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February 14 2012

(SPOILER) Behind Buffy Season 9: Andrew Chambliss discusses Buffy's Choice. Comic Book Resources talks to Andrew Chambliss about the latest developments in Buffy's world. Spoilers for Issue #6, of course.

Probably the best thought out set of questions and answers in this entire... well, one doesn't want to say media blitz. It's the first one that doesn't make me feel like everyone involved in this book thinks people with a moral objection to abortion are martians.

But I do have to ask, re: "sensationalism", and I'm sincerely asking -- how many interviews did Joss or anyone at Mutant Enemy give specifically to talk about how profound the Willow/Tara kiss in "The Body" was? That would be a nice control for me, because that is pretty much my archetype for non-sensationalist storytelling. But as I was watching at the time, and didn't even know for weeks later that it was a big deal thing that had happened, I'm inclined to think there wasn't much hubbub.
CBR do a 'Behind S9' segment for every new issue that comes out. They did it for S8 too. You can hardly accuse it of being part of some ďmedia blitz.Ē

I don't think it's fair to call it a media blitz at all. They have only done two interviews with the media. Two. Joss did with one with USA Today and another with EW. They didn't promote it beforehand and they haven't talked to any other media since.

Other than that, Allie has talked with Buffyest but that's fandom.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2012-02-14 16:57 ]
Andrew Chambliss said:
But we didn't want it to be an easy answer. We really wanted to have a story that was about Buffy making the decision. Weighing all the options. Both on a practical level and on an emotional level. To say that this isn't something anyone decides easily or on a whim. It requires some deep soul searching and introspection. The idea was to try and take readers along with Buffy on that journey -- have them be with her while she asked the tough questions -- and, at the very least, understand why she made the decision she did.

I actually think this is the biggest gripe I had with the issue: the actual time it took to make the decision. Only 6 pages of comic book. No internal monologue. And she didn't even talk to her 2 best friends. To me it did feel like, if not an easy answer, at least a quick one.
Vampmogs, you're right, and it's my mistake. This particular interview is not part of what is otherwise fair enough to describe as a media blitz (in terms of a comic book storyline, yes).

Corporate ownership is not what defines "media", not in any way shape or form. Fan-run media is still media. Buffyfest is basically a news reporting service for things pertaining to... "Buffy". They would probably qualify for protection under press-shield laws; they are media.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-02-14 16:52 ]
Even if I agreed with you that talking to a fansite is the same thing, which I don't, that's still only 3 interviews. Hardly what I'd call a "blitz." And itís not like Allie doesnít do interviews on a very regular basis so itís not exactly out of the ordinary.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2012-02-14 17:13 ]
Really it's just those two interviews with Joss. But I agree with King that Andrew's interview is less polemical and off-putting than was Joss's. It's the first interview I've read that makes me feel the way I felt when I first read the issue cold -- that it's an issue written by people who are pro-choice, but who have a feel for the complexity of the issue and have respect for people who hold different views on the subject.
Is three a blitz? Well, it's not literally "infinitely" more than zero, that would be bad math, but 3/0 is still a pretty remarkable ratio. Again I wonder (and would appreciate searhcfu help; so far I haven't found any), how many interviews did Joss or anyone at ME give in the first five days after "The Body" and its then groundbreaking (on American TV) lesbian kiss, about the kiss?
I think it's something Joss needed to say. While I would have probably thought it'd be nice to have him post about it here - it's a subject that did need some extra explanation for a lot of people so they don't question Joss's loyalties. Or something. I think it was necessary media, which is something people aren't considering. (Plus Joss wanted to bring up the discussion, so it's sort of his intention for it to make headlines).
I think the only creator involved in issue 6 that we haven't heard from is Georges Jeanty.
Great interview. I disagree with him though, that Buffy is "all alone" in this. In fact, the issue itself explicitly established that her great support network is exactly what distinguishes Buffy from Nikki.

Another quibble: I'm having a little hard time suspending my disbelief about Buffy's rationale: The suggestion that being a Slayer's no real obstacle to responsible parenthood, but her perceived inability to deal with life's practical issues is a completely insurmountable problem. Marvel comics introduced a similar dichotomy in many of its heroes, and it often works. But here, I'm feeling it's a little contrived. I feel like it's somewhat out of character for Buffy to make this decision (though I wholeheartedly support her right to do so), and the authors are trying a little too hard to justify it.

Overall though, I'm loving this story arc, and Andrew's handling of it. I'm glad he was a little more circumspect about injecting his own value judgments into the storyline.

