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September 10 2012

(SPOILER) Meet the first gay male Slayer. Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg tell all.

So it all comes down to this! Joss kept his word, I can't wait to see what Billy brings to the table and how he ties into the characters' lives. Nice twist.
Wow, a world of no. Slayers are female. Gay men are not.
Gay men can do ANYTHING!!!!!!! Looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
Airawyn - From what the article states, Billy will not have slayer powers; he's more of a vigilante type. To which I say 'meh' but the idea of having a heroic figure for gay people is not totally horrendous, since they lack so many. I'm not gay but I approve that message.

[ edited by Jonnathan on 2012-09-10 17:31 ]
Hmmm...I see what Ms Espenson is getting at in the article but, does that mean we have to lump effeminate gay men with women? I know several gay men who like to emphasize the point that they are male.
I'd rather just stick with the females are slayers mythology. That said, I can work with this because he's not gifted with superpowers as Buffy is. But if that's the case, what's the great significance of having him? Just to have a gay character? Wasn't that already fulfilled with Willow or Andrew (though, was Andrew's sexuality ever flatly defined?) and they slay. *shrug*

[ edited by CrystalSC on 2012-09-10 17:39 ]

[ edited by CrystalSC on 2012-09-10 17:39 ]
*raises hand* If fighting vampires while not having any of the Slayer powers was the criteria for being called the Slayer, wouldn't Andrew already fit this description and be the "first gay male Slayer"?

Edited for grammar.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2012-09-10 17:39 ]
Airawyn, what an knee-jerk, annoying comment. He sounds like he's just like Gunn, not a real slayer, so what's so bad?

And the ninja report, that is a good point, but Andrew is kind of not out of the closet, or bi, or ambiguous or something. We know he's gay but he doesn't identify himself as such. So in that sense he's not the first gay male slayer.
Would you call Xander a slayer? A straight male slayer? No one defines any of the scooby gang as a "slayer" even though they kill & slay with Buffy.
Thing is, about Gunn, Wes or Giles (before they were throwing magic around), Riley, Xander-as-Nighthawk, even Holtz, and of the prior Badass Normal men... nobody went out of their way, authorially, to name them as Slayers even in so much as a figurative sense (one teasing/flirting reference by Cordy aside, never as a badge of their credibility).

So, in the classic Sesame Street sense of "one of these things is not like the other", one has to notice that it's only now that it's a gay character that that veil is lifted. It's got... questionable optics, if the implication is that gay men are suitably like unto woman that in the Buffyverse, they may carry a woman's exclusive title, even as an honorific. I mean, even Willow got no-selled on claiming the term in "Two to Go", and not because of her "rogue" status (Faith says 'what up, yo'), but because... not a Slayer. Connor, actual superpowers... not a Slayer. So what's the what here?

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-09-10 17:57 ]
They don't do what she does, though. From the interview, it seems like Billy's going to fashion himself after slayers-proper, which I take to mean patrolling cemeteries every night like Buffy, Kendra and her predecessors--something Xander and Willow never really did, only for the summers when she was gone, and only as a group. Even Gunn had a posse, which I don't think will apply here. But we can see.
I'm so relieved that he wasn't called or has slayer powers... I get that magic doesn't exist, so I thought they'd use a loophole for a guy getting called, but I'm so happy they're using the whole vigilante approach.

Also, sure, Xander and Andrew have helped kill vamps before, but maybe that's what Billy does the majority of his time; maybe that's what he is focusing on in his life, thus making him the first true male slayer.
I think we need to see what they do with the story. It's probably just a symbolic title. If his story parallels a slayer's coming of age story, there's no reason they can't tell it. Everything else is just marketing.
Not sure how they're going to handle the idea that a person who is not a Slayer (because forget male, forget gay - before anything else, Billy is a person who is not a Slayer) decides to call himself a Slayer, but I like this much better than any last-minute tinkering with the mythology that they might have come up with to explain giving him the usual platter of superpowers.

Also, cool preview pages. I already like his friend, would like to hope she'll stick around.
It's very confusing. Even if he were given a watcher and slayer training it would be a stretch to call him a slayer. Or even the son of a slayer would be more logical. There has to be more to it but as described in the article it feels a little forced.
Did any male Buffyverse characters ever aspire to be a Slayer before today? Xander, Wes etc killed vampires but they never wanted to be one. Or maybe they did and I missed that bit.

thus making him the first true male slayer.


There is Harth but is he a male half-Slayer?
I think the closest comparison is Gunn. I'm not convinced that Billy works as a clone of Xander or Andrew, mostly because it seems like he's modeling himself after the vampire slayers. Xander and Andrew, on the other hand, feel more like Watcher figures to me. Less leaders - more like support.

As for the gay aspect of this... well, I think the entire idea of specifically identifying him as a vampire slayer (despite not having the Slayer's powers) is because that moniker has become a way to empower the disenfranchised. I think what they're doing is probably the best way they could possibly open that door without simultaneously demeaning the female empowerment of the true Slayer line and lumping gay men in with women.

I don't think that effeminate gay men are being lumped in with women necessarily... though I do think it's excellent to build a role model for effeminate gay men. Most gay male role models that I've come across have been portrayed as very masculine. And as Drew Greenberg discussed, effeminate gay men are also the target of a lot of nasty comments from other gay men.

The root of the problem, from my perspective, is two-fold. For one, many consider femininity and masculinity intrinsically linked to gender. They're not. Second, femininity is often seen as inferior to masculinity. It's not.

Anyway, that's a little ramble-y. But the jist of it is this: I don't think they're doing a disservice to the existing vampire slayer mythology or the women that it has empowered. I do think that it's about time effeminate gay men had a positive role model that isn't marginalized because of his femininity.
I absolutely love this idea. Absolutely amazing. And just from those preview pages alone, I can already tell that this is going to be some of my favorite writing from Season 9 this far. I already like those two characters.
narky, true. I didn't make that distinction, though. I figure you are who you are whether or not it is public.

A lot of the hilarity with Andrew was how far behind the curve he was, emotionally, compared to everyone else, and this extended to what he knew about himself and what everyone else knew about him. So even though he wasn't "out" I figured that it was really just him being a little slower to awareness.

I think one of the nuances of patrolling (I suppose only in Buffy can routine walks in cemeteries have nuance) was that Buffy did it, often alone, because she was better at protecting herself without having others to watch out for as well. When Buffy left Sunnydale, they were forced to step up and patrol every night, and did it as a group because they needed strength in numbers.

The realist in me says that Batman (the example used in the article) had gadgets and a lot of really good training, but even he occasionally needed Robin to ride shotgun.
I think the difference with all the other non slayer characters is that they don't aspire to be one. The point of this story seems to be about someone who feels trapped and repressed, and uses the 'slayer' idea to help them through a tough time.

For me, what Jane and Drew are saying is that there is a kind of reverse misogyny that values (more highly) those character traits that society has decided are masculine. This is particularly prevalent when directed towards gay men. We're often judged on how 'successfully' we fit into the straight male role. I think people get more uncomfortable with a man aspiring to be a female character, and by aspire I don't mean aspiring to be a woman from a gender identity point of view, but aspiring to act with the courage and integrity of that character. I think that's the metaphor that's going on here.
OMg I don't know where to begin. *head desk*

Imo unless this is written very carefully this is going to have appallingly offensive implications.

