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February 08 2012

(SPOILER) Joss Whedon talks about Buffy's biggest challenge. As you would expect, there's huge spoilers for Buffy Season 9 #6. UPDATE: Reaction to the interview (and plot development) at Bleeding Cool, Pink Is The New Blog, Comic Book Resources, io9, Comics Alliance and The Mary Sue.

Wow.

Haven't read the comic yet, but I'm really glad to see what Joss said about it.
Woah, didn't see that coming! But I can understand that, lots of factors..
This season is very intense!
I can understand why this subject matter should be considered a possiblity.
It makes me cry with joy that Joss is talking about Season 9. Holy crap. Flailing.
Be interesting to see how this gets played elsewhere.
Joss talking about the Buffy-verse... Hell yeah!!!

A man of such wisdom. Thank you for making Season 9 incredible so far Joss. Love your ideas. :D
Well, my guess is it won't happen. It may be right to bring it up, but I think that truncates the story and is less resonant in the long run. We shall see.
She seems pretty resolved. She could always change her mind of course, but the issue ends with her telling Spike she's getting an abortion, not that she's just considering it as an option.
And this is Joss - who describes the time the bigwigs on Roseanne told him he couldn't write a story where Jackie had an abortion as 'the first time TV broke his heart.' I would be really, really surprised if this was a mislead.
I think that this will happen, or at least the intent to have it happen is real! Buffy will go through with the abortion!

I'm just not certain that it will take!
Well, one can always hope. I always kind of appreciated Joss for keeping his writing "big tent" (i.e. his characters conflicts and drama and choices are based in the things that are universal to his potential audience) instead of committing them one way or another on divisive political/philosophical questions. What some might want to call cowardly was in actuality just a nice assurance that the Buffyverse was a place to escape such questions in favor for emotionally resonant things that are common to everyone regardless of ideology -- friendship, family, growing up, love, etc.

He may not realize that, completely separate from the "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice" policy debate, he's writing for an audience that is very likely to have a high percentage of people, even a majority (with regard to polling of Americans, the plurality of his audience), even quite a lot who are "pro-choice" on the question of law, who flat out would never do this. Having the discussion is one animal with regard to those folks' ability to relate to this character going forward; her actually doing it is another.
Pretty ironic that this comic storyline happens at the same time of a big political debate about abortion and birth control on the national U.S. scene.

I'm glad Joss went there.
KingofCretins, if Buffy believed in nothing relevant she wouldn't be a person. A character. Whatevs. Hell, she went to war.

eddy, by complete coincidence there's an Al Jazeera article up today called "Planned Parenthood pulls a 'Buffy' on the Right".
There's hardly anything unique in play at this exact moment... peaks and valleys, as usual, for decades.

I honestly don't know what's to be happy about -- I get where the "happy" is in discussing it, making one's obedience to the fact that Buffy Has That Choice©®™ -- but I don't know what's triumphal about, once we step past the She Has That Choice©®™ angle, actually doing it. Triumph, victory, and celebration are somewhat antithetical to a decision that, at its metaphysical core, is like a folded hand of poker. Sometimes a fold is the smart play, but it's never a "win". The gallery applauds politely, the next hand is dealt, and the game goes on.

Gossi, that she has beliefs or not has nothing to do with anything I said. Buffy may be a laissez-faire capitalist, she may weekend at Oakland's Occupy protests, but the story doesn't bog down its audience with the burden of having to relate to her in spite of how she differs from them. Joss' long-running quest for emotional resonance and rocket launchers has heretofore been about giving the audience access to his characters, so that we can feel what they feel.

Inception, a movie about making movies/telling stories, basically, discusses it when Tom Hardy's character explains the challenge of giving someone else an idea (i.e. getting the audience to feel what you want them to feel), quoted in spoilers --

"Buffy" has typically been all about the latter ideas, the "relationship with the father" level of accessability -- Buffy's relationships, her family, her sense of duty, her depression, etc. Things that almost everyone has a frame of reference that they can tie into their own lives. "Buffy gets an abortion" is very much of the "various political motivations... at the mercy of (the audience's) prejudices (meaning prejudgments, not bigotry)". So, while it's great for getting bro-fisted by the right people for its political topicality, it's piss poor for giving the entirety of your audience a way into the story. That is, again, if she actually goes through with it. To contemplate it is universal enough to justify within the goal of a truly relatable character, but to actually do it... that's really not.

I just found this 2010 gallup poll that showed 50% to 38% of Americans thinking abortion is "morally wrong" -- a moral question, not a legal pro-life/pro-choice question. I have absolutely no interest in debating the merits of abortion as a question of law or of morality, because this is a website where I talk about television shows and comic books; my point in bringing that idea up is that it's problematic from a relatability standpoint if your hero character, role-model and icon, does something that you could reasonable guess that as much as something like 25, 30, 40, 50, 60% of your audience is going to consider morally wrong.

This entire storyline is discretionary; if she has an abortion, than it necessarily follows that it was the only reason she got pregnant in the first place, the only reason she had drunken sex in the first place. The point here isn't "oh, KoC is saying she has to have her baby to be a universally relatable character", but rather that we didn't need to go mucking about in the subject matter at all. Buffy debates having an abortion, is a representation of her age and culture, it's something that might, might come up in the course of a pregnancy (certainly not a definite, as implied in the interview). Actually having it, though, is a much more cynical form of self-indulgence for reasons the interview tacitly admits are political and not artistic.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-02-08 15:41 ]
Well, you raise some excellent points KofC. I am pleased that Whedon brought in some truly heavy consequences for Buffy's actions. By bringing up the possibility of an abortion, he taking the comics to a deeper level then I had been seeing.

Allie et al kept discussing the consequences of that party night. Now, I feel like I can feel the anguish for Buffy.

I am not happy about the situation for Buffy; it is so so sad. However, I am glad that Whedon is writing about difficult problems that we do and will have to face in real life. Maybe, we won't hopefully ever have to personally confront the issue of abortion, but we all face difficult decisions that are the result of previous choices.

Now, I really don't mind if Whedon developed the pregnancy storyline to simply address abortion. In my opinion, he's showing Buffy living a real life with real problems in a supernatural world. This realism juxtaposed in fantasy is what has made me a fan.
my point in bringing that idea up is that it's problematic from a relatability standpoint if your hero character, role-model and icon, does something that you could reasonable guess that as much as something like 25, 30, 40, 50, 60% of your audience is going to consider morally wrong.

Like having sex with demons? Running your boyfriend through with a sword? Killing soldiers in a fight? Trying to kill your friend who's gone demon? Trying to kill everyone in the world because you're grieving? Killing an innocent guy who's been taken over by a hell god? Lighting a demon on fire just to prove a point?

It's a show with horror tropes, where the stakes are pretty much always dire. If the main characters didn't do things I think were wrong in that context, I would have a lot of trouble believing any of it.
It is a show about horror tropes, which is why I don't think rattling off a list of such tropes with moral implications that audiences basically just nodded at amounts to an adequate analogy to the very non-genre, very real-world moral perceptions of abortion. Just like I think that if Buffy woke up and announced that she was a born again fundamentalist Christian that the chunks of audience for whom that is a no-go would say "well, hey, she slept with a vampire, she's not always right".

I think my biggest disappointment as I get a feeling that this is definitely on, is that I always enjoyed that the invitation of the Buffyverse was to all who feels like these people feel about things, and with this movement it would become an invitation only to those who agree with the author about things. What's even more frustrating to me is that it just doesn't feel all that in character. Both historically, which I will write about at length but probably post on another forum later, and within this issue -- she talks to Wood, feels encouraged, and then changes her mind between the pages. Why even bother with that scene with Wood, if it had no meaningful effect on her her at all. Or, worse, it had an effect -- she basically listened to Wood and decided he'd have been better off not existing.
In 1987 Buffytown (San Francisco), 46% of people believed being gay was immoral. Not a good reason to de-gay Willow.
"Like having sex with demons? Running your boyfriend through with a sword? Killing soldiers in a fight? Trying to kill your friend who's gone demon? Trying to kill everyone in the world because you're grieving? Killing an innocent guy who's been taken over by a hell god? Lighting a demon on fire just to prove a point?"

Is it a really bad thing that I don't consider any of the above to be morally wrong?
I have to agree with KOC when he says that this feels out of character for Buffy. I thought I knew her pretty well (yes, I realize she's not real), and I never thought she would be one to have an abortion. I would have always taken her as one who is pro-choice politically, while pro-child personally. Maybe I just want her to be like me.
Should we keep all articles that might pop up on tady's issue in this thread?Bleeding Cool posted a article about the abortion isuse raised in today's issue?

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/02/08/buffy-abortion/

There's panels from the issue over at the link for those who haven't read the issue yet.
Is it a really bad thing that I don't consider any of the above to be morally wrong?

I think some of them are, some of them aren't, and some of them I don't know. Giles smothering Ben just baffles me as to which way I feel about it every time I watch. I'm feeling less "well he had to" and more "but still he shouldn't have" as I get older, for some reason, but I still feel both of them at the same time.
Another article on today's issue.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/buffy-makes-controversial-decision-in-latest-issue/
I really don't think you're taking my point if that's your response. If season 4 of "Buffy" had aired in 1987, maybe? I got nothin'. Is your idea here, then, that the point of writing the story is to intentionally either alienate or "fix" the members of the audience that don't agree with a subject? Because in 1999-2000, that was not how Season 4 played out, Season 4 was not, at least outwardly, contrived to say "well, Willow can be gay, that's fine, and you are either on the bus or not". It lacked any such ostentation, in fact. A pregnancy that exists for no apparent reason other than for Buffy to get an abortion, if she goes through with it, which in turn would be for no apparent reason other than to prove she can, is about as diametrically removed from how Willow's sexuality was baked into the story as it could be.

Jelly: You absolutely nailed it -- the point of the audience interface for a genre hero archetype is so that you can feel that she is just like you and you just like her. That's why, following the Inception description of the process, the wise steer away from arch political statements about which broad sections of the audience will irreconciliably differ, because once you stop feeling like you are like Buffy and she is like you, you've been uninvited from the relationship in a fundamental way.

