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July 17 2011

Why Buffy Matters. An essay from Hypable.com about the importance of Buffy.

Good essay about Buffy and why the show still matters today.

Incidentally, isn't "Why Buffy Matters" also the title of the book that is basically essential to anyone looking to do Buffy studies? I feel like one day we'll just have written every single word there is to write about why Buffy matters. (Not that I mind, of course. :D)
I live by that Angel quote.
And yes that was a great essay. :)
It's good to be reminded from time to time as to why the show is important.
Also, and I can honestly say I do NOT know the people who run that site, I only just recently stumbled on it, but it's a great website for fandoms. I think it's pretty new. I highly suggest everyone checks it out :)
This is a well written, well thought out essay. I'm sorry it wasn't longer.I've started a rewatch of the show recently and I think I will try to decide when and where it started to get so morally complex. Perhaps from the very moment we find out that Angel is a vampire. And some people can accept that and others, such as Xander, never can.

Can anyone point me towards anything written about Xander and his arc? As the heart of the group,not the mind, he can be excused, perhaps, for never accepting Angel fully but it would be interesting to read a discussion on that.
Great essay, thanks for linking it.
Can anyone point me towards anything written about Xander and his arc? As the heart of the group,not the mind, he can be excused, perhaps, for never accepting Angel fully but it would be interesting to read a discussion on that.

"Xander" and "arc" in the same sentence is almost an oxymoron ;)

Why should Xander have to accept Angel? Or Spike for that matter? The question of acceptance/forgiveness is one of the most interesting aspects of those two characters and having Xander as a dissenting voice among the ranks worked really well. I do think Xander matured in his stance as the series went on; early season with Angel had more to do with his jealousy over Buffy than anything else, but as the show progressed there were more legitimate reasons for his position, as well as a more nuanced (sometimes) approach to his acceptance, or lack thereof. Morally complex isn't very interesting if all the characters think the same.
"Comedies and dramas are all well and good, but ultimately there is not much excitement to be found in shows where you know that each cliffhanger is going to be a) a hookup, b) a breakup, c) a pregnancy or d) an ambiguous car accident (or, in the case of One Tree Hill, all of the above). The stakes need to be raised, we need to be removed from what we know in order to learn something new about the world and ourselves!"

THIS. This is why people need to stop being allergic to sci-fi and fantasy. The soap opera of your average drama can get very tiresome.
So, let's see....on one show starring a Whedon alum, the season finale ended with a character announcing a pregnancy...by that actor's character. In another show, the season ended with a character being shot and a confession of love. So we've got a pregnancy and a hook-up (potentially).

Season finales of Buffy: death of the Big Bad and a dance, heroine killing the Big Bad, who unfortunately was her lover turned evil; destruction of the school to stop the Big Bad; defeat of the Big Bad through the use of an enjoining spell, and funky shared dreams; death of the heroine; heroine's best friend, turned evil, trying to destroy the world and a former Big Bad getting a soul; and finally a humongous battle of Good vs. Evil, ending in the destruction of an entire city.

I see no hook-ups, break-ups, pregnancies or ambiguous car chases. Works for me.
Lioness, one episode that rings is "The Zeppo". There are others of course, but that one strikes my mind concerning Xander the most.

This was a very good read, rampant brain waves are already crashing ashore. People really shouldn't have this much fun with their clothes on;)
Comedies and dramas are all well and good, but ultimately there is not much excitement to be found in shows where you know that each cliffhanger is going to be a) a hookup, b) a breakup, c) a pregnancy or d) an ambiguous car accident...

It depends - many people find those things to be incredibly exciting when televisionafide because of the relative proximity to reality. It all depends on taste.
hey, this site is by the same people who do mugglenet! *takes off Harry Potter nerd hat and clears throat awkwardly* anyways...great article! Not that I really needed reminding as to why Buffy matters, of course. ;)
"Comedies and dramas are all well and good, but ultimately there is not much excitement to be found in [badly written comedies and dramas]..."

There, fixed that for the article's author ;).

(badly written SF&F also doesn't show us "something new about the world and ourselves" i.e. it's not just removing us from what we know that's the trick - though I agree abstraction from the mundane can lend a fresh perspective - it's finding some fundamental truth about humanity or the world and presenting it in a novel way that matters and that can be done with comedy, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, police procedurals, private detective shows, westerns or any other sort of fiction)

And I don't agree about Xander either - I don't think he was incapable of seeing the moral complexity of Angel's situation, in actual fact to me he was agreeing with Angel's own take on it (i.e. that he was guilty of what Angelus did) and basically blaming him for what they both agreed Angel was responsible for (FWIW I don't agree with them on that point but seeing it that way isn't necessarily simplistic IMO, it could just mean he's thought it through and decided in the other direction).