I normally trust Jane, but we'll see.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-09-10 18:21 ]
Ha, whilst I was writing my post a few people got in there first with pretty much the same. Must learn to write quicker.
I can see where choosing to do this might be the difference between other characters and Billy...a central theme in Buffy was that no one chose what they were going to be, only that they were placed in impossible situations and had to rise to the challenge, to choose to fight back. This allowed characters to prove they could be brave and do more than others had assumed (Snyder thought Buffy was a criminal, Willow's mother didn't understand her, Xander was shunned for his lack of smarts and skills, and Cordy was always the beauty but never the brains).

I think the difference with all the other non slayer characters is that they don't aspire to be one. The point of this story seems to be about someone who feels trapped and repressed, and uses the 'slayer' idea to help them through a tough time.


I understand feeling trapped and repressed..but dear and fluffy lord, devoting your life to fighting the forces of evil is overdoing it a bit, isn't it? Maybe try therapy first? I mean, within the Buffyverse, his chances of survival have to be pretty slim. Even Buffy died - several times! I'm joking, of course..I think I'll have to read the series to understand what they're trying to do, but I do hope it isn't the case of a character leaping into fighting vampires just because it's a plotline... I mean, maybe a good message to incorporate is to fight the forces of injustice through writing your congressional representative or raising funds for social awareness groups.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2012-09-10 18:26 ]

[ edited by the ninja report on 2012-09-10 18:43 ]
Pretty much what KoC said.

I just don't like that they are labeling him a Slayer. Names and labels have meaning. If they're not a part of the Chain then they're not a Slayer. Simple as that.
I'm so glad I stopped reading these after people started flying.

Buffy ended with its seventh season, and nobody (not even Joss) can convince me otherwise.
Still, a great comment Andrew. I for one am glad you took the time.
So they aren't actually changing the mythology for those who were concerned.Billy will have a title of slayer but it's still only girls who get the superpowers.
If the character isn't a slayer why are they calling him a slayer? This sounds like bad fanfic to me. Sorry guys.
Knuckleball -- Most gay male role models that I've come across have been portrayed as very masculine. And as Drew Greenberg discussed, effeminate gay men are also the target of a lot of nasty comments from other gay men.

The root of the problem, from my perspective, is two-fold. For one, many consider femininity and masculinity intrinsically linked to gender. They're not. Second, femininity is often seen as inferior to masculinity. It's not.


Very well said! I love this. I really do.

The whole angle they're approaching it from is "So what if Billy has 'feminie' traits? It’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of." What he's saying is actually right on point. Gay men are constantly looked down on by both straight people and other gay men if they don't act traditionally masculine. Why? Because being "girly" is something to be embarrassed about. Drew's not wrong to say this has to do with both our internalised homophobia and misogyny. Just look at our everyday language and how it perpetrates the idea that “girly” equates to being lame or stupid. You can even find examples of it in BtVS;

BUFFY:
Ok it’s a big dumb girly thing but I love it

OZ:
It’s not so girly. Ice is cool. Its water but it’s not.


The implication of course is that ice is not girly because it’s actually cool, and the two are antithetical, right? “Girly” things aren’t cool but just “dumb” (as Buffy says) and frivolous. Or what about Cordelia mocking Xander for “running like a woman” in Go Fish? Again, the implication is that running like a woman is something any self-respecting man should be ashamed of. Or Xander criticising Angel for having a “girly” name as if it’s something he should be embarrassed about? Misogyny is embedded into our everyday culture and language. It’s why it’s considered insulting to be told you “cry like a girl” but, on the flipside, it’s deemed a compliment for Buffy to be told that “she’s ‘da man!”. It is constantly reinforced to us that girly things are not as important or respectful as masculine things are. And we all (men and women) participate in reinforcing these ideas without even being are of it. That’s what Drew is talking about when he refers to “internalised homophobia and misogyny” and how insidious it actually is.

A lot of homophobia stems from people disliking gay men because they consider them feminine. And this is one of the major reasons and that often, but not always, gay men have a much harder time being accepted by straight males than they do women. And as Drew says, a lot of people within the gay community will look down upon gay men who don’t act masculine. So instead of Drew and Jane depicting Billy as having traditionally masculine traits to show people that “See! All gay men aren’t girly!” they’re actually embracing his feminine attributes and are making a conscious effort to say “Yeah, he acts feminine, so what?” That’s why they’re calling it ‘Billy the Vampire Slayer.’ They’re embracing that about him and are choosing to depict it as empowering rather than problematic. That's not only a really positive message to send out to gay readers but it's totally keeping in line with the feminist ideals of the show, which is really awesome.

I get the concerns that we shouldn't stereotype all gay men as being feminine. Admittedly, as someone who isn't feminine and has easily "passed" for the past 23 years I do get irritated that people assume all gay men act a certain way. But what Drew says is absolutely correct as I have witnessed firsthand how disparaging gay men can be towards, as they call them, “fems” or “queens” because they act girly and that is something to be ashamed of. I think a large part of that frustration stems from masculine gay men feeling like they’re all going to be tarred with the same brush (because the stereotype is that gay men are overtly feminine and it’s not fun to be held to a stereotype that doesn’t apply to you) but a part of it absolutely has to do with our internalised misogyny and how we have it drilled into our heads from a very young age that femineity/girlishness isn’t as cool as being manly. Whether you’re male, female, gay or straight we’re all exposed to that message in our everyday lives. So I’m actually really interested in how Drew and Jane have chosen to approach this and I actually think it’s really cool they gave Billy the title of “Vampire Slayer” – even if I think others are correct that the in-story reason will be that Billy is deliberately moulding himself off actual Slayers. Something Holtz, Gunn, Wesley, Connor and Xander never did.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2012-09-10 18:53 ]
Do people not understand that Billy is identifying himself as a Slayer, but not actually BEING one? What's so hard to understand about that? I think this is an amazing metaphor, because Buffy's always been a message of empowerment. If Jane and Drew and Joss want to use the Slayer term just as more metaphor, then do it. It's THEIR story. This isn't fanficion, this isn't going to be offensive at all. If the character wasn't gay, no one would raise a fuss that a guy is trying to slay vampires. The very fact that we're discussing if its going to offensive or not is the very reason why there should be more visibility in the gay community that it's OKAY to not be a "masculine" gay man. If Billy fit more into the "I'm gay but you wouldn't know it from my masculine personality", THAT would actually cheapen this whole thing.

That's my two cents. Jane does wonders with the Husbands series, can't wait to see what she does with Billy.
In other hands I'd be worried this would fall into the "gay men are just like women" pile of sloppy writing (which is a tall pile). But these writers typically approach such issues with great understanding and write them with a particular deftness. I'll withhold judgment until I've read the story.
What is kind of bothering me with all this, is that originally Buffyverse was that new fantastic universe where characters just happened to be somebody struggling with their identity, dis-empowered, subverted, denying imposed cliches and rolemodels, etc; and as they went about their lives things happened to them that made the audience to empathize with them, and see the world from their perspective. Nowadays all the verse is about is setting a message in big bold letters : 'abortion can be your choice' story, a gay youth can be a hero too, and then wrap a story around it. Mind that I am exclusively pro- both of these choices. It just feels puzzling that desired message can no longer be delivered organically, and so an extra emphasis on effeminate power is Slayerhood is needed , where it never was required before. Weird. I like the preview panel a lot, btw, but as many others here wondered already - why does Billy have to be called a Slayer? The verse never made a heavy emphasis on it male champions being inferior to female ones.
Actually, valuing the masculine over the feminine is just the regular brand of misogyny. :) And I see where they're coming from, but I still find it problematic, esp. with their first major (out) gay male character.
If the character wasn't gay, no one would raise a fuss that a guy is trying to slay vampires.