Quick show of hands, who would be okay with Season 8 Buffy having revealed herself to be a participating Tea Party activist? Or maybe for having converted to a fundamentalist religious view rather than her nominal secular agnostic status? I'm guessing not many hands are going up. Why? After all, she's supposed to have opinions on things, right? It shouldn't matter if they radically depart from your own core beliefs, that shouldn't affect your ability to interface with the series, right?
Personally I think an abortion is absolutely the right choice for her to make! She isn't ready to have a child! The fact that she is not only a slayer but also a walking target aside, she simply is not prepared enough to be a parent! Not personally and certainly not financially! Like it or not, these are real factors that absolutely need to be considered if you are going to bring new life into the world!

I should point out here that I'm a thirty-six year old guy who has never has kids and I've made certain now that I never will! I have nothing against them but I know with absolute certainty that I would make a terrible parent! I'm just not that person! I like my life how it is and I can't imagine that ever changing! There is nothing in the world that would convince me that, had I ever made the mistake of getting a girl pregnant, a possibility that I always went to great lengths to ensure would never happen, I should be any part of the child's life! I'm know I would be no good as a father and certainly no role model for any child! I would never claim otherwise! A lot of people tried to me different over the years! They were wrong and I knew it!

What I'm saying is that it's never as simple as hearing what someone else has to say on a given matter! In fact that is more often than not a mistake, especially if you are too easily influenced! It's more important to know yourself! Robin was always going to say that Buffy should consider having the baby! No matter how crappy some of his life might have been, he still loved his mum and he obviously liked the fact that he was alive! And in this situation Buffy was absolutely correct in seeking his advice! She listened to his opinion! She kept an open mind to the possibility of having the child just long enough to understand that it would be the wrong thing to do, for both her and for the child! Bottom line, she isn't Nikki!

Frankly, I'd have been more surprised if she had decided to have the baby! That wouldn't be the Buffy I've come to know at all!
My point is simply that if Buffy had aired in 1987 and nobody had the balls to make Willow like girls because they feared the audience reaction, that would be a sad time.

If Buffy had a character journey and story which made sense for her to join the Tea Party, go for it.

Buffy thinking about abortion after being a) broke b) pretty bad at living c) reasonably bad at surviving d) not knowing who the father is and e) a slayer doesn't ping, to me, as something particularly odd. Look at the frame after she says she's having an abortion. Curled up, she looks like a child. Not saying she is, but she sure looks like it right then.

[ edited by gossi on 2012-02-08 17:38 ]
I don't know, getting an abortion is pretty far from the Buffy I've come to know -- I have no trouble believing she thinks its her legal right to choose this and should be, but I have a lot of trouble believing it's in her nature to do it.

It's just very hard to wrap my head around the idea that a woman who was willing, with righteous and admirable clarity, to not only risk the world but also to give her own life to protect Dawn on the basis that she was "made... out of (Buffy)" and is "closer to (her)" than she could articulate, would now not brave the great and fiery danger of raising a child while doing a dangerous job or juggling daycare on a low income for someone else, equally "made out of (her)".

I'm having further trouble comprehending that a woman who has measured her life in quarter teaspoons for so many years and felt so certain that she would disappear from the world without leaving any sign that she was in it that she was enraged by missing out on school pictures, wouldn't take a somewhat longer view with regard to the opportunity to leave the definitive mark of continuing her family, her self, in the form of another human being.
I get where you're coming from KoC, but you are truncating the range of possible motivations and responses. I suspect there will be some story to churn through with regards to this, but even if it is not so, that doesn't mean that it's there for no purpose whatsoever or to stick a finger in the face of people who find the choice wrong. I also don't think it's a problem for relatability that someone is going through something I haven't gone through or made a choice that I may not have made. The success of a huge range of morally grey shows, books, etc. certainly proves that.
I hope they have her terminate the pregnancy. It seems like the right decision in her circumstances and totally in character. The conversations she's having are great. Bravo to everyone involved for handling this very real issue in a very realistic way.
She just found out, KoC.

Don't get me wrong. I know some people won't buy it, and other people won't like it. I'm just saying I absolutely did. In that situation, if I was the guy, I'd be saying the abortion word. Society would be the pull against me mentioning it, but society ain't always right, and rarely matters to an individual.
Quick show of hands, who would be okay with Season 8 Buffy having revealed herself to be a participating Tea Party activist? Or maybe for having converted to a fundamentalist religious view rather than her nominal secular agnostic status?

I suppose if exercising a controversial right is a political act, maybe. But she's not going to a rally for Planned Parenthood. She's making a very personal decision for herself. If she'd said she thinks abortion is wrong and not an option to even consider it wouldn't alienate me, as someone who is pro-choice. And since this is Buffy, whatever the outcome, it will not be without ramifications. For the record I was surprised she said she'd decided to abort, and I do hope she changes her mind since given her character I think she'll regret it if she does. But ultimately it's a choice no one else can make for her. And in that sense she is very much like many people reading the comic-- she's got a tough decision to make, and she's assessing her life, and she's struggling with who she is fundamentally. As a coming of age story this is the very basic stuff the show has always dealt with.
I would love for someone to spell out the "in character" claim. I've offered at least two references to her personal history for why I think it's entirely out of character (and I appreciate gossi's point that she just found out -- that would explain why she might form a decision up front that is in contrast to what her prior history would predict). But I really don't look forward to the claim that it's "in character" just becoming one of these consensus realities that is never given its own independent support. What makes it in character? What things in Buffy's personality and history conform to this choice?
"Giles smothering Ben just baffles me as to which way I feel about it every time I watch. I'm feeling less "well he had to" and more "but still he shouldn't have" as I get older, for some reason, but I still feel both of them at the same time."

I'm still very much of the belief that Giles made absolutely the right decision! Ben had already shown a weakness of resolve when it came to his ability to stand against Glory! The most likely assumption would be that eventually Glory would return and convince him to work with her again! If the choice is between killing a man of questionable innocence and protecting your family from an incredibly powerful and dangerous threat, there is no choice at all! I would certainly have made the same decision as Giles! No doubt in my mind!

"I hope they have her terminate the pregnancy. It seems like the right decision in her circumstances and totally in character. The conversations she's having are great. Bravo to everyone involved for handling this very real issue in a very realistic way."

This!

I would also say, and I'm including myself in this, that it's clear that no matter how often we all say "I just can't imagine Buffy doing this!", it's pretty much our idealised version of Buffy that we're talking about! The Buffy that thinks just like we do! Abortion is a topic that can rarely be viewed without personal feelings involved! As it should be!
Is it seriously only projection/idealization for Buffy to consider remaining an expecting mother, and not for her to withdraw? Come now. Either everything people think she "should" do is drawn from the template of their own view or none of it is.
Several points.

First, I do not think she will abort. I agree with KOC that a pregnancy solely to create an abortion speaks loudly. This is a story writing decision. I fully agree with this statement: "A pregnancy that exists for no apparent reason other than for Buffy to get an abortion, if she goes through with it, which in turn would be for no apparent reason other than to prove she can, is about as diametrically removed from how Willow's sexuality was baked into the story as it could be."

Second, Buffy has not yet had an abortion. This is simply controversy right now, nothing more. And given, as I said, that I do not believe she will abort her child, it is much sturm and drang but ultimately is meaningless. It simply sells the comic, a point I made elsewhere.

Third, I am feeling we are finally getting to the point of having a "special issue." Which Joss said for the TV show he never would. I actually do not think this issue is "bold." Bold to me would be having Andrew come out, rather than always playing at the edges of him being gay. Pregnancy for a mid-20yo is not uncommon. Abortion for a mid-20yo is not uncommon. Coming out after years of being in the closet is far more dangerous.

Fourth, I hate the fact that it is unavoidable to now avoid the culture war. Having Willow discover she is gay is one thing. Throwing this comic into the midst of a presidential campaign in which abortion is a key driver is another. I come here to get away from that crap, which is everywhere else, and truthfully it is hard for me to bite my tongue , being the activist lefty that I am.
As a side note, I actually consider electoral politics a red herring here; this is not an election cycle in which I perceive abortion to be a preeminent issue. So it's not that I don't think it's possible that electoral politics are a driver in why we're at the point of (I agree completely) a Very Special Issue of "Buffy", I just think it's foolishly misplaced as a motive. If you want to make a point about electoral politics in 2012, put Buffy on some sort of government assistance to raise her child as a single mother and see where that gets you in terms of topical political grounds.

And, no, it's not bold. Nothing has been bold yet -- the audience has been two steps ahead of Season 9 since the instant it started. I myself not a couple days ago explicitly predicted that the set-up of an abortion would be the end of the issue. It's not bold, it's been easy so far. Bold is these things coming out of left field, without pretense... sort of like Willow and Tara popping the cherry on American broadcast television to lesbians kissing each other on da mouf without so much as a whoopsy-daisy.
"Either everything people think she "should" do is drawn from the template of their own view or none of it is."

Why so black and white? Not every choice made by a television character, or by a real life friend or family member for that matter, is going to hit such an emotional and personal chord as abortion might! Surely this is a topic that is more likely to cause personal projection than whether or not sleeping with demons is a bad thing, or whether it's morally right to turn thousands of girls into slayers! Those things aren't something we need to consider, at least not on a daily basis (in fact it's been forever since I decided to create a slayer army...) but abortion is something that hits a note with most people, some more than others! Is it such a stretch to suggest that the subject might be more difficult to discuss without letting personal feelings in?
the audience has been two steps ahead of Season 9 since the instant it started


Not it hasn't. The fandom has been admanant that Buffy is pregnant. And then equally emphatic that she is not pregnant. She will get lose a limb. She will not lose a limb. She had non-consensual sex. She did have consensual sex. And so on. The double-think has been particulary spectacular of late.

As for the abortion plot line, I think it's bold. And judging from what I see others to do.
I don't understand the "relatability" argument. Characters in TV shows often do things I would consider morally wrong, it doesn't prevent me from relating to them. Angel let W&H lawyers get killed, Willow killed someone, I still relate to them.

I think killing someone evil is wrong, and I think it shouldn't be legal. I also think I wouldn't kill anyone. But I still understand why they did it, and I don't think it makes them inherently evil.

