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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Brown...mined from the earth by the hard scrabble brown miners of north Brownderton!"
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December 31 2005

"Whedon is a goddamn genius". Latauro at Ain't It Cool News picks Serenity as one of his movies of the year and comments on the Browncoats as well. (ETA) And Joss pens a New Year's comment.

You hear that, Joss? Don't die. It's an order.

Blaming the prescreenings that much is probably a bit of a misfire. The prescreenings raised, uhm, around $100,000 I believe. (Which I heard recently was donated to charity - I don't know if that's true). $100,000 wouldn't bother the opening weekend total much.

Edited as apparently I have the grammar skills of a 5 year old dog

[ edited by gossi on 2005-12-31 17:13 ]
And I'm willing to bet...something...that the vast majority of people that got a prescreening went and paid again (and again and again) to see it after the official release. I even bought two extra tickets to make up for the 2 free press screenings I saw.

PS First post!! Thanks for lettin' me in wih you nutters :)
Surely, you meant that Josh Wheldon guy?;) With that, I wanted everyone to know I'm just kidding. Actually, I just wanted to wish the room a happy new year. Everyone here is close to my heart. Don't forget to smile....
"Joss Whedon is a goddamn genius."

I think this is my favorite subject line ever. I want a t-shirt.

Caroline?

;)
I went to 2 pre-screenings...and 3 times in the theater. Brought people to it.

I'm not alone, either, I'm sure.
Interesting...
Serenity isn't really proof of Whedon's genius for me.
I've been singing his praises for years.
Serenity added some interesting dimensions to his work.
I really admired that he didn't give us what we (or Hollywood) wanted.
He gave us the story that needed telling.
He pulled no punches.
He held nothing back.
And that's truly admirable in a medium full of the worst kind of cowards- cowards who have every resource at their disposal yet continue to tell us the stories they think we want and aim towards the lowest common denominator.

No. This film didn't prove Whedon's genius- it proved his courage and chutzpah.


Whatever failure came of it, is completely the failure of the studio for completely screwing up the campaign.
The totally messed it up.
Hell, they'd been better off with the old..
"In a WORLD gone mad...one band of rebels stands against the forces of evil (as the voice of Mal says "I don't kill children" and the operative "I do"..)..."
But they didn't even do that right... One friend who saw the ad for it just said..."and what's that?"
This guy is awesome. He totally trashed those assholes who blamed us. We need more people like him in our lives.
I must agree with Willowy. A goddamned t-shirt would be nice. OK, I'll settle down for now.

Whatever failure came of it, is completely the failure of the studio for completely screwing up the campaign.


I don't entirely agree with that. I think Universal gave it their best shot. Admittedly, it went off the rails towards the end as Home Entertainment took over, but still, they tried.

It wasn't an easy sell - apart from the no name actors, the title issues and that raz - it also didn't have an easy to sell premise. There wasn't a hook, simple hook to get people on. And, I think Joss shares responsibility for that since he wrote the movie.

Whatever the case - great movie I think, but not your typical movie either. Which is both what makes it great, and what makes it hard to sell.
It wasn't an easy sell - apart from the no name actors, the title issues and that raz - it also didn't have an easy to sell premise. There wasn't a hook, simple hook to get people on. And, I think Joss shares responsibility for that since he wrote the movie.

The premise of the movie was a difficult sell, but I think Joss did the best job he possibly could making the movie sellable within that premise. There was no way Joss could have changed the premise of the movie without making it something completely unrelated to the Firefly we know, and then none of us would have been happy.
honestly, I think Serenity's marketing problem is summed up by the (awesome, shirtworthy as opposed to shirty) subject line here. Not everyone loves smart dialogue and complex characters. And many of those who do (unaccountably) don't look to find them in scifi or big hollywood movies.

oh and OOH look at me posting! So proud to be here, I downloaded the widget.
I got to a special advance screening - and paid for it, thank you! and then to a free press screening in August. Then saw it 17 times when it was out. Nope, blaming the advance screenings seems odd to me.
And I'd buy the Tshirt.
There are two issues here: The notion of whether it's a "sellable" movie, and the notion of whether anyone knew it existed at all.

I've said it repeately, but I'll say it again: Where Universal stumbled was after opening weekend, when they panicked and packed their bags, instead of seeing things through by mounting a proper ad campaign touting the endless stream of glowing reviews the movie was getting.

But that would have required actual ads of more than 15 seconds that people would even notice they had seen at all.

Those few review-bearing ads which appeared on TV were less effective than blipverts. I mean, they neither caught anyone's attention nor blew you up.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2005-12-31 20:08 ]
Gossi, I know that Universal gave the campaign their best shot, and they certainly stood behind the movie.

Still. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if it wasn't wrong to try and market it like a blockbuster (On top of the earlier, fan-based pre-screening campaign). Maybe it would have been better not to make 2,000 prints of it, but to start it smaller, try and sell it to arthouse crowds, lose less money with prints, TV spots and big advertizing but try and find places where it would have had a chance to stay and grow legs via word-by mouth.

Like I said elsewhere, everybody (bar one person) I know who saw it loved it to pieces and ran out to buy the FIREFLY box afterwards. But you had to take people by the hand and steer them gently toward it. (Or give them movie vouchers as a birthday present, adding a disclaimer that they should please use them for SERENITY.) Everything I tried in that respect worked, and it was the first time ever that folks loved something I recommended so unanimously. It'll be much easier to win more folks over once the DVD comes out here, because _that_ won't be gone after two weekends ...
Adverts cost money. TV adverts, in particular, cost a lot. Putting TV spots on the season premieres of Lost and The Simpsons? Millions.

In fairness, looking at it across the board internationally, the 2nd week drop is pretty uniform. The UK had absolutely no 2nd week advertising _at all_, but had a lower 2nd week drop than the US. In some countries that had no advertising at all, it did quite well.

In some respects, I actually suspect the advertising put people off. In other respects, I think most people didn't even know what it was.

I think a lot of people didn't notice the adverts simply because it didn't have something to attract them - ie Brad Pitt. Do I notice every movie advert? Nope. The movie "It's All Gone Pete Tong" had quite big advertising (in terms of budget) in the UK, somebody told me. Did I notice a single advert or poster for it? Nope. Were they there? Yep.

Obviously, there was a bit of cut and shut with Serenity - cut the losses in advertising, don't open internationally yadada. Do I blame Universal for that? Nope. Do I think it could have opened better? Yep. Do I know how to accomplise that? Nope.

PS: glad to see you here, bschnell

[ edited by gossi on 2005-12-31 20:28 ]
I agree that Universal could have done more to promote the movie during the opening weekend and week following the release. Having said that, I am not convinced that it would have translated into more butts in the seats. In today's movie landscape, people are genrally so programmed to respond to big name actors when it comes to seeing movies. They seem to equate star power with good movie entertainment. If the star power is not there, they won't waste their time or money on seeing the movie no matter how good the reviews might be. I would never advocate that Joss should have gotten big name actors instead of our BDHs to play these parts because that would have seriously flawed the exceptional quality of the movie. I firmly believe if A New Hope would have been relased today instead of back in 1977 there would not have been a Star Wars franchise because not many people would have seen the movie due to lack of star power. In the end, what I am saying is star power sells movies in today's marketplace and without it, big Box Office numbers are nearly impossible to reach no matter how good the story or acting is. Sadly, Serenity is proof of that.....the superb quality of the script, acting, and directing could not overcome the lack of star power IMHO.
Well, there are two exceptions to that rule - horror, and (to some extent) comedy. Both of those groups seem to survive without big names, I've never understood why.
True, gossi. Those two genres are exceptions which I can't explain either.
blipverts


15 minutes into the future, again, are we?
The idea that Serenity's premise was too difficult to sell is not entirely true.
Please sum up "The Matrix" in any conceivably coherent way.
Selling means to make something appealing...and in sci-fi/fantasy that means making it intriguing/mysterious/flashy if you can't make it sexy.
They failed completely on all accounts.
Joss is a gentleman who won't bash where it needs bashing.
I don't have to be.
Universal totally screwed up.
Hell, even the stupid "Exorcism of Emily Rose" got more time on TV.
It was just shameful and indicative of the industry's lack of imagination.
hbojorquez - The Matrix: Keanu Reeves. Special effects. Kung Fu.

