does know what's actually going on here. If any mickey was slipped, it wasn't by Angel, it was by the universe -- an impersonal force. That's why I read it more as pheremone rush than deliberate drugging. Perhaps the truth is in between. With luck we'll get some clarity on what is going on in Joss's arc. A big point of my meta was precisely that we really don't know what this Twilight event is or how it works.

But because the reading that it's some natural event (rather than anything plotted by a conscious entity) is in play, I think we do have to take on board that whatever else Buffy has on her mind, regrets about the sexathon isn't one of them. I find it hard to read anything rape-like into it. And I'd want stronger textual evidence before leveling the charge at Brad and Joss that they are guilty of telling a story where Buffy gets raped and it's not textually a big deal. We'll see what we learn going forward. My mind's not fixed on this.


I think the squick factor is full-fledged and acknowledged textually by Willow who notes Buffy should be staking him, instead she's boning him. And Maggie, if you're expecting Buffy to give Angel what-for in manipulating Buffy all season, then how else to explain Buffy's 180 from trying to slay Angel to suddenly glowing and then having world-destroying sex?

And Willow goes on to say in #35 that Buffy didn't know what came over her. That's not what you say to a friend you think just got raped. That's what you say to a friend who just got swept up in a passion she didn't resist. Pheremones, in other words. As for how to explain the 180? Passion not resisted. We were told in issue #1 that Buffy *really* misses that sex. Well, she got some. I'm going to let her take the lead on this issue for me. If she feels raped, then I'll agree she was raped. If she doesn't feel that way, she wasn't. Again, as I just said to cmbackshane the fact that it was a natural force (the universe) somehow operating me makes me that much less inclined to say rape. No *person* slipped her a mickey.

Remove the glow and then it's all about Buffy surrendering. But because the universe is an outside force manipulating feelings, the sanctity of consent has been violated.

Are pheremones outside forces? We are embodied creatures. I've sometimes lusted after people I really didn't want to lust for. But that's not a phenomenon best labelled as 'rape'.

I know you feel passionately about this. When you use my name multiple times in a post, it feels like a post that has edge/energy to it. I'm not sure if you mean it that way. But anyway, I've said my piece. I couldn't write about this as a problem with the comics because thus far I don't see it that way. But that doesn't mean that in objective sense it's not. So by all means, keep expressing your concerns to the community at large. But I think you and I have exchanged views and have gone as far as we can on the subject.

Agreed Wexina. We were never told how LA rationalised Jasmine, how they explained the sun being blocked out, how they reported the masses of vampires and demons terrorising the streets etc. In Home the entire city is in disarray as the citizens fall into despair over seeing Jasmine’s true face, but in Conviction everything is back to normal and we never found out how. Forget AtF or BtVS S8, the supernatural world should have been exposed right then and there.

The rationalisation has always been a shaky premise. How many of us would rationalise a portal opening up over a city with dragons flying out (The Gift), or an entire town bursting into song? In the case of Hush they tried to explain at as “a case of laryngitis” (which you think could be disapproved rather easily, no?) and after that they stopped bothering even giving us the explanations at all.

This is the kind of stuff I will always defend S8 for. It isn’t asking any more of us than the televised seasons did and I think it’s unfair to come down on it for problems that have existed in the verse since S1. Ats didn’t ever bother giving us an explanation because it built from BtVS and just assumed that if we can suspend our belief in that show, we can apply the same “logic” to it as well. The same can be said for the comics.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-05-28 03:38 ]
The more comparable example is all of LA being under Jasmine's spell compared to the world embracing vampires. In the former, there's clearly mystical influence. In the latter, we're left wondering. When and if it's explained, then alright. But the lack of an explanation doesn't work in these extreme circumstances.

Also, this is somewhat off-topic, but why did General Voll get replaced by nameless General guy (who even Jeanty has noted in Q&A's doesn't have any characterization devoted to him)? It merely reinforces that actually characterizing humanity is... not the point. And yet, that was the set-up for Long Way Home--the conflict between Slayers and humanity. Now, it feels more like a red herring, or perhaps more that Angel is the red herring distraction and humanity still waits to be dealt with in the finale.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-05-28 06:01 ]
I was talking about the aftermath of Jasmine and how the whole city descended into chaos after her unveiling. We know there was no ‘mystical cleanup’ and that everyone in LA remembered because that’s why they started trashing the city. They were in so much despair over seeing who Jasmine really was (and loosing that feeling of happiness) that they went on a rampage. After that the supernatural world should have been exposed as the entire population of LA was aware they’d just been mystically influenced by a maggot-faced goddess. A goddess who, might I add, went on public television and told the entire city about the history of demons (Shiny Happy People).

We were expected to believe that a major city like LA, a city that's responsible for producing so much of the content that fills TV screens all over the world, just a) "got over it", b) didn't release footage of Jasmine all over the world and c) seemingly forgot that they’d all been under a spell. More so we’re expected to buy into the idea that the causes of the riots were never made known to the rest of the USA, not to mention the world.

And that's just the end of Ats S4. We were never told how the world was rationalising the sun being blocked out, or the widespread chaos in the streets. Watch episodes like Salvage and you'll see that the streets are overrun with vampires, so much so that Angelus can't even find a meal because everyone's either been sired or killed. We saw cars ablaze and firemen being slaughtered in the middle of the street etc. It was practically the Wishverse in Ats S4 except, for no apparent reason, unlike in that alternative universe people remained unaware about the supernatural.

None of this was explained and it was left up to the viewer to fanwank how this got wrapped up a mere 16 days later (Just Rewards says Chosen happened 16 days earlier) and how everybody forgot about what they saw. Yes, the city was under her spell but I’m talking about after that spell is broken when they all did remember, hence the rampage, but seemingly “got over it” for S5. The writers never bothered to address this.

So I gotta ask, how is all of that "less extreme" then anything we've been asked to buy in S8?

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-05-28 05:04 ]
Well, we could say that it was bad writing then, and it's still bad writing now!

But I'd also add that I think it is worse in season 8. In AtS season 4, the reaction of the public wasn't an actual subject. So the writers waved hands and ignored it. The impact on the public wasn't part of the story they were telling, and the fact that it's implausible is an unintended byproduct of the story they did want to tell. Here the public going pro-vampire *is* the story they want to tell. When it's the focus (not something to the side) I think there is more of an onus on the writers to make it plausible.
Well, we could say that it was bad writing then, and it's still bad writing now!

Most certainly. But that's different to saying "Oh but the comics expect us to suspend our belief too much!" when, no, it's not any more extreme then what's come before. It's not a problem specific to S8 but rather the "logic" of the Buffyverse in general. What I get fed up with is when the comics get treat to a different standard to what’s come before and IMO that's what those comments usually imply.