I understand people who believe having an abortion makes you evil. I also understand people who believe that it is your choice, but they wouldn't do it. What I don't understand is people who believe that it's your choice, but if you take it, it makes you evil. I mean, if you think an abortion is wrong, but still legally acceptable, why would you reject someone who decides to have one, assuming it's for reasonable reasons ?
Has anyone seen the Party of Five episode which deals with abortion? I remember Joss saying in an audio commentary (I think it was for Innocence) that he was a fan. I felt the episode was particularly tactful (though heartbreaking) - I wonder if Joss will be taking any cues from that.
Simon, I opted for "the audience" instead of the more accurate... "I". In fact, on the whole Buffy pregnancy arc, the first thing I might get wrong at all would be if she actually goes through with the abortion. Since I don't think I'm the smartest most perceptive fan, I'm assuming I'm not alone on having had this on lock.

I don't think it's bold though. Look, if she has an abortion, then our "bold" storyline is a Very Special Episode that doubles as a PSA for the safety and convenience of abortion. If she doesn't get one, we've basically got a more or less direct derivative of "Juno", but not as well done. Granted, I'd much prefer that option, but still... not game-changing ground in any case.

Ragondux, there is nothing complicated at all about people believing that one is legally entitled to make a decision but that there is a moral up and down in the choices. That one has a legal choice, but can choose incorrectly, in other words. It's not rare at all in American politics where there are measurable majorities who would say abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances but also a measurable majorities who would say it's morally wrong -- by definition, there are at least some who believe both.
As a 28 year old father of a baby girl I am saddened by this news. When I found out that we were having a girl, my wife and I actually sat and talked about when would be a good time to let her watch Buffy, the two of us being huge fans. I see Buffy as being a great example to young women, to teach them to be beautiful AND strong, to be emotional and smart, to not having to wait to be rescued. But now? Is Buffy still those things? Yes. Because it's also okay to be weak at times, to be scared, confused. I would never condemn a person who chooses an abortion, but it does break my heart. A pregnancy isn't a situation, it's the beginning of new life, a new chapter.

I am a Christian, and I do believe life begins at conception. I know not everyone agrees with my views but I'm within my rights to have them. I just hope Buffy Juno's the baby to Dawn and Xander. Adoption is a better alternative I think, because I know tons of women who can't conceive but would love to have a chance for a baby.

So I'm hoping Buffy will teach my daughter that being a single mother is a beautiful and strong thing.
@KOC: I perfectly understand that one can think something is wrong but still legally acceptable. What I don't understand is how one can accept a choice, but reject people who take it. To my mind, saying it's legally acceptable means that there are situations where having an abortion doesn't make you evil.

I'm not saying anyone who is pro-choice should embrace Buffy's choice, but I don't understand why they would reject her and stop relating to her. Anti-choice people are another matter, of course, since they believe any abortion is evil.
I just hope Buffy Juno's the baby to Dawn and Xander.

Me too. I thought for sure that if Buffy came to the decision that she could not be a mother right now she would have either put the baby up for adoption or given it to Xander and Dawn. It just makes much more sense to me in a story-telling perspective. Never thought she would actually choose abortion.
I don't see why it is necessarily a less beautiful and strong thing to give up a baby either though.

Admittedly I am a gay man and will therefore never have to confront this situation in any first hand way (by which I mean by either getting someone pregnant or becoming pregnant myself) though this does mean that perhaps by your logic that I should not be in favour of abortion because that could potentially mean more chances for me to adopt.

I think ultimately a woman's body is her own and that makes it her decision. If she decides early in the pregnancy to give up the child then it isn't really anyone else's right to tell her that she is doing something wrong. Ultimately it is nobody else's business. Maybe the father, but then again also maybe not.

In Buffy's case, with her particular complex of 'people around me tend to die, or leave, or let vampires suck off of them and then leave' I reckon abortion will be the choice she will make. I'm not saying that Buffy wouldn't be a great mum, because I really think that she would. But Buffy is the kind of person who will look at what could go wrong, and I think she will come to the decision that bringing a child into the world is going to cause more pain and suffering for the both of them.

Also re: Xander and Dawn. Why would they want a child? Isn't Dawn like eighteen in season nine?
I'm gonna admit this up front before tossing my $0.02 Cdn in (worth equal or less than $0.02 US ;D): I am a 28-year old single male. I will never know exactly what it will be like to face this kind of decision. Closest will be my spouse or girlfriend facing it and that's still an academic exercise at the moment.

HOWEVER, I personally feel that it's a very believable situation, even if we wish it wasn't a reality (unplanned pregancy and decisions over whether to keep the child, put it up for adoption or abort it or any other options available). The right to choose sadly doesn't mean a guarantee of being right about the decision, so Buffy choosing to terminate the pregnancy is something very pressing about looking at her life (just as other have to look at theirs and decide if they can support a child or children) and make a questionable call. So I respect the idea of having the topic covered like other life-changing issues were done during the series.

Still, there's gonna be people coming on down on both sides about treating like this as a model example of the pros vs. cons of abortion. Better break out the volcanlogist gear, I guess.

[ edited by BlueEyedBrigadier on 2012-02-08 23:32 ]
"anti-choice" is as empty a term as "pro-abortion", and I think we should all just elect to govern ourselves with the terms that the respective sides consider to represent their viewpoint -- "pro-choice", because they consider the primary issue the right of the mother to choose reproductive outcomes since she bears the physical, psychological, and economic burden of pregnancy and motherhood, and "pro-life", because they consider the primary issue the individual right to life as something that begins at conception and trumps all other factors. I don't think this will be nearly the level of conversation it will have to be if we can't contain our terminology thusly.

By the way, this storyline settles one thing beyond dispute -- Joss Whedon Hates Forum Moderators.

Vortigun, a fundamental and insurmountable obstacle I have to understanding the choice in the context of what's best for the baby is... existing is best for the baby. That's why I call the entire thought process Buffy followed from the time she left Wood as an existential "eff you" to him -- she's basically deemed that his life wasn't worth living up to this point, that he and Nikki suffered more by his existence than his existence has been worthwhile unto itself or enriching to others. That's pretty horrible, but the math doesn't come up any other way -- Buffy is deciding that she's going to be so horrible as a mother, that both she and her child would be more miserable than her child would ever be capable of finding happiness or giving happiness to others. That doesn't sound like Buffy at all, certainly not the Buffy that refused to accept Cassie's fatalistic certainty that her life didn't matter.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-02-08 19:10 ]
Re the character debate - after Buffy went for her to-the-death showdown with Angel in season two, she took off for months and didn't bother to call her friends or, oh, mother. Buffy running away or turning to Spike when things get dark ain't exactly new.
I didn't see any sort of "Fuck you" to Robin. I saw a very young woman being responsible enough to seek out and listen respectfully to his thoughts on the matter and then intelligently make her own (very personal and emotional) decision.

At her age, in her situation (which I can way too easily imagine myself in) I would have chosen abortion in 99.9% of all timelines.
I haven't read issues five or six yet - perhaps I should have done before I commented, but I'm not sure why Robin/Nikki's situation is relevant.

I don't think Buffy's choice to have an abortion in any way devalues Nikki's decision not to have one, or Robin's life.

I also don't really get the 'existing is best for the baby' argument. Existing is a pretty poor descriptor of living. I don't really think this is about what is best for the foetus - it is about Buffy and her life and her body. Perhaps I am just ignorant but I don't think the foetus or 'potential future human being' really gets a say here.

[ edited by Vortigun on 2012-02-08 19:26 ]
"Vortigun, a fundamental and insurmountable obstacle I have to understanding the choice in the context of what's best for the baby is... existing is best for the baby. That's why I call the entire thought process Buffy followed from the time she left Wood as an existential "eff you" to him -- she's basically deemed that his life wasn't worth living up to this point, that he and Nikki suffered more by his existence than his existence has been worthwhile unto itself or enriching to others."

Not really! In fact, not at all! Buffy's decision is based on her life, not Nikki's and not Robin's! As I said further up thread, she went to Robin for advice! For added perspective! Not to make some sort of comment on the value of his existence! She isn't saying that Nikki made a mistake! She even distances herself from the reasons behind Nikki's ultimate choice in what she says to Spike! This is about her life and her life alone!
I don't get (doubling way back in this discussion) how Buffy making a different decision than Nikki is like saying she thinks Robin shouldn't exist. The point is that it's *not* a political decision, in which one is making a decision as a statement about all other situations in which someone has to make the same decision. The point is that it's an entirely personal decision, different for each person faced with it, which this issue illustrated pretty well. Buffy's decision says absolutely nothing about Nikki's or about Robin. It only says something about Buffy.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-02-08 19:34 ]
There are a whole bunch of issues here, but two of the really big ones are, first, what's plausible for Buffy and second, a difference of point of views.

If someone believes that human life begins at conception, what abortion means to that person is going to be very different than what abortion means to someone who really *doesn't* believe that life, in a sentient, meaningful human way, begins at conception. It really does come down to a matter of faith (do you believe it starts *here* or *there*), and do we know, have we ever had a clue, what Buffy's beliefs are regarding when human life really begins? In all seven seasons of the series, this never came up, so I'd say *any* decision Buffy makes in this instance would be in character.
I don't see why it is necessarily a less beautiful and strong thing to give up a baby either though.

For me it isn't about that. Almost anything can be beautiful and strong if the writing holds up. I don't come at the story with any bias, I am neither pro-choice or pro-life (never been it that situation and so never really gave it much thought). I'm just trying to look at it from a story-telling perspective. As I see it, there are two roads the story can follow:

Buffy aborts the child = The End. Sure there will be emotional after effects that can be milked for drama, but in the end that story line is done.

Buffy has the child = The Beginning. The story could literally go anywhere at this point. Motherhood, adoption, kidnapping (like with Connor in Angel), magical slayer-baby, etc etc.

Announcing the pregnancy at the end of one issue and then announcing an abortion at the end of the next just seems like a wasted opportunity for more story. It's all felt rushed at this point.

ETA: Or what Squishy said in the #6 discussion thread.


Also re: Xander and Dawn. Why would they want a child? Isn't Dawn like eighteen in season nine?

I was just spit-balling. It would be another avenue of story to take these characters. I think Xander would, if asked to, be perfectly willing to adopt Buffy's child. It would be an interesting story in that there is all that history with his own parents. How would he go being a father himself? type questions would be raised in himself. Dawn I'm not so sure, but if Buffy asked she would probably do it out of loyalty maybe.

Also I should add that my comments are purely based on the assumption that the abortion decision at the end of #6 is concrete (which I don't really believe it is). I'm pretty sure there's a lot more of this story they want to tell.