Him being gay isn't what the fuss is about. It's about him being labelled a Slayer. Also you get the feeling that if this character was straight they wouldn't be using the Slayer term at all.
Honestly, if any male should earn the title of 'First Male Slayer' it should be Robin Wood. Son of a slayer, raised by her watcher, was killing vamps before he even met the Scoobies (and one would assume before they even *were* the scoobies). If we're talking 'earning' the title, I say he gets it first.
Exactly -- who cares if he is trying to kill vampires? He is like the 90th Badass Normal in 12 seasons of television and 60+ issues of comic continuation. But he is the first who is not actually a Vampire Slayer to ostensibly be called such.

I would totally get announcing him, in an homage cover -- like a self-referential homage cover! -- as "Billy the Vampire Slayer" once, by way of introduction. Because that's something they could have done to do the reveal of any new character along those lines. I don't think it accrues the really questionable metaphorical implications unless this actually becomes an in-story reference point, something he calls himself, something others call him. If Buffy, who would not even grant Willow this honor, at any low of a point of her week, will call this guy "Slayer", that's legitimately disappointing.

My reaction to this is summed up in a Fry meme I made -- "not sure if empowering, or just implying that gay guys really want to be chicks".
When did Buffy become "what hot topic can we piggy back off of"? Abortion, now "gay male slayer". Buffy the show was quality. Buffy the comics is an embarrassment.
I think dorotea hit on a good point. There's a point where things can be trite or lose their message because it seems forced, like you're working on a checklist. What was very surprising for me when I started season 8 was Buffy and Satsu. I remember thinking "what the hell?" because there was no discovery or journey or anything to indicate Buffy was ever attracted to women and it seemed so out of character that I really didn't want to continue reading.
This seems to be a story of a young man choosing to take action against a threat in his life. He chooses to emulate the female slayer perhaps because he finds femininity more fitting for his life.

In reality, any man who emulates femininity is the subject of ridicule. It's as if femininity itself is some how weak (12 year old boys hesitate to cry). I think that Espenson and Greenberg are simply using the term slayer to test that belief system.

They are two very astute writers who are well aware of the Buffyverse mythology. IMO, nothing is going to change except that we get this really cool gay character who can kick ass but doesn't look like, walk or talk like a superhero. But he is one.
I'll use this moment of calm to remind posters that if you do have a problem with the Buffy comics per se to take it elsewhere.

As far for the story line of a young male wanting to emulate a female role model*, well that is quite an interesting idea and I would like to see it explored more. It had never occurred to me before when thinking about the Buffyverse, so kudos to the writers for coming up with something new.

*it happened for me in this fandom
See, I thought the point was that he, she, we, they, you, anybody should choose to emulate a female Slayer because they find that heroism, courage, and compassion are more fitting for his life, whether it's a man or woman role-modeling it. I thought that has been the point from the first episode. Or it used to be and it just got a bus dropped on it, and now only people who self-identify with Buffy's femininity should emulate her.
Personally, I don't see him as wanting to model himself after Buffy or the slayers because of their femininity. (Again, we're assuming that because they're women they're also feminine, which is not necessarily true.)

I think he's modeling himself after Buffy and the slayers because he identifies with the idea of those who are typically marginalized by society proving that such marginalization is a completely false construction of society.

To me, that's what the Slayer mythos has always been about. It's not just about being heroic, courageous and compassionate, but also about having those traits assigned to someone who is typically disenfranchised.
I'm a gay young male. I grew up on Buffy. I started watching the series in fourth grade. Buffy and her friends were my role model growing up. I mostly looked up to Sarah Michelle Gellar, followed her to Buffy and then became instantly hooked on Joss' work. I want to emphasize that there are many gay men that look up to female role models. I didn't have a strong father figure role in my life so I found myself being drawn to female role models. I think this is a great idea. Someone who looks up to Buffy and wants to be like her. It's beautiful.
So, in other words, it's a guy slayer who isn't actually a Slayer. I'm sure the story itself might be pretty good, but the basic concept is little more than a play on words, in the bland sense of that phrase.
I will agree, it is uplifting that, for the very first time, they've come up with a character who, when it's dark, and he's all alone, and scared or freaked out or whatever, always thinks "what would Buffy do?" Because this is a special connection that only a gay male character could share with a female superhero. I guess. Again, I thought the point was that Buffy was anybody's role-model.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-09-10 20:44 ]
Hmmm. I came to see what all the fuss was about and this was the quote at the top of the page:

"I wanted to do a show about people who are not 'super,' just working-class people, the people history steps on. (Joss on Firefly)"

I find that strangely fitting.
It is fitting; but as landmarks go, it makes Billy more John Young and less Neil Armstrong (Young was the ninth man to walk on the moon). Had plenty of "people who are not 'super'" getting after it before in the Buffyverse, hence the confusion that he is the one who is getting called Slayer by Voice of the Author and none prior have, and the vague feeling that there's something... crass about it if the only reason that's the case is because he is homosexual.
I think the key point you're missing there, though, is that they don't state in the interview that Buffy is Billy's role model. They're talking about the Slayers in general as his role model.

Buffy has many great qualities, all of which make her a good role model for anyone. When Xander gives her that speech in The Freshman, he's not saying that she's his hero because she has super strength. It's because of other qualities that make her the hero she is.

But I don't think this storyline is about any of those qualities. Obviously, we'll have to wait and see how it plays out, but it looks to me like this is simply an adaptation of the Slayer mythology into a different context. Instead of it being women who are empowered, this time it's an effeminate gay male. And again, considering the lack of positive depictions of effeminate gay males in media, I think that's great.

Is it absolutely necessary that he be called Billy the Vampire Slayer? Probably not. But for all the non-superpowered people we've had fighting vampires and demons in the Buffyverse, I think you could probably make the case that someone specifically modeling himself after the Slayers should deserve the title. I also don't think it hurts the story or the series in any meaningful way, particularly if it's something that he decided to call himself. (In fact, that would resonate with me personally, since for many years I personally used the name adam_tvs on a lot of online forums.)
I thought the point was that Buffy was anybody's role-model.

It still can be. This is just one story about one person. It's meant to be inclusive, not exclusive.

Whether he should be called a slayer or not is just semantics. And not something we can decide when we haven't even read it yet.
I personally am excited for this character/story and as far as the "slayer" thing goes, in Buffy season 8 #40 after fighting slayers she said you aren't the slayer I am, and I think what I took from that was not just being called but how you live, having purpose, and if billy feels like he is a slayer who just hasn't been called why not have him live the slayer lifestyle, especially if his character feels like he can identify with them or their purpose. And as far as other male characters go they never expressed that they felt a slayer influence, which I think will be Billy's feelings. Just an opinion~ ( :
A lot of the previous posters said this, but Billy is basically just like Gunn, Xander or Riley. A male who slays vamps. I am always iffy when it comes to introducing a new character in an established verse, but I guess it just comes down to Joss is writing. As long as long as Billy is important to the story's progress I have no problem with him.
I honestly don't get what the big deal about his sexual orientation is all about. Maybe I don't see all the hype in it because I live in a small town right outside of S.F. and gay couples are normal where I live. I just hope they don't change the slayer mythos.
Could this be a story similar to Spike's search for his soul? Maybe Billy doesnt START OUT with powers, but he goes on a quest to earn them, and somehow does?
This seems to me like a gimmick. This is why I really prefer the angel/faith comic...it is actually rooted in the mythology of the shows, and is not compromising story to "make the news."
It's interesting that this new character--a young man in search of validation and empowerment--has the same name as Doctor Horrible.
I think to ascribe gimmick-dom to this, one has to have not read the linked article. He is not literally a slayer, he is someone who looks up to and seeks to emulate Buffy, his heroine.
My only complaint is the name really. Billy in the Buffyverse already means something to me and that was AtS because even though the character was minor, his presence in the chain of events of multiple characters was quite profound.
And I think to ascribe "compromising story" to this, one has to have read the arc, which I'm probably safe in saying no one here has.
Of course the other side of this is now having said that people can complain that given the symbolic nature of his aspirational 'title', they did not go far enough and are pandering in other ways. You can't win in writing :)
I don't know Simon, Zeitgeist and b!x, Stupendous brings up a good point. Joss Whedon might be the greatest user of shameless gimmick exploitation in the history of storytelling. Just off the top of my head:

There was that time he shot an episode where nobody spoke for 3/4 of the episode. Total gimmick.