I disagree with you though that the public reaction wasn't the subject in Ats S4. In episodes like Shiny Happy People, The Magic Bullet and Home it most certainly was. I’ll compromise and say it wasn’t earlier in the season (around the time of the sun being blocked out and the streets being overrun with the vamps) but for the Jasmine storyline the public were an essential part of the story. In Home they decided to deal a lot with how the public were reacting to losing their utopia, they even had that scene between Connor and the policeman. Through that suicidal policeman (the one with the family and the kids) they gave a human face to the riots, a means to connect with why everybody was reacting like they did. S5 blatantly ignored this and tried to carry on as if it never happened and, from what I can tell anyway, it hasn't had much of an impact on how people view that season.

I agree with people who say that the "vampires go public" storyline hasn't been dealt with great (I said as much in my first post). But I draw the line at saying the comics are doing something the series never did by expecting us to accept that the public are a bunch of dummies. Ideally, I wish they wouldn’t do that at all (True Blood handled this storyline far better) but the Buffyverse has always expected that from its fans. Most certainly in the last few years of both shows where the storylines got more extreme and not so confined.

Yonks ago Allie alluded that there may be “some magic involved” in persuading the public to fall for the vampires. We also know from Issue #31 that Twilight is in the business of magical manipulation. I’d love, love, love to find out that there was some spell involved and that Allie wasn’t just chucking out ideas, because I don’t think it’s been handled adequately. But if there isn’t I wouldn’t be all that surprised given what I’ve been asked to swallow in the past *shrugs*

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-05-28 05:31 ]
I could see Joss going on next season and having the public revert back. But while the public reaction is an issue, it needs to make sense. It made sense that Jasmine had brain-washed them all. And it made sense that they'd feel a loss when the brain-washing stopped. So when it was part of the story, the reactions made sense. Here it's part of the story, but the reactions don't make sense. (Unless there's magic involved, which I still hope turns out to be the case).
But isn't the public opinion rather ancillary here too? For the most part, the focus is on the Slayers, how they're essentially the new social pariahs. The public reaction is merely a plot device to get them to this new low. One of the main criticisms of the whole vampires in vogue plotline is that there really isn't that much focus on the public opinion, and instead of showing it, we got a lot of "tell" from the POV of Buffy and the Slayers. Which is a valid point, unless of course the point was that the public outcry was always secondary to the story being told, the one about the Slayers falling lower and lower on the public opinion polls. It's a fine line to tread, and I definitely agree that "P&P" left a lot to be desired in terms of the cohesiveness of the arc as a whole as well as the breadth of the issues explored. I personally would have gladly done without the extremely mediocre #24 for more "show". :)
I could see Joss going on next season and having the public revert back. But while the public reaction is an issue, it needs to make sense. It made sense that Jasmine had brain-washed them all. And it made sense that they'd feel a loss when the brain-washing stopped. So when it was part of the story, the reactions made sense. Here it's part of the story, but the reactions don't make sense. (Unless there's magic involved, which I still hope turns out to be the case).

I hope so too. I think it was you who I was discussing this with and we agreed that the public’s negative reaction to the slayers makes sense. Just not the vampires.

I think Wexina raises a valid point though that much like in Ats S4, the public is only there to serve the main character's stories. One thing Meltzer did do well is with Buffy’s line in Issue #35 that she’s returning to earth not to necessarily help humanity, but her family. I saw a few comments that this was either OOC or not very heroic of Buffy but I think that’s kind of the point (the latter I mean). Buffy’s been hated on by humanity all season, there’s been anti-slayer propaganda everywhere. Buffy does not think too kindly of humanity right now and I keep wondering if that line is significant for Joss’ arc.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-05-28 05:51 ]
I'll bring up again General Voll. Who just... what happened to him? Why the nameless general in Retreat and Twilight? Again, Season 8 sets up humanity as important with General Voll, all building towards Harmonic Divergence, then the story just... stops. Is this a bait and switch? You think the story is about Slayers and humanity, but no it's about Buffy's destined love with a vampire that leads to Twilight/the world ending! Which one is the red herring?

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-05-28 06:28 ]
Well, after that debacle in "TLWH", I think it's highly possible that Voll lost his rank/job/more.
I'm not sure the story has all stopped. The last few issues didn't focus on it because they focused on the Twilight mythology and his unmasking, which is fairly appropriate given the name of that arc. It doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t come up again in the final arc because that’s Joss’ job now. He has to weave all of these different plot points together and wrap it up. Until then we won’t know how cohesive it’ll be but surely that’s not something we can determine till we can judge the final product.
The new General is as human as Voll. If anything the idea that there's more than one General helps strengthen the idea that the anti-Slayer forces do involve whole governments, as Angel claimed, rather than being the business of a few identifiable fanatics.
But while the public reaction is an issue, it needs to make sense.

Dark Horse did go some way to address this with their two non-Buffy Season 8 Buffyverse stories. But it did need to be explained more in the main series. As it was a hell of a game changer.
Very nicely put essay.

The thing is though what bugs me the most about season 8 is that by modern comic book standards it isn't even a very good product imo, In fact it's a damned weak one, and I'm a long time comic collector.

To say with every issue that comes I feel more and more disappointed with it is an understatement. If I didn't already know I'd never have guessed that Joss Whedon was responsible for this mess.

And I have to say that I do find that the lapses in logic in season 8 to be worst the what went on in the TV show. Much worse in fact. You only have to read issue the outrageously silly issue 35 to get that impression imo.

Also I have to say that If Buffy was unaffected by the glow when making her decision, well, then it doesn't paint her in a very good light imo, and that's not the Buffy I saw in the show. Sorry, it really wasn't. And yes, I'm sure the writers don't even realise how that's coming across to a section of their readership.


[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2010-05-28 11:12 ]
I love season 8.
I don't understand any of this. Maybe it's meant to be complicated so people will talk about it rather than awesome so people will be silently awed.
You find the essay 'complicated'? How come? I find it pretty straightforward myself.
No, I get Maggie's essay, it's a voice of sanity. The comics and all the discussion around them I don't get.
I think fraac meant the comic sue.

And I don't agree with that. If it was awesome we would all be talking about how great it is. It's not unfortunately. I enjoyed the 1st 10 issues....and the next 3 lost me. I rejoined again at issue 33...then gave up again on the next issue. It's just dreadful.