Joss won't bash? Have you read him speak about Donald Sutherland, Fox, Alien 4?

Universal got behind Serenity in a very, very big way. They were the only people to touch the property in 2003, and they didn't need to be pushed - the idea that fans made them make the movie is incorrect. They gambled a total of about $60m+ on this. It didn't work out. I really don't think it's great to say they totally screwed it up. Sure, they perhaps made some mistakes with the advertising, but we all live and learn.
That's because they have a pretty easy premiss to sell. A horror movie is suppose to scare you and a comedy is suppose to make you laugh. You don't need names to sell those ideas the premisses are understood. The grey area is all the other genres, which can have a mixture of thing, they do not have an emotion clearly attached to the genre. So it becomes a harder sell to people if you do not have recognizable faces in it.
gossi-
about the Matrix..true..true..I forget Keanu's big screen pull.

Donald Sutherland...yeh.. I remember that...and it tickles me.

I just have a very hard time seeing Universal come off smelling like a rose to Whedon fans. While we don't need to come off as unreasonable....there is something patronizing in "see? you Whedon-heads, we gave it our best shot and it still wasn't good enough". While I am happy that Universal got behind it just enough to "make the movie", I won't be happy until the industry quits "low-browing" us.
The Matrix had two things going for it that Serenity didn't. It had better star power (OK, not hugely better, but it helped) and it had some of the flashiest and most original visual design, CGI, and cinematography we've seen in recent years.

Other than that, my seven-word summary of The Matrix is "tired SF cliches, bad dialog, cardboard characters." Take away the flash, and it's every bit as cringe-worthy as Alien Resurrection or The Phantom Menace. It's really no surprise that the sequels collapsed; there was no foundation to build on.

OK, yes, I had a Dorothy Parker response[1] to The Matrix. I really wanted to like it, but it left me screaming at the screen. I would have walked out, except that I was already at home.

[1] "This is not a book to be set aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
20 minutes into the future, actually.
I like The Matrix... Although it dealt with many cliches, mixed genres and cultures - hey, so did Serenity. The Matrix also had some nice undertones going on. That said, they completely blew the sequels.
20 minutes. OK, it's been too long since I've seen old M-M-M-M-Max on the tube.

When is he coming out on DVD, anyway?
I agree Miss Kitty.
I tried liking the Matrix.
But in the end...It held no sway over me because I felt nothing for the characters or the situation they were in.

Yet, my heart did flip-flops everytime I saw Summer Glau's expressions.... and , yes, I'm a great big weeniee, but I cried when she went in to do final battle with the Reavers.

For me....her battle with the Reavers will be one of the greatest moments I've witnessed because it was choreagraphed beautifully. The Matrix fight scenes always felt cold and bloodless (I don't mean non-violent) to me because in the end (at least in the first one) the violence was "not real" and had no flesh and blood consequence.

When Glau basically ran to sacrifice herself, I was completely blown away. Hit me harder than Wash's death actually.
@Gossi: Oh, glad to _be_ here. Thanks for the welcome.

I think that once SERENITY was there, Universal realized they didn't really know how to sell it. So first they tried the pre-screenings for the fans, but that, of course, was preaching to the choir, so at the eleventh hour, they added a conventional camapaign ... that wasn't special enough to hammer it home that this was a special movie.

Having met various of the folks who were responsible for the marketing in Germany, I _know_ that they loved the project, that they were surprised and delighted by the enthusiasm of the fan base here, small as it was, that condescension wasn't even in their vocabulary and that they enjoyed that junkett with Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau tremendously. And they were so grateful for everything we journalists attempted (some more successfully than others) ... well, it's not every day that they even _notice_ you.

Like you say, we (or rather, they) live, and learn, in this case, unfortunately, at the cost of something that's very precious to a lot of us. But you can't say they didn't try.

And they did get the bloody movie made!
To each their own, but to me, The Matrix seemed like little more than recycled William Gibson. I guess that cyberpunk got so old that it became new again. (Even William Gibson couldn't pull off a good sequel to Neuromancer.

I think the thing that really ticked me off was the "philosophy" that they tried to layer in. That was very, very shallow and cliched.
When is he coming out on DVD, anyway?

Oh, don't get me started. Joss' mention on blipverts in his commentary reminded me that we can get Punky Brewster on DVD but not Max Headroom.
I agree with many of the opinions voiced: Serenity was hard to market without stars and more advertising would or would not have helped. What still irks me re: Universal was bumping the movie from a great release date in April to give that spot to The Interpreter for a much less appropriate release date in Sept. It's strange to think this as a consumer, but when a movie is released counts almost as much as the quality of it. Everything science-fictiony released in this time of year, from Sept to March, has an uphill struggle. While anything fantasy-oriented does well. Why, I don't know. Looking at the performances of Aeon Flux, Sky Captain and Doom (all movies which major star power behind them: Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, and The Rock and all movies that bombed), it's an inescapable reality that SF movies with limited quality are dumped in these months and the audience senses this. While April is the lead-up month for the summer blockbusters, and people are eager for anything flashy, funny and genre. Heck, I remember one year I went to see Daredevil even though I knew it sucked b/c I was so hungry for something bright and fun.

I think only The Matrix 2 did well released in Nov, and it had huge anticipation and marketing behind it.
Miss Kitty! Marry me!
I've been saying the same thing about the philosophy in the Matrix and William Gibson for ages.

Yet... the philosophy in say.."The Gift" is overlooked by most except the folks who've written stuff like "What Would Buffy do?"
MissKittysMom wrote:

>>I think the thing that really ticked me off was the "philosophy" that they tried to layer in. That was very, very shallow and cliched.<<

What, you didn't think "Everything that has a beginning has an end" was very deep, not to mention innovative? :-)

Really, we quote THE MATRIX in our household almost as much as we do (insert title of Joss Whedon show), "There is no spoon" being a popular breakfast table classic. One difference, though: uncontrollable outbursts of gut-splitting laughter. THE MATRIX surely has its moments, but they're all empty. The hype (and sequels) it managed to create goes to prove that ... SERENITY was probably just too good for this world. Or something ...
I love The Matrix. It has faults, but the sheer vim of it just works for me. And, IMO, the philosophy is as shallow, or as deep, as you want to take it - I found it quite profound overall actually, even though I don't care much for Jean Baudrillard, whose influence is generally credited for much of the movie's schtick, and who I think came up with the "desert of the real" line.

The sequels are undoubtedly a different story, the Wachowskis having lost the plot. But I think the original is terrific.
Come on, people. The sequels sure sucked, but "The Matrix" is an absolute blast -- a sci-fi classic. Comparing whole universes, I'll take "Firefly." But pitting "Serenity" vs. "The Matrix" ... movie vs. movie ... hmm, I'm gonna have to go with Neo and company.

