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December 09 2002

Has Buffy the Vampire Slayer been blacklisted? An insightful breakdown of one of the reasons why Buffy may be shafted each year come Emmy time...

This was actually written by a friend of mine, and I edited it for her and uploaded it to my site. I wouldn't promote it if I'd written it myself, but it's actually quite interesting to read. She makes some good points, although it's slightly out there and over the top, but you never know. I thought it was worth sharing.

That it's considered a 'genre' show is a more reasonable explanation than the politics of an actor in a supporting role.

Mutant Enemy didn't send in the paperwork to be included in the ballot for nominations. Emmy didn't lose anything, and in fact, tried to help by sending out the revised ballot. The studio thought Mutant Enemy had dealt with it, Mutant Enemy thought the studio did. That's not a conspiracy.

BtVS is one of the most liberal shows on television. Lesbian witches, a female super-hero, the occult...not typically conservative subject matter. Joss is a liberal.

As whump says, it's a genre show. It's called, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Emmy voters are traditionally older, and consider BtVS to be a teen show, even now.
Well, I don't completely agree with Val (my friend who wrote it) but I do see where she's coming from.
I don't think Buffy is a liberal show though. Well, in some ways it is. It's liberal in a non-political way, but in a religious and sexual way. There is more than one kind of liberal. Politically, freedom-wise, it's more conservative. The show is very much rooted in freedom, the 'eye for an eye' point of view, and all that jazz.
Actually, conservative is not the right world. Val probablly shouldn't have picked that word, since it tends to imply middle aged men in business suits talking about God. Capitialistic or Libertarian are better words.
When you say Joss is a liberal, and you based that on actual fact or is it an assumption? I hadn't heard that, but I'd easily believe it.
A few points:

* For evidence of Joss being liberal, and on his "subversive" intentions behind making "Buffy," check out this copy of an article from the New York Times magazine: Joss says: "If I made 'Buffy the Lesbian Separatist,' a series of lectures on PBS on why there should be feminism, no one would be coming to the party, and it would be boring. The idea of changing culture is important to me, and it can only be done in a popular medium." There's also this more concise quote from the Bronze Beta: "Horror is reactionary. I'm a liberal. But we get along."

* I agree that "Buffy" is relatively apolitical, and could in fact be read as libertarian, but I certainly don't think that libertarians or capitalists have a monopoly on valuing individuality. I don't see "Buffy" as being any more libertarian than most shows on television.

* Again, I concede that the whole "bad guys must be slain" morality is fairly reactionary, but as Joss has semi-acknowledged, this is natural for a concept that's firmly rooted in the horror genre. In early seasons the show kind of dismissed this issue as "Oh, well, it's just a metaphor anyway," and has in more recent seasons struggled with the conundrum directly, hence its treatment of Evil Willow, Spike, Vengeance Demon Anya, etc. Just look at "New Moon Rising" from Season 4, where Buffy argues that there are "degrees of evil," and which concludes with Riley slugging his commanding officer, then saying "No, sir, I'm an anarchist." (OK, Riley isn't REALLY an anarchist in the political sense, but I think you get my point ...)

* Just to reiterate what others have been saying: "Buffy" is a teen show. "Buffy" is a horror show. Therefore, it already has two strikes against it. To make matters worse, it effortlessly jumps from comedy to horror to chop-socky action to tragedy, probably leaving stodgy Emmy voters hopelessly confused. I think that this is a FAR more likely explanation for "Buffy"'s snubbing.
While I admit you have good points, I had to say that Libertarianism definately DOES promote individuality. It's communism, socialism, and politics like that that feel that the whole or community is more important than the individual. I myself am a libertarian (and capitialist), and I will definately say anybody who claims libertarianism isn't about the individual has not fully researched the viewpoint. That's what it's based on. Conservatism isn't so much, that's more about what is right and Godly vs. what is not. But Libertarianism is different.
I agree the reason that Buffy is shafted each year is more related to the actual show itself and it's genre rather than the politics. Val doesn't have the internent, or I'd send her here to response to these things. I'll talk to her, I'll see what she has to say though...
Heh! I swear, this article belongs on The Onion. Conservative nutjobs are so precious. That's right, every problem in the world is caused by a secret evil liberal conspriacy.
Don't want to stop an interesting discussion, but in the interest of continuity: This is technically a self post. Self posts aren't allowed on this site. Please read the rules of this site before posting.