Also, one of the interesting things to me about Spike's arc was was he doing it out of love (even after Buffy died he still had his own self-image to consider) ? And if so, is love therefore selfish in some respects (i'd say yes) ? And how "pure" is it (whatever that even means - people can commit morally questionable or even repugnant acts out of love the same way they can out of hatred) ?

Well written piece though. However much I may disagree on the specifics it's at least worth disagreeing with.
Hey Saje. I don't often take the time to debate things any longer but I just had to take a few minutes to respond to your comments.

even after Buffy died he still had his own self-image to consider

Self-image was not the reason Spike stayed in Sunnydale to help after Buffy died. He had made a promise to Buffy to protect Dawn; he stayed to keep that promise. There was no gain or profit to be had from doing so; Buffy was dead and buried. I would hardly call him staying, watching Dawn and helping the Scoobies selfish.
To himself he's someone who's "love's bitch but is man enough to admit it" and staying true to that aspect of his identity may partly explain why he does it. He made a promise but perhaps he keeps it partly because being the guy who keeps promises made to ladies is part of who he tells himself he is and in that sense, since he's maintaining his own self-image as a result of his own needs, selfish.

Otherwise we're left with the fact that vampires without souls are capable of change, love and selfless acts and if that's true then Buffy is a mass murderer and the Scoobies' great quest becomes an entirely pragmatic affair that boils down to not having the time/resources/will to try to save hundreds of sentient beings capable, given the right circumstances, of everything humans are (everything important anyway - pumping blood being kind of a small detail ;) - it smacks of species-ism and callous disregard for non-human life.

Just my opinion of course, as usual mileage varies ;).
"To himself he's someone who's "love's bitch but is man enough to admit it" and staying true to that aspect of his identity may partly explain why he does it. He made a promise but perhaps he keeps it partly because being the guy who keeps promises made to ladies is part of who he tells himself he is and in that sense, since he's maintaining his own self-image as a result of his own needs, selfish."

But you don't know that for certain. So unless you're one of the writers It's pure speculation on your part surely?

Also, say you're right, having that attitude in some circles would just be seen as having a sense of honor, rather then being seen as being vain and selfish.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2011-07-18 19:50 ]
Saje, if the desire to maintain one's self-image as the sort of person who does the right thing marks one out as 'selfish' then who isn't selfish to the core? Growth in virtue is exactly having the desire to be the sort of person who does the right thing. See Aristotle.

Yes, Spike complicates the moral reading of the show. As Giles told Buffy way back in season 2, realizing that black and white are not neatly distinguished is part of the process of growing up. For myself, I'd rather go with moral complexity than do the sort of gymanstics it takes to see a guy who sticks around to fight the good fight with people who don't much even like him as "selfish" and therefore dismissable.

[ edited by Maggie on 2011-07-18 21:04 ]
Saje-I will not go so far as to say Spike was capable of selfless love without his soul because I don't think that's true. In season 3, Spike did define himself as "love's bitch but is man enough to admit it." However, during seasons 4 and 5, he more than proved that he was capable of change and on at least one occasion, he did perform a selfless act. Spike may have been an anomaly. (But he wasn't the only one. What of James and Elizabeth? They were together and in love for centuries.)

Otherwise we're left with the fact that vampires without souls are capable of change, love and selfless acts and if that's true then Buffy is a mass murderer and the Scoobies' great quest becomes an entirely pragmatic affair that boils down to not having the time/resources/will to try to save hundreds of sentient beings capable, given the right circumstances, of everything humans are (everything important anyway - pumping blood being kind of a small detail ;) - it smacks of species-ism and callous disregard for non-human life.

If we were talking about a verse where good guys are always stalwart and true and the bad guys are always easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, then that would probably be true.

However, we're talking about a Whedon verse and nothing is ever *that* simple in a Whedon verse.

JMO, of course.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2011-07-18 21:20 ]
But you don't know that for certain. So unless you're one of the writers It's pure speculation on your part surely?

Of course, hence the "just my opinion". I don't think being one of the writers makes a crucial difference either since I think it's possible to hold either of our views based on what we see on the show, without additional meta-textual information. And anyway, say I was one of the writers (in disguise obviously ;), presumably you'd still disagree with me right ? And for the same reasons ? Therefore it's the reasons that matter, not some dubious argument from authority.