[ edited by Kaan on 2012-02-08 19:55 ]
By the way, this storyline settles one thing beyond dispute -- Joss Whedon Hates Forum Moderators.


I LOL'd :)
I can't imagine how someone could be sitting there looking at Robin Wood, realizing he is the living, breathing expression of the choice she is facing (which is why she went to talk to him in the first place), and come away thinking that whatever temporary hardship or challenge she would face isn't worth nurturing whatever future demon-hunting high school principal with cool piercings she's working on will be, whatever fry cook or professional cellist or drug addict or Senator or tragic DUI victim or Poet Laureate.

To even hear the argument I have to listen to someone shouting across a philosophical canyon. And it's with that endless variety of person waiting to happen in mind that I think of the Buffy Summers who would die for Dawn and wonder why she wouldn't endure for this person; why she would care so much that she leave a permanent mark on the world because of the short and dangerous nature of her life that she'd want a yearbook picture, but not seize the opportunity to become a mother when it just stumbles upon her. It doesn't feel like her to me, it doesn't feel authentic. I mean, well, it does, but in a context that I don't think would be intended and certainly not when I think the audience in general would be receptive to -- it feels like the Buffy that declared she would quit rather than face the Master. The hardest thing in the world, Buffy, is to live in it. Did you not say so? Does it not hold?
As someone who has (via the internet) had to go through this kind of situation with a friend a few years back... Well done to the writers on how this has been handled. There is absolutely nothing weak about Buffy making such a choice, with all things taken into consideration. It was well reasoned, and it felt right for Buffy, in her situation. People seem to think this is a cheap getout of sorts for the plot... this is Joss. Do you honestly believe that this choice won't deeply affect Buffy long term..?

Actions have consequences. This is probably the most I've felt for Buffy in a long while.
Except, KOC, Buffy has, and has always had, a guilt complex of sorts. She isn't looking at this as a "for her" instance. She's looking at her situation and knows, without a doubt, that in the off chance she actually makes it through the pregnancy in tact (which, given her slaying, isn't terribly likely or safe at all), she has no means of giving this potential!child a decent life.
This IS Buffy. She's looking out for others before herself. It isn't about what she wants, or if she wants to leave "a mark in the world" (which, really, when's the last time she cared so much about that anyway?) This is about Buffy looking at her life and knowing this isn't something she can do right now.

Frankly, I find a lot of respect for Buffy for not only taking on this decision, but having the maturity to ask for help.

http://static03.mediaite.com/themarysue/uploads/2012/02/buffy-abortion1-580x337.jpg
This panel set right here is what puts this as completely "in character" for me.
Buffy is well aware of what she's doing because she's analyzed the hell out of it. This ISN'T the same as what Nikki went through and she recognizes that fact.
Robin's existence doesn't change Buffy's current situation.

[ edited by trunkstheslayer on 2012-02-08 20:14 ]
KoC, I would willingly lay down my life to save any member of my existing family! I would also choose abortion over bringing a child into the world that I didn't think I could propery care for! It's not so strange!
Two things: 1) I did not mean to imply that choosing an abortion is a weak action, it's a rather bold action, but I meant weak as in being emotionally fatigued. You can see it in her face that this isn't easy, but she's not saying it matter of factly either. This is a no win for Buffy. And yeah, does it SEEM an easy out? I'm sure it could, but the reality, again, is that this is a bold tough choice. What I'm saying is that those moments that are so big that they make you feel weak, that's okay, you don't need to put on strong face in every situation. I'd probably be pissed rather than saddened if she didn't have that tear in her eye.

And 2) Five Horizons, please stop ending every sentence with an exclamation mark. It's like you're yelling or overly excited. Petty of me to ask, I know. Sorry.

[ edited by The Goose on 2012-02-08 20:53 ]
Hey, The Goose, no worries about the asking! In fact Dana5140 emailed me a while back to ask me about the very same thing! As I explained to him, it's an old habit that began as a joke with a former girlfriend and became something of a personal signature! It's pretty much expected of me within my circle of friends to end every sentence with an exclamation mark, whether that be in an email, a text, on a forum, Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else! As I also said to Dana, I hope it's not too annoying as I'd prefer to keep doing it, as long as I'm not causing any major problems for anyone! As I mentioned, it's kind of a signature thing for me now, as stupid as that might sound to someone who doesn't yet know me, and I'd hate to have to break what has become the habit of a lifetime if it's avoidable! Promise you, I'm not yelling and I'm very rarely over excited, hehe!
You're playing with fire newbie...
Anyway, back on topic...People in here seem to think if she goes through with it that the entire pregnancy storyline was created so Buffy could have the abortion.

Cut to season 15 or 16 where we see the triumphant return of the aborted fetus which miraculously survived and was raised by demons in some random hell dimension. I can almost see the word bubble's overhead, "You aborted me bitch!"

Joss always has a long-term plans. ;)
Everything about the issue points to Buffy recognizing that she has nothing but advantages over Nikki, so unless she's making a personal judgment about herself that she's just not made of the stuff that Nikki Wood was -- which I could see as a product of her various inferiority complexes, I guess -- her thought process her doesn't really track for me.

The choice to have an abortion or not is the choice of whether another inchoate person (whether you consider them to possess the moral quality of "personhood" at that stage or not, the fact remains, what's in there will never become a dog, it will never be a giraffe, it will never be a bowling ball; it will be a human being with all the ups and downs) gets to go forth into existence or not. So the math is always this -- "does the negative cost (including to it, to me, to anyone else) of this being's continuation into full existence outweigh the merits of whatever its life experience will be (to it, to me, to anyone else)". If the math adds up to get an abortion, it translates to "yes, the hurt it will cause me, others, and even this child are greater than whatever the worth of their own realized life experience will be".

The reason I keep coming back to Wood is that he is an object reminder that the idea that the math could ever work out that way is beyond reckoning. He is, his life has meaning, has fulfillment, has brought joy to himself and to others, despite the fact that he suffered as a child, despite the fact that Nikki felt she endangered him, despite the fact that having him endangered her. She could have spared him that... but would have denied him and all who would ever know him everything else. I can't imagine that his life could ever have been deemed not to matter more than those fleeting hardships, and in turn can't imagine how the life Buffy's child might have -- whether they fall to an illness far too young or live to be 111 years old, isn't worth more than those fleeting hardships.

Aggh, every time I think of this I keep thinking of another moment in Buffy's history that rails against this choice. This time, it was what her subconscious/Joyce told her in "Normal Again" -- she has all the strength in the world inside her. She can do this. Or Buffy's own words to Dawn, that the hardest thing in the world is to live in it.

I think there is an entirely separate conversation to be had between whether abortion is right/wrong, good/evil as opposed to whether it is strong/weak, whether it is a "brave" thing.
KingofCretins, I think Sunfire hit it on the nose in the other thread:

"The issue's pretty good. I think all the emotional beats are right where they need to be. I'm sad to see Buffy doesn't think she can handle raising a child though. I understand why she thinks that, and I'm not saying she's wrong to decide to abort. But I don't think she ever gives herself enough credit when it comes to handling real life problems. (the bold is my addition)

ETA: fix tagging

[ edited by alexreager on 2012-02-08 21:06 ]
Well played, Five Horizons.
KoC, the math does not have to be that complicated at all. Buffy could simply think, "Does this fuck up my life?" "Is this way too dangerous for me and everyone involved?" "Do I want/think I can raise a child in this nightmare of a magicless world I broke?"

She answers those questions and decides to have a legal and safe abortion.
Hilariously I hadn't thought about Buffy breaking the, uhm, seed.
Nikki Wood didn't seem to be facing the kind of apocalyptic scenarios Buffy deals with on an almost daily basis. Buffy may not be thinking of it this way, but someone else (okay, I) might: this is a case where abortion is advisable for the health and safety of the mother. Unless it's a supernatural pregnancy, how is Buffy going to do monster fighting at seven/eight/nine months pregnant? Again, if she *doesn't* believe this is a person *yet,* just the path *to* a person, it's not out of character for her to get off that path in order to avoid mortal danger to herself and others.
I'm having trouble reducing the decision to a math equation. It isn't just a cold cost/benefit analysis, and is precisely the sort of life decision that might cause people you otherwise believe you know to act in ways you wouldn't have anticipated, predicted, or expected.

I for one didn't need Wood's presence explained, as, well, it's the entire reason he's there: to offer that real-world example of one person's decision. What I'm stuck on is why that's somehow supposed to automatically outweigh any other consideration Buffy might have. Whatever the reality of Wood being in the world, a Nikki-like choice regarding Buffy's pregnancy is still just (forgive the word) a potential lifetime. That insults neither Nikki nor Wood, nor is somehow inherently outweighed by Wood's argument or existence.
Also on the subject of the Wood conversation, what I loved most about it is that on a superficial level the optics of it are weird: it's a man telling a woman she should not get an abortion. But in truth it's nowhere near that superficial level, as it's actually just an earnest and respectful conversation between two adults, one of whom just happens to be a man and is there only because he was the son of a slayer.
As for the argument of Buffy being able to keep slaying? Isn't there a whole world full of Slayers that could cover her not slaying for a few months or a year?
IrrationaliTV, no math has happened without both sides of the equation. Your description is her dealing solely in what she gains and nothing in what is lost -- lost to her, lost to that which would become, lost to the world around it. Take your three questions, answer them "yes", "yes", "no", and whether she consciously deals with them or not, she is implicitly determining that those three answers weigh more than the answers to the other set of questions, like "will this child and I enrich each other's lives in the long run?" or "will this kid cure cancer?" or "if not now, when?" Just because she might not consciously deal with those questions doesn't mean she isn't answering them all the same.
This is going to be my last comment because I think after this I will have more or less said everything I want to say. This more or less boils down to the issue that I don't think a complex decision like whether to abort a foetus can be reduced to 'math'.

There is no solution or equation that you can apply to all (or even any) cases, and the fact that some seem to think that it can i find frankly more than a little troubling.

It isn't about just weighing the options or considering that one day this child may be the next Messiah. It is about the here and now, how one might feel at this time about this decision. It isn't going to be solved with some cosmological abacus, because this decision is more than the sum of its parts and isn't about seeking some mythical, empirical objectivity.