Oh, and some dude named Joss really, really loves "The Matrix," too. Check out question #8:

http://www.slayage.com/news/030220-joss100qs.html
Well 'The Matrix' had the big Hollywood star, and I think if 'Serenity' had had Jody Foster as the Operative then it would have been a big blockbuster hit too (I still can't believe 'Flightplan' made so much money).
I can't blame Universal for letting Joss make the film he wanted to make, with little or no interference. And I still believe that *eventually* it will make a lot of money and gain fame, and a sequel.
I honestly think Universal, as much as I love them for giving Serenity a chance, had alot of fault because of their advertising campaign. These people are the pros and they have been in the business for a very long time. They know we are not the size of trekkies or star wars fans. So relying on us was not completely smart. Not all browncoats are sane, there are those who are childish and a tad stupid. Those are the browncoats that turn others off by putting Joss on a pedestal (even though I think Joss is god, he's not GOD). But Universal has experience and people who get paid lots and lots of money to make advertising work. I'm pretty sure a browncoat could have come up with a great trailer for this movie without making the general audience go "what the crap was that?". I think that might have been a good idea, to have a browncoat in the room while making this trailer. Sure Joss has blame for making the movie so complex. But we all know he is not one for changing his stuff up to make it easier for people to understand. Serenity none the less was awesome. And on DVD its selling pretty well. Walmart around me was nearly out of Widescreen versions and Target was almost sold-out. Amazon.com and DVD Empire have it at # 1. Lets not forget Firefly is still selling in the top 20 for pretty much an entire year now.
Baudrillard?
Really?
That's interesting.
You know, Baudrillard took all his hyperrealism from some
French leftist intellectuals called the Situationists except he took out any reference to anything political...well.. political in a leftist sense.

[ edited by hbojorquez on 2005-12-31 23:04 ]
>>Oh, and some dude named Joss really, really loves "The Matrix,"<<

Some dude called Joss also managed to turn bullet time into something meaningful instead of just a gimmick that makes people go "aah" and "ooh".
Some dude called Joss also managed to turn bullet time into something meaningful instead of just a gimmick that makes people go "aah" and "ooh".

Bullet time was interesting in the first Matrix. After that, it had to be there for consistency's sake but didn't much matter anymore cos we already understood what it represented.
For me....her battle with the Reavers will be one of the greatest moments I've witnessed because it was choreagraphed beautifully. The Matrix fight scenes always felt cold and bloodless

I just wanted to point out the same person who did the choreography for The Matrix fight scenes did the choreography on River's fights.
Miss Kitty! Marry me!

I think my partner Carol might have something to say about that!

Yet... the philosophy in say.."The Gift" is overlooked by most except the folks who've written stuff like "What Would Buffy do?"

Part of keeps the philosophy afloat in "The Gift" is that it is so completely ambiguous. Was it self-sacrifice, or was it suicide? Both arguments are convincing; neither argument excludes the other. Both interpretations can be supported from the text. What Would Buffy Do? only touches on the sacrifice side, and not at all on suicide. (I don't recall having seen any academic discussion on that side of the question.)

I like ambiguity in my fiction (and movies and TV). That is a huge part of Joss's appeal for me.
Some dude called Joss also managed to turn bullet time into something meaningful instead of just a gimmick that makes people go "aah" and "ooh".


Are you all referring to Buffy's battle against Adam in Primeval?
I want a shirt too!!!

And we should archive Joss's DNA.

[ edited by flightofserenity on 2006-01-01 00:23 ]
Miss Kitty---
Wow... I haven't read WWBD but I assumed that the discussion was around turning the Abraham story on it's head (gender-wise I mean-"Would a woman have been so ready to sacrifice a loved one?"...and basically calling Giles/Abraham "a killer" nailed that one for me )-- Given Joss's bent towards Camus I kind figured this was a feminist nod to Kierkegaard and the Abraham story.

I hadn't given the suicide option much thought...but now that you mention it...yup-- it's massively interesting.

hmm about the marriage proposal.. I propose to every Whedon fan!
Well...almost.

hmm about the marriage proposal.. I propose to every Whedon fan!


Don't do that - I smell, and have a horrible addict to cheese cake (it's like crack, except yummy for your tummy).

I've always considered Buffy to have commited suicide in The Gift - which probably isn't the intention, but that's my feeling of it.
Wow... I haven't read WWBD but I assumed that the discussion was around turning the Abraham story on it's head

WWBD is definitely neither existentialist nor Christian. It's kind of somewhere between self-help and new-age theology. (OK, both of those are cheap shots, but I really don't know how else to describe it. It really does address "spiritual journey" issues, and it does it in a context that's pretty much religion-free except to draw on Buddhism or whatever else is handy and relevant.)

WWBD does have a chapter on self-sacrifice, but "The Gift" rates only a paragraph there. It dwells much more on the continual, living sacrifice that Buffy makes every day about the personal cost of being the Slayer. It also goes down Angel's path on sacrifice (there's a chapter on redemption, which talks more about Angel). The sacrifice chapter deals primarily with the kind of issues raised in "Prophecy Girl" and "Becoming."

"What would Buffy do?" is credited as a Xander line from "The Freshman."

[ edited by MissKittysMom on 2006-01-01 00:36 ]
I hadn't given the suicide option much thought...but now that you mention it...yup-- it's massively interesting.

Coming back to this one for a bit; it's such a difficult topic to discuss, for so many reasons...

Thinking of Buffy's death in "The Gift" as a suicide really really re-shapes your view of seasons 5 and 6. Buffy is so depressed, from "Into the Woods" until the end of "Grave." As with anyone who has suffered serious depression, the issue never really leaves her in season 7, either. That's what makes the sacrifice for Dawn into an escape from a life that's gone out of control.

Also, if you've ever known anyone who has seriously tried suicide and failed, Buffy's emotional tone in "Bargaining" and "After Life" is scarily on target. Buffy talks about being "complete" and it leaves open so many questions about whether that completion was intentional.

This is one of the reasons I love season 6 so much, but at the same time, I do understand why some people react so strongly against it.
Also, if you've ever known anyone who has seriously tried suicide and failed, Buffy's emotional tone in "Bargaining" and "After Life" is scarily on target.

Couldn't agree more with this - having lived with a manic depressive, it was bang on my experence with her in some many ways.
The way I look at it, kudos to Universal for making Serenity and letting Joss do it right. Shame on Universal for letting their marketing department screw up the marketing and lose them lots of money.

I do not think the previews were a problem. IMO they worked fine. The problem was that the follow up was not there, and when it was, it was forgettable or it was selling the wrong film to the wrong audience...and it still is. It was made clear that the only audience they were interested in was young males. Even at the preview it was clear who the film crews were targeting.

When I was watching TV, what I noticed was that my eye was drawn to the screen by ads for various movies. When an ad for Serenity came on, I missed the first half because nothing caught my attention until I heard Nathan Fillion's voice and realized it was a Serenity ad. That tells me that nothing was there to catch the attention of people who did not already know the movie. Not good.

Then I noticed the follow-up ads for movies that had just opened touting the reviews they had received. Why did Universal keep Serenity's reviews such a secret. Why are they still such a secret? Do adolescent boys think good reviews are uncool, and are they truly the only audience for this movie that matters?

Anyway, I still don't know anyone who has heard of Serenity for any other reason than that I told them. That to me is a marketing failure. And I hope to hell that Joss never starts writing movies differently only because he is trying to write something that can be marketed easily. Please Joss, please don't fall into such a silly trap as that. You're too smart for that. I've even heard tell you're a genius, so keep doing that genius stuff and let the marketing catch up to you.

Oh and Happy New Year. 6 hours to 2006 here in the NYC metro area.
I think to calls Buffy's sublime sacrifice suicide hideeously cheapens what happened and demeans what she did to save us all. Just go back and listen to what she tells Dawn..."Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay."

She figured out that her death was her gift, not that dispensing death was her gift. It's a profound moment, Aslan-like (i.e., Christlike), and I don't think its any accident that her body, in her swan dive into the vortex, is a perfect cross. Also, the look of utter serenity on her face as she turns from Dawn and willingly embraces her destiny, as she realizes...has figured it out...that a Slayer isn't just another killer, but rather a hero, a saviour, one who makes the greatest sacrifice so that others--all, actually--might live.

She almost committed suicide earlier in the season, when she locked herself out, which would have resulted in not only her death, but that of billions of others. But she came back and fought and, using the ultimate sacrifice, won.

This is not suicide. This is epic heroism by an epic hero.
Oh, and Happy New Year to all.