It's a way to square away an inconsistency basically (note, not, to me, complexity - if Buffy's killing of vampires was meant to be morally complex and ambiguous then I think it would've been examined more overtly, in the way that, for instance, Angel's moral ambiguity was when he "went grey", when he caused Drogyn's death etc. - Buffy's solutions aren't means/ends pragmatic "least worst" victories, they're just wins. She's the goodie, end of chat, that's why she can't kill Ben even though it's arguably the right thing to do - when she isn't, as in the second half of S7, it's made quite clear that she's gone down the wrong path and equally clear when she finds her way back).

Also, say you're right, having that attitude in some circles would just be seen as having a sense of honor, rather then being seen as being vain and selfish.

Well, i'd contend that honour can be vain and selfish too - "Honour is a man's gift to himself" after all (nice - if chauvinist - line from 'Rob Roy') - it all depends what you're honouring and importantly, why (charging cannon on horseback was once considered the very height of acquitting one's self with honour for instance, as was disemboweling your enemies, pistols at 20 paces etc. and nowadays murdering your own daughter because she wore a short skirt or looked askance at the wrong man. All related to how you're seen by those around you, society in general and yourself, regardless of what the right thing to do may be).

In reality what I think happened is, they wanted Spike to fall in love with Buffy because it's a great story and tragic and so on and so that's what they presented, I don't think we're meant to see unensouled Spike apparently being selfless as therefore meaning we should question whether Buffy even should slay (/murder ;) vampires since every time she does that she's presented as fighting the good fight (when she kills Vamp Billy Fordham for instance - since two of you brought it up - the point surely isn't that she might've done the wrong thing in killing him, it's that doing the right thing can be hard). Personally, I think we're either not meant to see the contradiction at all or we're maybe meant to see it as evidence of Spike's uniqueness among vampires (i.e. since it's just him, not all of them, there's no moral obligation on Buffy to treat the rest as anything other than "rabid dogs").

Or there's my more prosaic (i'd say more consistent but then I would wouldn't I ;) explanation that, basically, he doesn't manage to transcend his vampiric nature entirely until he has a soul so there's some element of selfishness in everything he does before then (and relatedly, the big picture, metaphor stripped real-world question which is of course about the nature of altruism in general - what does it mean to be altruistic and does "pure" altruism even exist ?).

As to gymnastics, it feels like a pretty natural point of view to me. Maybe i'm just limber ;).
Saje, I've been reading your posts for a while now, and I just have to say this: You are cool, and I like you.
My bottom line is this: anyone watching the show who did not know Spike was without soul would have no reason at all to think that his actions from the time Glory got a hold of him through, say, the time he kisses Buffy at the end of OMWF were clearly marked by a sort of selfisness that renders him the sort being that Buffy could unproblematically stake.

Indeed, if she had just randomly staked him she would have essentially murdered him. He was a person, and he was well within the bounds of ordinary human ok-ness at that point.

The complexity of the show is that sometimes (most times) vampires are not persons but rather metaphors for abstract evils. They are monster masks growling about evil. But sometimes the vampires are persons and it really would be morally problematic if Buffy went around staking them. Like Willow said of season 4 Spike, who still is evil, it would be ooky to stake him because they know him. We don't live in a world with vampires. The vampires in the 'verse are metaphors. Sometimes they are metaphors for abstractions. It's good that Buffy slays those sorts of metaphors. Sometimes they are metaphors for humans we cast as 'other'. It wouldn't be good for Buffy to slay those sorts of metaphors. There are no simple rules.

The show itself explores *exactly* this complexity in the whole Initiative story line; in episodes like That Old Gang of Mine; in Harmony's story line and most notably in Selfless. It's not at all morally unproblematic for Buffy to kill Anya in that episode. Or consider the Warren/Spike contrast of season 6. I could go on. The show definitely was interested in the question of what distinguishes being a slayer from being a killer and it never gives us a clean, easy answer.

