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May 20 2004

Whedon's war. A columnist examines the supposed political messages in Buffy, Angel and Firefly. Has Joss' personal political beliefs majorly influenced these shows?

I'll say one thing (which I have said here before) I agree with what the columnist says about Buffy's speech in 'Bring on the Night'. When I watched her make that speech for the first time I thought it was a reflection on US foreign policy post 9/11.

If Buffy is Dubya, does that metaphorically make Angel our military? Or, is Angel Iraq and The Immortal is Israel? Is Angel's lack of a soul metaphorically the presence of Saddam? Is Lorne France? Is Harmony? Eve? Are we reading too much into it? What happened to 'just tell me a good story'? I mean I love dissecting Whedon's work as much as the next fan, but is this symbolism an intent on Whedon's part, an unconscious result of Whedon (and other writers) being exposed to current events, or is this coincidental? Are we reading too much into it?
I remember in "Spin the Bottle" when Cordy returns and states that she found out who the president was and wished she hadn't known.
Buffy season 7 and Angel season 5 have been all about "The War on Terror" and I'm glad people are finally noticing. Did anyone else get the feeling that in last nights final scene Team Angel was America and the demons coming at them were the rest of the world. We're in a battle of good versus evil right now and are going to have to dirty our hands the way Angel did by killing Lindsay last night if we want to survive. I'm pretty sure I'm in sync with Joss on most things, I'm for personal freedom, Gay?, Pot-head?, more power to ya, I'm an Athiest and I think whatever we have to do, up to and including nuking the entire Arab world is justified to protect our country and way of life. I also believe that Bush is a crazed Puritan who will gut the bill of rights if given a chance.
Deconstructive criticism always leads to "reading too much into it". It's enticing to think that Whedon was trying to turn Buffy into W, but Joss himself said that the separated general angle came from SMG's isolation from that cast (feeling the burden of carrying the show on her shoulders).
We can only fairly assess as far as we know Joss' intentions. Which is not far at all. Like fricking at all.
Marti called Joss a "rabid atheist", so perhaps the misogynistic, sin-obsessed depiction of Caleb in Buffy S7 was a slight aspersion on the Church. Also what the vampires said in the church in S4's "Who Are You?"-- something like "where is [god]? he said he'd be here. he gave us this address!"

Anyway, the point is that this article sucks. It opens rhetorical doors, but it forgot to build the rhetorical rooms on the other side.

Ooh, that was clever. Someone write that down.
ZachsMind, I'm pretty sure all this is intentional. The writers at Mutant Alien are way to smart and gifted for this to be stuff bubbling up from their subconscious.
Thank you, ZachsMind. One line repeatedly ran through my head whilst reading this article: "That's a stretch. That's a stretch."
Can it be read that way? Guess so. But you can twist damn near anything to make it read the way you want.
Is 'Charmed' really a giant metaphor for (or against) women's rights?
What does Frank Sinatra REALLY mean when in Guys and Dolls he sings "Sue me / Sue me / Shoot bullets through me / I love you." Sounds like an argument for domestic violence to me...
Things are never as simple as a battle of "good" against "evil." Not even in the Buffyverse. It's too real.
I agree with Meredith. There is some sociopolitical subtext in "Buffy's" seventh season, but I don't see it as an endorsement of Bush. I really don't see how "Angel" season five could possibly connect to the "war on terror," though.
I always think there is a big danger in trying to link fantasy with a messy reality. Whedon himself has said he was appalled that Buffy's language could be read as an endorsement of Bush (he did recognize that this could be so). My view is that the Iraq War has little, or nothing, to do with a mythological First Evil unleashing a horde of Ubervamps on the earth and that people should perhaps not be so quick to link them.

My main problem with the piece is that the writer throws away the 'twist' (sarcastic quote marks) of the sharing of slayer power which is what the whole season is about. Buffy's wrong when she is at her most Bushian during much of S7(think that's one of the reasons a lot of people don't like this season that much), and it's only when she shares power & truly listens to her allies that she can defeat The First. The 'twist' he so cavalarly disposes of is the whole darn point of the story.
Sigh, now Buffy S7 was not only about the war on terror but now also an endorsement of Bush? Ludicrous. You might make the same statement about the Lord of the Rings movies, but guess what, that story is decades old and Tolkien had never heard of Saddam or 9/11 so I doubt he 'meant' to refer to that.