I also don't believe that an abortion will serve as a narrative dead end, Buffy will be affected on an emotional level by this decision perhaps in some way for the rest of her life, and that for me is not a dead end.

Having said this I am not in favour of any particular storyline. I think I know what Buffy will do, but that is perhaps projecting my own perceived actions on to her. Buffy would make an excellent mum (so long as something doesn't happen to her or her child, considering her track record...), she may decide to give the child up for adoption or have an abortion.

Darn you Whedonesque I should be writing an essay right now!

[ edited by Vortigun on 2012-02-08 21:27 ]
If Buffy goes through with an abortion, I don't think she would be permitted to have any emotional aftereffect that could be directly, causally tied to her getting that abortion unless it was of the rainbow-crapping variety. The reason I say this is because the merest suggestion that a woman might suffer emotional, psychological, or physical trauma from any non-back alley abortion would bring a firestorm down on Joss that would make what hell he caught for killing Tara look like fanmail.
Even if that were true wholesale, which, not so much (by this I mean I am sure there is some hardliner out there who would have that wacky reaction, but it's not likely to be a large percentage)... that has never been a driver for what Joss and his writers choose to do.
It is this time; political motivations are more or less admitted outright in this article. Now, the article is ambiguous as to whether or not Buffy is going to go through with it, but on the assumption she is, I can't imagine they're only going to follow through halfway on the PSA-like aspects of how this has come up. Joss could have left this alone completely or quickly raised and then dismissed it in the same page and drawn only a mild rebuke for glossing over abortion; but bringing it up, carrying it out, but then implying -- through a role-model that may have the effect of scaring young women out of considering their options (I could write these press releases myself) -- that a legal, clinical abortion could produce any sort of dire consequence would be like declaring war on abortion rights advocacy groups. That's why I've considered a given that if she gets an abortion it will have to be a narrative dead end because any of his standard bring-the-pain storytelling tricks after the fact would draw significant criticism that he is being irresponsible by depicting negative effects to an abortion.
I remember in the last Whedonesque topic somebody said Dark Horse and Fox would never allow Buffy to mention abortion, as half the fandom would quit and America would go crazy.

I said it elsewhere so I may as well say it here - Andrew's Buffy run has been my favourite Buffy The Vampire Slayer since season 6. It's really getting to the heart of slaying - which is, as I seem to recall from the show, very costly and painful. Although I kinda defended season 8 on here, towards the end it lost me. With these, I could imagine it on my TV. I can imagine watching it. I can imagine being there. And it's kinda painful.
I doubt it KoC. As we've seen, Joss doesn't seem to have any compunction about riling the fanbase when he felt it necessary. And the emotional ramifications of decisions are exactly his raison d'être. Fictitious though she may be, Buffy acts like a human being and not a mythical paragon of all that is good. If he loses some fans in the process of being honest, I'm sure both he and most other fans would prefer to read that rather than a fairy tale.

And from a simply pragmatic, political perspective if he has to defend his moral position by lying, there's a fundamental problem there. I've never found being pro-choice and realistic problematic. Saying a woman has the right to choose a path isn't the same thing as saying there are no psychological consequence to that choice. If you're human, there will be.

Gossi - Sometimes I forget I'm not the only one who loved S6.

[ edited by azzers on 2012-02-08 22:06 ]
KoC, in reality, I think you are giving it way more thought than 24 year old woman would in those circumstance. I can only speak from what my thoughts would be in that situation and they would be 99% about myself (OMG! OMG! OMG! FUCK! OMG! WHY ME?!)and not some potential baby. Buffy is thinking about how this pregnancy affects her and her life and her calling. As she should. I don't understand how any other considerations need to be valid.

I'm not saying that other people (older, religious) might not have different considerations but I don't think Buffy does or should really have to have any. Considering the potential good or evil an embryo might inflict on the world seems wholly unnecessary.

azzers, Season 6 is also my favorite by a landslide. :)

[ edited by IrrationaliTV on 2012-02-08 22:12 ]
As someone who has known someone who went through this, I think we need to not oversimplify.

In my experience, the decision also had to do with the quality of life of the child. There may an inability to be a good parent coupled with a complete distrust of the foster care system. A career could be on the line, along with a previous child (not Buffy's case). We can't presuppose our values onto someone else making that decision. It's exactly why some choose to have it while others would never make that choice. We don't think the same way. I agree that in my experience, I haven't heard many theoretical arguments about the good of the world, etc. YMMV.
The last two pages of the issue felt like a dose of reality after all the fantasy we've seen in S8 and S9. As many problems as I've had with the comics, I want to read this story - the story that Joss wants to tell, not what he feels he can tell without offending anyone.
I don't believe that bringing it up and dealing with it in a real way scares young women out of considering all of their options. They aren't sitting in a room thinking, "Shit, Buffy felt weird about it afterward...", they are thinking, "Shit, what do I do? How do I feel? Can I live with this decision?" (regardless of which way they are leaning). I can certainly imagine some group or other being up in arms about it and issuing a press release, but I don't really think it'd be anything but a publicity stunt on their part. I have to think that any advocacy group that's aware of Joss and into his work would see it as a realistic depiction. He is not trying to end legal abortions, he's showing that people sometimes have fallout from their decisions as he's done with so many stories in the past. Give them some credit, they aren't against realistic depictions of people facing a decision on abortion and out to cause as many abortions as possible. Not that you said that, but that's the only way I could see them being alarmed by this as I don't buy the 'Buffy had second thoughts after' thing as being something that would scare anyone out of considering all of their options.
I can totally see what Buffy having an abortion as something "in character", but I also can see how people can view this is "out of character". There is previous evidence that support both opinions. For me, I think it is, people above have given the evidence that supports this. I completely get why she is planning on getting one. Her particular world is a dangerous place, and maybe she knows she won't be able to stop slaying after she has a child. That means the child will grow up fearing that she may not come home one night, and she doesn't want to live through that.

It is not an enviable position to be in. It's a tough choice and knowing Joss, there will be consequences to whatever she decides to do.

(I hope I made sense.)
I thought it was an excellent issue. I felt very connected to "the Buffy of it" throughout the issue, and the various emotions she went through--and her ultimate decision--felt completely real and believable to me. I loved it.

KOC, I was really surprised to see that you think that Joss is just out to make a political point here, whereas you see Willow coming out as a completely natural character development. Don't we know that Joss considered having either Willow or Xander come out, and that he deliberately set things up so it could go either way? And wasn't the choice to have one of the three central characters come out a "political" choice?

To me, both things (Willow coming out, Buffy deciding to have an abortion) are highly politicized, polarizing issues which the Buffy story has handled in a non-political, personal way. Buffy is in a situation that is not uncommon for many young women in their twenties, and she's making a personal, painful decision--not making statements about what's right or wrong for anyone else.

I'm a woman in my late twenties, and I could not realistically have given birth to and provided for a baby any time in the past decade. Having a hypothetical child because I wanted to "leave a mark on the world" would have a wildly selfish, irresponsible decision for me ... and I have multiple college degrees and am on track to a decent-paying career (which puts me in a significantly more stable place than Buffy). I can absolutely relate to her situation--and it makes me very sad to think that, of all the possible scenarios Buffy could face, THIS is the thing that people think would make her impossible to relate to.

Because if you can't relate to a story about a woman having an abortion, that means you can't relate to nearly one third of women in the US (not to mention other countries).

(edited because I tried to make a link and couldn't. My HTML-fu is not strong.)

[ edited by erendis on 2012-02-08 22:42 ]

[ edited by erendis on 2012-02-08 22:43 ]

[ edited by erendis on 2012-02-08 22:44 ]
Over my (relatively) long life I've known a lot of dear friends who faced pregnancy out of wedlock. A couple of my friends had an abortion, a couple decided to give up the baby for adoption, and a couple went ahead and had the child on their own; none of them made their decisions lightly and NONE of them were ever happy with their choice! Pregnancy is a huge life changing event and no matter what the woman does about it she has to live with the consequences for the rest of her life (and there are many consequences for the rest of her life, regardless of the choice made). There is nothing easy or simple about any of this, and just as I respected my friends who had to face the choice, so I would respect whatever direction Joss wants to take Buffy through this (in my opinion) mine field. I respect the decision to put Buffy into this difficult position, one that so many young women have faced and will continue to face.

This is interesting because it isn't that unusual, and there will never be anything easy about it.
Considering the fatality rate on pregnant mothers or Moms in general in the Buffy verse, I go with abortion. If it was a child she conceived with a lover, or even a wild regretful night she remembers, that's one thing. But it's hardly a real life issue in their universe when she blacks out while drinking and wakes up pregnant. Who knows who or what did it to her and I doubt there will be some mystical Twilight mental power from the womb affirming the child's love.

The question for her is, is there any reason she has to give up her life (and since she hasn't gone 9 months without having to save the world in 9 years, she'd be risking her friends and the world) for this fetus of unknown origins?

[ edited by GimpyD on 2012-02-08 23:04 ]
You're playing with fire newbie...


I'm going to assume you meant that jokingly :).
Actually, for me, the saddest thing is that even though I know this is nothing more, currently, than a PR stunt, I bought into it and joined the fray. I should know better. :-(

And in truth, there is no bad PR. Look at what just happened with Susan Komen. They messed up. But in the end, despite pissing off the left (at least for a while), they got more donations from the right (at least for a while). In our polarized culture, dropping into the culture war is nearly always a winning position no matter where you come down on an issue. You might anger one side, but the other then steps up its support. You win either way. If that is your idea of winning. I want to see how the press develops over the next couple of days. If there is any outcry, it will almost certainly come from the right- and this generates more PR and brings more attention to the comic, bringing people who might otherwise have never paid it a minute of attention but do so now because they wish to make a statement, however small it might be. Cynical me, much.
Oh, please. There's no evidence this is just some sort of PR stunt (where's the evidence that Joss has ever written or okayed something that was just a PR stunt?). I'm a little weary of fans impugning motives just because they don't like how things are going.
Komen was going to be fine regardless, because the bottom line is there is a helluva lot more consensus and public support for fighting breast cancer than there is about abortion.

I hope it's a PR stunt, but I'm not confident of it. While it might, oh so hopefully, be reversed in 9.07, it's not like they came back in "Flooded" and revealed that Buffy hadn't actually been in heaven like she thought. Realistically, I'd prefer almost any alternative right up to and through Buffy carrying her child to term, deciding last minute she couldn't do it, and employing California's safe haven/baby moses law.
I will be brief because I don't want to get too drawn into the argument.

