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June 04 2004

'Buffy' and the battle against evil. This is the Jonah Goldberg article discussed yesterday.

Goldberg implies that Buffy supports the war in Iraq, which to me seems ridiculously untrue.
Can't agree with your assessment, chickenbird, but whatever. People will read what they will into things. I think his point was not about Iraq in particular, but about power and responsibility and obligations in general.

Besides, "Buffy" doesn't "support" anything...

I did like this observation, which I hope and think is correct:

"there are good reasons, even for conservatives, to cheer the immense popularity of the Buffyverse, which, in terms of cultural influence, will be for this generation what "Star Trek" was for the last."
He seems to miss the point that "the battle against evil" is the struggle for redemption. Goldberg's words can be read as implying that one may follow the other and therefore justify "whatever means necessary," as long as we're sorry for it later.

And of course, there's also the issue of who defines what as "evil" and how they do so...
OK, Chris, I can concede -- it's just that when reading something in a very conservative journal, being suspicious of the writer's motive is perfectly reasonable.
As opposed to the rest of the oh-so-non-partisan media? I find being suspicious of the writer's motive is perfectly reasonable ALL of the time lately.
I'm sure the conservative reader would say the same about a liberal journal, chickenbird. Speaking as a liberal, I'd like political readings kept out of my favorite television show, even if the reading does agree with my own viewpoint.

Value readings like conservative and liberal have different meanings in fiction - John Carpenter, a very staunch Republican, has made some incredibly liberal horror films in his time (including the Reaganomics parody They Live), while the more liberal Gene Roddenberry created the conservative and somewhat militaristic Star Trek.

If I remember correctly, conservative fiction's basic premise is "the enemy is them," and liberal fiction's basic premise is "the enemy is us." Interestingly, most conservative sci-fi is shiny and utopian, and everybody works together to solve the universe's problems, and liberal sci-fi tends to be dark, apocalyptic, and the problems can't be solved.
Interestingly, most conservative sci-fi is shiny and utopian, and everybody works together to solve the universe's problems, and liberal sci-fi tends to be dark, apocalyptic, and the problems can't be solved.

I found your comment intriguing because this same issue is discussed in terms of disciplinary focus by Henry Jenkins in a paper on MIT Students and their reading of "Star Trek." He argues that engineering/technology focused students preferred sci fi that had a technological utopian bent. In fact this vision of the future (where, not coincidentally, technologists would have a strong role in society) was what often led them to join their field of study. The pessimistic, apocalyptic form of sci fi (such as "Blade Runner") was supported by social science and humanities students who had a distrust of technology and humanity's ability to employ it constructively. Perhaps there's also a parallel among these groups with political leanings.
I was originally a huge Star Trek: TNG fan, but the flaws in the show (namely, the unerring ability of the characters to snap back to original form after the end of nearly any given episode, save for Data and occasionally Picard) and the viewpoint that any largescale Federation of Planets was not only the answer to the universe's problems, but the morally correct one... led to some unease in me.

I much prefer Whedon's Firefly, where the characters are flawed, technology has solved nothing, and there's a million different equally valid viewpoints on how to live in the universe.

I don't distrust humanity's ability to use technology constructively. I distrust technology's promised hope of solving our problems. Technology is created by flawed beings (Ray Kurzweil, in particular, strikes me as terribly arrogant), and used by flawed beings. It's a tool, nothing more. It's humans who will determine a brighter or darker future.

Like Stuart Davis sang, "There's more to evolution than a little DNA." And I think Whedon understands this - we can grow into better beings genetically, but given our capacity for reason, we have to keep up with a social progression, or it's all meaningless.

Er, didn't mean to get off on a tangent like that. Hee.
I liked your tangent!! :)
Yes TJoZ so did I!

After all, I am tangent girl. Its my super power. ;)
Nice post, Zeppo. Also nice to see a fellow Stuart fan. I run and help Matt run
I'm sure the conservative reader would say the same about a liberal journal, chickenbird.

