This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other 'til it makes you quiver."
11944 members | you are not logged in | 24 July 2014












February 23 2006

When supporting characters save shows. The author includes 'Buffy' on her list of shows where she preferred the supporting characters to the main one.

I kind of see her point about Buffy not being sympathetic, but I would point out Season 1 where I think she very much is. At the beginning she really is just a girl who wants to have a normal life. Her breakdown in "Prophecy Girl" is the best example of this, beautifully written and acted to make you see she's a regular girl who was Chosen, but she doesn't know if she's up to the task.

Also, Season 2. In "Becoming" she shows she will do anything to fulfill her role, even kill the man she loves. It's such an act of sacrifice, signifying that her personal dreams will always take a backseat to her destiny... I've never empathized with her more that when she walked away from the school and got on that bus.

But I would agree that to a great extent, she "owned" the Slayer role so well in later seasons that it was harder to feel for her (with notable exceptions, such as in OMWF).
I've said many times that what turned me off of BtVS in early seasons was SMG's portrayal of Buffy, and what kept me on in seasons three and four briefly was the supporting cast, primarily Seth Green's performance of Oz, and when he left so did I. I came back tho in season six partly because there was something about how SMG had grown into the role that impressed me. I also liked how it was so dark and yet still funny. Six is still my favorite season of the series.
I never like the Buffy character as much as some of the others, but I have always felt that SMG's talent carried the day. The supporting cast is one of the best I have seen in any show, but few I don't know of any others who could pulled off the Buffy character the way SMG did.
I was always more interested in learning more about each supporting actor's back story than I was in Buffy. Everything about Spike,Dru,Angelus was fascinating. Certainly wanted to hear more about Ripper and Ethan's youthful peccadillos.More about Oz,Tara,Faith...oh,how I wish this series could have gone on...there was so much more I wanted to know about this universe.
Six is still my favorite season of the series.

And to think I enjoyed your Bushwhacked commentary... ;)
Wow, I had the opposite reaction as the article writer. I started disliking Buffy as an unsympathetic character STARTING in season 5. But then that's because Spike got me hooked*, and she was never very good to my widdle Spikey.

*I should note that hubby telling me stories about Angel actually got me started, but I didn't drown in it until Spike...
I liked Buffy from the start till the finish. From quippy Buffy to dead eyes Buffy to all purposeful Buffy. A great character. The supporting characters were good too but they complimented her.
Wow, I had the opposite reaction as the article writer. I started disliking Buffy as an unsympathetic character STARTING in season 5.

I haven't read the article, but me too :)
I've always been a bit mystified why so many fans seem to have developed a dislike of Buffy at one time or another - and in some cases an extreme hatred. I just can't get my head around that one. It's a very subjective thing, I know, but I can't think of TV character I like more and I agree with the sentiments of Simon. Mind you, I pretty much liked all the characters. At least, I can't think of one I disliked.
Sorry, double-post. Blame it on old age or stupidity - or both!

[ edited by dashboardprophet on 2006-02-23 01:02 ]
I agree with Simon - I liked the character from start until finish. She wasn't always my favourite character, but she was always interesting to me - which can't always be said about lead characters on television. I think most TV leads suffer from being less interesting simply because they have the weight of the series on their shoulders, and usually showrunners don't like to put them through too much hell. Thankfully, Joss knows better and put Buffy through all kinds of hell.

(Side note: the author of this article has interviewed Joss in the past - profiling him and "Once More with Feeling" for Emmy magazine a few years back. Sadly, even an interview in Emmy magazine didn't lead to an Emmy nod for him!)
At the moment I'm working back through Buffy as it reairs in the UK.

Now, originally, I grew a dislike to Buffy. However, upon rewatching (I haven't seen most of these episodes for many years) - I actually like the character now. In fact, I like her probably more than the others.

Also, I've grown to spot SMG's acting skills.