I'm glad for those that are enjoying it...but I cannot count myself in that group.
I am left with this dilemma: Bangel sex= the universe was somehow involved, and therefore Buffy did not have full agency in what happened, no matter how else you interpret her decision; or Bangle sex= Buffy had full knowledge and agency and had sex with a man she had not seen for years and who had spent the last few months involved in killing her friends as well as herself. Neither leave me feeling very good. I cannot conceive of a answer that will reduce my angst.

What I think is that the idea of Bangel sex- which was developed at the very beginning of this story if not in advance of it- became so powerful a storytelling tool that the actual implications of how that would play out was completely subsumed in the need to tell exactly that story.
Great essay!

I wanted to chime in on the unraised consent issue.

This is one of the things that illustrates what bugs me about S8's depiction of sexuality. I think there are two possible ways this is going to play out:

1) Buffy and Angel are still under the Twilight spell to some extent and real weight of the rape issues will only hit them when the spell is lifted and it will be dealt with adequately then.

This is a scenario I could go with, but I don't think that's very likely to be honest. It's probably more like this:

2) It makes no sense for Buffy to be so stupid and sleep with Twangel on sight, even Meltzer saw that that would be quite OOC, so they glowhypnoled her to take away the agenda of the character(s) so that the unmotivated sex (that is crucial to the apocalypse) becomes possible. The writer does not want to raise the consent issue so Buffy's just dandy with everything that happened to her.

This is imho the way it's going here. The writers needed to rape Buffy to get her to this point in the story, but they don't want to deal with rape so they play it down by saying "they were just egged on, see, Buffy was totally into it".

Quite frankly it reads like one of these japanese porn games, where everyone is raped but totally happy about it. Disturbing. And pretty much the death blow to what was left of Buffy's feminist agenda.

[ edited by Changeling on 2010-05-28 13:00 ]
In order for there to be triumph, there needs to be a low point. If being the universe's bitches was the low point, then I'd say that we're getting to the triumph now.
We fall to rise.

It makes no sense for Buffy to be so stupid and sleep with Twangel on sight

I was quite impressed that the first thing Buffy did was try and kill Angel once she realised who was behind the mask. Personally I think Buffy is still under some sort of spell and Angel is clearly insane. But it will be interesting to see how Joss deals with this Gordian knot that he managed to tie. And if the issues from the Twilight arc get addressed.
it will be interesting to see how Joss deals with this Gordian knot that he managed to tie. And if the issues from the Twilight arc get addressed.

It would be wonderful if those issues were addressed. It would be wonderful if Angel was insane and Buffy decided she had been roofied by the universe; in fact it would be wonderful if everything from the moment the Potentials showed up in season seven was just a dream. At this point I'd accept that explanation. In fact I'd grab on to it like a drowning man after a rope.

But I keep thinking about the Boyd reveal in Dollhouse. I know this is a Whedon fan board rather than a Buffy board specifically and I know there are people here who think I'm somehow anti-Whedon because I have criticized some of Joss's work in the past (once and for all and for the record: I love a lot of Joss Whedon's work. But not all of it, and not indiscriminately. I'm a fan of the work, not a member of a fan club.) So maybe this will get me in trouble but here goes. If Joss could give us the ridiculous on its face contrivance of the Boyd reveal (not to mention the Slayer scythe, Caleb and the First, uber-vamps who become miraculously depowered when the plot calls for it, magic necklaces that show up in the nick of time, a world where for some reason everybody loves vampires, U.S. troops in Tibet with no Chinese response, U.S. troops being willing to follow Angel as if he's been appointed chairman of the joint chiefs, etc.) I'm worried that he might also not see a problem with giving us no explanation for Angel or Buffy's actions--never mind all the other ludicrous plot twists we've been presented with--beyond what we've already gotten. Joss has always cut corners on plot to get his characters where he wants them to be. We've seen that right from Buffy's premiere, all the way up through Boyd. He's even admitted it in an interview about the plot holes in the season finale: "I was more interested in showing the empowerment than I was in the continuity,” he said. But "continuity" is too small a word; continuity implies a small oversight, like a character wearing a watch in a scene that suddenly disappears because they shot the scene in two takes. The correct word is "plotting". Uber-vampires who ae strong enough to nearly kill Buffy one on one suddenly becoming so conveniently weak that Anya can kill one with ease and thousands of them fall to thirty Slayers is not ignoring continuity, it's ignoring the needs of the story and creating plotholes. In Buffy season 8 the world likes vampires and elements of the US army are being led--for God's sake, into Tibet--by Angel, because that's what Joss wanted and he didn't want to spend the time adequately setting it up, so he didn't bother.

Brilliant characterization is certainly a hallmark of Joss's work. So is female empowerment (duh), innovation and risk-taking. But unfortunately, trite shock tactics are also a hallmark of his work, and so is lazy plotting, and I don't see either of those bad habits going away.

(Edited for stupid typos.)

[ edited by Hellmouthguy on 2010-05-28 14:50 ]

[ edited by Hellmouthguy on 2010-05-28 14:52 ]
Dang Hellmouthguy. Your post makes a lot of sense.

And I never thought I would agree with this:
"in fact it would be wonderful if everything from the moment the Potentials showed up in season seven was just a dream. At this point I'd accept that explanation. In fact I'd grab on to it like a drowning man after a rope."
But at this point I'm right there with you.
Now, I wasn't around at the time those episodes aired but I've been part of fandom for just over 5 years now and I don't think I've seen a single fan come down harshly on either episode for how it dealt with the consent issues.

vampmogs, you obviously haven't hung out with me. I hate that aspect of both of those episodes for the very same reason. And I've seen lots of people talk about how much they hate WtWTA. I thought that episode was pretty universally reviled?

As for the consent issue, I think a lot of us are talking at cross-purposes here, discussing this from very, very different starting points. What seems to be going on is that some people are looking at the sex from inside the story: Buffy seems to be okay with it, therefore you don't see anything wrong with it. Which is a legitimate view, of course. But those of us who do have a problem with it are looking at it from outside the story, and we're asking the writers, "Why did you feel the need to have THE UNIVERSE! [I always think of it that way now, like some cheesy cartoon thing or a Douglas Adams book or something] have any bearing at all on Buffy's decision to have sex? Why go there? Why not make it clear that Buffy's deciding this on her own? Why does sex that obviously some people see as questionable [and all y’all’s explanations aren’t going to change our minds about this] need to be a plot-point again?