I have a WWBD key chain at my computer, by the way...it was given to me by an old girlfriend who got angry every time I mentioned Buffy, even if she laughed at some choice dialogue. It took years, but she's a total addict now. She bought her sister the OMWF CD and sheet music for Christmas, owns all the Whedon DVDs, and concluded her last eamil of 2005 to me with "It's been a Buffy year!"

What more could one ask for?!
I think to calls Buffy's sublime sacrifice suicide hideeously cheapens what happened and demeans what she did to save us all. Just go back and listen to what she tells Dawn..."Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay."

Buffy didn't save me.. Arguably, that quote also means 'Tell Giles I've found serenity'. Peace. In death. Her death. Which also saves the world.
gossi, I really don't understand your point. She saved the world, a lot, and she saved everybody in it. I still think to call her death an escape act really, really misses the whole point about the "death is your gift" angle. It was time to make the supreme sacrifice. She could have killed herself any number of ways before that, and she didn't.

And, the Giles mention...that was specifically directed toward her Watcher, he who helps her perform and understand her Slayer duties...and she now has "figured it out." Why would she single out Giles for that particular point, and not her friends? Because, she knows now what being a Slayer is all about.

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2007-12-19 15:12 ]
okay...
(vklempt) People discussing the big ideas in the Whedonverse (/vklempt)
(sniffle) I'm home (/sniffle)

My two cents.
Yes- the sacrifice is definitely Christlike.
But.....Buffy was completely ready to die (and stay dead!) because of her mother's death and , in some sense, the abrupt passing away of her adolescence into adulthood (whicn in some psych circles is considered a type of death). She had little to hold on to, in the world, which, arguably, made the sacrifice easier.

I think that the case can be made for both because--- the mythic/epic nature of a sacrifice usually also has a VERY human side with less grandiose motives.
Buh - it's a bit off topic from this thread really, but there is a whole academic paper somewhere which debates it being suicide.
There are probably academic papers debating it from every angle.
Yes, because academic papers always settle everything...
Who's looking to settle it? It's the discussion that's interesting, not the conclusions.
Hee, I'm not saying I'm correct by any stretch. It's certainly something which is up for interpretation -- there is no hard statement in the episode or following episodes saying 'Buffy was definitely being a selfless hero'. I believe what she did was heroic in terms of saving the world, but I think she also did it for her benefit. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.
It's Hollywood's job to make stars. Before the movie came out in theaters, I saw two dozen or so ads for Serenity and none of them mentioned the actors' names. This was Nathan's and Summer's movie. The commercials should have said (dramatically, like commercial voice-overs do) "starring Nathan Fillion... and... Summer Glau" simultaneous to striking images/segments of them from the film. So what if most viewers have never heard those names before. By the third time they've seen the ad/heard the names, they are unlikely to forget them. Some viewers might take not recognizing the names as their own fault ("... did I somehow miss some new hot stars?!?!") and rush off to the theater. Many more than this may become inclined to look the actors up online and learn more about them.

Universal did nothing to remedy their much bemoaned "lack of a marketable name" in Serenity. They should have done their best to MAKE Nathan and Summer marketable leading up to the release of their film. Normally I hate prefab pop culture but in this case, since there is some THERE there re: Serenity I wouldn't have minded it at all. Summer and Nathan were amazing in this movie and they both earned the right to have a big deal made about them from their time on Firefly and other projects.

Market the stars you have, yo! This type of marketing approach was totally do-able. Instead Universal went with the tried and true method of showing every single scene they can cram into a 30 second spot and hoping something sticks to the viewers' eyeballs.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that Universal came through on the BDM and that they let Joss do his thing. HOWEVER... Uni's marketing department should have thought a little bit more out-of-the-box since that is where Serenity was hanging out already.
First post.

I won't state my opinion, but Chris InVirginia, you said that Buffy could have killed herself at any other point but didn't. You're right, but doing it at this point also sort of hides the possibility of it being suicide. If she hanged herself, for example, there would be no doubt. But this way, all her friends thought she did it for them.

This doesn't mean I think she did commit suicide, just bringing up another point.
Oh man, am gonna stand up for the Matrix now (it doesn't help I've spent the last few days playing the new PS2 game). The Matrix kicked hard donkey!!! The sequels not so much, but they were OK.
The thing I loved the most about the Matrix was all the damned subtext, and talking about it for hours with my friends in between the films.
It seriously lost the 'WOW' effect after the first time, and let's not forget 'bullet time' was invented for that first movie. I've seen it well over 100 times, and I still get a thrill watchimg Morpheous escape, when it zooms up to his ankle getting shot.
Yes, the dialogue with the Architect, was, a tad annoying, but after you got out a dictionary, you could kinda understand what he was yapping about. Funnily enough the Wachowski brothers make fun of it as they're digitaly projected selves in the game.

OK, and after all that, one of my favorite things about the Matrix, was Will Ferrel MTV spoof of it! I still wet myself watching that, comedy fried gold my friends!
okay... New Year's Eve and we're posting on boards.
There's party going on at my house as we speak but I feel compelled to post.
We do Whedon's bidding.

BTW- Miss Kitty's totally on the money. Who cares about being right?
And semantically speaking, it WAS a suicide- sacrifice or not- the act itself was suicide (killing one's self intentionally)- she took her life by jumping off a structure.
Posting only as a diversion from studying. Party time, not so much.

Happy New Year, everyone!
The commercials should have said (dramatically, like commercial voice-overs do) "starring Nathan Fillion... and... Summer Glau" simultaneous to striking images/segments of them from the film

The thing is, if I saw a TV advert for a movie I'd never heard of with Thingy From Charmed as the named big deal star... I'd probably giggle to myself. Not to say it wouldn't work, but really the projects should sell the actors as talent if they sell well - not the advertising.
It's already NY Day here...ho hum.
I hope Joss does is his holiday post!


ETA: Nice to see the big lurker heard me!
heh heh

[ edited by nixygirl on 2006-01-01 05:45 ]
I feel like a complete idiot. How did I miss the suicide angle? Season 5 is not my favorite and, though I like The Gift, it is one of the (very, very!) few that I've only watched once or twice. Maybe because it's too painful.

But suicide makes sense. As I read your comments, Fool for Love came to mind and I remembered Spike telling Buffy that she was in love with death. Note she didn't reply that it wasn't true, only that he wouldn't be the one to kill her.

I don't think this cheapens her death at all because if we're going by the definition of suicide then that's what it was, no matter the reason. That's not to say that Buffy was suicidal, because she wasn't, or that her sacrifice had selfish motives. Giving your life for someone is a big deal (understatement of the year) and Buffy had no promise of being resurrected. It wasn't premeditated. I think that when she realized what she had to do, she also realized it was what she wanted to do.

Ok, Chris InVirginia (your name is my favorite Wesley moment!), I've spent the last 20 minutes imagining all the different ways Buffy could've fallen and all of them look...not right. I don't think her position was meant to be christlike. IMO, her arms were spread out to signify acceptance.

**Edited to give quick kudos to hbojorquez for pointing out the definition of suicide. I kept getting interrupted while I was writing & I didn't go back to read the new ones before submitting mine.

[ edited by lyrabelacqua on 2006-01-01 05:15 ]
What does the new year look like, Nixy? About 2 1/2 hours to go here.
I always assumed that Buffy saw her chance at saving the world as a gift indeed - to her. She wanted to die and she was too much of a hero to kill herself. This was an opportunity to do it and be heroic at the same time.
As someone has said, it can be both and I think it is. When she has her breakdown earlier in the season she is escaping just as much as she does when she kills herself. And she is forced to come back from both.
Learning to live in the world again is then the arc for her in Season 6. And it rings so true, that it is one of my favourite seasons.
Yea...death is her gift! I think she was like, oh well, can't be all that bad...till they pull you back!

ETA: Lioness it looks...or rather feels HOT!!!
I'm bloody melting!

[ edited by nixygirl on 2006-01-01 05:49 ]
lyrabelacqua, I thought the same thing. I mean, was she supposed to do a cannon-ball?

