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October 02 2011

A short musing on the role of the music at the end of Buffy Season 6. The author feels the climactic scene in 'Grave' is evangelical, partly because of the song playing in the background.

It wasn't evangelicalship, it was a friend in need. Willow was in her darkess place and it was only Xander that could reach and pull her from it. That's what friends do.

Plus the fact he's holding her favorite Barbie :)
...or they wanted a Sarah McLachlan song to end the season, and that one was about the right mood and had some thematic connections, and they threw it out there without thinking much more about it because, well, making a TV show is usually a breakneck-speed process.

Heck, Joss is a humanist.

I'm thinking this choice of music had far more to do with the last scene of S2, rather than anything else, and I'm thinking in this case, the evangelism is in the eye of the beholder.
Just to play devil's advocate (ha), Joss has been pretty frank that he has used Christian iconography in the past because that's what he's been exposed to. So saying, X is not Christian in its symbolism because just Joss is humanist doesn't really stand up.

As for the article, I do see it (although evangelical to me indicates prosthelytizing which I don't buy at all). But the idea of facing evil (or vengeful rage if you like) with love along with some of the parallels are quite remarkable, if not intentional. Also, I'm not sure I'd consider Willow Jewish by the 6th season as her religious orientation strikes me as fully wiccan at that point.

Interesting article.
I'd buy the argument that Xander is kind of a Christ-figure in that scene (though I think the Christian symbolism in Buffy's S5 death is stronger and more intentional). But if you're going to argue that the symbolism is based so much on use of this particular song, you need to look at the other images that occur as part of this sequence, and how they line up with the song lyrics. Buffy and Dawn climbing out of the grave represents a symbolic resurrection, which could tie in to Christian symbolism. But the sequence ends with an image of Spike, as the song reaches the final phrase ("it is in dying that we are born to eternal life").

Pairing a vampire with this phrase puts it in an entirely different context, since a vampire's very existence represents a perverse and evil type of death and resurrection--and is a pretty subversive pairing of text and image. Perhaps you could argue that this ties into Christian symbolism since he's regaining his soul in this scene--but failing to acknowledge the scene at all really weakens the argument as it pertains to use of the song.
Definitely an interesting article.

azzers said:
Just to play devil's advocate (ha), Joss has been pretty frank that he has used Christian iconography in the past because that's what he's been exposed to. So saying, X is not Christian in its symbolism because just Joss is humanist doesn't really stand up.


Absolutely right, in my opinion. Even setting aside the fairly ridiculous assertion that Xander is Jesus (no religion has a monopoly on noble self-sacrifice or last-ditch interventions), what the writer of the article misses is that use of Christian symbolism is not synonymous with evangelism or even approval. It is simply a part of the whole Western literary tradition. According to her argument, The Lord of the Rings (Gandalf returns from dead, saves everyone; long-lost king comes back and unites the land in blissful prosperity) is a religious book. Harry Potter would be a blatantly Christian text (I mean, you want to talk saviors and resurrection), insinuated into the minds of kids across the world...imagine the looks on the faces of those who want the books banned--but really, they quite obviously are not evangelical.

I have always thought that what Joss was doing in "Grave" was expressing the possibility of forgiveness and hope in dark times through cultural references and a song that really fits the tone of the moment.

ETA: May I suggest that someone take a look at religious symbolism in Angel--because OMG. It's absolutely loaded. Somebody must have written about that...anyone know where?

[ edited by Three Flowers In a Vase on 2011-10-03 17:59 ]
Re- religious symbolism in Angel-- I'd love to read that. Links please? It's gotta be out there somewhere...
I really can't read much into Willow's Jewish or Wiccan identities in this scene; she was shown as a non-religious Jew raised in a non-religious (albeit culturally chauvinistic and hyper-sensitive) family, and she practiced witchcraft for power rather than out of a conversion to Wiccan *beliefs*, and never seemed to change in the next 2 seasons.

The Xander as Christ figure symbolism, heckfire, I thought we've all been assuming that ever since it aired :-).

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