Yes, theJoyofZeppo, meredith, et al., you are right.

I didn't mean we should ONLY be suspicious of conservative writers' motives. Sorry to have been vague. Hell, NPR has some pretty suspicious and squidgy motives at times, too. Michael Moore sometimes stretches the truth. Etc.

I do think that the core moral messages of Buffy are accessible to a variety of people with a variety of different political, social, and religious beliefs -- that's one of the beauties of the show. It can be 'universal' and 'specific' at the same time. This isn't to say that it has one uber-message, or that everyone should agree with all things Buffy, not at all. I just think it is ambiguous enough, enough of the time, to allow the viewer to draw her own conclusions while also being entertained and moved.
Michael Moore sometimes stretches the truth

Sometimes? Heehee... Nice post, however :)

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2004-06-04 22:59 ]
I liked JoZ's tangent too! Very interesting stuff.
"I do think that the core moral messages of Buffy are accessible to a variety of people with a variety of different political, social, and religious beliefs"

Amen (no pun intended) chickenbird--I was at a Buffy Meetup last night...7 people...Democrats, Republicans, atheists, agnostics, Christians, liberals, conservatives (well maybe only one of some of those, but you get my point), and a very lovely evening it was.

For the record: all present thing the last episode of Angel was phenomenal.

Nice post--points very well taken.
Zeitgeist: No way - I never expected to find fellow Stu people over here on Whedonesque. Weird.
i don't think it supports the work in Iraq, especially considering Joss' words at the Angel 100th episode party
Zeppo -- yep :) Swing by dreamusher and say hi sometime hehe :)
TheJoyOfZeppo: Nice points, but I just thought I'd disagree with some of them :-)

Star Trek. While not a huge fan (except, possibly, of Ezri Dax - it's a thing) I think that Roddenberry's liberalism shone through throughout. Mixed race crew, the hint of promiscuity, the idea that even a military insitution could evolve into something greater...

The enemy is us: Babylon Five is a nice answer to that, very dark, and heavy on the predestination, but the hope never dies, even after babylon 1 though 4 :-)

Ray Kurzweil: That whole extropian thing is fascinating, and I have a lot more time for arrogant people when I suspect they might be correct. Probably just a personal bias, but he's at least put his money where his mouth is.

Dreamusher: Sounds intriguing. Any legit downloadables for aural testing?
It's a nice article. Strange, how many political columnists are BTVS fans from consverative Goldberg to liberal Eric Alterman & a couple more I can't recall at the moment.

As for Buffy S7 & Irag, I think it's a remarkably poor analogy. A device born more out of the political moment than an actual reading of the text. The seperation in the two narratives is all about choice, in that Buffy doesn't have one. By the time Buffy declares war (the St. Crispin day spech from 'Bring on the Night'), The First is coming. It had blown up the Watcher's Council, killed dozens of girls, and is coming to kill even more. Buffy has to fight this war, to not fight it is to allow The First to conquer the world. I don't think many would agree that our mission in Iraq carries quite the same weight.

Besides, Whedon's been using war termonology for years, think back to the the 2nd act break of 'Graduation Day' when Bufy declares herself ready for war. I don't think we all sat around comparing the Graduation Day battle to Kosovo, at least I didn't.

[ edited by Unitas on 2004-06-05 06:04 ]
Unitas, I never said Buffy & Iraq had anything to do with one another, only that perhaps some conservative columnists *might* think so (wrongly).

There was talk of this in the media near the end of Season Seven, which just pissed me off.
giles: and as well as a number of short samples on individual album pages at and sorry for the offtopic, wasn't sure how to get the info to giles otherwise.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2004-06-05 08:34 ]
chickenbird - I know you weren't referring to the Buffy & Iraq thing. Like you, I was referring to a couple of columnits and several posts I had read at different times. the analogy came up so often last year that I was just riffing on it in light of this recent article.

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