Also, I've never seen Georges's art look so good.
So let me get this. Some people think abortion is controversial? Oh. Right. It's the same people. Nevermind.
There may only be 3 interviews but there is one hell of a lot of media here. They don't need to do many interviews to use the power of the web, fandom and viral marketing to push a message out.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-02-14 19:44 ]
So let me get this. Some people think abortion is controversial? Oh. Right. It's the same people. Nevermind.


Is this called for?
Just wishing there were additional and more varied points of view. Seems to be the same people saying the same thing in every thread ad nauseum. I think we've got your point. You think it's bad. Message received.
KoC, you seem to have made a concerted effort in every Buffy thread from Wednesday onwards to make the conversation go the way you want it go. Which does not make for great discussion. So you may kick your heels elsewhere for a while.

I have no problem with pro-lifers or pro-choicers declaring their interests in terms of Buffy Season 9 discussion, but not at the expense of monopolising entire threads.

And IrrationaliTV, if you have a problem with other posters do have the courtesy to email us about it.
Squishy, I didn't get the idea that being a Slayer is no obstacle to being a mother, and that Buffy thinks she's completely unable to handle real life. Instead, I got the impression that Buffy's in a very different place from Nikki as a Slayer--not only because there are many other Slayers who can take over her duties, but also because she feels that (given a sufficient reason), she could walk away from slaying and not look back. Regarding "real life," though, she doesn't think she could be a good mother right now, because of her financial position.

That made perfect sense to me the first time I read it--I didn't hear her saying that she can't handle real life in general, or that she doesn't think she could be a good mother sometime in the future--just that from a realistic, practical standpoint, she cannot feasibly provide for a child right now.

Of course, this is just my reading, and I may have misunderstood why this didn't make sense to you. My position in life is somewhat similar to Buffy's ... I'm a single twenty-something, and while I'm in grad school instead of in a minimum-wage job, I can definitely relate to her financial straits. So that might have something to do with why her thought process seemed so clear to me.
Hey! I'm getting the feeling from some of those interviews that Buffy might actually not carry up the abortion. And I'm starting to question if after such a beautiful issue and well-writen story it might be a disservice if she actually gives birth. Just wanted to throw that out!
There's nothing to say that a beautifully written story about choosing one thing can't lead to a beautifully written story about the other outcome.
I just found the part about how Andrew and Joss were discussing Buffy's pregnancy - but the way he worded it sounded like a real person they knew who got pregnant - interesting. I guess after all these years she is a real person to Joss?

I found a bit of fan fic I wrote during season six (set in and written in) about Dawn coming to Spike to take her to the clinic because she was pregnant and didn't know who the father was. I put the disclaimer "Not taking a stance, just telling a story."

Joss (and Andrew) tell stories very well.
When I first read Issue #6, it didn't actually register for me that Spike had been on the verge of sharing with Buffy his feelings for her. Having since re-read the issue, I don't know how I missed it. And now that I see it, I love the counterpoint this "relationship" plot thread offers to Buffy's situation and what she feels are her choices. So complicated, and as such, so very true to life. (Spaceships, zompires and general forces of supernatural darkness notwithstanding, of course.)
erendis, you make a good point and it hadn't occurred to me that Buffy might have been thinking of giving up slaying altogether. If so, that would make it more plausible that real life responsibility would be more of a problem than slaying, since she can just give up the latter while the former is unavoidable.

On the other hand, if she can give up slaying altogether, then I really don't get why she can't find it in herself to raise a kid. After all, slaying is by far the biggest competing commitment she has. With that out of the picture, she could devote herself fully to finding a good job and raising the kid. Having led armies and saved the world multiple times, I think she could find a way to make a decent living and take care of a kid, especially with the great support network she knows she has.

Not that raising a kid is a walk in the park. I'm know that firsthand. But she's far better qualified to be a Mom than your average person, I think. As a result, it feels to me like the authors wanted to tell a story where Buffy decides to have an abortion, and that in order to make that happen, they had to come up with a not-entirely-plausible contrivance that does not seem in keeping with the character.

All that said, I really do think the story as a whole is great stuff, despite these relatively minor criticisms. By returning the focus to the characters and their very human dilemmas, Joss and Andrew are making Buffy great again.

For example, that final scene between Spike and Buffy was pure emotional gold. Spike finally gins up the courage to profess his feelings, only to be cut off by Buffy's revelation that: (1) she was going to ask run away with him; (2) she's pregnant and is going to get an abortion; and (3) she needs his support. And of course, in his uniquely unjudgemental way, Spike sets aside his own emotional needs to be there for her. Great, great stuff. I would even go so far as to argue that the comic story has, for the first time, surpassed some of the TV show story arcs in quality (I'm looking at you season 7).