Anywhoo, I really don't like to think of it as "suicide" because it wasn't like her death was about her taking her life in vain (which is how I viewed suicide). I feel like Buffy saw the portyal as an opportunity and her purpose...maybe that's suicide then, but I just don't view something as heroic as "the gift" as something bad.
What a lively thread!

Happy New Year, peeps. I'm at a FABULOUS party with lots of famous people -- sorry, that's the flu talking. I'm at a computer. But I couldn't help weighing in.

1)Serenity was hard to market. I don't think Universal cracked the problem but if it were easy every movie would be a hit. I didn't crack it either.

2)The Matrix IS my favorite film and I believe it works on a number of deeply personal and philosphical levels. Chat for another time.

3) Is taking fire so your men can get to safe ground in combat suicide? I think not. Buffy's sacrifice draws mainly on two mythic images: Christ (you all got that) and Ripley in Alien 3. Both sacificing themselves for the preservation of mankind. Buffy had no pattern of despair (yet), though she did shoulder her burdens heavily (as did those other two).

4) I truly hope you guys have a kickin' aught six. My new years resolution involves coughing up a lot less phlegm. Hey, who's for me keeping that to myself?

5) Howeer silly it may sound, and however inconvenient it may be when you've got a bowl of cereal in front of you getting progrssively soggier, there is in fact no spoon.

Peace. And good will. -j.
My year is complete!! Thanks Joss :-)
I went to 2 pre-screenings...and 3 times in the theater. Brought people to it.

I'm not alone, either, I'm sure.


I did exactly that as well, and brought more people to each show.

What was it that Joss said about Donald Sutherland?
Awww, Joss! You stole my thunder! ;-)

Happy New Year. May the writing fairies make merry with all our brains this year. (Hell, that's bad, and I don't even drink!)
Happy new year, Whedonesquers, and Whedons alike.

I'm glad of The Matrix love.
heh heh, Joss...my thoughts exactly! There is no spoon....EVER!
Nice to see you here, I was just wondering if you were going to post too! Hope your having a good one! I too love The Matrix, and (as stated above) am storming the Path of Neo game this week! (Can't kill Kong Smith) This is what one does when one has no life!
Loves ya big man!
Also, happy new year to everybody here! Party a lot this weekend for Monday is just a day away...
Ok, now I think I'm calm enough to write a somewhat lucid post... My little post beside Joss!

Suicide has a lot of bad connotations and rightly so. Maybe it was the wrong word to use, as myserenity pointed out, and maybe it's why I never made the connection before reading this thread. Am I wrong to think she didn't welcome her death just a little bit? (Do I really want this question answered? Hmmm...)

Also, I won't weigh in on the marketing campaign because I have no idea which way would've been the best way to do it.
So, we know Joss and Nathan both have the flu... The virus of the Jossverse? It's like Bird Flu. Everybody, hide.

I will give Universal props for something here: the fan interaction. I mean, they've effectively handed the fan base to me (a fan) which is unpresidented (you won't find Paramount giving StarTrek.com to a fan to run - they plan to delete StarTrek.com soon instead). Did I have to pester them? No. One email, the ball started rolling that day. And then there's the press screenings, the preview screenings, the merc they gave to local browncoat groups... Yada.

Of course -- and I can not stress this enough -- it is frustrating beyond belief. Really freaking great movie, lots of love and time spent on it by a great many people (with the hair loss), but at the last hurdle -- actually getting people into theatres and to buy the DVD -- it all fell apart. I had never considered the last hurdle being the problem - I always thought production would be the challenging thing. How wrong I was.

Edit as posting at stupid'o'clock UK time is a bad idea.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-01-01 05:51 ]
All the philosophy makes my head hurt. Thankfully, the perfect remedy is on my TV right now -- "A Knight's Tale," one of filmdom's greatest guilty pleasures, starring our boy Wash.
Gossi, it seems that everyone is SoCal has the flu right now. hackhackcoughcough.
I have the same virus, but without the benefit of having actually fondled either man. :-(
Oh, by the way - I stand corrected (or more knowledged) on the intentions of Buffy's death... As I said originally, I suspected the suicide angle might not have been intended, but I like to believe Buffy killed herself to save the world -- and been happy with that choice. Because. Erm. I can't explain that, actually. I think I should retire to my room and write scary poetry in the dark.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-01-01 05:54 ]
Yea UIP in Oz totally rocked with us!
To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of pointing blame for who did what wrong and why the movie wasn't selling Mchappy meals. IMO it's done now, we had it, we get to enjoy it forever, it was made which is fantastic. We have more stories from Joss to look forward to.
Maybe as a NY's treat Joss will give us some info on Mia/Goners?????

Happy NY's everyone, may 2006 bring lot's more fun!
If there is no spoon, could I at least get a spork?

Meanwhile, blame the Flanvention for giving people the flu. Personally, we here in Portland are blaming a very particular person from PDX Browncoats.

He knows who he is.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2006-01-01 05:58 ]
I LOVE YOU JOSS!
Who wants to settle it? Apparently Joss did. Thank you for posting, btw, Joss. Chris inVirginia, I agreed completely with your viewpoint before Joss stepped in. Kudos to you.
I guess I'll say it as well . . . Happy new year everybody.

Joss, if you really are a fan of The Matrix, then you should know the truth . . . There is no spoon.
Joss, if you really are a fan of The Matrix, then you should know the truth . . . There is no spoon.

Erm. He said that? Heh.
Happy New Year Joss! I've been sitting here enjoying the commentary (w/you & Nathan) of the pilot episode of 'Firefly' (I really do have a life, but I celebrate tomorrow, not on New Year's Eve).
I hope that 2006 is even more exciting (but not quite as exhausting) as this last year.
I have the same virus, but without the benefit of having actually fondled either man. :-(


Lol! I'd gladly be sick if that was the cause of it! Err, does Joss usually read these later posts? ;-)
I highly doubt it. Prove me wrong Joss.
It is New Year, Joss posts (and tells us , all official-like and everything, that it was sacrifice, not suicide)- life does not get any better!

Unless we get more of that real peace and good will thingy this year!
My friends now officially think I'm a psycho. I just keep gushing over the fact that Joss posted while I was online. I'm still a newbie. Maybe I'll get used to it...I doubt it though. 2006 is just minutes away & they can't drag me from this computer. Thanks again to the PTB for letting me join!!

[ edited by lyrabelacqua on 2006-01-01 06:49 ]
Hey Joss glad to see your alive and ..... ummmm ...... coughing at least your not in a coffin. Wow, morbid much! Well not much but always a little. I just have to say, I love the Matrix cause it introduced me to another film by the Wachowski Brothers called Bound and quite possiblely one of the best visual scenes ever shot in cinema, and I mean ever. If you have seen the movie you know of which scene I speak, where Violet shoots Ceasar, the way he bled into the paint is forever etched into my mind. It was downright beautiful, it impacted me emotionally the first time I saw it and has never lost it's impact. Just thought I'd throw that out there. Happy Next Year, cause is it really new if it's the same thing every time.
I wanted to wish Joss and all other fellow Whedonesquers a very Happy New Year. I am really glad Joss took the time to coverse a bit with us and share his insight. Hope you find your spoon Joss and feel better soon. I too think The Matrix was a superb movie and had so many messages in it beyond just being quality entertainment. Take care everyone.
lyrabelacqua--
My buddy can't stop mocking me because I was besides myself over Joss's post.
My two cents (which are actually worth 1/10th of a cent):

Universal's marketing campaign made some serious mistakes imo. I don't blame them (people make mistakes and I'm sure it was done with the best intentions) but when the Sunday after Serenity opened to amazing reviews there was an ad in the NYTimes that made NO mention of those reviews, well...a two-page ad that began with the Times own comparison to Star Wars in big type (with Serenity winning hands down) and continued with a score of other glowing review excerpts was what I expected to see. It seems Universal really wasn't prepared for the critic's response to Serenity and thus weren't prepared to take advantage of it.
Let them mock, hector. They know not the error of their ways or of your wise appreciation of female Christ imagery and phlegm.
Glad I'm not the only one being teased!