One way to get around this rule is to mail us to inform us of interesting content.
Adrian... what can I say? Comments like your "When you say Joss is a liberal, and you based that on actual fact or is it an assumption?" always boggle me. Sigh.
With you posting here I can assume you have the internet where you live? Actually I find it amazing how one can be involved with "Buffy" to the degree that they discuss why or why not the show is always rejected from the Emmys, but at the same time overlook Joss' weltanschauung.
I know that there will be a biography about him in the future (there was a post somewhere around here), but this article could be a good starting point.
Oh, and please watch episode 3x01 "Anne" again.
If the show was simply called 'Buffy' would it have won more Emmys?
Is it the phrase '...The Vampire Slayer' that's turning the Emmy voters off?
Sorry! I didn't consider this a selfpost, and I'm sorry for doing that since I do see how it sort of is one. I'll keep from doing it again, I don't want to be self-pluging all the time!
Moving on, when I asked about Joss being a liberal, I'm sorry if I have not read every single word that Joss has ever been quoted on. I had heard the quote "If I made 'Buffy the Lesbian Separatist,' a series of lectures on PBS on why there should be feminism, no one would be coming to the party, and it would be boring. The idea of changing culture is important to me, and it can only be done in a popular medium." I don't consider that quote to imply that Joss is a liberal, becuase feminism can mean many things. I consider myself an independent feminist (, but am not liberal. The quote "Horror is reactionary. I'm a liberal. But we get along." however, was new to me. From all the things I've read on Joss, the intreviews I've seen, etc, He'd never given a truly clear political standpoint one way or the other. And from where I was coming from, what he did say seemed Libertarian to me. That though, is probablly becuase on most issues addressed in Buffy, libertarians agree with liberals.
I can certainly discuss this, I have every right to, and I thought Val made some good, but likely untrue, points. It's a teen show, I realise that. 7th Heaven is often liberal, but it's not up for too many nominations either. I was not familar with the fact that Joss had put claim that he was a liberal, but that doesn't necesarily make me any less informed that you. I'm sure I know some things you don't as well. (And I don't mean that in a snotty way)
Please don't take this personally, but I don't appreciate being told I don't know what I'm talking about.
"Anne" may have some political implications, but they aren't flat or completely clear. They aren't supposed to be. They can be taken how you wish to take them. People tend to agree what the roots of problems are, it's what comes from those roots (the actual problem, the solutions) that creates diferences in most cases.
(double post)

[ edited by Adrian on 2002-12-11 07:20 ]
xanfan- I'm sure that the show's title hurts its chances with Emmy voters, but I mean, hey, it's ABOUT a vampire slayer. If you can't accept that concept and roll with it (and a lot of my friends who I've tried to turn on to the show can't), then no title change is going to make you enjoy the show. It's not just horror, it's FUNNY horror. Well, it's funny except when it's ripping your heart out. And then there's that whole martial arts thing, and the increasingly complex backstory (I remember watching an episode with a friend, who constantly peppered me with questions "Wait, Buffy has a sister?" "Well, sort of, you see, Dawn is this key to this alternate dimension or something. There were these monks, it was a thing." "Wait ... is that Buffy?" "No, that's the, um, the Buffy robot." "Huh?") ... You can see why Emmy voters might not "get" "Buffy." And you know what? Screw 'em. Like any award, the Emmys just mean that a certain amount of people like a certain work. Mainstream awards rarely go to the best work of any year, and definitely not to the most adventurous or unconventional.

Adrian- I wasn't implying that libertarians AREN'T concerned with individuality. I just don't think that a show emphasizing individuality HAS TO BE characterized as libertarian. As pretty much everyone has acknowledged, "Buffy" is a socially liberal show, but isn't explicitly political on other issues, making the whole political blacklisting thing unlikely. However, while I found Val's conclusion to be, well, extremely unlikely, I certainly didn't feel that the tone came close enough to "Ahh! The liberal media is out to get us!" to justify the meanness of some of the other posts. If you want to interpret "Buffy" politically, I think that a reasonable interpretation could be made in a number of ways.