I do agree with you about altruism, though. PURE altruism is a total fiction and ultimately quite inhuman. We pursue what we love or desire. Our virtue or lack thereof lies in the nature of what we love or desire, not our complete (and impossible) disinterest in the things we value. But if you concede that, what's the point in saying Spike is stakeable because he values his image of himself as someone who keeps promises? Surely you don't want to say that folks who do things because they have positive images of themselves they desire to manifest are in principle stakeable because they are less than perfectly selfless. And at the end of the day, that is what you are arguing. In order for it to be OK for Buffy to stake vampires, we have to say that Spike's good behavior is selfish enough that he is in principle stakeable on a whim. If the principle that there must be one universal rule such that either all vampires are stakeable or none of them are leads to that sort of contortion, it strikes me as a reason to reject the principle rather than accept the contortion.
So I've absorbed all the Spike stuff and here's what I can spew out as an answer. It's unfair to compare the treatment of Angel or Spike to other vampires in the series. Both for similar reasons, neither eats humans. I'm of course talking about post-chip Spike. Pre-chip Spike, Buffy would have zero problems staking him if she could have gotten to him. That's really what distinguishes Spike and Angel from the other vamps, and that's why it's OK to kill the other vamps.

And don't say that we should focus on chipping all vamps. When Spike was young and new, he was ruthless. Spike had killed two previous Slayers, he was accustomed to them by the time Buffy came around. Naturally, because she was a Slayer, he hated her. Then he got chipped. He could no longer hurt her, and in turn she chose not to hurt him (well, kill him anyway). This was weird to Spike. He'd never gotten this kind of treatment from a Slayer. So Love and Hate being extremes have a tendency to cross paths and switch (think of a bad divorce, but the opposite. They had to love eachother enough at one point to finally hate eachother. So Spike had to hate her enough to fall in love). It wasn't that Spike could be redeemed in terms of all mankind, only that he could be redeemed for Buffy's sake.

Younger vampires are more aggresive and dangerous due to their stupidity. They don't know their own strength yet, and havent had to really fight anything too strong yet. So they can wreak havoc on a small town like Sunnydale. An older vamp has had to become a survivor at that point. They're smarter, more cunning, and safer to have around. They know not to draw attention to themselves. Buffy spent so much time in graveyards because she was trying to get em while they're young. Before they become a problem. Only the very old vampires could be converted, and even then not all of them would be open to the idea. So calling the slaying of vampires murder is just wrong. Spike is a special case because it pertained specifically to the Slayer, and not to humanity. He did care for Dawn, and he never disliked Joyce. He tolerated everyone else, even with a soul.
The slaying of the vampires was right, and in no way murder. They're like a rabid pet that needs to be put down before it can do more damage to itself and others.
They know not to draw attention to themselves.


When Spike arrived in Sunnydate he couldn't have drawn more attention to himself if he had strapped a neon sign around him that said "hello Slayer come and get me". He was quite the showman. Just because he was older doesn't mean he believed in playing it safe.
Yeah, I don't think the word 'cagey' exactly has his picture beside it in the dictionary ;). That aside, most of that is simply assuming that which we're (or at least i'm) claiming is a topic for discussion Turbofist911 - you don't know chipping other vampires wouldn't have had the same effect that it had on Spike for instance. Begging the question it seems to me (no offence ;).

If the principle that there must be one universal rule such that either all vampires are stakeable or none of them are leads to that sort of contortion, it strikes me as a reason to reject the principle rather than accept the contortion.

But in rejecting the contortion we seem forced to accept that actually Buffy's just a killer, dispatching sentient beings left and right because it's easier than e.g. capturing them and chipping them, that she does what she does out of simple expediency, without moral justification. To me that's really not how the show presents her slayings (though I agree, the "Buffy the Hunter" thread for instance talked about what separates vampire as predators from Slayer as predator).

And at the end of the day, that is what you are arguing. In order for it to be OK for Buffy to stake vampires, we have to say that Spike's good behavior is selfish enough that he is in principle stakeable on a whim.

No, what i'm arguing is that it's an inconsistency which there are various ways to resolve, one being e.g. that Spike is unique among vampires, another that he isn't and therefore either his unensouled behaviour is partly selfish or when Buffy kills vampires she's killing beings with the same potential that Spike must've had pre-chip/soul i.e. sentient beings capable of love, selflessness etc. in the same way that babies are capable of not just thinking of themselves and where their next feed's coming from. Whether his behaviour having selfish motives allows her to stake him on a whim is related but separate.

(FWIW though, I think the show does largely present non-human species that way but particularly vampires - we would've felt bad if Buffy did it to early Spike and even worse if she did it to S5 Spike but would it be presented as a clear-cut moral wrong or just 'ooky', because the characters had developed a sentimental attachment to him ? Would Buffy no longer be a hero in the same way she would - so we're told - have categorically lost that position by killing Ben ? And as I mention above, 'Angel' was a means/ends show, much more about moral compromise than BtVS ever was, as befits a show focused on adulthood rather than reaching adulthood. Harmony's storyline and 'That Old Gang of Mine' are both from Ats with Anya - not a vampire and also someone they'd known for years - being the only other clear example from BtVS and significantly IMO, in S7, when Buffy et al are almost "baked" and the inevitable moral compromises of adulthood are just around the corner).