Oh, I skimmed back through the posts right quick and figured I'd chime in on the Matrix. Loved the first one but didn't like the sequels, which seems to be the everyone else's opinion as well. Was I the only one that felt as if they originally planned on making 1 sequel and (maybe they realized they had too much footage?) decided to edit nothing and just split it into 2 films? Dunno, it just felt that way to me.

Only one part of the first Matrix bugged me and visually it's one of the coolest scenes: Neo & Trinity's big battle with the security guards(?) or police(?) when they go to rescue Morpheus. Much too gratuitous for my taste.

**Edited to show that I do know the difference between the word to & the number 2. I'm both punch drunk and a little bit of the traditional drunk so it's probably time to quit typing ;-)

[ edited by lyrabelacqua on 2006-01-01 07:51 ]
Only one part of the first Matrix bugged me and visually it's one of the coolest scenes: Neo & Trinity's big battle with the security guards(?) or police(?) when they go to rescue Morpheus. Much too gratuitous for my taste.

I still think that's one of the best scenes of its type ever put on film. Though it's difficult to play it as loudly as it should be played, here in my apartment building.
I liked the first Matrix, but I never really think about it unless someone else brings it up. The two sequels were pretty bad.
Yeah, it's a very pretty scene and I can appreciate it for what it is but something about it just bugged me. Maybe because those were just regular people? Plotwise, I wish they would've found another way to get Morpheus out but on the screen the big gunfight looked amazing so I can see why they went that route instead.

That said, it was pretty much the only thing I didn't like about the Matrix.
Happy New Year, Joss and everyone else. :D
No spoon? Tell that to the Tick.

The Matrix is the penultimate B movie to me. The ultimate is Casablanca. For the last sixty or so years, anyway.

Happy New (and a better) Year to everyone. Now to watch and delete some of those JLU eps off the Tivo since I promised the mother of my child I would (she went to bed with a Northern California virus).
Here's to a happy new year and a lot less phlem!
I'll drink to that, matey!
No flu here, but no party either. Kids instead. Who are a party unto themselves. And it's still only 10:35 for us la-la left coasters.

Thanks Joss for your straight-shooting words on all the various skeins that have popped up in this great thread. As for The Gift, I've always read that sacrifice as being just a smidgen of personal release for Buffy as well as the saving of her people. Hence the smile of recognition as she perceives what her "gift" is. And then I read Season Six as being, for her, the realization that the struggle doesn't, and shouldn't, end so simply, and that life must nevertheless be endured. But "suicide," even if literally true, would certainly have the wrong connotations for her act I think.
I can't wait for what Joss has in store for us in the years to come: laughter, phlegm, a movie or 2, heartbreak, joy, spoon lackage, horror, heroism, etc.

Happy New Year, everyone!
One more bit on "The Gift"...
While I REALLY see all the richness in the discussions about the sacrifice/suicide, the distinction is more academic in nature.

The place where these stories come from is a much more liberating place; the story-teller himself. The story teller doesn't really work from abstractions but from what works best and in Joss's case what works best and is emotionally real. And the story-teller knows that nothing tugs at the heart more and makes more sense than the tales of sacrifice...and what was so incredibly rich about this particular telling was the idea that she would simply NOT let her sister die. And that in so trusting that love she came to understand sacrificing herself for the good of all.
It still gives me shivers and makes me a little vklempt.

And while River's willingness to sacrifice did not have the same depth (wasn't meant to be) it was absolutely riveting to watch. My breath was completely taken away when she jumped in to do some Reaver butt-kicking!

[ edited by hbojorquez on 2006-01-01 09:22 ]
...River's willingness to sacrifice...

Well, watch that sequence again. She wasn't so much outright sacrificing as taking a risk. I say this because she very clearly tries to get back through the blast doors again, but the Reavers pull her away.

She believed it was "her turn" to take care of Simon instead of the usual other way around, and was willing to die for that belief. But, like Mal, it wasn't exactly Plan A.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2006-01-01 09:24 ]
I heart Universal for bringing me Serenity. The marketing efforts were not all that I had hoped for though. To say that the pre-screenings got in the way of the box office numbers are completely false. I saw a Chicago pre-screening....and hello....11 times in addition here.

Chris inVirginia, loved your take on The Gift. I never thought of it as suicide either. It was always just my hero saving the world, cuz Buffy will always totally be my hero.

The Matrix rocked my face off. Loved it on a personal level, a philisophical level, and an oh. so. pretty. level.

Joss, let's hear the top 10 list...come on, we want it bad!

Happy New Year to all the other people at home not partying. Hey, I'm spending it with my Whedonesque peeps (um and my husband) what can be better? Love you guys!
Happy New Year from the Mountain time zone! :-)

Sorry I missed Joss "in virtual person," but I was really impressed by his, and gossi's, defense of Universal. This time, I really got the point. I will never gripe about 'Versal again! :-)

Joss, I hope you feel better soon, at least before your cereal totally sogs out. Spoon! ;-)

[ edited by billz on 2006-01-01 10:26 ]
The Matrix rocked my face off. Loved it on a personal level, a philisophical level, and an oh. so. pretty. level.


You and me both Harmalicious , but I still have to look away when he has no mouth. Honestly, I cannot in anyways handle seeing mouths sewn up or comepletely gone. Childhood trauma from the Twilight Zone movie!
One of the stories that has stayed with me longer than I would like is Harlan Ellison's "I have no mouth and I must scream"
Even the title gives me the shivers.
Well, on this New Year's Day I guess I am going back to watch The Gift again. No pattern of despair, eh? Well if you say so, Boss.
It was beginning to look like a pattern to me.
Guess I have to look at all of Season 6 again too as I always read it as not so much "Torn out of Heaven" as "thrown back into life".
I wake up to see how this fascinating thread has progressed (never could decide on the suicide issue for myself, but think I agree with SNT, and I liked the first Matrix, but wouldn't put it at the top of my favorites list), and the first post I see of the new year is Joss's. Portent of all things good for 2006, I hope.

Happy New Year to Joss and to all the lovely people at Whedonesque!
If you're an atheist and you give your life to save others, then it could technically be seen as a suicide. Since, no matter how apparently noble your sacrifice, you might still be ending yourself completely and aren't around in any way, shape, or form to appreciate what you did or to continue enjoying the presence of the people you saved. And then...what's the point? Although if it was an everyone's-going-to-die-anyway scenario, you may as well take the risk and see what happens, be noble 'cause there's nothing better you can do for yourself and others at that point.

We don't know what Buffy's spiritual beliefs were beyond, "Note to self: religion--freaky". Witnessing what she had though, there was good reason to believe in some kind of continuance of life beyond death. After Season 6's premiere, she was undoubtably a believer. If I'd witnessed what the main characters in the Buffyverse had, I'd definitely be a believer in the soul and some sort of afterlife or reincarnation or something. Living in the real world though, the best I can muster is attempting to keep an open mind, but with an eye toward skepticism and the human tendency to self-deceive and buy into comforting concepts that may just be fairy tales. So, agnostic I guess?

Dunno what I would've done in Buffy's position in "The Gift" if I was the only other option with "Summers' blood". I doubt I would've been able to live myself if I'd pushed Dawn into the portal instead, so I suppose I would've jumped too (hee, that does bring a bit of a comical image to mind though. They should've done an alternate, non-serious take of Buffy going "screw this" and chucking Dawn off the platform, to include on the DVDs).
Joss (oh, wow) wrote:

1)Serenity was hard to market. I don't think Universal cracked the problem but if it were easy every movie would be a hit. I didn't crack it either.