And that time they had one of those gimmicky musical episodes where the characters break out into song (right in the middle of the episode, where talking usually happens!)

What about that time when there was a very special episode of Buffy in which one of the characters brings a gun to school and it happened right after the Columbine shooting (didn't they run that one right after the tragedy to cash in on the free press?)

Then of course there was that time two lesbians kissed, on screen, just for gimmicky ratings....

Yep, Joss is the master of the shameless gimmick.

This started as a semi-snarky comment on how Joss is ALWAYS about the story...but now that I re-read what I wrote, I think maybe Joss really does love turning a gimmick on it's ear. I mean, if he can elevate a "gimmick" to the level of some of his previous endeavors, I think I'll take a Joss gimmick over most anyone's best efforts in a classic take of ethos logos and pathos. )And before you all jump on me, I know Earshot was delayed)
Zeit, I don't see where there is much if any response that assumes Billy is literally a Slayer. A point I've made elsewhere, the difference between him being an actual Slayer and just merely being called a Slayer for the purposes of his badass credentials by pretty much any character other than himself*, is the difference between a metaphor and a simile; instead of implying gay men are women, it would be implying gay men are simply like women.

*And, seriously, if this is him just calling himself a Slayer out of admiration and a dash of pretense, I get that, I don't even find that unlikeable. It will be if the real players, the established characters, start calling him Slayer, just like a Slayer, just like you, Buffy, etc, to get him over as being Slayer-like where no prior character has been. That would actually compound the debate over analogies with some straight up Stu-ism. Give me... give me some sign sort of clear delineation, some sort of "I'm not wearin' hockey pads" moment with Buffy clarifying the difference between what she is and what he is, albeit much kinder, wherein Billy gets to get his own version of the Giles peptalk to Xander and Willow about how they can help. Even that, for a late arriving OC, would have some issues, but it's much, much less obtrusive in terms of Slayer mis-branding.

A character that crosses my mind here is actually Dowling. San Francisco police detective, has already fought zompires on his own, next to Buffy, next to Spike, next to Xander. Has independent and probably considerabe training to draw upon to help himself. On paper, you'd figure if there was someone who was going to (trope-mash!) take a level in badass normal, it would be he. Granted, it's a moment of leisure, but my first reaction to "somewhat scrawny looking guy lazing on the hood of a car outside the airport" is not "man, this guy has potential to tear up some vampires". It's not that I doubt they can do a good sell-job that reveals that Billy also teaches Krav Maga or whatever at the Y, or plays Ninja Ninja Revolution, etc, but it will be interesting how plausible it's going to feel that he is more badass than the cop-turned-demon fighter introduced in the same season despite neither having superpowers.

EDIT: I started typing this short novel here before you posted again to point out that they can't win for losing about literal vs. non-literal Slayer, but honestly, I have no sympathy for anyone who thinks that making the NOGMC a literal, actual Slayer is the minimum threshold for properly treating a gay male character here. Joss will never, ever have to apologize for their only ever being female Slayers.
vampmogs, great points.

lisatwingomez, exactly he is simply identifying himself as a slayer.

My first thought when I saw the headline was NO! are they actually saying that because someone is gay he is like a girl. But then I actually read the article. This seems like a great idea.
The biggest objection I see mentioned here is that none of the previous men who slayed vampires called themselves 'Slayer'. That's true. But you are forgetting one very important thing. Why would someone call himself 'Slayer' when, if you know about, you know that there is only ever one. But This Billy is growing up in a world were for the past year I think (in comic time) everyone in the world knows that there are thousands of slayers.
A person referring to himself as a slayer could be like a person referring to himself as a queen. There are real queens, just like slayers they are born into a life chosen for them. True it's not actual powers like slayers have, but enough people truly believe they have a birth right. The queen of England's position isn't undermined by Dana Elaine Owens calling herself Queen Latifah, even though she isn't a queen, or by a drag queen calling himself a queen.
Some people say you can only apply a label to yourself if you answer a criteria. I don't believe that's true. A person can decide he is a woman even if he was born make and still has a penis. A man can identify himself as gay even if he's never had sex with another man.

I like the idea of this story line and I just hope they do it justice and hopefully that this will be a character that will fit into the rest of the season and beyond. And I can't help but hope there will be an Andrew connection.

A different storyline I would love to see would involve something that is more truly fitting for the title of first male Slayer, with actual slayer powers. That would be a female to male transsexual who is a slayer.
*A different storyline I would love to see would involve something that is more truly fitting for the title of first male Slayer, with actual slayer powers. That would be a female to male transsexual who is a slayer.*

I think this is what a lot of people speculated this story was going to be. It surely would have been a lot more controversial, but I think really interesting as well. Frankly, with the writers so enamored in big, headline-grabbing stories, I'm surprised they didnt go this route.
I actually don't think this is about the gimmick, or being headline grabbing. This was something fans have asked Joss about for a long time. Many fans wanted to have an (out) male gay character from Joss (well, besides Larry). I know I did. He made such lovely Lesbian characters that I wanted a male gay character too (and I still hope to get one in the Shield series).
I have never been to a con but I saw plenty of videos from Q&As with Joss at those where he was asked for Gay male characters. Also there was a panel at last year's Comiccon (if I remember correctly) which had Jane, Tom Lenk and some others about LGBT issues in the buffyverse and Jane said when asked they do want to incorporate a gay man in Season 9 of Buffy.

alexreager – I think you are worng about Earshot (the episode where Jonathan comes to school with a gun). This is what Wikipedia had to say about Earshot:
"The Columbine High School massacre occurred one week before this episode was originally scheduled to air. Because this episode involved a scene with a student loading a rifle – apparently for mass murder, but in reality for suicide – the WB preempted it with a rerun of "Bad Girls". The episode was delayed until September 1999, where it aired two weeks prior to the season four premiere."
I like the thought of Billy The Vampire Slayer.

Before Willow worked her Magic on the Scythe, there were two Slayers, and a shedload of potentials. This is where I see Billy fitting in. Like the potentials, he has no powers, and technically no true calling, but he has the will to aspire. And if he is inspired by a strong empowered Female I empathise.

Within this thread both Jake Martinez and Simon have expressed their admiration for female role models. I concur. I always prefered the Bionic Woman over the Bionic Man, Charlie's Angels over the A-Team, SpiderWoman over SpiderMan. For me, this is not "headline-grabbing" but a long overdue recognition, of something I have always felt deep within myself.

[ edited by viewingfigures on 2012-09-11 11:41 ]
urkonn the comments were made with tongue firmly in cheek. (I even posted a tiny disclaimer at the end of my comment about Earshot.)