Agreed though, yet another way to square the inconsistency circle is "Vampires are metaphors there to serve a narrative purpose and therefore the creators can simply change the rules to suit that purpose" (personally I don't find that particularly satisfying though as I say above, I think it's probably closer to what actually happened - the Whedon policy has always focused on the emotional truths, sometimes at the expense of consistency or logic, and the shows are better for it IMO).

Saje, I've been reading your posts for a while now, and I just have to say this: You are cool, and I like you.

Heh, cheers Kairos (apparently another 499 of those and I get a toaster ;-).
Some excellent thoughts here, much to digest. May I toss another hat in the ring? What if Spike felt that Buffy was a kindred trapped soul much as he in his prevamped state? Now, before you roll your eyes, think about Spike in season two and again during seasons five and six. Didn't he strike you in trying to save Buffy from herself? Guess it depends on how you read it, but I'm gandering a positive yes vote.

'Course, the great thing about BtVS, every time you look at it from a different view, you always walk away with various results. There's really no wrong way to read it.
@Simon Again, like I said, his background was that he'd already killed 2 slayers. He'd heard stories about her and came to Sunnydale specifically to find her. But again, he got treatment from her he'd never received before from a slayer. Just cuz he's killed 2 slayers does not mean he's only confronted 2 other slayers. It's highly likely he's confronted 5 or 6 over the years. So I stick by what I said. And @Saje, you argued only a non-point. Chipping every vamp is a rediculous plan. It would be beyond the point of impossible. On an evolutionary standpoint, it would eventually be resisted entirely. Vamps aren't meant to be tamed on a whole. So your argument is pointless. Please, actually argue it.
I dunno, if it's pointless there doesn't seem to be much point does there ? ;)

(if I did though it'd be something along the lines of how what's practical doesn't necessarily bear any relation whatsoever to what's moral and how Buffy didn't even try to find non-*poof* related solutions - if you think she's doing the morally right thing when she kills them feel free to argue that point but i'm sceptical of your current position which basically seems to be "It's OK to not do the right thing when it's hard")
Turbofist911 - I think your last comment is coming over as slightly aggressive, tone it down please.
Looking at this from Buffy's perspective -

I kind of want to say that I'd be much more convinced of Spike's potential for selflessness if Buffy had experienced some doubt about her profession after getting to know him, but her condition in Season 6 offered plenty of reason that she wouldn't express that doubt anyway. I can even imagine that some of her depression came from wanting to go to the Scoobies with, "Guys, I think Spike might not be totally evil", and not doing it because it would mean confessing and probably losing her affair with him, and that aside from the wrench thrown into her calling.

Spike as an exception to the rule would probably appeal to her more, but if she openly embraced that idea, more questions would follow. Are there other exceptions? How does she find them? Can she chip other vampires and wait to see if it affects their conscience? Should she try to make them fall in love?

As much as I would like to use Buffy as the moral standard, philosophizing just isn't her style, and if she has these concerns, she's never going to lay them out in front of us. Given that her character, when we last saw her, still seems as enthused and righteous as ever about plunging stakes into vampires, I think we can safely say that she's decided, consciously or otherwise, that there's no moral quandary in killing them.

Letting Spike off the hook could mean that her views on this wavered temporarily, but I think there's a much simpler and more Buffy-ish reasoning behind it: she didn't want to kill him, and she didn't have to kill him. She liked having him around and he wasn't a danger to the populace. Whether or not he deserved to live or had the framework for genuine goodness was someone else's problem.
But in rejecting the contortion we seem forced to accept that actually Buffy's just a killer, dispatching sentient beings left and right because it's easier than e.g. capturing them and chipping them, that she does what she does out of simple expediency, without moral justification. To me that's really not how the show presents her slayings (though I agree, the "Buffy the Hunter" thread for instance talked about what separates vampire as predators from Slayer as predator).