Joss' plans for S7 were mostly already laid out before Dubya went nuts on us. And as for 'BtVS loves Bush', Joss has literally stated this is not the case and that the perceived parallel was something he hated and did not see coming. To quote him: "I've been opposed to pretty much everything Bush has done since he was born". And now morons with too much time on their hands speak as if S7 was nothing but 'Buffy backs Bush'. Really, how hard is it to do a little research before yet another misguided article pollutes the net??

And Unitas is right, Buffy as a 'stern general' leader was not shown as a GOOD leader! That was the point. Throwing her out of her house was a bit much but they were right that she wasn't cutting it. Her only answer to everything was to bark orders and force obediance based on pure rank, something she herself loathed in the earlier seasons. That her hunch was right didn't change any of that. It's not until everyone works together as a team again, that victory is had. She finally gives everyone the free choice. (As in quite OPPOSED to 'Dubya' whose idea of diplomatics is still 'I say what I want and everyone else in the world should obey')

One of those articles that makes me wonder if the writer ever 'got' anything from a show like that.
Yes, Unitas and Meridith and Invisible Green. Yes. In my view this article's author couldn't have it more wrong. Not only because Joss and other ME writers have publicly expressed extremely critical views of Bush and his administration's policies, but also because the BuffyAngelVerse is much too layered and complex to be reduced to simplistic political interpretations as in this article.

Although, if anything, one could make the argument that Whedon et al. have actually been sticking it to the U.S. govt and its corporate sponsors since Day One --what with the questionable ethics of the Initiative (and its WWII-era precursor), the constant Whedonesque excoriation of big, corrupt corporations in league with the Wolf, Ram and Hart, the unwholesome hypocrisy of American television executives (Smile Time) and oooh, those members of the Circle of the Black Thorn, one of whom is an all-American senator from hell. Literally. The senator's quote about making her way to the top with the aid of secret funding from hostile governments seems if anything a blatant critique of how certain U.S. politicians used to be very, very chummy with Saddam Hussein back before he became part of the "axis of evil." (That is, if you feel you must tie the Buffyverse to the current geopolitical situation.) Oh, and who funded Osama bin Laden back when he was starting out as an anti-Soviet insurgent in Afghanistan? Hello? The U.S.! Why must we assume that the Big Bad that Angel and Buffy and their gang(s) were fighting in their final seasons was NOT the U.S. itself? In the eyes of the much of the world, the U.S. is the Big Bad. I'm not saying that that's necessarily what ME was positing but it seems just as likely an interpretation of the late-stage BuffyAngelverse narratives as anything else -- especially considering the political views of the ME folks.

Whatever. This article irks me in its reductionism. I want Illyria to step in here and make this person see some sense.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-05-20 23:54 ]

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-05-20 23:55 ]
"Whatever. This article irks me in its reductionism. I want Illyria to step in here and make this person see some sense."

I'll pay to see that. And more than reductionism, this is pretty much revisionism in terms of theme.

Gets my nomination for 'Most Misguided Article' so far. Runner up is the 'Joss is Mean to Lesbians' one....
Well, after reading the article and some of the comments here, I've got just this: Can we say, "Finding what you want to find?"
"Well, after reading the article and some of the comments here, I've got just this: Can we say, "Finding what you want to find?"

Well that's only partially true since Joss' own comments clearly put the nix on some of this article's comments. You can't say Buffy S7 was an endorsement of Bush since Joss clearly stated it wasn't. So that is not even a matter of interpretation anymore but simply fact.
I disagree with this article, I don't think it was very complete.

"Well, after reading the article and some of the comments here, I've got just this: Can we say, "Finding what you want to find?"

hehe! check this out http://www.inpassing.org/node/view/319#comment
comment by nightfever mon 12/8/2000 - 8;38am

it's about a fifth down the page and just a little more proof that u can find anything in anything.... not that I don't find these articles insightful and amusing, i'm just saying...

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