There are some things that kick me right out of the story to the point where I can’t even be mad at the characters, only at the writers. [Note: I’m gonna use this as an example of my own personal reaction to a specific storytelling decision; I’m not interested in debating the actual example, okay?] For instance, the AR in “Seeing Red.” Most days I’m actually fairly okay with it from Spike’s POV (I still think there were other ways to handle sending Spike off on his soul-quest, but whatever). But I hate it for what it does to Buffy’s story. I’m not mad at Spike. I’m mad at the writers for sacrificing Buffy’s story for the sake of Spike’s, despite my mad love for him. [I’ve also seen it suggested that they wrote that scene because people weren’t reacting to Buffy that season the way the writers thought that should, and so they wrote the AR to make us all feel sorry for her again. The mere idea of this infuriates me so much I can’t even put it into words.]

It’s the same thing here: I have no feelings about Angel (mostly because he doesn’t feel like Angel to me) or THE UNIVERSE! (because it’s not a character, just a…force. But not The Force, apparently). I’m just mad at the writers.

From what I understand, that installment (volume? What's the lingo here? This isn't my domain) was written first, so everything was leading up to it. There are all sorts of decisions the writers could have made in light of that. They didn't make one we find responsible or thoughtful or empowering. That is our complaint.

But unfortunately, trite shock tactics are also a hallmark of his work, and so is lazy plotting, and I don't see either of those bad habits going away.

Hellmouthguy, I agree (I've found that when I agree with you, I agree very, very hard, but when I disagree, I disagree vehemently). The Boyd thing still infuriates me. There are things I like about S7, but the plotting sucked.
I don't understand any of the characters, that's what it is mostly, and so I can't make sense of the story. On television they made sense, and now I'm thinking maybe that's because gaps were filled in by the actors - actual full-fledged people who look like my favourite charactes. Maybe during some ropey writing I was seeing like 80% SMG.
That's not impossible fraac. Remember, a lot of the gaps in story telling ARE filled in by actors. The writing is the blueprint, but not everything is on it. Just listen to Nick Brendon talk. Just how much was Xander and how much was Nick? Yes, they are different. But Nick brought a lot of himself to the role. And many writers will tell you, they script to the strengths of the actor.

The exceptions would be episodes that were written and directed by the same person because he or she is controlling the transfer of script to screen.
I definitely agree about the giant importance of the actors' contributions. Even at its worst, the show kept me watching based on the strength of the performances, even when I didn't believe the characters were being well-served by the writing and I could see the plot yanking them around like rubber bands. I never for a second believed Willow/Kennedy as a couple, for example, nor did I ever buy Amy's sudden and bewildering descent into stock villain territory and ultimate plot-devicehood (and geez, waht a waste of a potentially great character), but I certainly did believe the anguish Willow was going through in "The Killer in Me" because Aly was great, and so was Adam Busch as Willow. To cite a couple other more general examples, I thought Dawn and Connor got stuck with some of the worst stories, but Michelle Trachtenberg and Vincent Kartheiser were both consistently enjoyable in what were often thankless roles. Dawn might have whined too much but I always liked watching Michelle, and in my opinion Vincent was the best actor in the Angel ensemble.

For me, the comics had at least one, and probably two, strikes against them from the get-go because the actors aren't there. An infinite special effects and location budget does nothing to alleviate that.
As for the consent issue, I think a lot of us are talking at cross-purposes here, discussing this from very, very different starting points. What seems to be going on is that some people are looking at the sex from inside the story: Buffy seems to be okay with it, therefore you don't see anything wrong with it. Which is a legitimate view, of course. But those of us who do have a problem with it are looking at it from outside the story, and we're asking the writers, "Why did you feel the need to have THE UNIVERSE! [I always think of it that way now, like some cheesy cartoon thing or a Douglas Adams book or something] have any bearing at all on Buffy's decision to have sex? Why go there? Why not make it clear that Buffy's deciding this on her own? Why does sex that obviously some people see as questionable [and all y’all’s explanations aren’t going to change our minds about this] need to be a plot-point again?

I understand that this is an issue people have strong feelings about but this description of how people who don’t have a problem with the consent issue are looking at the story seems a little condescending. I largely don’t (have a problem) but that comes from looking both within the story and without it. In fact the former necessarily informs the latter. From your description the reason you feel like asking the writers why THE UNIVERSE should have any bearing on Buffy’s decision to have sex is because you read the story as saying THE UNIVERSE made her do it. I read the story as Buffy making the decision to do it of her own free will and the depiction of her post-coital state of mind (she obviously remembers everything that happened and there’s no sense of her wondering what came over her) simply re-inforces that impression. To mymind the writers have made it clear that “Buffy’s deciding this on her own” and the only thing I might want to ask them is whether they thought the metaphor of oceans churning and world falling apart was as successful as, for example, the house falling down in Smashed and whether the over the topness was intended to give the whole story a darkly humorous edge.
Well, I certainly didn't mean to be condescending, though I apologize for being so: I was repeating the arguments as I saw them and trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. But people keep arguing with us on a story level, and we just aren't on that level anymore so the arguments aren't going to wrok.

It works for you within the story, so you don't question it on the writing level, right? Whereas it doesn't work for us within the story, so it kicks us right out of the story-level and into the writing level. Am I completely off-base here? That's the way I've read it.

I guess I'm just saying, those of us who find it questionable are never going to be convinced by your arguments. You probably aren't ever going to be convinced by ours. I don't think we're trying to convince you you're wrong (at least, I'm not; I can't speak for anyone else); we're trying to convince you that if enough people have a problem with it (and clearly we do) that the writers should have thought about it and/or address it. But others keep saying, "It works for me! Therefore they don't need to address it!" And we're saying, "That's great for you, but it doesn't work for us."

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-05-28 16:47 ]
Quite frankly, I don't think that anyone's ever going to change their mind about anything once it's made up. And I'm cool with that.
But, coming from a discussion-starved background (very few of my friends actually understand why I like BtVS), I find it enjoyable to trade opinions in what should be conducive discussion. All I'm doing is addressing points made in opposition, and stating why I don't have a problem with them the way some others do. And like many of you, I'm fully capable of reading from within and from without a story. Just because the within reading feels fine doesn't mean that the without reading doesn't find issues.

Speaking as a fan, I don't think that the writers need to do anything except tell a story. I am not entitled to dictate the creative process. As a fan, it's my right to judge the final product and say "Hey, this isn't working for me because of X, Y, and Z" to other fans, just as it's anyone else's right to say "Oh really? Why? Coz it works just fine for me". And we can back and forth on it. And IMO, that's what's happening here.
I disagree that you're not arguing on a story level. You have an interpretation of the story that you're not prepared to argue but that's not the same thing. As it happens I'm not trying to argue that interpretation. Different stories work for different people. However,I think it gets a little problematic when you invoke the imperative, when you say the the writers should have thought about it/address it full stop. If that sentence was supposed to end .. otherwise the story doesn't work for me/us then that's fine. Without that addition it sounds as if you're saying that there's some kind of moral imperative for the writers to alter the story in order to address issues that to other readers have already been addressed and for whom further hammering home of the same point would take them right out of it.
I think they do have a moral imperative to realize when things might be problematic from an *ism perspective, and questionable consent is very much an issue that anti-sexism discussions concern themselves with.