I, for one, have not felt this kind of suspense in the comics before, or been so anxious to read the next issue. Nor do I feel like the comics have ever been so good at getting inside these characters, and bringing them the pain. I am, in short, a very happy reader.
I haven't really chimed in much, just tossed in a few pebbles of meta-questions to see what kind of ripples they made. Moreover I have not read any of S9, although I've been following the media coverage and reading the preview pages, so I have a rough idea of what's gone on. So I'll put this in the form of a question: is Buffy depressed again? Low-wage job, strained sense of purpose, turning to Spike...

I may be projecting a bit here. I'm in the middle of my own depressive episode at the moment. I've got a couple of decent, steady jobs and a support system probably even better than Buffy's, and my mystical calling is nowhere near as intense as hers, but I know I could not raise a kid right now. Being a good parent takes a lot of energy that I just don't have, as well as being whole in the head.

So if Buffy's feeling down again, all her reasons against taking on something so huge will be a) enormously magnified in her mind and b) all the more justified. Depression is a serious illness.

Just wondering.
Is Buffy depressed? Good question.

Possibly. I think she's grieving, for the loss of Giles, and in a different way, for Angel (or Twilight/Twangle/Whatever).

But more so than being depressed, I just think she's lost. As I write this, I can't help but feel (and I haven't thought this through) that Buffy is effectively two people: Buffy Summers, and The Slayer. It seems that the ironclad identity of the latter comes at the expense of the former. Buffy's always (with the odd glitch) been brilliant at being the Slayer. But being herself - just Buffy - has always been so much harder for her.

Come to think of it, and this is a very sweeping generalisation, but perhaps she's always been lost. I mean, there is such a complex relationship between her identity and her calling. Maybe that's what the first Slayer's "You are not the Slayer" message could mean; that she, Buffy, is not her calling. This could be potentially so liberating for Buffy, and so empowering. But it could also feel like a profound and terrifying loss of self, too, if she doesn't see herself as having a sense of self beyond that of being the Slayer.

Buffy's life is full of expectations, obligations and pressures, and no one is harder on her than she is on herself. But I firmly believe that she'll always do what she thinks is right. Her judgement might not be infallible, but it's pretty hard to fault her integrity. The most human of superheroes is she. And huzzah for that.

[ edited by EffulGentleman on 2012-02-15 06:53 ]
Sure Buffy COULD give up slaying and devote herself to getting a job and being a mom, yes she's capable, (as you say, squishy) but geez, maybe she doesn't WANT to do all that!

She's just barely at the point of figuring out who she is and what she wants, maybe she wants to do that rather than change her whole life and be a mom. I, personally, don't think that's so crazy or out of character. Buffy has been struggling since S5 to figure out who she is and what the balance between Buffy and Slayer is, and buried under all the bells and whistles and space sex that was a big theme of S8 as well. Having this kid would mean basically putting that aside and deciding, I'm going to be a mom now, instead.

I don't think she's depressed-- I think she's making a decision that makes a lot of sense given her current life and mental state, and I personally feel that that is very in character for her. It could be seen as slightly selfish, but I think that is exactly what she should be doing for herself after everything. Everyone else is taking care of themselves, even if it's at Buffy's expense a little; she needs to take care of herself.

Even Spike, as much as he's there for her, is taking care of himself in a way that he wasn't in, say, S6 or 7-- he's there for her-- he's in SF for her-- but he has his own life too.

I think after all the battles and sacrifices Buffy finally has the opportunity to make herself a priority, and I say hurrah. My guess is, she'll need to be taking care of herself to deal with whatever's coming next...

ETA-- and all of what effulGentleman just posted too! Yes!

[ edited by aphasia on 2012-02-15 06:28 ]
The First Slayer is right; Buffy is NOT the Slayer. Faith is. That's where the line goes.

But another good point has been raised. No one ever seems to grieve in Buffy- partly due to the demands of "the job." But once Willow was saved, we got one episode that addressed Tara and Willow moving on- The Killer in Me. Giles has been lost, and Buffy has not grieved.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-02-15 13:43 ]

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-02-15 13:44 ]
Buffy grieved for Angel early on in S3... thanks to a little steering from Giles.
And that's about it. It's just not something they show, anymore than they do trips to the grocery store.

Heck, I'm totally pro-life whne I'm standing ina voting booth, but it doesn't mean I can't find a story with a different POV moving. I read two fics once, the first with Bufyf (still back in the 'dale) chossing an abortion (specifically because of the SLayer issues) and tara is the only one who supports her. The second elaborated on it, Tara tlaking abpout her own pregnancy at 17, her decision to keep it, then a miscarriage before she was showing, and her resolve from then to always respect others' decisions on these matters.

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