So, in summary: looking back, Buffy good. I can relate to Mrs Summers. But we all know I like Amber BensonTara best.
Agree with Simon and others...I have never understood folks who say they love Joss's work but dislike Buffy; she is certainly the personification of all that is Whedon! I also love the support characters and the wonderful actors who brought each to life but, to me at least, I will always think of Buffy when Joss's name is mentioned! Sarah did what no other actor could/will ever do...she became the icon, her talent breathed life into her character, and a universe was born!
Once she had a problem her Slayer strength couldn’t solve, viewers could finally empathize with her


No, I disagree. There were always elements of Buffy that we could empathize with - that was a big point of the show, was it not? The "ordinary" girl who feels different, excluded, who gravitates to other outsiders? Sure she had super-powers, but she was so vulnerable in other ways, and she yearned so much to be just like everyone else. I warmed to that instantly (and to Xander and Willow and Giles too). SMG's non-pareil portrayal didn't hurt either.

Some leads are stoic and stable: Buffy was vivid, flakey at times, and usually vivacious (at least until she started getting beat up by life toward the end). My favorite character, from 1 to 144.
love an interesting character study and Buffy was definitely that.
In one to three she was a spoiled kid slowly having that spoiled nature.. well, spoiled. She was an ex-popular kid who woke up one morning to realize she fit in better with the geeks, but wasn't smart enough to fit in with the geeks so she didn't really fit in anywhere anymore. Yet still she wanted to ..y'know.. fit in. The whole homecoming queen thign with her and Cordy for example. Blech.

By season four she's really beat down. Episode The Freshman is perhaps one of the lead role's lowest ebbs ever, and here is where her ensemble supporting players really start to open up like a lotus blossom. I mean she had an okay core support team in the high school years but college really opens up variables. By the opening episode of season six we got an acting troupe so impressive they can carry the episode with SMG just playing robot.
There are many times when I don't like Buffy as a person, but love her as a character. There is a difference in not wanting to be around someone in real life who is acting a certain way to loving watch a character on TV being a miserable bitka.

And Gossi, I hope you're not watching BtVS on Sky? They edit so much out that I find their episodes almost unwatchable. Get the DVDs!
While Buffy wasn't my favorite (Spike wins *that* award fangs down!!), I never really disliked her. Though I did get really, really angry with her for the way she treated Spike! SMG's portrayal of her was, IMO, spang on and at times breathtaking and heartwrenching. Joss & Co wrote such good stuff, but in the hands of lesser talents it would never have resonated like it did for all of us. So I couldn't really agree with the author of this, because to me every one of the cast was outstanding. Every single one.

And ZachsMind, I tend to disagree with you here and there, but about Season Six we're in total accord.
I didn't really care for Buffy as a character in seasons 1-3. I found her too vapid, too glib and bouncy, and entirely unrelatable. It wasn't until S4 that I really thought SMG developed as an actress and Buffy developed enough dimension for me to understand where she was coming from and even empathize with her.
Buffy is Buffy. I think taking it any farther (for me atleast)would be blasphemous. Yeah, she was kind of a pain with Spike in season 5--but could you blame her? Check out his track record. I think she dealt with way too many issues in season 5 which really changed her, especially with her slayer-identity crisis. She was a train-wreck in season 6, but in the end, she's still Buffy.

Related to the topic though, I think it's hard to say supporting characters "save" a show. The way I see it, if you don't like the main character, you are going to have a bitch of a time liking the show at all. However, if you take Tru Calling for instance, I guess it makes sense. I liked Tru alright, but my Harrison and Davis love really got me hooked. If that's what the author is getting at, then I guess I do agree (hope no one picked up on my contradictions...)

[ edited by MySerenity on 2006-02-23 01:55 ]
Prophecy Girl also sold Buffy as a character to me. That scene was in the back of my mind for years as I watched the show - still is, really.
Her ongoing struggle to be part of life was endlessly fascinating, whether she was winning or losing. Yes, sometimes I didn't like her much and I preferred following someone else's story but I always came back to her. Well, except in Season 7. Her speeches drove me crazy.
I never really looked at Buffy as the main character of.. well, Buffy. I've always been able to look at Joss' shows and look at each character that he chooses to place in the credits as an equal. I can't really elaborate without talking nonsense.
"Though I did get really, really angry with her for the way she treated Spike!"