Firstly, this doesn't feel like some crazy PR thing to me for two reasons. 1) I have never known Joss to do something like that, let alone about something this big. 2) The fact that the last 2 pages made me feel more for Buffy than I have in the past 45+ issues of Buffy comics.

I realize that is an incredibly subjective argument, but that's just how it is. This feels earned to me. It didn't feel out of character to me at all. Whether she ends up going through with this choice or not doesn't matter to me. I honestly can see good storytelling down either path. What matters to me is that the instant I saw tears welling up in Buffy's eyes, tears welled up in my own eyes. This made me feel like Buffy was someone I knew again. As though a close personal friend was going through this. Though I have no idea what it would be like having to make that choice and never will, being male, the fact that I could empathize with a FICTIONAL CHARACTER in that situation tells me that this is good storytelling and is good art.

And, in the end, that's all I care about.
I'll throw my hat in with Giles_314 here:
Those last few pages, where Buffy and Spike talk, were the most resonant pages in the bulk of the comics (ToYL and issue 40 of S8 being the others). It's very, very rare that a comic makes me teary and yet, wow, here we are.
In my view and experience, there is no hierarchy of choices for this situation.

The simple fact is that when a mother cannot care for her child pain will be involved for all parties no matter the end result.
Eh, I've never recognized her less, at least at any point since she ran away in "Becoming" -- because that's basically where in the Buffy behavioral spectrum this would fall. But that was absolutely not the woman who gave this speech --

No. She's not. She's more than that. She's me. The monks made her out of me. I hold her ... and I feel closer to her than ... It's not just the memories they built. It's physical. Dawn ... is a part of me. The only part that I-

It confounds the imagination that she would feel that unrelenting a visceral and spiritual connection to her sister on the basis of being "made out of her", but not for her own offspring. Whatever happened to Buffy to reverse her point of view so diametrically in between (maybe that she died? I dunno), I don't think it was an improvement.
Maybe, no matter much she's likely thinking and feeling about it from several directions at once, a just-learned-of pregnancy simply doesn't have the resonance for her as a flesh-and-blood sister standing in front of her. That difference in feeling might conceivably boomerang back on her emotionally afterward, but having a difference in feeling is not necessarily some unfathomable emotional reality.

This persistent idea here that the potential human lifetime represented by the pregnancy just should by inherent right trump any other consideration continues to baffle me, and comes across as (not necessarily intended as such, but comes across as) "pro-life is the only position to take in any situation for anyone".

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-02-09 01:33 ]
I dunno, I thought the Xander/Buffy talk in S8 was pretty good. In the end, Buffy flourishes when it sticks to the emotions and the choices of the characters.

KoC - It should be noted that Dawn, artificial as she was, existed as a living, breathing sister. Not even the most devout Pro-Life mother will for the most part have the same emotional connection the second they realize they're pregnant that they have with even a two-day old infant. I'm not saying it's logical, then again familial relationships really aren't. It's actually a bit of a cliche, the number of people who don't get "hit" with the actual idea of their child until they are looking at him or her.

-Bix beat me to it. To redundancy and beyond!

[ edited by azzers on 2012-02-09 01:33 ]
Not all women feel a connection in the early months of pregnancy. It just isn't always such a spiritual situation.

Buffy was also given a life time of memories of Dawn.

Tripledundancy?

[ edited by hann23 on 2012-02-09 01:41 ]
Okay, let myself get spoiled before reading the issue. Speaking of issues, I'm of two minds about it, and perhaps better to work through the subject in a fantasy comic book. I'm too old to have to deal with it personally now anyway.

My concern was that we were going to get another mystical and/or demon pregnancy like the three Cordy had. I think that would bother me more.
This persistent idea here that the potential human lifetime represented by the pregnancy just should by inherent right trump any other consideration continues to baffle me, and comes across as (not necessarily intended as such, but comes across as) "pro-life is the only position to take in any situation for anyone".


I don't know that it's that complicated; basically balance the equities between the entire box of chocolates of a human child's life-to-be (whether it ends tragically without ever going home from the hospital or ends more than a century later) against the literal physical imposition of pregnancy and birth and the abstract emotional cost of having become a parent off-book or whatever for the mother. I would never say "the only position to take in any situation for anyone" -- but it's a got a pretty good headstart in most situations, IMO.

I'm unconvinced by the distinctions on the Dawn subject, not the least of which is because this choice cuts against quite a lot of her other Dawn-related speeches, from "the hardest thing in the world is to live in it" to thinking her role is to "show her the world". I can only see this as "in character" for Buffy in the same sense in which her decision to "quit" in "Prophecy Girl" or to run away in "Becoming" were in character. In other words, this is not a choice that is evocative of Buffy's finest, strongest moments.
From the EW interview that just went up on the front page:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you know Buffy would be getting pregnant?

ANDREW CHAMBLISS: That was something that Joss had always kind of set out from the beginning of conceiving season 9. It was definitely something we were building towards from day one. The first issue of the season where she’s got the crazy party and blacks out at it. It was always something Joss wanted to do. In the season, where we’re really trying to push Buffy back to dealing with real world issues that are getting in the way of her slaying, and also where she is in her life, it seems like this what we should make the core of the jumping off point for the season.


Not a PR stunt.
I can only echo what b!X and azzers just said as far as the Dawn comparison is concerned. It isn't the same thing. Not by a long shot. Dawn was there in front of her. A living, breathing sister who she had shared a life with, albeit an imaginary one made up by the monks. Nevertheless, the connection was already established. As I said before, I would die to save my own sister. Absolute fact. I would also choose abortion over bringing a child into the world when I know I have no interest in being a father. For me, they are two very different things and I can only imagine that the same could be said for Buffy.

* * * * *

Just a quick sidenote, with regard to what I was asked earlier. As anyone paying attention may have noticed, I decided it might be best to drop the exclamation marks, at least while I'm posting here. I read earlier what alexreager had said about 'playing with fire' and wondering what he meant (I'm going with 'he' by the way but I'll apologise now if you happen to be the 'she' kinda Alex...) I had a look through the site rules. I'm assuming that he was talking about the proper use of punctuation rule. Now, I don't really consider the exclamation mark thing to be improper so much as slightly excessive, and so far I've not had any of the mods tell me otherwise, but it's probably better if I drop it around here regardless. If only to prevent any further derailing of threads the next time someone wonders why I'm doing it.

So yeah, exclamation marks will be reserved for appropriate use here at Whedonesque from here on out. However if you ever add me on Facebook or Twitter, you're stuck with them I'm afraid! And that last one was appropriate... ;)
More apropos, perhaps, Sunfire, is Joss' own comment in the same article: "I didn’t do it as a sensationalist move. I did it as what seemed like a natural part of Buffy’s life. "
Showing Buffy dealing with real world issues is an interesting idea to explore by having her look real life dead in the face and deciding to wish it away, to undo it. It's a touch paradoxical to me.

Joss own comment that it's not a sensationalist move is about as fatuous now as it was back in 8.12. You forfeit the right to say you aren't sensationalizing when you basically roll out a whole wave of press along with the issue, which is in and of itself to set up that 9.07 is a Very Special Issue of "Buffy".
What do you imagine would happen if they didn't plan to do some press when an issue guaranteed to generate press interest is coming up?
Five Horizons, proper punctuation is preferable for ease of following what you write. I wasn't going to say anything though since you capitalize and do punctuate. Exclaiming seems more style than anything else to me. I do think your fellow posters would rather you didn't exclaim so much, if you don't mind changing that.

But keep in mind only those of us with mod powers/colors can actually moderate here. We'll warn people if something's not ok.

There are 800 new people learning the ropes right now. Please leave it to us to step in if it's needed.

Here are the site rules, for those who are new to the site.
Abortion is real life for many women. There is no "wishing it away" going on here. Just real situations being handled honestly in a very touching way.
Fellas, the storyline is not the PR stunt; the PR is the PR stunt. They will get all they can out of the interest this generates. They are doing so as we speak- how many links could we come up with right now, without even trying? That is not really even debatable, and since I am ready to debate just about anything, that says something about how strongly I feel that. Be that as it may; it is just me that really dislikes how comics are marketed. They write stories and they market stories; that is what they do; ergo, PR is part of that world. There is no way, b!x, to know whether or not there was any consideration of the PR aspect of the story- you say it is nonexistent, and I think it is, and neither of us can be proven wrong or right, since we are not involved in the story creation. And Sunfire, even if this was planned out some time in advance, that does not mean it either was or was not designed as a PR stunt, or partially as a PR stunt. Catherine Willows just left CSI- you think the producers did not milk the PR value of that? Of course, they did; they generated interest in the show, which had its best ratings of the year. Does anyone really think writing this comic is any different? It competes in a marketplace and has to appeal to readers, or there are no sales; I think it is naive to assume that Joss Whedon, alone among men, is completely immune to any consideration of selling his product and appealing to his fans. There is only story, and nothing but story. And if that were the case, Willow and Tara would have been shown having sex (or even just kissing) a whole lot earlier than they did.
I think the problem we're having here is that "doing public relations" is not the same as "engaging in a publicity stunt". The very definition of a publicity stunt is, well, a stunt one pulls in order to generate publicity. All that Dark Horse and Joss are doing here is talking to the press about something the press was going to want to talk to them about. Attempting to turn that into a publicity stunt, which defies the term's very definition, is just making hay to make hay.
An entire season is a PR stunt now?
Thanks, Sunfire. As you say, it is pretty much just a style thing. To be honest it's never been an issue anywhere else I've posted over the years, so it's been a little unexpected having it brought up so much here today. It's not so big a deal that I'm totally unwilling to make an exception if it's a problem for anyone though. Just going to take some practice going for the full stop key more often. :)

Anyway, enough thread derailing already. Back to 'Abortion as a PR stunt'.
It is a PR stunt if the arc was designed to highlight the abortion issue OR simply sell units by being sensationalistic.

But to suggest either of those are the primary movers here, without any proof other than the existence of PR campaign (because Season 8 didn't have one apparently) is both speculative and cynical.

In fact, if you subscribe to the "issue" based interpretation of a PR stunts, then Buffy by her very existence is a PR stunt in the words of Joss Whedon himself. He MEANT to create an iconic female character to make a point. Not one season, all 9 seasons.

