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July 01 2011

Read the latest issue of Watcher Junior. There's essays about Buffy's role as a military leader in seasons 7 and 8, Faith as a "bad girl" and how the show ties in with sex-worker feminism.

Very good read. While I was watching season seven of BtVS, this thought of Buffy filling the role of a military commander never occurred to me. Yet, in hindsight, I can see it now. Seeing how she overruled Giles in changing the rules and decided to drop the old scores with Faith to bring her back into the fold.

Am I making any sense or am I rambling again? So hate when I do that!
Yay! An essay on Season 8!

Impressive article on Buffy's role as military leader. It's fascinating to read the ways in which Buffy falls short as a leader -- prescription and sanction -- and how these themes are built into the season. The distance from her troops is what's most prominently highlighted ("Connection. Why can't I feel it?" A Beautiful Sunset) where as I'm not sure any of the characters realize in-story the failed implementation of sanctioning the troops (keeping them in line).

As to the subject of Buffy's distance from her troops and her failing to sanction Simone and Giles, I think it's the result of Buffy not actually wishing to run (she's "somehow running an army" Last Gleaming Part I). I think she wanted to be an organization that helped trained the newly called Slayers who wished to fight, to be more like an affiliation of squads who provided support when necessary.

For all that Buffy loves to be in control of her own life and she'll take control in a battle situation, she doesn't like to direct other people. She wanted to give all these Slayers the choice to fight, but once they'd joined up she kept on giving them more leeway -- to hide intel from her (all her intimates do this except Xander), to disobey orders, to break rank.

Buffy wanted to free the Potentials, she never wanted to rule them. I love how the essay points out that Buffy's offer of reward to the Slayers joining her team is a sense of "family." So Buffy's concept of how to command is essentially her same role writ large to a literal global scale, where she overrelies on her in-person charisma to build a foundation of trust and loyalty.

Really fascinating stuff. What's most interesting to me is that Buffy perhaps fails to take command of her army simply because she doesn't want to be in command of an army -- her dream was something else and somehow an army arose around her and under her, lifting her up on a pedestal, distancing her from the other Slayers when she just wanted to be an unremarkable one of many. Where Buffy still managed to excel and triumph as a reluctant hero, she ultimately fails as a reluctant general.

[ edited by Emmie on 2011-07-03 06:47 ]
Emmie- she did not free the potentials; she and Willow did anything but free them when the two of them activated all of them. Once activated, Buffy remained in charge, until briefly deposed- does this not give lie to the idea of allowing all of the potentials true agency? She was their boss, by choice, a choice which denies them true equality in leadership. I have grappled with the question for a long, long time!
Seems like we've hit a semantics roadblock. As with everything, it depends on your perspective. If you see the Potentials as having latent power that's been kept from them by the Shadowmen's spell, a power they have a natural right to access, a power they've been born with, a power that would help them save their lives and be able to fight back against the First trying to murder them all -- that's the freedom of which I speak. Their power is freely accessible, not denied to them by the forces which would seek to use them as a "blunt instrument," easily controlled, easily contained, easily manipulated, easily directed.

Does my shorthand make sense now? I'm actually a bit unclear on what you're referring to -- when was she briefly deposed once activated? Are you talking about "Chosen" or Season 8 or both? As for all the Potentials now Slayers, 1300 don't acknowledge Buffy Summers as boss.

(My true objection to the agency question is for all the Slayers who didn't say "yes" to Buffy's question "are you ready to be strong?" -- it's their latent power, but they weren't given the choice for this mystical activation which transformed their bodies.)
Chosen, was my reference, because it all started there. And I am not sure those potentials had latent power, in the sense that it could be accessed in some fashion. It could not, and there was no way to know that you were a "potential" until such time as a Slayer died, and one, and only one, person got activated. Which does beg the question about how the First knew that any young girl had such "latent" power, I guess.

(And I agree with your true objection, because I share it with you).
There was definitely a way to know if you were a Potential, otherwise Kendra wouldn't have gotten her training. Willow's "Potential locator spell" in season 7 is an example of finding nearby Potentials.

I think there's an important distinction to be made between activating all of the Slayers (granting them the power that they should have access to) and organizing all of them (which is what turned Buffy into the distant leader). I don't feel that organizing the thirty some-odd Potentials in season 7 is the same as the massive army we see 2.5 years or so later in season 8.

[ edited by Waterkeeper511 on 2011-07-04 04:07 ]
I see it as a latent power because the Chosen One rule is defined by Buffy and others as being set implemented by the Shadowmen, a deliberate limitation that Buffy sought to undo. One could argue that the characters had it wrong, but I think the point is that they were undoing a wrong. That the Potentials would have always had access to their power if not for the Shadowmen denying them the power they were born with -- if only so that the Shadowmen/Council could more readily control each individual girl unto each generation. I see it as about oppression, about controlling the oppressed, keeping them in chains.

[ edited by Emmie on 2011-07-04 09:23 ]
Then again, if the Shadowmen hadn't exposed the first girl to the demon power, none of them would have had to go through the pain of being a Slayer. They didn't do it to empower the girls, they did it so they'd have an expendable weapon. The power comes from using their strength to break away from the patriarchy, which doesn't seem to have happened until Buffy. Though if the girls still don't have a choice in whether they are part of her army, are they really empowered?
There is the question.
They have a choice whether or not to join the other Slayers. Buffy's narration at the beginning of Season 8 alludes to this.

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