It _was_ hard to market, and (at least) UIP Germany worked hard at it. Too bad they didn't find the secret key to making it a big hit -- I know they would have loved to.

2)The Matrix IS my favorite film and I believe it works on a number of deeply personal and philosphical levels. Chat for another time.


Here I am, trying to think of something not too acid to say about THE LAST TRAPPER (the things we do for money) and you throw that at me. I have a deadline to meet (actually, to catch up with) but I'd be thrilled if that other chat happened some time.

5) Howeer silly it may sound, and however inconvenient it may be when you've got a bowl of cereal in front of you getting progrssively soggier, there is in fact no spoon.


There is no coffee in my mug anymore, but there _is_ a spoon. Want to borrow it? I could even send along some sage tea for your cough.

Peace. And good will. -j.

Back atcha.

[ edited by bschnell on 2006-01-01 22:01 ]
Yikes, this thread has pretty much exploded ;-). Anyway, just dropped in to wish my fellow whedonesquers a very happy new year!
Not everyone loves smart dialogue and complex characters. And many of those who do (unaccountably) don't look to find them in scifi or big hollywood movies.

Whoa..long thread. -chuckles- Happy New Year's to you Whendonesque'ers! I just want to thrown in that I agree with this. It's my problem with TV as well. A lot people don't want to be challenged anymore when they decide to catch a show or movie and that really draws up my ire because I'm all for mindless entertainment..but not every time I want to watch soemthing. Thank god people are still writing books. But that's what makes the money [reality crap, mindless flicks..], so there's not a lot of stuff out there that requires your participation beyond showing up to the theater/surfing to the TV station.
Hee, hee! Happy New Year's, Joss. I'm somewhat am happy to put 2005 behind us. Much more to say, but someone is banging on the bathroom's door. Drats! With that, happy new years everyone. Take care, Joss. Try not to run down the cat when you back out this morning. ;)
To me, Buffy's death was mostly a noble act. However, it was also a conveniant way out. She had been making sacrifices for years, she sacrificed her time, her relationships, her education, and her reputation. Season 5 was all about fully accepting her role as 'slayer', and what that meant. IMO Spike was right about slayers having a bit of death wish. Ultimately being a slayer might be restricting as well as empowering, it is a hard, traumatic life that is not something that is chosen by the slayers but forced onto them. Buffy's friends and family are something that stopped Buffy even considering a normal suicide. But in the fifth season with her mother dieing, the collapse of her relationship with Riley, and Glory's ruthless search for Dawn, it all became a bit too much for Buffy. Her death is a gift for herself at this point and not just to those she loved.
Joss has said that when something becomes more than the creator of it intended, then it is Art. (Or words to that effect and said much more eloquently)
Just up the line here, Joss said that Buffy's jump was noble sacrifice, not suicide. I agree with paxomen (as I said up the line) but Joss says we are wrong. Or perhaps that he did not write it that way. But if this is Art, then it is indeed open to interpretation.
We can see it however we like, I guess. My view is somewhere in the middle: I don't think Buffy was suicidal nor that she would have killed herself under any other circumstances but I think that what she did can be labeled "suicide" for more than the fact that it fits the definition.

It's like the difference between the mudder that jumped in front of the shotgun blast (or committed suicide, if you'd like to word it that way) and Buffy's sacrifice. The mudder just did it; no thought, no peace and not just because he didn't have time to consider the consequences. IMO, Buffy had some serious peace in her death and that leads me to the conclusion that, in that last moment, she realized death was what she wanted.

[ edited by lyrabelacqua on 2006-01-02 02:29 ]
Joss posted after me, that's the closest I've ever been to him...weee! Anyhoo, my new year's resolution is now: See the Matrix. I'm not gonna talk about the suicide thing again, because it seems disrespectful in my little mind that my hero would do such a thing--and thus, I refuse to consider that it was suicide. Thanks for clearing it up, Joss! Have a happy new year and I hope that phlem issue goes away :) The only thing I ask from you is to keep being the greatest person ever. Okay?
I'm sure he'll try, MySerenity. One day he'll even believe in the robot garbage collectors.
To wrap up the suicide strand (OK, maybe not that much finality), there are a couple of general points about suicide.

First, suicide is a symptom of an illness, and the illness is depression. Untreated depression has about a 15% fatality rate. (That's from epidemiological studies.) Buffy was depressed at the end of season 5; if there's any doubt, go back and watch "Spiral" and "The Weight of the World."

Second, suicide is an escape from unbearable pain. Yes, it is also enormously destructive to the people around the person, but by the time a person commits suicide, those consequences are beyond that person's ability to comprehend. Yes, Buffy saw a "release" in her "gift," and that's kind of the way it works.

Whether Joss wrote it that way or not is a separate issue, and we have his word that he did not. But it is also Art, by Joss's own definition, and multiple interpretations can all be correct.

But enough on depressing topics. Happy New Year to everyone! Live long and prosper! (Oh, wait, I wasn't supposed to say that....)
SoddingNancyTribe said:


As for The Gift, I've always read that sacrifice as being just a smidgen of personal release for Buffy as well as the saving of her people. Hence the smile of recognition as she perceives what her "gift" is. And then I read Season Six as being, for her, the realization that the struggle doesn't, and shouldn't, end so simply, and that life must nevertheless be endured.


True. Which would be a terribly grown-up realization, though ... and I'm beginning to suspect that this is part of the reason why so many folks don't want to follow her there = read: don't like the last seasons. (I'm currently re-watching all of BUFFY with my son, and it doesn't stop to awe me. Just made it through "The Body", which I accidentally saw for the first time two years ago, a day after a friend of mine died and so all my filters were down. They're all in place again now, but this is still so brilliant that it hurts...)

Anyway. Happy New Year. :-)
"Depressed" is sort of a relative term though, no?

Okay, I'm done. I just feel like the suicide thing would make more sense in season 6. Okay, now I'm really done. Until the next time I feel compelled to post.
Yeah. Today is not the day to discuss season 6.
In fairness, when I look at Season 6 Buffy, it's like looking at a mirror of a (recovering?) manic depressive I knew for a long time. Again, that's probably not the intention of the work - but trust me, I see it.
Everybody brings their own perceptions and experiences to a story, Gossi, and while I know that sometimes what the fans read into it makes the author scratch his or her head *s* ... in this case, I don't find what you see too far-fetched. Buffy has come a long and painful way, and her reflection surely has changed, maybe not necessarily the way you see it, but she's not just the healthy teen anymore.
A great thread and Jossy goodness to start out the new year :)
Not much I can add to the discussion. All sides have been covered pretty well. As for my opinion on "The Gift" I never saw Buffy's jump as suicide. I saw it as a sacrifice, but perhaps, a sacrifice she was a little too happy to make. She just seemed very tired of continuously dealing with pain and horror. Killing herself to escape, not an option. Buffy wasn't a quitter. Dying to save the world, more of a win/win situation.

Happy New Year! Here's hoping 2006 is filled with serenity (and Serenity).
Wow!!!!
There is an incredible amount of great thoughts here.
As much as I appreciate the whole suicide/sacrifice discussion, my take was always more on the sacrifice dimension.

Yet, if you want to talk about Season 6 as a logical follow-up, there is no avoiding the depression angle.
I could not, for the life of me, understand why some folks disliked it so.
It was an incredible season because it was emotionally realistic.
Buffy's depression was gut wrenchingly real.
I have the English major's habit or reading too much into stuff but when it comes to Buffy there's no denying that the material is just ripe for in-depth meditations.
And here's my piece on Season 6.

1. It is very much about maturation and the incredible pain of being thrust so forcefully into adulthood. EVERY TIME that Buff's life is going through a major change - there's an apocalypse.
Buffy="How many apocalypses?" Giles="6"

Major changes in our lives are "deaths" in a sense- deaths of our old selves into our new selves. And we go through stages of grief as well. And these are pretty run of the mill- we understand becoming an adult is difficult under normal circumstances. But Buffy, literally, had some other issues to deal with.