I absolutely do.

Just as I think they had a moral imperative to think about the fact that they're appropriating Asian cultures on Firefly while only having one character with more than one line played by an Asian actor--and that character was a prostitute. I don't care if some people aren't bothered by it and it might kick them out of the story if the writers addressed it. I'd say that the concerns of those whose complaints are based in social justice concerns definitely trump those who might be annoyed to have a point hammered home.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-05-28 17:27 ]
To consider such issues certainly and a self-critical attitude makes for better art. But how do we we decide whether the writers have considered the issue and believe themselves to have addressed it without being too heavy handed about it or whether they're simply being willfully ignorant of the potential problem? That may be where we differ on the outside the story level.

I'm not sure to what extent critical gender theory is an ideal tool for analysing individual texts as opposed to identifying trends in the medium as a whole. I also think critical analysis of gender issues requires more than simply declaring that any given story fails to address an issue that arises from a particular reading of the text. To do so begs the question of whether or to what extent that reading is valid and how it might be addressed. I think that stimulating debate around such questions is necessary to begin exploring the wider issues of why they arise in the first place and how that might be addressed. So this argument is a good one to have but for it to work maybe we do have to go back to the text and look at how our divergent interpretations arise from it and that in turn may require discussing the wider context and trying to figure out where the line between edgy and offensive lies and why and possibly this is not really the ideal venue for that.
I basically just break it down like this for myself personally.Am I enjoying the story?Yes I am.I guess that's what it really comes down to.If your satisfied or not.Unfortunately that is going to be different for every different person to various degrees.The creators just have to do the best they can and tell the story they want to tell and let the chips fall wherever they may as far as reaction since they can't please everyone.Every season has had this.
I walked out on Terry Gilliam's 'Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus' last year after eagerly awaiting it, even tho' his films never failed to be worthwhile before. But I didn't want to sit through another hour & a half of embarrassing incoherence in order to feel I had 'given it a chance'.

People walk out of stupid movies, turn off lame tv programs, and close bad books never to return all the time.

Even if the books were 'good enough' to keep going, good enough is no standard at all, especially where the show & Joss are involved.
I'm not sure to what extent critical gender theory is an ideal tool for analysing individual texts as opposed to identifying trends in the medium as a whole.

I'll be sure to write a letter to Chinua Achebe to tell him that critiques of *isms aren't useful in examining indvidual texts but only for "identifying trends in the medium as a whole." I'm sure he'll want to recant that analysis of Heart of Darkness he did from a racial and postcolonial perspective.

Seriously, though, if you really think that, then...I'm not sure what kind of conversation we can have.
Wait, hayes62- wait for it- you mean you are arguing reader response? There is a text to interpret? The writers haven't told us what it all means? And we all agree to accept it? LOL- I am vindicated! :-)

I have to run for them moment, but there is a larger point here I would like to develop, all kidding to the side.
Well I suppose you're vindicated at least in so far as you're content to take my word (as the author) for it.
Hayes, how did you get the impression that Buffy acted out of her own free will alone?

It think the text doesn't support that at all. Giles and Willow both gave lines that state that Twilight influences it's subjects. Buffy is very anti-Angel and then starts to glow when she is suddenly persuaded.

I think the degree to which she's influenced is not clear, but there is not even the slightest doubt that she is influenced in some way.

The plot device was very clearly introduced, so why would I ignore it and believe Buffy acted out of her own free will?

I'm still not sure if they actually intented to make this a rape story, or if they thought, well a roofy and an guy she slept with already, that's hardly rape, but they did put the glowhypnol plotdevice into play. The story leaves it open if Buff would have gone along on her own, but it also introduces the outside influence. Maybe just to make her OOC behaviour a bit more seemly, maybe to tell the whole rape story with all it's issues. We don't know that yet, but we do know that there was an outside force messing with their brains.
Well, then, now that snark and superiority have come into play, I'm going to do what Maggie did a while back, and bow out of this conversation.

But I want to commend Maggie on writing a pretty neutral essay (that was the point right?) that addressed both the highs and lows of S8 thus far. It was a succinct refresher, and muchly appreciated on my part. Thanks for the read, Maggie.
Lirazel: Achebe's essay is more wide ranging in scope and intention than just a critical analysis of one novel. He selects Heart of Darkness as an particularly well written, influential and respected example of a novel written by Europeans about Africa and which exemplifies the European need to portray Africa and Africans as a savage other. He doesn't simply assert that in his opinion the text is racist but performs a close line by line, adjective by adjective analysis of several passages from the novel to make his case. He also extends the analysis to consider the author's background and the historical accuracy of his description of the Congo.

Changeling: I think the glow represents their connection, it's something Buffy can sense but sensing is not the same as being controlled by. Buffy is glowing the whole time she's fighting Angel it doesn't stop her then. She attacks him at first assuming he's Angelus, which he denies and she appears to accept. She,then accuses him of killing her girls. He says he didn't kill anyone (which is literally true as far as she knows) and he didn't stir up the hatred governments and demon groups were already lining up to eliminate the terrorist threat. She has no answer to this and changes the subject to why he pushed her to absorb the dead Slayers power. He says that not where her power comes from and again she has no answer for that. She changes tack again to why he was hiding and why he put them through hell without explaining what was happening. Angel changes the subject back to how she started the war by sharing the power and shifting the balance of it. It's an argument that, while I don't accept it or believe the story means us to, I do believe Buffy would take to hear because she's be making it herself over and over again ever since her first encounter with him in A Beautiful Sunset. She stops arguing with him about what he's done and starts to listen to his explanation of the glow, which she can see and feel, and how it means that they're connected. Basically Angel's achieved what he he said he needed to do, he's shattered her moral certainty and brought her to the point where as far as she knows he's all she's got. She can't help her friends or her followers, all she's done is bring death and destruction to them. At the beginning of the issue Xander peps her out of her me-vampire despair by giving her the Superman speech, the one about there being a reason for things. Angel too says there's a reason and the glow connection she can sense helps confirm that he's not just saying it. He also hits her with his vulnerable aspect, he's terrified and incapable of happiness and she's always been unable to resist him when he's sounding broken. The final panel on the last but one page is her big conflicted face, her decision face. She flies up very deliberately, very decisively to bend down and kiss him.
Not sure who is being snarky and superior, and hope it is not me, since I put not one but two smiley face emoticons in my post to make it clear I was kidding around.