The point is, Joss and the staff of BtVS are not in the habit of taking advantage of a gimmick or a current news story to "make the news." Its not their style. Joss is way too classy for that.

Now that I think about it, maybe using a gimmick isn't such a bad thing...as long as its not in place of a good story and good storytelling. IMO, when someone like Joss takes a gimmicky idea (like the musical) and turns it into perfection, I would say its no longer a gimmick and has been transformed from gimmick to legitimate device (or possibly style).

Edited for grammar (but not spelling).

[ edited by alexreager on 2012-09-10 23:26 ]
And BTW, thank you all for such fantastic thoughtful comments, you people are amazing.

For me, this is almost as good (if not better) than reading the actual stories!
I guess it's just not for me to understand -- viewingfigures speaks of characters with the will to aspire, as relates the Slayer life if not the Slayer legacy, as though there have been none before this, or inspiration by a strong empowered female, as though there has been none before this. The only genuinely unique attribute we are given for this character at this point is his sexuality, which, significantly, was the means by which he was announced at the outset -- the New Openly Gay Male Character. Was Gunn ever once mentioned in any "Angel" promotional materials as the "new black character" that was coming soon, or was it implicit that ephemeral traits were not what would define him or any other character?
alexreager - AHH... now I feel like an idiot. I actually thought your comment was tongue in cheek at the beginning, but then it just started to feel like something you really believe in. And then the thing about Earshot just made me mad and I only half read the last paragraph.

Also I agree, I really enjoy reading all the comments here. I think this is the first time in a long time I actually read all the comments on a story that had more than just ten.
I have mixed feelings about this. Since Slayers are girls it's kind of playing into the stereotype of "gay guys are the same as girls" but, okay, he doesn't have Slayer powers, he just admires and wants to emulate Slayers and that's great. It's awesome that a typically disenfranchised person fights against marginalization by way of fighting allegorical monsters. But in light of Joss's comments here "at some point, you write enough lesbians, people realize... this is just a guy" it seems there's a pattern of a lack of understanding about the differences between sexuality and gender. The conflation between the 2 is not uncommon but it is bothersome coming from people I idolize so much. It would be awesome if the character were a young trans girl who, through acknowledging and transitioning to her true self, gains the power of a Slayer and the allegory were then fighting monsters=fighting overwhelming and often fatal discrimination. (NB: as a trans woman, I am biased in this. :) )

[ edited by Jaye! on 2012-09-11 00:33 ]
This plot feels like it is going to be such a wonderful validation of my love of Buffy. I am so so excited to see a character I already know I am going to connect with. The panels were awesome, I have missed Jane so much in the Buffyverse, this issue can not come soon enough.

It seems to me that a lot of the objection has to do with mythology or naming or definition. I feel as though the disregard for a concrete metaphysical/mythological universe has always been a trademark of the Buffyverse when it comes to story.

Also, anyone who thinks that writing about a gay character is headline grabbing is honestly just being poop head like Parker Abrams. There aren't a lot of gay male sci-fi/fantasy characters out there for us to engage with and any inclusion is awesome. If such inclusion garners headlines, is there really a reason to be so venomous about it?

ETA: If anyone misconstrues that this is saying that gay dudes are like women..... who cares? Being like a woman isn't bad. A woman being like a man isn't bad. If I had to compartmentalize myself by gendered thoughts or actions, well that would be a sad existence.

[ edited by cazador on 2012-09-11 00:54 ]
Hmmm. I have an initial gut response to this, but I think I really do have to wait. It seems to me that we are moving close to "story of the week" stuff; the comic has (badly) dealt with abortion, and now is introducing a gay male character (who I will not refer to as a slayer, because it seems he cannot be one but is using it as a model) out of the blue. In one sense, this is a bit cowardly, given that Andrew has been played as similar to Pat from Saturday Night Live- ambiguously sexed. It would be bolder to use an existing character- though they already did that once. On the other hand, getting good gay characters into comics is a positive thing to do.
From a story point I kind of understand what you are saying about Andrew, Dana. But for me personally: Andrew's murdering past, lack of confidence, and ambiguity about his sexuality don't make him someone I'm excited to have "come out" (although I'm pretty sure he came out when shown singing along to 'Born This Way'). This character is sixteen, in high school, and clearly mostly comfortable with his sexuality. This is a character that reminds me of myself, this is a character I could be proud to have associated with me when someone thinks of a 'gay' person.

I'm tired of coming out stories and fuck "it gets better", I want to be a Slayer too. Right now. Today. Or at least when this issue comes out. :)
This looks so sweet! In a manly way. In a non-stereotypically manly way. Sweet!
@KingofCretins I'm lost for explicit examples where you state they have existed before. At a push I recall "Kiss of The Spiderwoman".

Certainly, Riley/Spike/Angel and many more have expressed admiration for Buffy's strength, but not a desire to be influenced by her. Which male character(s) did we see positively choosing to follow the potential lifestyle? Or stating their desire to follow in the footsteps of empowered females? Principal Wood elected to continue his Mother's battle but did not claim a desire to be liken himself to her.

I think the point I was making was that of identification. And, there is with many(not all)Gay men, an identification with female as opposed to male, role models. And it is something I have felt personally, but not seen reflected often from Heroic types. And is more often misread as wanting to be an ersatz woman. Feminine Gay men are allowed to be funny but rarely strong warrior types. For myself, as a Gay man, I have disappointed women who want me to be their new best camp friend, and found me too straight. Like most people I don't fit an archetype, but something about the way Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg describe Billy's character hits home with me, in a way that I can reconcile to my own self.

Maybe my comments would read better if I edited out the words "long overdue"? But again, I am lost for particular examples.

And regarding the newsworthiness of pointing up Billy's sexuality, is it not news? Gunn's ethnicity did not define his fight for empowerment, it sounds as though Billy's sexuality will to some degree.

(And off topic afterthought - There is already a Black President. Can you currently imagine there being a Gay President?)
to alexreager: You are right...gimmicks can be good...
I admit your examples are some of my favorite shows!
I also like your comment about whedon turning the gimmick on its ear..this kind of ties to other comments about the billy name...but what if this gay slayer was also a misogynist? that to me would be a cool twist! Also I'm curious if this ties into the Harth/Fray storyline at all...
Isn't this more akin to Justine from Angel, except I imagine this boy will be sane? That was an ordinary girl who... Okay, I don't really remember her character and the wiki isn't clear if she really did think she was a slayer or that's just what the vampires used to tease her.

But yeah, I also sort of imagine this to be more like a one-shot than a new character they're trying to wedge in to recur.

Also I'm down with the character as a potentially interesting side narrative. I was a gay kid who discovered Buffy (and, even more stereotypically, with the musical episode) and her way too on the nose "coming out as a slayer" incident with her mom helped clinch it.
Billy sounds like an interesting character from what I can tell so far. I am looking forward to reading this. We can always use more great LGBT characters, and I have faith that Jane will deliver.

On the "can he be called a slayer" topic, it is hard to judge at this point. On one hand, I don't really like the idea of calling someone without powers a Slayer. Just because you slay vampires doesn't make you a vampire slayer, IMO. You have to be called and have the strength that originally came from demons. Otherwise, maybe Wood should be called a slayer. And perhaps Harth (from Fray) would be the first male slayer (well, first created, but not first chronologically within the stories). On the other hand, it is hard to judge without having read the story. For one thing, the definition of a slayer has changed since the show started. There is no longer only one in every generation. Also, there is the question of whether he is merely self-defined as a slayer or if others accept him as a slayer.