2. Buffy was pulled from Heaven. There's an old Wordsworth poem that talks about the depression one feels while growing up and losing the clarity of youth. Buffy being pulled from "Heaven" is a great metaphor for that.

3. Her mom's death. She never had time to fully grieve. And that is a big part of Season 6. Not only did she have to "grow-up" quickly, she had to become "Mom" while grieving for Mom. Most stupid TV avoids the process of grief because it takes time to develop a characters reaction to death. All of Season 6 was ,in some sense, devoted to Buffy's grief.

Those are my thoughts. Season 6 was basically a masterpiece- And I didn't even touch on Willow. Marti Noxon and Janes Espenson rocked. And I always loved the Diego Gutierrez "Normal Again" episode because it used the old "it's all a dream" trope, in a completely sophisticated way....where the hallucination (Mom) helps to streghthen your resolve to continue living.
(..David Fury's episodes were awesome too)...

Happy New Year!!!!!!
Hbojorquez -- yup to all of that, especially the emotional realism of Season 6. I know various folks who thought it all became too convoluted at this point. I thought it kept getting more and more stunning, but then, I love my stories with characters that grow and develop and change. Sure, Season 2 was great, but I never wished to see it over and over again.

(I'm translating a mind-numbingly dull and poorly-written novel right now, and all day I've checked this site each time I got to my sticky place, after a couple of pages. What a relief to see English sentences that actually _say something_. *s*)
Happy New Year Joss (and once again, everyone else here). I agree with you wholeheartedly on the Matrix. It's one of my all time favorites (but not the sequels). Hope your New Year brings all kinds of wonderful things.
Does anybody like the Matrix sequels? I'm surprised nobody said to the directors "You know that 25 CGI Zion attack? Yeah... Let's not have that".

If Wonder Woman gets a world wide same day launch I'll be worried, Joss.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-01-01 23:48 ]
The idea that Serenity's premise was too difficult to sell is not entirely true.
Please sum up "The Matrix" in any conceivably coherent way.


Or Memento. Or any surreal movie, from Dr. Strangelove to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Frankly, I think that while Serenity's destiny is not as a box office hit, it may become something... else.

Not an art-house phenomenon, nor a movie that critics will put in their list of the top 100 movies of all time, but rather a movie that people will watch and remember. Dare I hope that it enters the collective consciousness to the level that The Princess Bride has? I dare.

It's not a critic-pleaser, even though many of them enjoyed it and reviewed it favorably--it's not depressing enough. It's not a crowd-pleaser, even though the crowds who went enjoyed it--it's too complex. There's some middle ground, where a film can be great, but not a blockbuster. It won't win oscars, it won't garner bazillions of dollars in box office take, but is will _endure_ because of its own merits and internal consistency.

Switching gears...

The way I look at suicide vs. self sacrifice is this. Each person has two scales: reasons to live, and reasons to die. "reasons" in this case being subjective, and completely from the principal's perspective.

When someone kills himself because he saw no reason to live, but not because he had any noble purpose in death, that is suicide--both scales fall to zero.

When someone kills himself because he saw a nobility in death, but not because there was a lack of reason to live, that is generally called heroism. Or martyrdom. Or misguided fanaticism by an outsider who doesn't agree with the principal's motivation.

Mind you, I've not watched BTVS season 5 yet, but I'm wondering if in Buffy's case, there's not some mix of the two--there is both pain and loss that she would have liked to avoid, yet also a non-trivial nobility about acting to fulfill her destiny to protect and serve others. What do you call a death that is neither purely suicide, nor purely self-sacrifice? If the guy who's taking fire to save his buddies, as Joss posited, is also depressed, does that make him any less a hero? That, I think, seems to be the center of the question, and a fascinating one at that.
jclemens wrote:

>It's not a critic-pleaser, even though many of them enjoyed it and reviewed it favorably--it's not depressing enough.<

Oooh, boy. For one thing, SERENITY pleased this here critic very much. For another, it pleased colleagues with whom I have never, ever agreed before. It pleased the big papers and the small papers and the self-styled web reviewers. It may have gone to prove once more that noone _listens_ to critics, but that's another story.

Your "not depressing enough" comment, though -- not good for my blood pressure. Good thing you redeemed yourself with the "Princess Bride" remark. *s*

[ edited by bschnell on 2006-01-02 03:36 ]
Heh, Whedonesque has such a good cross mix of posters. I try not to make comments about industry groups here any more as I always end up offending somebody..
bschnell wrote:
-What a relief to see English sentences that actually _say something.

This is by far one of the liveliest, polite, and "literate" 'net places to which I belong.

And this thread has gotten impressively long without getting boring.


I've been looking for folks in my hometown that are Whedonistas (those who do his bidding) but I find Whedonites (those that merely understand the master plan)


I must work harder!

It's good to be home.
Thanks Joss! Happy New Year to you (and everyone else) as well!!
Gossi wrote:

>>I try not to make comments about industry groups here any more as I always end up offending somebody..<<

You mean like proudly announcing that you're a critic in the same thread where you said that you thought the Matrix was ridiculous, only to have one of your favorite filmmakers come out of the woodwork and say that he loves it? So I started the year with my foot in my mouth -- isn't it cool that at my age, I'm still flexible enough to get it there in the first place?

Geez, I really think I should get some sleep now ...
Hey, I liked the Matrix sequels, just nowhere near as much as the first one. I still enjoyed them heaps tho. Many many hours were spent in the six month break between them, discussing who the Merovingian was, and who could not love that line "It's like wiping your arse with silk" LOL

Seriously tho, I did enjoy all the details surrounding that time, and since then we've always made fun of ppl who moan when they eat a really good choclate cake. ; )

[ edited by nixygirl on 2006-01-02 04:19 ]
Seraph was badass in the Matrix sequels. He should get his own movie.
I would just like to offer my sincere appreciation for one particular Serenity scene - Mal's 'flying lesson' to River. I've mentioned elsewhere that I'm a former USAF C-130 Loadmaster (which means essentially, a bunch of college grads are paid to fly me around the world to do my job - haul 'trash', good job.) I didn't think it was possible, but Joss was able to articulate what myself and many others feel about our planes and crews - it was just expertly written and for that, we give a BIG DAMN THANK YOU! Nathan's delivery is definately worth mentioning - but props must go to the big man himself as well. a genius, no doubt.
I've been away for the holidays and without computer access so this is my first chance to wish a belated Happy New Year to Joss and all here at Whedonesque. Hope it's a great year for all of us! :)
I'm with the sacrificers when it comes to Buffy rather than the suiciders. As far as Buffy accepting it with a little too much enthusiasm, my feeling was always that she was relieved. Everything suddenly made sense to her. (Personally I never understood how she knew her death would close the rift, especially since she does not seem to be bleeding, but apparently she was right so good for her. ;-) )

She had been upset to the point of catatonia for weeks before hand, but IMO it was based on two things. First the upsetting idea that death was her gift and the horrible possibility that her life was really only all about killing. Second was her fear that she could not protect Dawn, her friends and the world.

In that moment she realized that her own death could achieve everything that was most important to her. She was not put on Earth just to kill and watch everyone she loved die, she had the power to do what she most wanted to do, save the people she loved. Once she realized that was in her power, she was at peace with what she had to do to achieve it. Hence her smile as she jumped.

The depression of Season 6 makes perfect sense because she was pulled back when she had achieved ultimate closure. She had had it all figured out and taken care of. What was her purpose now?

As far as Kris's comment about it all hinging on whether she believed in an afterlife, sacrifice is not about being able to enjoy what you have given other people, it is only about the giving.

I only saw the Matrix on TV and it seemed cool. I can't say it is my favorite, but I sure can come up with some movies that I like an awful lot less. I've only seen the first sequel and definitely understand everyone's comments about them! My son is dying to see the third movie but I won't pay for it and it has not been available at the library. I think I feel a headache coming on.

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