(That said, here are a few reasons why I personally wouldn't interpret "Buffy" was libertarian. Some of it is a bit of a stretch, but I think that on the whole it's as justifiable as any other political reading of this apolitical show. Keep in mind, I'm not particularly well-read on the topic, I'm just using what I read in my poli sci textbooks and what my libertarian friends have told me:

* The way the show ridicules (although not without affection) Anya's uber-capitalistic obsession with money.

* Buffy's dehumanizing job at at the Doublemeat Palace, which I consider (as a stand in for McDonald's, et al) to be an example of capitalism run amok. No, no, seriously, couldn't you see a connection between the zombie-like employees of the Doublemeat and the lines of drones in Fritz Lang's anti-capitalist masterpiece "Metropolis"? ... ;)

* The show's emphasis on teamwork, the idea of standing up for your rights and freedom, within the context of a community of friends strikes me as more leftist than libertarian. Heck, when Buffy and the Scoobies linked together in "Primeval," one COULD argue that this was the epitome of giving oneself to a larger group while retaining your identity, a la socialism or social anarchism.

(If you're curious, I consider myself a social anarchist, but realize that this is kind of a meaningless label since anarchism isn't going to happen in the USA anytime soon ...)

Again, this is just ONE interpretation of "Buffy", I'm NOT saying that Joss and the writers had anything like this REMOTELY in mind, I'm just offering this as an alternative to the Adrian & Val's libertarian view of the show.)

OK, shutting up now.
I do see where you're coming from, although I saw a lot of things that led me to believe even if it wasn't intending to be libertarian, It can be taken that way. While Anya may be mocked out for being capitialist, and overexagerated, she isn't evil about it. In most shows or films, capitialists are shown as old ben in business suits with nothing on thier minds but money, sex, and their own welfare. But here we have a young, slightly greedy, but still sweet woman who cares about her friends, and experiences every emotion the rest of the gang does. The capitialist has been humanised, and that's something that isn't usually done in Hollywood.
Also, in "The Gift" Buffy sacrifises herself for the greater good becuase she knows that Dawn is not hers to sacrifise. All she can give is herself. The left tends to believe that whatever does the greater good is worth it, but Buffy did not. Dawn is nobody's to sacrifise but Dawn herself. It isn't Buffy's job to kill Dawn - It was up to Dawn if she was going to die or not. And she deceided she wasn't going to. But Buffy took it into her own hands - gave herself. Libertarians believe when you give something that isn't yours in the first place, you aren't giving it at all, you're taking it. (I.E. Politicians who are "so generous" for wanting to give out more welfare, even though it isn't THEIR taxes paying for it)
However, in "Becoming" Buffy was able to sacrifise Angel. She looked at it from the point of view it's everybody and Angel, or just Angel. The only way to stop an ampending apocalypse is to kill one peron. (And had Dawn's death truly been the only way to save the world from impluding, it would have been justified in The Gift) Buffy believed it was worth it. And it was, although had Angel known what was happening I think he would have done it himself. Honestly, in Buffy's position, I don't think I could have done it. So be glad that I am not the Slayer, or we might all be dead right now!
As a side note, I wouldn't call "Metropolis" a materpiece, (I'd call the recent anime adaption a masterpiece before the original) it was a good movie. Although if it were up to me, I wouldn't call "Citizen Kane" a masterpiece either. (My award for best film would go to either Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, or One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) But anyway, the thing about capitialism is that every one of those "drones" is they can get up and leave and not be a drone at any time they want. But they stay, becuase they want money, or need it. The drones in Metropolis were robots, and I wouldn't dare to compare any human being to a robot. Sure, work can be a bore, you go through the motions, but when you go home... You can play the guitar, you can sing, you can dance, you can scream bloody murder at the top of your lungs. You're working at a fastfood place because of some reason, they aren't forcing you to work there. If there isn't capitialism it's up to the government who can work where and when and for how much - and that's scary. That's when people aren't allowed to go home, and they aren't allowed to play guitar, and they aren't allowed to live.
Wow... not I'm rambling again! And I'll shut up again... grrr... Sorry! You all have points, but I think mine are just as valid.

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