I guess I am looking forward to seeing how our established core characters respond to him calling himself a slayer. Will Buffy be mad that he is using a title that is rightfully hers? Will she refer to him as a slayer? Or will it just go without comment?

Maybe the "who can call themselves a slayer" question will serve in the story as a metaphor for discussions on other kinds of labels (like LGBT related labels). That could be fascinating if handled well.
Oh, Wood is most definitely as much a Slayer, right here and now, as this character ever will be. Raised by a Watcher, inspired by the example and memory of a Slayer, his mother, and another in the form of Buffy, trained himself to fight vampires and took it on for no reason other than that he wanted to. If Billy is a Slayer or anything that deserves the name, Robin Wood is. There is no reasonable way to distinguish them without it being explicitly about sexual orientation, which should be the least important available fact about either of their worthiness in the fight against evil. Less important than mid-digital hair.
Unfortunately, I read too quickly for the spoiler tag to save me from the headline.

I mean, presumably there are some spoilers in the article as well, but isn't the very existence of a gay male slayer kind of a surprise to anyone else?
@orangewaxlion, have you tried not being an orange wax lion? ;)

Justine was Holtz's protogé, she didn't think of herself as a Slayer, more as a soldier in Holtz's ersatz army with a single-minded mission to punish Angel.
I have a lot of confidence in both Jane and Drew, and I think they'll manage to portray Billy with sensitivity. Jane has been making it clear on twitter that this is about empowering Gay men who are seen as weak, not feminizing them.
"KingofCretins: There is no reasonable way to distinguish them without it being explicitly about sexual orientation, which should be the least important available fact about either of their worthiness in the fight against evil. Less important than mid-digital hair."

Sigh...you're missing the point. Wood did not specifically live his life as a Slayer or choose to model himself after his mother. This new character is choosing to do these things. It's hardly about sexual orientation. Why don't we wait until the story actually BEGINS before we say what the character will not be? Just...wow. And "worthiness"? More like WILL to fight.
Wood didn't? Wait, what? He was raised by a Watcher, carried these Slayer artifacts like a family heirloom, and you clearly watched a much different dinner scene in "First Date" than I did (and just re-read to be sure). Whereas, the ostensible backstory based on preview pages is that Billy felt a crushing sense of ennui (fueled at least in part by his love life) at the airport one day and decided to kill some vampires. If it even matters if someone "lived their life as a Slayer", as the suppositions are being made about Billy, surely that better describes Wood's actual upbringing back before people learned what they know of Slayers and vampires from TMZ than pretty much anything Billy can have adopted as a "Slayer" lifestyle. So, when I said "no meaningful way to distinguish" it was actually as a courtesy to the new guy.

And when I say "worthiness" in the fight against evil, I mean it the same way I mean one's "worthiness" to run a kitchen for a 300 guest catered meal -- also a situation, in fact, where knowing a person's sexual orientation would place somewhere below mid-digital hair on the list of meaningful qualifications.

That Billy will have "worth" in the fight is a foregone conclusion -- he is going to be crowned Baddest Ass Normal, I consider that a more or less guarantee, if those "in the know" characters are meant to be accepting him as a Slayer in his own right after some portion of two issues when it has never even come up with any other character, it pretty much goes without saying he'll have to be more impressive in a mere two issues worth of action mode than the multitude of other characters within his trope-niche were in dozens of episodes of television and however many issues. That possibility alone should probably raise more mundane concerns, like the challenges in keeping this character from going full Stu real quick.

Embers, I've always assumed that the writers wouldn't *intend* to turn their project into "gay men are women, or close enough", but I also don't think Joss Whedon contemplated the consent questions that would be raised by the spell in "Chosen", for instance, either.

I actually have been indifferent-to-optimistic about this character, although with a nagging concern about the optics of pounding, pounding, pounding away in the build-up with the word "slayer" up one end and down the other about him. I think it was evoking Batman as the template, and the implication that Billy will fit in amongst actual Slayers the way Bruce does amongst the Justice League or something, that made me suddenly skeptical, because... yeah, no. Two issue arc, no way in hell to get there without the hardest hard sell any character ever got, like a Connor to the Illyriath power oversell, something ridiculous like him fighting Buffy to a standstill in a misunderstood first meeting or whatever.

You can break up the reception of new characters, notwithstanding whether or not they had a romance with Buffy, along the lines of how hard they were sold and how quickly the audience was expected to respond to them as fitting right in with the leads, and probably correlate it very well with how much people like those characters. Vi (background, well-leveraged moments of comedy while not pulling focus) vs. Kennedy (let's have her everywhere commenting on everything immediately), for instance. Two issues, though, during which the goal is to sell that total new character is a legitimate player in the whole capital-"S" slaying game who may, by reference, actually get more respect from Buffy on that basis than any non-Slayer previously has ever gotten. Worrisome, worrisome.
Wood's motivation to kill vampires was based on a need for revenge against his mother's murderer, Spike. This is basically the root of his character in Season 7. He is not someone taking on the responsibility of saving the world because he thinks he is the only one who can do it. He is systematically killing a group that represents his mother's murderer.

And yeah, ok he keeps up the helping with slayer stuff after Chosen and after he finishes his vendetta, but the dude has been killing vampires his whole life for revenge I doubt he could just stop. I think it is important that Billy is so young, sixteen, because it kind of gives them a blank slate without a dark past to answer for. Kind of like the way we viewed Buffy when we were first introduced to her in Welcome to the Hellmouth.

If Billy's sole motivation is protection of the innocent and the world as inspired by vampire Slayers then I think that his existence as a male slayer of vampires is radically distinguished.

[ edited by cazador on 2012-09-11 06:47 ]
KingofCretins – Unless you read more information about this than there is in the article I think you are making some huge speculations.
How do you know that after these two issues he will be shown more in the comic?
How do you know that he will be accepted as a Slayer by Buffy and company, or by anyone else?
Also We only get the first two pages of the comic. Just because there is narrative about a boy becoming a Slayer in those pages doesn't mean that it actually happened there on that car. If anything I'm assuming (though I acknowledge it's just an assumption) that in the next page they get attacked by vampires.

"…evoking Batman as the template, and the implication that Billy will fit in amongst actual Slayers the way Bruce does amongst the Justice League or something…"
This seems like the biggest leap you made. I'm pretty sure the only implication of Batman as a template is that he doesn't have any actual super powers. Most people who know Batman know him from movies, and have no idea that he is a part of the Justice League. If that's an implication than we should also assume that Billy is rich, an orphan, or maybe has a hinted upon homoerotic relationship with a younger sidekick. All those (maybe not the last) are things that come to mind about Batman before Justice League.

I hope I don't sound harsh, your comments here were very interesting, I just think you're making assumptions about the story and judging it based on those assumptions.
This is from my friend Faith,(@faithlessfate) for whom I attempted this response message to a Tumblr post but it didn't work out basically because Tumblr sucks. Anyhoo...here it is:

1) Change is bad. Bad change. Grrrr. How dare Buffy the Vampire Slayer evolve. Grrrr. Never happened on the show. Ever.

- Change is always good, and both Buffy the character and Buffy the show/concept is certainly allowed to change, however within the framework of any medium which creates itself a mythos, it is itself slave to that very mythos. I would never expect Superman to suddenly be oblivious to kryptonite any more than I would expect the Slayer energies and power to pass to someone who is not female. "Into each generation a Slayer is born. She alone will stand to face the darkness..." It is clear.