But to my larger point. There are any number of lens though which we can read Buffy, and critical gender theory is but one of them. Yes, we can apply the work of Judith Butler to examine construction of gender identity, but I am not sure that is really at play here. We can read the text sociologically, which is what some of us are doing in conflating rape culture with the "universal imperative" that seems to be pushing the Buffy story. I think we sometimes give Joss Whedon too much credit in thinking that he and his writers actually consider theory when they write- I often think that only later do they begin to understand how what they write plays out and is read by others. I think the notable example here is Tara's death- I do not for one moment believe Joss understood what would happen when he wrote this- he said he planned it early on- and no doubt he did- but by the time it came to execute it, the world had changed and this was no longer just a story device; Tara had become real and important to a lot of people by then. I sort of see this Bangel sex in the same way- it was good when it was theorized as part of a larger tale, but the (real) world is not the same and the way it is being received (obviously, by some) is likely not how Joss thought it would ever be received. If Joss knew in advance that killing Tara would hurt so many people, would he have done it different? I do not know, and his answer to the question is just an answer, not really truth, because what happened happened. He needed Bangel sex, but did it occur to him the manner in which he brought it into being might raise the ire of some fans? I don't know, but I bet not. If he knew, would he do it different? I don't know.
Hayes, yes, I'veread the issue and I don't say that there are no arguments supporting that Buffy acted partly on her own, but the outside controlling force was introduced.

Willow and Giles name it's influence, the glow symbolizes it and the churning whatnots show it's effects.

What I'm arguing is not that there is their can't be consent involved, but that they introduced elements that make it doubtful And I do think that if a writer introduces dub con sex, he has the responsibilty to deal with the consequences to make it a good story.

If they wanted it to look like clearly consentual sex they should not have said that the characters are egged on by the universe, or subject to an outside influence.

[ edited by Changeling on 2010-05-28 20:46 ]
So what you're saying is that until we do a line-by-line analysis, anything we have to say is irrelevant? Got it.

And all of those brilliant pieces (my favorite of which I stumbled upon when it was linked on this site) that critique Angel's misogyny are irrelevant unless they go line-by-line and explore the full historical background Joss is writing in? Uh-huh.

I'll remember not to be offended or hurt or feel dismissed or frustrated or whatever my reaction might be unless I'm first prepared to write something as beautifully written and insightful as Achebe's work. I'll remember not to claim that anything is racist/sexist/homophobic/ablist/ageist/etc. unless I'm prepared to write a dissertation on it. Because what I hear you saying is that I can't say that anything is sexist unless I examine the entire history around it. Seriously?

That's very well said, Dana5140. As usual.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-05-28 20:55 ]
I haven't got as far as the glowy sex, but aren't you arguing the (in my opinion impossible to objectively define) line between seduction and rape? Sounds like she got the horn and went irrational, as anyone can. I think if she's fine with it afterwards then you have to allow her the empowered choice to be so. Even if it ruins the story.
No, we don't, fraac, though you certainly can if you want to. But we don't have to because Buffy isn't a person. We can ask why the writers needed to include it at all and say we think they should have thought about it more. Which is what we're saying.
Surely if we're talking about her rights then for sake of argument she's a person? Otherwise you could do anything to her.

I think that, in the same way freedom of speech means defending to the death your worst enemy's right to verbally attack you, the ultimate expression of feminism is to defend a woman's right to enjoy being raped. In both cases it's about accepting (i.e. loving) our fellow humans for all they are, even where their existence is at odds with our deepest fears. So it's about courage and self-awareness.

[ edited by fraac on 2010-05-28 21:23 ]
I haven't got as far as the glowy sex, but aren't you arguing the (in my opinion impossible to objectively define) line between seduction and rape? Sounds like she got the horn and went irrational, as anyone can. I think if she's fine with it afterwards then you have to allow her the empowered choice to be so. Even if it ruins the story.

But that is not the case, they did introduce mystical elements to make it easier to go along with Buffy's sudden change of heart. Those elements are textually there and they make her consent doubtful.

And what we are discussing here is a man describing a woman's rape as enjoyable for her, which is one of the oldest rape apologist tropes in history.

[ edited by Changeling on 2010-05-28 21:31 ]
What if the character of Buffy spoke to the writer, as (previously) well-formed characters often do, and said she enjoyed the coercive universe aspect of sex? Either she's a person or she isn't, can't have it both ways.
Huh? Buffy is a fictional character. She acts as the writer imagines her too. She will "speak" differently to every writer.
So no, Buffy is not a person.

Buffy's "personness" is also besides the point as no one argues if Buffy is right or wrong to enjoy dubcon, but if a writer who introduces a dubcon scenario should do so without discussing the questions this raises.
If she's not a person I struggle to see how any questions are raised whatsoever. Say this all happened for real with a bunch of your friends and no one mentioned the dubcon afterwards, so now you're troubled. You have tension that alienates you and you wish someone would talk about it. If your friends are awesome maybe they notice and ask you what's up. I wouldn't expect that of my friends, just kinda hope it. The writers of Buffy Season 8 don't even know me.

edit: In my world I see happy girls every day surrounded with 'friends' trying to convince them that they are victims and are crazy. I know who the abusers are and whose side I'm on. This is why I love Joss. That's all I'm saying.

[ edited by fraac on 2010-05-28 22:15 ]
the ultimate expression of feminism is to defend a woman's right to enjoy being raped

fraac- I don't think you want to go there. Rape is a crime of violence, not sex. It is not to be enjoyed, simply because it involves sex. It destroys people. This is why some of us are reacting so strongly to Buffy's loss of agency, whether whole or in part. Rape is not about the sex. It is a violation.
Dude, if these were my friends I would bring the issue up as is my responsibility as a human being if I have concerns that one of my friends got raped.

And quite frankly if it would worry no one else I'd think those people would no longer be someone I'd want to associate with.

And same goes for S8 and it's writers. If dub con is something they see as unproblematic, something is deeply wrong with them.
Eagle eyed posters may have noticed this thread went on lockdown. No great conspiracy - hysterlcal baby with chicken pox and full nappy trumps all.

Anyhow back to admin mode - fraac your account is suspended for a while rescinded. This thread got bad natured and somewhat petty in the last few hours but I'm not putting up with nonsense like that. I'll reopen this thread tomorrow morning and if anyone else wants to play silly sods, they'll be out as well. As I'm really not in the mood.