So my round about point is, we can pick and choose what we're going to define as a stunt. But we'd do better to stick to a more stable definition than theme based storytelling and random character attributes. Otherwise, Buffy, Willow, Uhura, Murphy Brown, Rosanne Conner, Archie Bunker ... are going to qualify.
Creating a character, no matter representational, isn't a stunt. It's just narrative, even if it has a metaphorical point. Scott Allie hanging over Portland dropping Buffy brand condoms would be a publicity stunt. Joss doing interviews is just publicity. Buffy dealing with life is just narrative.
I agree B!x. But that's my point. We're playing extremely fast and loose with the definition in here. How/when someone kisses isn't a stunt. A story arc is not a stunt. A character's existence is not a stunt. But if I went by some of these definitions, I could make the case for every single one of those.

In the context of a show, it really needs to be about out of character moments that exist exclusively for the real world publicity they generate. Failing that test, they can't be PR stunts unless you want to start counting a bunch of things you didn't intend to include as stunts.

[ edited by azzers on 2012-02-09 03:43 ]
Even though I'm just a young woman in college and I definitely don't have to face the kind of responsibility Buffy has to every day, I completely relate to her situation. I would make the exact same decision, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Choosing to terminate this pregnancy knowing EXACTLY the kind of dangers and potential trauma this future-child would have to face is possibly one of the bravest decisions she's ever made. I so admire her for this.

I don't really understand the "political publicity stunt" argument? This is a real thing many, many women face. It would be flat-out bizarre if this wasn't at least discussed, or if the politics of it were ignored.

edit: throwing out a question- for people who consider this a political stunt, is there another way an abortion storyline could be presented without feeling like a stunt?

[ edited by prophecygrrl on 2012-02-09 04:35 ]
There is no "even though I'm just" about it, prophecygrrl. You're POV is exactly what we need more of on this topic. Thanks for contributing.
As someone who has three close female friends who have within the last 2 years have had abortions in situations of consensual sex yet without the means to provide for a child, I felt a complete emotional connection to Buffy in this issue. This issue was heartbreaking and inspiring.

To write it off as sensationalist or a PR stunt is so completely cold,cynical, and insensitive. Looking at it from that perspective, you are writing off the thousands of women who make this kind of decision or experience this situation.

Buffy is strong and so is Season 9. I love the duality of stories we're getting between BtVS and A&F, I've never been so into a comic before.
While Dark Horse could get more online sales, they have already sold the comic to retailers. Unless they are hoping to go back to a second printing, something I don't think Buffy has done since the beginning of Season 8. As comics are non-refundable, so whatever is on the shelves, retailers have already bought. Because of this, generally comic book PR stunts (like say the death of Captain America) are done where the publisher lets retailers know that something BIG is happening. So they manage to get a boost of sales before the big reveal and increase sales. Dark Horse could have left some hints without revealing what it was to increase sales, but that didn't seem the case.

I'm on the side that is one of the best issues of the comic in quite some time. The issue was full of very powerful character moments, which is where I think Buffy is at it's strongest. Also this is exactly what I was looking for from Joss when he talked about focusing more on the characters and less of the big cosmic stuff of Season 8.

Also the flashbacks with Nikki, reminded me of some of the best of the tv episodes where it's not just story exposition, but a nice reflection of the current storyline, on top of finding out more about the side characters.

To me Buffy saying she wanted an abortion was a surprise, but seemed to me to be in character. Especially thinking back about the highs she had reached in Season 8 commanding an army, to it all falling apart and then things still failing apart when she's trying to keep things simple and just handle holding down a job, keep an apartment, etc. As Joss points out in the interview, Buffy as a character has been in freefall for quite some time. I can see her thinking after all she's been going through that she would not be able to handle a kid (if she could bring it to term while out slaying).
Forgot my last point, which was I'm surprised that anyone would think would be something that might happen and then go away. Beyond the fact that generally actions have pretty consequences in the Buffyverse, there's also the fact that this is issue 6 of season 9. From the interviews this seems to have been one of the bigger plot points thought out for season 9 and the initial seeds were planted in the first issue. I'm guessing no matter which way this goes that this will have major consequences through out Season 9.
Dark Horse could have left some hints without revealing what it was to increase sales, but that didn't seem the case.


Yes that was my take on the matter as well. They could have hyped the issue well in advance but didn't. This plotline was no PR stunt.
I don't want to push anybody's buttons, but, well... mine have been pushed. Abortion is a bit of an emotional issue for me, which is why I've stayed out of the discussion until now, but also why I felt like I should say something. I've been mostly trying to organize my thoughts.

This is hardly the first time Joss has written something I didn't agree with. But it hits deeper. That's not in itself a bad thing - if I never read or watched anything I wasn't in wholehearted agreement with I'd have a pretty shallow view of the world.

But. If you believe, as I do, that every abortion is the death of a person (actual and whole), then Buffy's decision here feels like absolutely the wrong one. If the story yet to come supports her choice - and, as Joss himself has said he agrees with it, I have no reason to suppose otherwise - then I'm going to have a hard time staying with it (full disclosure: I've been reading the trade paperbacks and am a ways behind, but I can't resist the siren call of current discussion). Maybe it'll be written in such a way that I can still relate, even though I disagree with the end choice. Joss is a master storyteller and I think he can pull it off if he wants to. But I'm worried that he has no interest in doing that. It does seem like he's trying to make at least something of a political statement, and that's not what I read fiction for.
Joss has been trying to make a political statement since Welcome to the Hellmouth. Buffy herself has a whole bunch of political statements attached to her character. You could also say, and I see others have, that there was a political statement behind Willow/Tara – and they’d probably right. You can’t bring up the topic of abortion and not have it be political in some fashion. But it’s also deeply personal and very relatable for many women (as many of them have kept saying). Whedon admitted “a little bit” of this was about politics but when he and Andrew have discussed the motivation for telling this story, it’s clear he’s looking at this the same way he looked at many of the other problems Buffy has faced over the years. Is this relatable? Is this something women in Buffy’s age group have to face? Does it fit in with the theme of the season that I want to explore? Etc.
There was a saying that was popular when I was growing up (at least, among the people I grew up around): the political is personal. It took this to mean two things. One, that the politics of the world have a way of affecting our personal lives. Second, politics starts with us - if we want to see change (or lack of change) in any direction, it's up to us to do something about it. Finally, it's kind of hard to say *anything* without it reflecting your views - if you try to watch everything you say so that no one can tell where you stand on anything, that too is a political choice. I'd say the entire canon of Joss Whedon's work - except possibly the early writer for hire gigs - reflects his politics. I think this is true of any writer who has control of the end product (i.e., I don't think "Alien: Resurrection" necessarily reflects much of Joss Whedon's views). So his writing unsurprisingly continues to reflect what he wants to say with it, which is what he's been doing as long as I think most of us have been aware of his work.
I think the only problem here is that people have their own image of Buffy the Almighty Paragon Who Can Do No Wrong and Never Err... And that has never been Buffy. Not the one Joss created. Buffy makes choices and decisions like any of us does - as best as she can based on the situation she's in. Some good. Some bad. Sometimes there is a no-win situation, and you do what is right in the moment.

I still cannot fathom how anyone can really say "Buffy would never ____!" (fill in the blank with your own assumed `PR stunt`)... because the same person making those choices on how she would deal is the person who knows her best. Joss. He's been in her head for far longer and far more deeply than the fans ever will. He's the one who can ultimately say how Buffy would deal with any situation. People can argue otherwise with what they *think* they Buffy *they* know would do - but you do not know Buffy. Your interpretation of the character, does not make that the character.
Well said, apollo11! Bravo.
Totally agree, apollo11. I was thinking that exact thought while I was reading this entire thread.
Oh, apollo, you do not want to raise that issue. You say "He's the one who can ultimately say how Buffy would deal with any situation. People can argue otherwise with what they *think* they Buffy *they* know would do - but you do not know Buffy. Your interpretation of the character, does not make that the character." My interpretation of the character is precisely what makes the character. There is no other way to interpret the character. Or does Joss saying "bring your own subtext" mean nothing?
I disagree. We're seeing plenty of other interpretations of the character, but ultimately that's all they are. They can be right, or wrong, still in the end it's a misinterpretation of your own that comes from inventing that subtext - subjective to your own opinions - if the person who guides everything of that character says this is the way she would decide and you disagree. By all means bring your own subtext - but if Joss wants it to be this way, this is the way it should be. As with any of those "controversial" past issues. He's the only one who can truly say and know what is Buffy's way of doing these things would be. His word is essentially "canon" on such matters.

Anything else is interpretation - often welcome, always interesting aside from the damned shippers, yet in the end entirely subjective and "non canon". It's his character and his world.
(And again, be thankful it is - imagine if the shippers interpretations were running things...)
I lurve you, apollo. You have walked into a long-standing argument here on whedonesque, and it only took you 3 posts! :-) And I mean this is a very friendly way. Welcome! Rather than rehash the issue, let me provide you a link:

http://deird1.livejournal.com/182556.html#cutid1

It summarizes my stance.

Canon means on thing when you are discussing the Bible. It means another when you discuss virtually any other text. And here you take the standard stance that if Joss says it, it must be so; his interpretation is the only interpretation. To that, I say balderdash. These are not his characters, not any more. Oh, sure, he created them, broke the story, gives the approvals, does not own the rights, etc. He doesn't really write much of the story any more, however. Others do. If you go to Alinea, and Grant Achatz is not there, you are eating his food designs, but he did not cook it for you. And with Joss, in way too many situations, people are ready to say they know what he meant. When they don't and can't.

But I will stand aside for the moment on this. My stance is well known and somewhat isolating. I'd rather hear yours. :-)

(ETA: Link to one of the original discussions: http://whedonesque.com/comments/12455)

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-02-10 01:46 ]
apollo11, please know that many (if not most) people here happily disagree with Dana5140 on this subject. I'm one of them and feel free to disregard his or my views on this subject with complete abandon. :)
I've only been an active member for the same amount of time as you have, apollo11, but I've lurked here long enough and read enough threads concerning canon to be pretty aware of Dana5140's opinions on this matter and also of the fervent passion he has for discussing it. As such, I have just one word of advice for you...