2) Men can’t aspire to be like their female role models. Because that would be a bad thing.*

I have no issues with Billy wanting to fight the good fight, for the same reasons I have no issue with Xander, or Andrew wanting to do the same. However, without the ability to receive the Slayer energies, he's no more than a warrior, similar to Xander, Gunn, or even Angel himself, though admittedly Angel has his own powers.

3) A gay-friendly writer and a gay writer are clearly incapable of writing a story about a gay male Buffy character.

Joss, Jane and Drew are more than capable of writing a gay male Buffy character, and Billy is clearly the end result of Joss' musings at last year's SDCC. It is upon that strength of ability that I believe a new Slayer may be called for, and that it should come from the LGBT community... another lesbian is tired; boring; been done. However, there is an avenue that has not even been truly thought of.

A trans-male character fulfills all of those above mentioned desirable traits; a male(who may even be homosexual, their sexuality is unimportant), from the LGBT community, and yet also at once female-born, and able to receive the energies and powers of the Slayer which must in accordance with Joss' own mythos pass to a female host.

I hope I've given you something to think about, and you're welcome to join myself and the small following I'm amassing to respond to Jane Espenson. I myself am not trans-male nor trans-female, but a genderqueer lesbian woman, who once identified trans and has many trans friends of both genders. The truly invisible population also deserves their role models, don't they?
I wasn't sure what to think of this at first but a comment from hann23 sort of crystallised this for me. Billy's not calling himself a Slayer in the sense that he's owning the mythos and all that comes with it, he's doing it in the same sense that some little boys like to pretend to be the Pink Power Ranger or Wonder Woman (or Buffy...) rather than any of the more "gender appropriate" role models. It's that attraction to the femininity which, as an aside, doesn't have anything to do with sexuality - there are plenty of feminine straight guys out there (and vice versa, etc.)

As many have pointed out, it's not so much the "kills vampires" aspect of being a Slayer that attracts Billy (although I'm sure there will be plenty of that) - there seems to be more focus on that identification with a marginalized group that draws their power from the very thing that they tend to be marginalized for. Xander, Robin, et al. are not "male Slayers" because being a Slayer is not about killing vampires, it's about being part of - or at least identifying so strongly and being inspired - the Chain.

On another note, like cazador, I too am thoroughly fucking sick of "it gets better".
As long as they don't fuck around with the core mythology, I don't see why this would be anything but positive.

It's a story about an effeminate gay boy looking up to a female icon (the idea of the Slayer), likes it, and decides that's what he wants to do.

I'm a gay guy. I kind of hope "effeminate" isn't necessarily a good word for me (not because I think there's anything wrong with that, but I like to think of myself in more neutral terms than that), but I've looked up to a lot of women in my life. In fact, Joss is one of the few men I truly admire in many different aspects. It's the struggle I relate to, the idea that - by birth - you're equiped differently than those seen as automatically competent, automatically equal, and therefore having to fight harder to get to the same level. Billy seems like an attempt to give young gay boys reading these comics an actually gay character to look up to. I'm down.

On the heels of Husbands's second season, which is dealing with this idea of 'how feminine can a gay man be before, for some reason, everybody gets all up in arms to tell him he can't do that', I'd say Jane Espenson is one of the only people in Hollywood consistently asking the right questions when it comes to gender. Kudos that she and her writing partners (Cheeks, who is SUPER gay and not at all ashamed, and Drew, who I didn't know was gay, but yay) are actively tackling this subject.
What's the point of putting a "SPOILER" tag on this when the spoiler itself is plainly spelt out in the headline? Don't we normally put these things a little more out of view?
It seems one of the questions here, perhaps a big one, is: can a male person, gay or not, be a Slayer? The answer is clearly no, if we write the word with a capital S (Slayer, as opposed to slayer). We know that a Slayer has to be female. This association leads us to believe that if Billy is to be a Slayer, as opposed to a slayer, that equates his gayness with femininity. So Billy cannot be a Slayer. What I see is that he models his behavior after the Slayer; that is, he is acting as if he were a Slayer, knowing he cannot be one. This is actually brave.

Were they to change the story- evolve, if you will- so that a male can be a Slayer, I would find that troubling because it would put lie to many years of story writing that empowered women. It would amend the storyline in ways that I think would possibly lead to backlash. And I think Jane Espenson, of all people (I trust Jane more than I trust any other Buffy writer including Joss) to respect the mythos and respect the story better than anyone. Joss has stories to tell, but in my estimation has become so busy he is beginning to miss the nuances of what he writes (as noted above, with regard to the consent question from the past season).

I still do believe it would have been more powerful- in advance of actually seeing the story and seeing how Billy is placed into the tale (whether or not he is one-shot or whether he is given a continuing role, whether he lives or dies, etc.)- if a regular had come out. That's the political me talking. Which for all that, I will never be tired of "it gets better" because that is a public acknowledgement of engagement, pain, and pride.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-09-11 13:24 ]

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2012-09-11 13:24 ]
I'M SORRY, but it feels like Jane Espenson is always trying to turn Buffy into a completely gay series. Nothing against, but I love when she explores other themes beyond homosexuality in her writings. I didn't join the Whedonverse to watch/read Will & Grace.
She's a great writer, btw.
Dana, the thing I can't help but wonder is, wouldn't this be hailed with eye-rolling and hissing if a writer had given an unqualified "yeah, so there's this guy Billy coming up, who decided he was inspired by Buffy and Slayers, so he decided to train himself to fight vampires and protect his neighborhood, so it's almost like he's a real Slayer, just without powers", and his sexual orientation was never even entered into it until the issue itself was released, at which point it was just an incidental fact about the character, like that he owns a 360 instead of a PS3?

There is simply no reasonable debate -- focus would have lasered in the fact that he is a male, that he is no more or less a honorable deputy Slayer than any other male demon fighter has ever been, and that this is pretty well-covered ground. But tell the audience "... and he's gay", and suddenly it's all fresh and new and a completely different direction. No, the fact that he is gay is new and different, at least for his sex. Everything else about him that we know so far is as derivative in all but the minor 'call to adventure' details as it would have been if he were presumed heterosexual.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-09-11 18:28 ]
For me personally, feminine gay hero character good idea, male slayer even in name only is insulting to all the previous male characters. Xander who saw Buffy as his hero, Gunn who patrolled to protect his group, Wesley, Angel, Giles(life dedicated to helping slayers and slaying), Riley(who was trained to hunt down demons) and what about Robin? The guy was the son of a slayer and hunted down vampires that's as close as you can get to a male slayer. It seems that they thought they needed to make this character more than just a normal hero. That makes it seem like they don't have faith in their own story telling to make this guy a hero without the slayer tag.

I'll wait to read how they make this work but it does come off so far as extremely gimmicky. That's not to say Buffy hasn't had it's gimmicks but it's been done with such great story telling that it was never noticeable. I didn't like Willow and Tara because they were a lesbian couple, I liked them because the were a realistic example of a couple the gender and sexuality never occurred to me because it was written and handled so well, they were just a great couple and it seemed natural for them to be together. Maybe it's more difficult to put across in comics but so far the whole male slayer thing isn't sitting well with me straight, gay, bi it doesn't matter.
For me personally, feminine gay hero character good idea, male slayer even in name only is insulting to all the previous male characters.


