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July 31 2016

Buffy Summers: Third-Wave Feminist Icon. According to The Atlantic, "the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer illuminates the many promises and predicaments of a contemporary movement".

Notice that the author equate violence with patriarchy and The First Evil with anti-feminism. I'm sure that the author assumes that Whedon is an example of the faux-feminist so common in Hollywood - untrue; he's one of the few true feminists in Hollywood. The author also assumes that The First Evil is a patriarchal male because it uses the woman-hating Caleb - ignoring the fact that it appears most often as Buffy herself. And the author further assumes that violence only comes from men - an old stereotype which is as sexist as any of the stereotypes listed by the author.
I've always found it a little ironic that a Feminist Icon needs to get stabby with her "Mr. Pointy". Regardless, I still worship at the feet of Buffy.
aitchbee, I think it is critical to not confuse the man with the work. Joss Whedon is certainly a leading feminist in real life, but his work is open to other interpretations. My big issue with season 7, which is an issue I have with other shows he has written, is with regard to consent (Dollhouse and the Twilight arc are other areas where I have concerns). Consider: when Willow and Buffy run the activation of all slayers on earth, it is always seen as a sharing of power with women; that is, it is highly empowering. But... none of the young girls affected gave consent to be given that power and to be drafted into a war against (The First) evil. Notably, the short clips we see all show young girls who need that power right at that point in time get the power (whether to take on an abuser or to hit a home run). But what of all the others? Some of them were later shown to be hunted down and killed, but they never asked for what was essentially forced on them. How do we interpret this, in terms of Third-Wave feminism? I am still grappling with this years later.
I ran into the same issue and went back and forth for a long while. The way I've always reconciled it though is that it comes down to this: These girls always had that power, and thus always had that target on their backs. Look at the beginning of the season for proof of that. It isn't that Buffy/Willow forced this power on the girls, it's that they allowed them access to power they already had. The unsubtle metaphor being: All women have the potential to be powerful, but patriarchy (the shadow men) stands in the way.
I'd say that it's simply not a 'black or white' deal. Sometimes people take important decisions out of your hand. It's a part of life nobody can escape forever.
People are also flawed - and that includes both Buffy and Willow. I never thought about the events of "Chosen" from this angle, but it's an interesting point. I wonder if it may actually count as bad writing, since Buffy more than anybody else should've been aware of the burden that comes with being a slayer. So while she talks all pretty about sharing power, she shares something dark and ugly as well - and she knows it.
Did she do it to lessen her own burden? Did she do it because the war against The First demanded it? Either way, there was actually no visible sign that she acknowledged the downside of her actions. But like I said, she had to be aware. So either there is a good reason for the character to completely ignore the ramifications of her decision, or it may indeed be a case of creative oversight.
You both make good points. And provide insight I had not considered. I need to think about this.... I think it is probably a case of creative oversight since the driving metaphor here was the sharing of women's power. The goal all along was to empower women, so the idea of consent and of Buffy shifting her burden to others probably never was considered. When a show is open to multiple readings, it is easy to overlook some of them. :-)
@Dana5140: What is your issue with Dollhouse? What is done with the "dolls" is supposed to be creepy and exploitative, it's an evil corporation, and, like DeWitt said, everyone who worked there was chosen because they had compromised morals or no morals at all. we weren't supposed to think wiping people's minds and turning them into "dolls" was a good thing.