Run! ;)
Let's not openly invite the new people to take sides in ongoing disagreements, thanks.
I've lurked around here for *years* on and off, and really don't see a debate here to get into in the end. At least in this specific instance, the same person who has always made the big decisions for Buffy, Willow, Angel and everyone else, is the one saying it. Yes a certain amount is often left down to the reader to decide how they want to view things, but still behind that there is someone consistently planning things out with certain immutable points to it. As a story for example, there's this odd subset who still believe the Buffy/Satsu thing was a ZOMGLESBIANSRHAWT! publicity stunt. As opposed to the "canonical" and textual story shown - Buffy was lonely and needed *someone*. Interpretation vs "what we were told" was real. Facts that were decided.

Sometimes the subtext doesn't need to (rapidly) become text. Sometimes it has to be decided upon for us. It is "text" and choices are made and not up for discussion - with the big things, it happens all the time and that decision is final and not open to subtext.

As long as that is done by the same person who has always done it, you can't argue that it isn't in character as far as this particular case goes - the person deciding *is* that character in their head. I dare say Joss has gone through thinking as Buffy far more than anyone else. Fans do not own the character, they own their version of it which is why we're all with the inconsistancies they feel when things don't play the way they would have thought.

(Otherwise, if nobody was to make those Big "text" Decisions once in a while, again we end up in the Scary Place where shippers rule the show. Terror and darkness follows.)
Well, remove the shipper equation, apollo. I don't really see this as a shipper question; to me it has always been about the construction of meaning, i.e., reader response (a collective "oh no" just went up!) v. authorial intent. The reader has to construct the meaning. If Joss says that Faith's last name is Lehane, no point in arguing the issue and no real issue of "interpretation". But if Joss does not say Willow and Tara kissed after Tara blew out the candle, that is us constructing meaning. There is no way to "know" here. Obviously, someone writes the story and decides the direction; that's not debatable, but it is sort of banal. But Buffy is such a rich text because it is so open to interpretation. There is no one correct way to interpret it.
Never been one to take my own advice, so...

See, I'm not sure everyone is talking about precisely the same thing here. The canon that apollo11 is discussing is that factual, concrete evidence of what we see presented to us on the page. That Buffy did decide that she wants an abortion. We heard her say the words. That's the canon. The interpretation, or reader response, comes in with regard to what might be going on in her head for her to reach that decision. That is obviously going to be an entirely personal view for every fan, based upon the person they believe Buffy to be. They might even think the decision to abort the pregnancy doesn't mesh well with some of Buffy's previous decisions. That's opinion, interpretation, reader response. It doesn't change the canon, which is that for whatever reason Buffy did make that choice. And only Joss gets to ultimately decide that. He gets to create what is canon. We get to respond to what he offers and interpret what he doesn't.

To use your Willow/Tara example, Dana, the canon is not that they kissed, no matter how much what we saw would suggest that. The canon is that the candle was blown out. Nothing more.
See, I'm not sure everyone is talking about precisely the same thing here.

Truer words never spoken ;). And it's almost always true, too! But skipping over the whole reader response thing ;), I got lured back by twitter to read Quotergal's posts - fantastic as advertised.

For story's sake (and perhaps because I'm a mom at home with two small kids these days and so that's my life), I would be fascinated to see Buffy go ahead with the pregnancy and try to juggle motherhood with slaying. It would be a sort of darker more grown-up version of watching her try to juggle being an "ordinary" high school student with saving the world; some of my favorite Buffy moments have been watching her "normal" life collide with her slaying life. But I'm along for the ride wherever it goes.
Five horizons- That goes back to my argument in the link I provided to apollo and from an earlier whedonesque thread- what I ended up calling the imageswordsscenes of a scene. Yes, that is all we are given- what we see on screen. I then added what I called community interpretation- what a fandom has decided the meaning is. We have a general agreement that Willow and Tara had sex. It was never shown, but we all believe it so. That's a community interpretation.

The problem I have with canon, reduced to essence, is that it supposes there is only one true and correct interpretation. It is sort of like Schroedinger's equation- the cat is both alive and dead until you open the black box. And there are many interpretations- until Joss reduces it to one. I just find this problematic. But is canon only mageswordsscenes, or something more?
I'm not going to disagree with anything you say there, Dana, because for the most part we agree. The suggestion of the Willow/Tara scene is without a doubt that they were going to sleep together. Canon or not, it would be foolish to go out of your way to argue anything else. I mean, chances are that they didn't spend the rest of the evening doing laundry. That, for me, is less community interpretation and more basic common sense based upon what the average person would expect to happen under the circumstances presented to us. Although you could argue that the two things are the same, I suppose. The community agrees simply because they all individually predict the exact same obvious outcome.

As for canon, I do firmly believe that it should be considered nothing more than what you describe as imagewordsscene. Not because I have any issue with differing interpretations of a scene to my own. Far from it. I just believe that it's important to have a solid, indisputable source of factual information, free from the bias of any personal opinion outside of the writer or creator of the tale. I say both writer and creator simply because, even though Joss may not have written every word of the Buffy story himself, he has always had the final say on what we see as the one, true Buffy story. The Buffy canon.

Now, that takes absolutely nothing away from your reader response. Personally, I would say that the two things are of equal importance to the enjoyment of a story. However, for me, they remain two distinct entities. One being the facts of the story, common to us all. The other being how we each individually see those facts.
Five Horizons basically has it how I would say it there.
Thing is, this is one of those "Joss reduces it to one" interpretation times. It's decided, that's the decision that character would make, for those reasons. That is the only interpretation that is valid.
Well no... Even when Joss says "Scene x means this" does not mean another interpretation is not valid.

See, Joss never meant to hurt his viewers when he killed Tara. Or, rather, he never meant to hurt them as badly as he did. He can say forever that it was just part of telling the story, that it could have been Oz as much as Tara, but that will never change the fact that a whole lot of people read that scene far differently than Joss ever meant them to. You cannot say that their interpretation is not valid.
But then we are right back to confusing canon facts with interpretation.

Joss does not have an 'interpretation' of Scene X. He has the 100%, absolutely accurate, no margin for error, facts of Scene X. He isn't interpreting anything at all. He created it. The scene is his and he knows with absolutely clarity what it means and what it is meant to say to the audience.

Obviously this does not mean that each and every person that sees Scene X will understand exactly what Joss was saying with it. Many will read their own subtext into what they see. They will adapt it to suit their own opinions and ideals. React to it based upon their own specific feelings. The audience will interpret Scene X a thousand different ways to the way that Joss intended. Each interpretation will be just as valid as the rest. Your reader response again.

Even so, Joss is still the only man who can claim to know the truth of Scene X. Joss wrote that Tara died. A single canon fact. We responded to that death. An untold number of individual interpretations. All equally valid as reader response but none of them canon.
That second 'absolutely' in paragraph #2 was meant to be an 'absolute', obviously...

How long before the 'edit your dumbass typos' button appears again? ;)
5h- I got it, the typo. :-)

Hey, if Joss is the only one who knows the truth of the scene, and I interpret it different, what does canon even mean? :-)

Off to watch the political debate begin now on the new thread... :-)
Now, see, THAT is the essence of the question that I believe you have really been asking all along, Dana. The debate for you has never truly been about what canon is, as such. It's more a question of whether or not a writer's intended canon is more or less worthy or important that the individual reader's opinion of that canon. Whether the original intent of the scene supersedes what you took from it.

Well the answer to that, I personally believe, is that it is completely up to you and how you feel. I will always hold to my opinion that canon is entirely the creator's call, and the interpretation of the canon is then up to us to decide. Which is more important to you? Entirely your choice.

Canon is not supposed to be an authority on what we think or believe about a story. It's there to provide all involved, both creators and readers, with established facts and figures that can be used as a consistent basis for future stories to be told. That's all it really is. As such, why does Joss' intended canon need to hinder your interpretation of a scene in any way? Both can co-exist quite happily.

And yeah, think I might take a quiet back seat to that particular political debate. At least for now... ;)
5h- see, though, the problem I have had traditionally is that not everyone agrees with you; some argue that Joss's interpretation is the one real and true interpretation and no others are allowable.

Consider the kittens; to them, there is no S6 and 7. Of course, there is. But to them it does not exist. In that sense, canon means nothing.

That notable source of authoritative information- wikipedia- says this:

"In fiction, canon is the conceptual material accepted as "official" in a fictional universe's fan base. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction, which are not considered canonical. It is used in two slightly different meanings: first, "it refers to the overall set of storylines, premises, settings, and characters offered by the source media text".[1]:28 In this sense, canon is "the original work from which the fan fiction author borrows,"[2] or "the original media on which the fan fictions are based."[3] Secondly, it is used "as a descriptor of specific incidents, relationships, or story arcs that take place within the overall canon"; thus certain incidents or relationships may be described as being canon or not.[1]:32 The alternative term mythology is often used, especially to refer either to a richly detailed fictional canon requiring a large degree of suspension of disbelief (e.g. an entire imaginary world and history), or to a central thread of storytelling running through a broad fictional canon that may episodically wander into many side plots with little connection to that thread."

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-02-11 20:04 ]
Ultimately, you cannot force anyone to believe anything, no matter how true it may be. If somebody decides to believe from here on out that black is white and refuses to hear any factual arguments to the contrary, as far as they are concerned, black is going to be white. End of debate. Black is still black though.

Same goes for those that ignore seasons 6 and 7. For them the story ends with Buffy's death. Except it actually doesn't. Nobody will ever be able to force them to accept the ongoing canon of season 6 onwards, but it's still there. They don't get a choice in what is canon, only what part of that canon they want to acknowledge. Which is fine and as it should be.

Again, canon is not there to tell you what to think about a story, or what part of it you should enjoy or even care about. It's there for the purposes of consistent story telling. A guide book for future tales within a given fiction. In the case of Buffy, Joss absolutely should get to be the sole voice of that canon, but he has no say in how the canon should be interpreted once it's offered to us, and I don't believe he would want it if he could have. Letting your audience read between the lines and connect the dots in their own way is part of the fun of creating a world, I'd imagine.

Canon fact should not be open to interpretation, as it belongs to the creator, but at the same time interpretation of the story should not be limited by the canon, as that is a completely personal response, unique to each individual. The two things are quite different and serve different purposes, but are equally important to the enjoyment of a well told tale.

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