But, but... isn't the point of the entire exercise vis a vis tolerance and understanding and so on and so forth that our skin colors, our orientations, our faiths, are inconsequential? Was there an inflection point where the idea stopped being to purge bigotry on these bases and instead to go to 11 and nichefy everything? When I was a kid and we all were being taught not to care about those features when we decide who someone really is inside, I felt like I was at the cutting edge of a new day for society; now I feel like a dinosaur for thinking the least important fact about this character, or any new character, is that he's gay. What the hell happened?
KingofCretins, cool it. You don't have to argue with everyone in the thread.
That whole "colorblind" thing is out KoC. Ignoring the things that make other people different can be just as insulting as deriding them for those things. This is actually MORE progressive than saying that someone's skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity is inconsequential..... it is saying that this difference DOES matter and makes that individual special.

True, we shouldn't ever make assumptions about others based on any of these traits but that doesn't mean that these traditionally oppressed and marginalized groups should be restricted from using their differences as a distinctive empowerment.

Also I'm sorry if I sound like an asshole, but I have an extremely hard time feeling bad that straight dudes are feeling left out of the party. They have a lot of heroes to represent them in fiction. I do feel bad for women that think this is damaging to the feminist core of Buffy but I'd like to think that this is actually right in line with the egalitarian aspect of feminism. As well as the fact that all of us minorities need to stick together to stay strong.

[ edited by cazador on 2012-09-11 19:19 ]
Not sure what you're trying to say KoC but the people in this topic who aren't sold on this idea are opposed to a male slayer his sexuality isn't a problem.

Adding a openly gay male feminine character can be interesting it hasn't been done much and if his sexuality isn't important why is it mentioned as a special event by the writers?
I suppose I don't see that there's a problem -- in a culture some of whose disparate parts have been fighting back very hard, and very, very, very vitriolically against advances in both rights and cultural acceptance of LGBT individuals and communities -- in calling special attention to specific portrayals of LGBT empowerment.
I'll wait and see. On a tangent I'd be interested in a storyline that explored class in the Buffy world.
Sisters, for me, I would add race as well.
Also I'm sorry if I sound like an asshole, but I have an extremely hard time feeling bad that straight dudes are feeling left out of the party. They have a lot of heroes to represent them in fiction. I do feel bad for women that think this is damaging to the feminist core of Buffy but I'd like to think that this is actually right in line with the egalitarian aspect of feminism. As well as the fact that all of us minorities need to stick together to stay strong.

*thumbs up*

Very well-stated, cazador. I like how you said that.

ETA: And, of course, as always, I have two minds about this. Which is why I rarely debate anything anymore. It's too hard to do when you partially agree with everyone.

However, I'm going quote from this Livejournal post because the writer nailed most of the things that went through my mind upon finding this news out:

Guys? Guys have plenty of shows where they're told "You can be the Slayer". And in those shows, girls and women are the ones told "You can't". We're the wives and girlfriends the secrets get kept from, we're the drama stuffed in the fridge, we're the set pieces to make the male lead seem more "human". For all it's problems, this show looked at each and every one of us and said that we had within us the chance to be strong, the chance to fight the evil things in the dark. Maybe we'd die doing it, but our death would not be in vain, and we would not have to be the victims anymore.

It told us that our best gal pals were people to treasure, not be jealous of. It told us that we don't have to date a guy just because he's interested in us, or put up with a guy we'd loved if he turned out to be awful and abuse us. In other words, it told us that we are more than what men decide we are. It told us that our feelings matter, and that a strong relationship with family could see us through the hard times. It told us that even if first love stings, you can get over it, even if school is hard, life gets better. It said that we as girls could be strong.



Awww rats. This thread is fixing to disappear from the page. Darn it. *kicks stuff*

[ edited by menomegirl on 2012-09-11 22:06 ]
Thank you menomegirl. I too am sad about losing this from the front page. I really appreciate the discussion this topic has provoked.

I like that quote you thus quoted. But I have never felt included in that message of "You can be the Slayer" that guys seem to get so much. It has always been the strong women that I wanted to be like as a kid. The way the author says Buffy makes women/girls feel, is the same way it made me feel in the absence of inclusion for my own particular brand of sexuality/gender expression. It makes me feel sad and conflicted to think that this inclusion can make women feel excluded.
I think men looking up to the Slayer is a logical aspect of the female empowerment message of the series and I don't feel excluded by it at all, personally. The mythos has changed throughout the series and I think this could fit into that progression pretty nicely.
It makes me feel sad and conflicted to think that this inclusion can make women feel excluded.

It makes me a little sad too but...okay, I don't like superhero stories. I don't care about Batman or Superman or Spiderman and guess what? I did not go watch The Avengers. The main reason I dislike the superhero is because it's always about some guy who most likely has some manpain and if he has a girlfriend, she probably is a damsel in distress who has to frequently be rescued by said guy. And this utterly bores me. (yes I know there's Batgirl and Supergirl and Xena etc etc but they are all extensions of some guy hero)

Buffy was different because she was the superhero.

You know?

*sigh*
She still is. The point is she can inspire men to want to be like her, too. And does already. This is just putting what some of her fans already experience into the story.
Guys? Guys have plenty of shows where they're told "You can be the Slayer".


I have never detected that in the UK. Might be different in the States but for me, there is no cultural message out there that tells men "hey maybe you could aspire to be a bit more like your favourite female role model and that's ok".
Hmm. Well, I'm just waiting to see. It could turn out to be a really great story.

Simon-I took that sentence to mean that guys have enough superheroes to look up to, not "favourite female role model" as such.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2012-09-11 22:51 ]


[ edited by viewingfigures on 2014-04-11 20:56 ]
Yeah not the "Slayer" in the sens of a strong woman Simon, but "Slayer" in the sense of male heteronormative hero of the story.

edit:Urgh sorry need to refresh faster, the point has been made. But I think the you can be the hero is reserved more for straight white guys with a traditional masculine representation in most media.

[ edited by cazador on 2012-09-11 22:57 ]
Y'know, it occurs to me that the writers mean nothing more by this that the actual story sans any possible subtext.

On the other hand, so much has changed in the 'verse that it no longer speaks to me like it once did. There are parts of me that feel the effort is to dismantle everything that was built in the past. This was about female empowerment. That is the context in which the story was developed and which it seems to be in the future (i.e. Fray). What does it mean for a guy, whether gay or not- and the possible gay readings here can either excite (neat! A gay male slayer! ...since we already had a gay female slayer...) or depress (crud! He's effeminate and therefore just like a girl!)- to be a slayer? Does that betray the mythos? Alter it? Or not change anything?
It doesn't affect the hard-wired mythos at all, since it's completely separate from the actual Slayer calling. But it expands upon the mythos' message of empowerment in ways that are hardly antithetical to starting out with the specifically female kind just because this story isn't about a woman.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the tension does exist between the way one was or was not born and the way one self-identifies despite the way one was born. In the Buffy mythos it's being "called" as part of the Chain or not. In the real world it could be, say, being born physically a man but self-identifying as a woman (a bad example, because I'm not saying that's what Billy is doing; I just needed a born/self-ID example).

Examining the tension between what the rules say you are and can be versus what you know you are/can be seems like a pretty Buffyesque topic to me.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-09-11 23:51 ]
Examining the tension between what the rules say you are and can be versus what you know you are/can be seems like a pretty Buffyesque topic to me.

It does to me too but I've got to be honest and say that that did not occur to me until much later.

Does that betray the mythos? Alter it? Or not change anything?

I suppose we'll see if it does or no. :)
Well, bix, we'll see if it does, to be sure. I do hope so. But so far, I don't have much to hang my hat on. A pregnant Buffy confronting an abortion could have been compelling but turned out to be much ado about nothing. Not sure how this will go, but as I said before I do trust JE.

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