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September 26 2002

Checkpoint: President Buffy. The Council of United Nations.

"If the United Nations doesn't go along with America, the curtain will be drawn back, the mighty Oz will be exposed, and all of the nations who've put so much into the myth of Oz's power will lose their investments and become nothing but a council of obsolete watchers of America, the Vampire Slayer."

Buffy's becoming everybody's (or just lazy hacks) favourite metaphor.

America is the Vampire Slayer?! Give me a break.
It's the Washington Times, whaddya expect.

Several of the Warbloggers have seized on Buffy as a metaphor for "why-we-must-unilateraly-do-whatever-Bush-says".

Cripes, anyone who saw last year's SF Mime Troupe show knows that Cheney's the head vampire...
The Washington Times is a conservative (re: Republican) newspaper which is owned by a relgious cult called the Moonies. This cult performs the mass weddings in Asia which you may hear about from time to time. Best to keep that in mind when analyzing their writers' opinions. On the other hand, I wouldn't say it's lazy journalism in this case to use Buffy as a metaphor, since this person is at least a real Buffy fan. I don't think the Watcher Council has been seen for 2-3 years now.
Talk about a gross misuse of pop culture: the Washington Times' Jonah Goldberg stretches credulity and demeans one of the best shows on television by reading his own brand of American geopolitics into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Goldberg sees Buffy as a metaphor for the United States, the unilateralist "Slayer" who must take action while the ineffectual "Watchers" (a.k.a., the U.N.) fail to take charge of the situation time and time again. But the comparison is bunk, pure and simple.


First of all, Buffy rarely acts on her own. Hello? The Scooby Gang! One of Joss Whedon's favorite overarching themes is that teamwork and cooperation are good things, and that trying to go it alone often results in making a problem even worse. Buffy and her friends have always fared best when they acted "multilaterally".


Second, the United Nations is hardly a Council of "Watchers". Sure, the U.N. has drafted an awful lot of resolutions, but an awful lot of them get enforced, by foreign money and foreign muscle, mind you. I don't remember Buffy being ten years behind on her Watchers' dues! And whereas Mr. Goldberg attempts to paint the United Nations as a voyeuristic debating club, the reality couldn't be further than the truth - with peacekeeping missions in some of the world's most hopeless regions and myriad ongoing humanitarian projects in virtually every developing nation, the U.N. is often the only organization willing to do anything to help in areas devoid of strategic importance (and hence America's attention).


Finally, Buffy the Vampire Slayer deals mostly with a world of monsters, whereas we live in a world of men. But even Buffy knows the difference, and the limits of her power and moral authority. In the final episodes of last year's season, despite the fact that the wannabe supervillain Warren had senselessly murdered one of the Scoobies - Willow's girlfriend Tara - Buffy cautioned the enraged Willow about seeking vengeance on a mere mortal: "We love you. And Tara. But we don't kill humans. This isn't the way... if you do this - Warren destroys you too." Slaying vampires is one thing. Slaying Warren, however, no matter how heinous his crimes, is another. Willow ignores Buffy's advice, and uses her powers in rage and arrogance to kill her lover's killer. And rather than finding solace, she plunges deeper into madness instead. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has committed some terrible deeds, not only against his neighbors and his own people. But Iraq is a sovereign nation, and Saddam Hussein is a man, and we have ways of dealing with both, when they cross the line. If we the United States decides that we're above the law and act accordingly to go after what we sees as the "Big Bad", like Willow, we run the risk of going the beyond the point of no return, and, in classic Joss Whedon fashion, accidentally becoming the real Big Bad ourselves.
A very well-written rebuttal. You should send a copy to the Washington Times writer.

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