ETA: The thread is now back open. Please comment on the season 8 essay.
Well, before this entire thread went haywire (which was before I saw it again), this caught me.

If he knew, would he do it different? I don't know.

My answer is, I really hope not. I think Whedon is aware of his audience, but there's a big difference between awareness and being forced to fit your stories in the small, ever-shifting, target that is "acceptable." A target that tends to get smaller as time goes on in a show or series.

A lot of people, like the author read these things and are forced to take the good with the bad. Or more specifically, what we'd like to see vs. what we get. When viewed with that lens, most of the time the stories are OK. But because we all have a vested interest in the style and content, we're not always happy.

Contrast this with Buffy's "Gold Standard" of Season 2. What did that seasons have that every other season really didn't? I'd suggest that more than the writing, it was unburdened by expectations and was therefore able to go in whatever direction the writers wanted without "issues" being involved. It also had the benefit of still being unbelievably close to the original premise by keeping your Big Bads for the most part hidden in their mayhem. Every season after that, we have ever-escelating chaos which always begged the question, "ok HOW doesn't everyone know what's going on here?"

When we get to season 8, we're awash in people "issues." Agency issues. Angel wouldn't behave like this. Buffy wouldn't one night stand Satsu. Xander wouldn't be dating Dawn (I admit, this one's mine but then I always thought Xander had a tendancy to get the narrative short-hand). How would the world react to actual vampires vs. slayers? And lets not forget Spuffy and Bangel shipping, the bane of my personal existence.

And a lot of our complaints right now are about issues without explanation. Those make a lot more sense IF we were at the end of the arc. But we're not... we're sitting at the apex of a rollercoaster, but we're not yet able to look down.

So my question is, why would it be shocking that Joss WOULDN'T pay attention to how every decision affects his fans? How could you possibly do it? We're not the same. We respond to different things. And if he did try to please us all, can you imagine just how terrible THAT would be?
That's sort of not my point, though. What I am suggesting is that as time goes, as the mythos develops, it becomes harder and harder to do a number of things- write the story without betraying past issues (such as we saw in S8 with Warren being alive when we know that this is a mistake because the First portrayed him), not take into account how viewer perceptions may have changed over time, etc. There is no answer to the question I asked; I cannot say what Joss would do because that time has passed. As an example, I think Lost wrote itself into a corner, sort of like how as the Magic card game became popular and they made more cards, all of a sudden there were card combinations no one could never have thought of that interacted in ways that just shut the game down. Lost did it, and Buffy has sort of done it. When you spend many seasons, on two shows, to make Angel who he is, having him be vastly different now causes confusion- is it by design, or is it by error? I have seen enough bad decisions to feel the latter; many people so trust Joss they see the former. But by now, for me, it no longer matters; in my estimation, too much of the mythology has been betrayed to allow me to really enjoy the story any more- the narrative drives Joss, not the continuity- you need submarines, well, you got 'em. You need the entire world to find vampires attractive and distrust slayers, hey, here you are. And when even Joss says he would throw it all away if he could make a movie, you know that the mythos is just a game for Joss to play with; he is not completely and utterly committed to what he has wrought here. IMO, of course. I cannot confirm, of course, nor could anyone wishing to dispute me.
The mythos of Buffy has never been a huge concern of the writers from the start (my opinion). They made up as they went along and I wasn't that bothered as long as the story was good. But at the other end of the scale you get franchises that are so bogged down in mythos and continuity that a radical reboot is needed in order to get newcomers interested.

Which is one of the reasons I think Astonishing X-Men was so popular because not that much backstory was required to read it. I would be very interested to hear the thoughts of people who've never seen Buffy but have read season 8. They have to exist. Surely?
Nor do I think it was your point Dana, I was simply moving with that premise because it interested me. Because honestly, there are a number of fans who I do feel seem to think that Joss is somehow beholden to them to make them personally happy and write stories the way they would like to see them.

My illustration, was not that it was unreasonable from our perspective. Rather, it's impracticable from a writing perspective. Why? Because every issue has multiple perspectives and the writer can't possibly agree with all of them at the same time. You can't have such a muddled premise unless that's specifically your point. That's the "wow, isn't life crazy" premise.

To take your Lost and Magic analogy further, might we also infer from those that just maybe this is a fan issue? We build magnificent edifices of logic in which these works of fiction will relate to us so that we can find further enjoyment in them. They become a big part of our lives and we spend our time agonizing over little details. The details become almost as big as the story because we've ornately arranged them in such a way as to make the story greater. Good for us. We get to discuss and be happy. The fans are sated.

But then we have the writer that has to somehow be aware of the beach of sandcastles he now finds his story surrounded in. A single writer can not proxy for 2+ million fans with their own unique brains. And explanations and adornments to the original story that had intentionally been left vague or ambiguous by the writer have been filled in by the fans. And from your examples, coupled with a few more like Star Wars, Star Trek, BSG, we discover that apparently NO writer is good enough to navigate that landscape without annihilating it and leaving a trail of aggitated fans in their wake. Yet, we blame the writer. My question is, why?
Actually, I completely agree Simon. And what I think we're dancing around is nature of the serial format. We love our serials and the details. But then the details become so rigid and well formed that you run out of stories.

We reboot so we can get back that "fresh" feel so we can actually have a Season 2 again because a continuous serial is only going to give you that buzz once.
Because they are the proxy for what we want, azzers. I don't really dispute anything you say in your post. I do just think that the writers do need to be aware of continuity and mythos in order to ensure that the story is true to the world they created. When they pay no attention to it, it then brings the fan out of the story- and without a fan base, there is no story.
And when even Joss says he would throw it all away if he could make a movie,

Again, as I said in another recent thread, in a hypothetical and highly unlikely scenario where there's a Buffy movie in the works, he said he'd be willing to scrap the comic storyline. I think the repeated introduction of that quote as proof the comics are not really as important or canonical is really inaccurate.

I also think it's insulting to imply that people who like the season are somehow blinded by loyalty to Joss. I don't see the "bad decisions" you describe because I don't think they are bad, not because I don't think the writers can do any wrong.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2010-05-30 03:05 ]
IMO in todays world comics aren't that important compared to live action. I mean as some have said before how many people out there even know season 8 exists? Also comic sales across the board are dropping as their past readership invest in other media to entertain them. It's a niche market compared to TV and movies sales and the gap is getting wider, not smaller.