Speaking of which, I have a problem with Angel and Agents of SHIELD, where wiping people's entire mind and practically destroying who they are only to give them fake memories and recreate them into someone new is presented as a "benevolent" act to give them a new life, even though it's really (IMO) majorly disturbing.
I agree. If I remember correctly, a similar act was used as a means of capital punishment on "Babylon 5". In essence, it's none other than murder. The path of our experiences plays an important part in what forms our individual character. Take away our memories and the person, that once was, dies.
TTB: my issue was that there was no actual consent given- in the case of Echo she was coerced into compliance- it was- take this or we throw you in jail. And consent is supposed to be informed, but how could you possibly inform someone of how their body- with them not in it- will be used? You do not give up all rights even in prison- and DH was not a prison. We do know that Echo was used for both sex and for other- but she never herself consented to that sex; rather, her imprinted mind may have, but it was under Topher's control.
@Dana5140: I'm saying that all of that was supposed to be disturbing and exploitative. The people working at the Dollhouse were never supposed to be heroes.
Agree- and then there is that issue you note with MAOS. :-) Which is essentially sort of the same thing.
@Dana5140: Is it? I don't get the impression that the writers of Agents of SHIELD want me to think of Phil Coulson (or Nick Fury) as a morally corrupt person or judge his actions the way that they wanted me to think of Adelle De Witt on Dollhouse. Sometimes I'm not sure what they want me to think, but they are certainly trying to portray SHIELD as heroic at least on the surface, even though there are so many cracks in that surface that it becomes hard to think it's unintentional. Maybe they secretly share Joss' view of scary government organizations, but it's a Marvel show, so I don't think they can make their protagonists openly into anti-heroes.

The TAHITI project was at first portrayed as something very disturbing, but in the end, the "benevolent" mindwipe was presented as something good because that one guy turned out to have a nice second life (which makes it all OK, right?) and then it was unambiguously portrayed as Coulson showing mercy and giving Cal a "second chance", just like it was portrayed with Angel and Connor on AtS. Most of the fandom also seems to see it like that, so you get an entry in Television Tropes that unironically states that Coulson gave Ward a "second chance" when he offered him the TAHITI project, and that Ward rejected it "for his selfish reasons" (?).
Hard to say. Coulson has done some pretty morally grey things, though, right? Like, maybe, killing Ward (or thinking he was killing Ward). Was "Tahiti" good because it had a good outcome- the ends justify the means? Good questions.
@Dana5140: Well, first off, he *did* kill Ward. But that time, his revenge-murder was portrayed as wrong, and Coulson admitted later it was wrong.... though one may argue he only came to that conclusion after what he did came back to bite him and everyone.

I don't get the impression with the TAHITI project, especially with the way they portrayed Cal's mindwipe. It was very similar to Angel and Connor at the end of season 4 (which AtS even made sure to have Connor later validate in season 5, when Connor got his memories back and said his dad did the right thing).

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2016-08-03 19:31 ]
Though it needs to be said, that Angel's actions didn't only affect his son. They affected everybody who knew about Connor, or was influenced by Connor. Wes, Fred, Lorne - they all got their minds - and therefore their personalities - altered. Their memories - and whatever they had meant to them - got stolen from them. By their friend.
Then there are all the other people who had interacted with Connor. Especially during the days of the Jasmine cult, but also beyond that. Interactions we might not even have seen. Small things throughout the day, which may still have had an important impact upon the given individual. - But even if not. Even if there was no impact worth mentioning. It was still their memories and experiences.

With that being said, I don't recall Connor ever saying what Angel did was right. I might be totally wrong here (it's been a while and I don't feel like going through several transcripts, so I shall risk being corrected on the matter), but I remember that he said something along the lines of 'I get why you did it' - which isn't exactly the same thing. I'd say pretty much everybody gets why Angel did it. Whether or not it was the right decision - let alone a decision he had any right to make - is a completely different matter.
Dana5140 Sahjhan Angel has always been a morally questionable character in many ways, despite the steady soft-pedaling of the early run. His decision on Connor was consistent with that, at least.

As for Echo; she was faced with imprisonment by the government; Adele offered her a way out. Still a forced choice, but between separate agencies. And Rossum were intended as not good guys anyhow.

As for the worldwide empowerment in "Chosen;" I always saw the violations of agency involved in this. I took the attitude of "hard cheese, there's a war on," basically.

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