That's why I reject the principle that there's a simple rule out there such that either vampires are slayable or they are not. It's hard to live with a story that doesn't come with a neat, clear mythology. But to me that's actually the greatness of the story. It's fractured on this point. Sometimes vampires are abstractions and its heroic that Buffy slays them. Sometimes they are persons and things are substantially more complicated. That's important because it captures two things about how monsters work in stories. On the one hand, they are metaphors for abstract evils. It's good to slay sexism, and bullyism, and so on. On the other hand, we are always tempted to demonize real life people and treat them as killable. Our desire to cheer the hero as she confronts life's challenges can morph into our dark desire to cheer the hero as she kills the people we don't like. BtVS lets us see the metaphor is always a double-edged sword, and that we can't really fix it by getting rid of one or the other. It'd be terrible to get rid of our hero stories. But the hero stories are always very dangerous.

In other words: the mythology doesn't add up; it's not consistent. I've come to see this as a feature and not a bug.
The mythology changes as needed to fit the emotion of the story of the moment. The vampires especially so. It's why Buffy resonates so much. The demon mythology is always sketched out just enough to deliver whatever the story needs at the time. I don't think the show ever clearly defined good and evil, as much as it delved into both constantly. That's why it's still interesting.
Sure, unanswered questions and ambiguities make for better discussions and more varied interpretations.

That's why I reject the principle that there's a simple rule out there such that either vampires are slayable or they are not. It's hard to live with a story that doesn't come with a neat, clear mythology. But to me that's actually the greatness of the story.

Yeah that's fair enough Maggie. It's not deliberate IMO (i.e. it's a result of the creators, even Joss, being - *gasp* ;) - human beings with all the usual flaws and imperfections) and so isn't particularly credit-worthy per se but just accepting that it's a flaw and making that part of your interpretation is perfectly sensible and probably pretty healthy. It's also partly why I choose to see Spike as acting from self-interest until he's ensouled since that way I get the greatness and the consistency without really breaking anything. Win win ;).

(where possible I prefer my fictions to be consistent because - since the real world is - it gives them an additional layer of truth. Not many are though and if you want to enjoy fiction that's just something you have to accept, ain't no thang)

Whether or not he deserved to live or had the framework for genuine goodness was someone else's problem.

Yeah, that makes sense from Buffy's point of view Kairos. In those respects she tends to be fairly instinctual and can't really afford to sit and brood for too long about the morality of what she does anyway - second guessing herself could easily get her killed. Which I bet she'd rather avoid (cos of the whole dying/being dead/general deathiness. The deathosity if you will).
A lot depends on what you want from your fiction. Do you want a perfectly built alternate world? Then Joss screwed up. I don't think you can get consistency your way -- though I'm glad it works for you.

But BtVS is self-consciously a story about stories. That's why there's all the fourth-wall breaking and so on. And for me that's a pretty great way for fiction to function. In-story the emotions are true and illuminating about the human condition. At the same time, the uncertainty about the 'rules' both mirrors the human condition (we don't have a handy guide that tells us what the rules are either) and works well as a commentary on the nature of fiction, which for me gives the show a layer that sets it apart from more ordinary modes of story-telling.

NB: I think the world is ultimately consistent. But I don't think any of us can see it as perfectly consistent because our own POV's are always too limited. So I prefer a fiction that mirrors our limitations rather than pretends to a level of understanding we don't really enjoy in the real world. It's truer to where we are that way.
The mythology changes as needed to fit the emotion of the story of the moment.


Yours is nicer than my "the writers made it up as they went along" theory.
lolSimon.
"the writers made it up as they went along"

Blasphemy!
Truthphemy !

(it's a word now, OK !)
Yours is nicer than my "the writers made it up as they went along" theory.

Well yeah. But they did it with skill!
But one thing about the mythology that has been consistent is that Buffy is not 100 percent altogether good even within the moral context of the show. She has a bit of real evil in her and she is attracted to evil. Qualities Buffy is not proudest of and that would also explain why she never exactly revels in self examination and moral philosophy, preferring instead to trust her principles and relationship ethics. It allows her to turn a blind eye to her own darkness most of the time. If anything, it is the darkness that makes her so principled.

I want to believe that there are better ways to develop one’s morality. However, to rationalize a moral philosophy to maximize goodness or rid it of all inconsistencies seems equivalent somehow. It is too easy to do that in all but the most extreme situations and it is just as conflicted or in denial about Buffy’s innate evil as she appears to be. I think I have a better solution to this that I do not expect many will agree with. Whatever method people use in their own lives to convince themselves that they are good gets to a point where it is no longer about any real moral development. When that happens the option to relax the compulsion to be good and accept that we actually need to be a little evil from time to time might be the healthier one.
I like BTVS. Everybody's screwed up. :)

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