In a weird way many would see a comic has only made the 'big time' when it' been translated into a live action product, not the other way around.
Sf- I hope that by this time, more than 2000 posts into my "career" here at Whedonesque it would be clear that I speak only for myself, and make no claims for anyone else; anything I say where I refer to some people, that is a hypothetical "some people," not anyone specific here or anywhere else- a rhetorical device, if you will. Though certainly when someone comments that "Where Joss goes I will follow" or that "Joss Whedon is my God" does lend itself to there being a perception that some, not all, can be blinded by loyalty to Joss. But we all know this, I think. I am not suggesting that Joss is not committed to this comic; I am suggesting that he might be willing to let it all go if the right offer came along, and we can read that as we will.
The comics are aimed at a mass audience, and the overall writer, individual writers & the artist are all writing FOR that audience, rather than for their own jollies. That's what they get paid to do, to hold the audience and keep them dropping their couple dollars-euros-pounds-etc. each month. Those who make & publish the books are beholden to those who have bought & read & those who would buy & read them. Writers who aren't beholden don't publish or write solely for a very small, definite circle without any interest in a wider public. Since he's aiming to reach, not just any audience, but the audience that was committed to the show, & fails to get it when he blunders horrifically, he hasn't done the job he's chosen to do.

So, yes, writers are absolutely beholden to their audience, as actors & musicians & composers etc. are to theirs. And fans having battles, sometimes actual brawls, over their loyalties & opinions, is nothing at all new, or something that's somehow alien to making & enjoying any form of art or entertainment.
My problem with Season 8 is that it's a comics continuation of the series. Emphasis on comics. The continuation has decided to overly focus on the medium and incorporating the medium into its storytelling tropes/arcs. Specifically, that apparently Lois Lane was turned into a centaur by a magic spell in a Superman comic... just like Dawn.

Would Dawn have ever spent more than half a season transforming from giant to centaur to porcelain doll in live action TV? No. And I don't buy that it's 100% about budgetary concerns. That if it were possible on the show, they would've done it. Because the TV show grounded the main characters in their humanity and having Dawn running around as a magical creature in such an overt way would have undercut the seriousness of the moment. The best villains have all looked human, imo. Angelus, The Mayor, Glory, Dark Willow even and finally the First.

The evil that is interesting is grounded in humanity. The stories we connect most are grounded in humanity. In Entertainment Weekly, Joss in praising SMG says that it was her acting skills that enabled her to "connect with the audience while in the throes of what could be an overblown story line and just ground it and make it human and desperate and lovely." What made it "lovely" was how it was grounded in humanity.

Now, we have a Season 8 that takes "an overblown story line" and rockets it past the stratosphere, but we lack the actors who connect to us, the audience, who "ground it and make it human and desperate and lovely."

The decision to make BtVS an homage and uber-referential comics story (centaur homages, Superman references, comics refs all over the place) has further distanced it from its primary text--the TV show. Where once you can look at this story as something that was a genuine continuation, it's been battered home again and again that this is the continuation that is contingent upon the comics medium. It would never have happened on film and it won't happen on film. There is a divide between BtVS the show and the Season 8 comics--and it did not have to be so. The decision to make Season 8 'comics overblown' was a storytelling choice. In direct contrast, After the Fall remains more true to the style of the show, maintaining the tone and the reality set forth in AtS.

Season 8 is a comics continuation filled with comics references and homages that the majority of BtVS fans have no clue about. I went two years without knowing that Centaur Dawn was a reference to Lois Lane (I was left to think it was an insane direction to go in). What's even more baffling is the knowledge that Whedon demonstrates, his self-awareness of how the actors took his overblown storylines and grounded them in humanity. These overblown storylines that he then amps up to exponentially prefixy degrees in the comics and without the actors humanity, the drama flies too high to the sun, while many mere mortals are left watching it from a distance, no longer caring, no longer emotionally connecting (and many shaking our heads at how ridiculous the story has become).

My upset and angst over Season 8 is more about who Buffy was than whoever this Comics Buffy is. The yawning divide between series and comics has reached a point where it cannot be bridged for many fans of the show. Fray, the comics story of the futuristic Slayer, was more of a genuine continuation of BtVS than Season 8, and how bizarre that a story set 200 years in the future maintains the tone better than a direct continuation.

It seems to me that Season 8 is Joss' experimentation with the medium in a similar way that he experimented with Dr. Horrible. The difference? Dr. Horrible was new and groundbreaking and held no onus to be true to another text. Season 8? Breaks ground, but it does so at the expense of the tenuous threads connecting it to the greater story that is BtVS.

When given the choice to stay true to BtVS or experiment... I wish Whedon had stayed true. (I get the feeling he got distracted by the shiny the way he, Goddard and Allie all went 'oh em gee, Mecha Dawn would be hilarious, we have to do it!' The way Meltzer stuffed so many comics references into his arc that it became bloated, losing focus and power and... logic.) Overblown stories seem to be the product of comics-fans-turned-writers geeking out and we've lost the actors to ground the story, to give it heart. Whedon does the best at striking these chords with his writing, but the season by and large has lost its footing in emotional resonance. And for a series that has moved me and taken me to such emotional heights that I sat enraptured, watching, unable to look away, I find myself no longer held enthralled by the emotional tumult, but unable to look away at the trainwreck of the story's falterings and failures mixed in the wreckage of such high hopes.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-05-30 23:41 ]
When given the choice to stay true to BtVS or experiment... I wish Whedon had stayed true.

I wish I could disagree with you, but I don't. I mourn the show I lost and the comic does not fill the gap, for all the reasons you mention.
I'm not sure Dawn the centaurette counts as a specific reference to Lois Lane's transformation (engineered by the arch enemy of Comet the super horse WTF) any more than Oz becoming a werewolf is a specific reference to Lon Chaney Jnr's The Wolf Man. Centaurs and werewolves are transgenre creatures with multiple incarnations within those genres (check out the 1997 miniseries "Whom God's Destroy" in which Superman is turned into an evil centaur but tamed by Lana Lang while Lois turns into Wonder Woman if you want to see id-crack in its native form).

Crackiness aside season 2 of Buffy included a series of homage episodes referencing horror movies, which I'm no more a fan of than superhero comics. Most of those episodes were not very good but they worked together to make BtVS's B-movie roots more tangible so that when having sex brought on the horror it felt inevitable in retrospect and when Buffy became the girl who survived her sexual transgression the subversion was both tragic and triumphant. To me S8 seems to be doing the same thing. The heart of it still lies in the character's emotional journeys, how it feels to be trapped by other people's expectations, who's the girl behind the name, the mask the leader, the superhero identity. Just as S2 Buffy rejected her horror movie destiny as the blonde girl who gets killed for having sex, S8 Buffy rejects her apotheosis in favour of friends and family because that's who she is.

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