What? After years of Spike using other people at playthings, to have someone use him? Turnabout not fair play? How more could a slayer slay this particular vampire? It was a fate worse than undeath.

I thought that was brilliant writing, and some of Marsters best acting throughout the series. When she admits to him and to herself she's been using him and can't do it anymore? Great work there!
Buffy was always my favorite character from beginning to end and thank you Simon for that excellent description of her character arc. I also loved all the supporting characters but Buffy was the one who hooked me on this show and kept me tuning in to see what was going to happen to her.
I didn't really care for Buffy as a character in seasons 1-3. I found her too vapid, too glib and bouncy, and entirely unrelatable.

I think "unrelatable" is the key word as for why some people don't like early Buffy as a character in the early seasons, and others don't like her during the later seasons. Being in high school myself, I find the character of Buffy much more relatable during the first three seasons (although I do find Buffy interesting as a character even later on).

But regardles of how much I liked the character at various points in the series, I think SMG did a great job of evolving her acting throughout the series to fit Buffy's growth from a teenager into an adult. All of the actors did, actually, which is part of why I think the series works so well. Compare this to a series like Smallvill in which none of the actors or characters have evolved at all from season 1 to season 5.


[ edited by risingwaves on 2008-06-02 01:52 ]
What? After years of Spike using other people at playthings, to have someone use him? Turnabout not fair play? How more could a slayer slay this particular vampire? It was a fate worse than undeath.


I think some fans had hoped the hero of the show wouldn't behave like a soulless thing.
And I didn't really hate Buffy, I just found her unsympathetic. But I don't have to sympathize with a character to be entertained and drawn in. And I liked Buffy's journey, it felt pretty real for what she was going through. I just didn't always like her. Just like I don't always like people in real life, but I can still respect them, or even grow to like them later.
"Prophecy Girl" was the first episode of Buffy I ever saw. Now Xander's pain was what sold me on the show, but also Buffy's speech made me realise this was more than what I thought teen-monster-fighting-soap. It was something else entirely.

In my experience, people loved the ensemble for most of the show's run, but only in the last two seasons did opinions begin to polarise. I'm sure some of my friends only kept watching for Spike.
There were times when I found it difficult to relate to Buffy and times where I found her unsympathetic and times when I wanted to sit her down and give her a firm talking to about some things, but I never outright disliked her. It was a grand journey with lots of ups and downs, which kept the story entertaining. That said, the show has to this day one of the best supporting casts I've ever seen. I tuned in as much, if not more, to see them than I did the lead. So even if my connection to Buffy was weak at times, they kept me coming back.
Everyman wasn't particularly sympathetic either. Come to think of it he was an indecisive, whiny prick. It's all the people around the guy who make his story interesting. By the end of the play though, the audience is going, "will ya just freakin' die already!" And Buffy died THREE TIMES and STILL the audience is waiting for her to just give up the ghost buuuuuut nooooooooooooooo!

I think Buffy has as similar love/hate relationship for her modern audiences that Everyman had for his back in the 1400s.
As somebody who had the pleasure of watching the development of Buffy the character right from Welcome to the Hellmouth all the way through to Chosen, never missing an episode of the show from start to finish, i can honestly say that i never once disliked her and never had a problem in relating to her at all. Quite the opposite. In fact she was the soul of the show for me and the reason i was hooked from episode one.

Was she my favourite character? Nope, that would be Spike. Did i always agree with her choices? Not in the least! Sometimes she was unfair, selfish, even mean, but then again sometimes so am i! Give me the power of a slayer and i'd imagine that i'd still occasionally do things that others won't like.

When i was at school and college i was fortunate enough to walk that fine line between the popular crowd and the nerd squad. I was intelligent enough to be in the majority of the high level classes yet good enough at sports and attractive enough so that my brain didn't get in the way of me having a hot girlfriend or getting to go to all the good parties. By the way, this isn't me blowing my own trumpet. I do have a point to make, honest! ;)

That point being that i understood Buffy's difficulty in finding her place in the world. Belonging to two social groups but not entirely fitting in either. Having her loyalty to her friends and her responsibilities in life sometimes get in the way of being the person she believed she was meant to be. When Buffy decided to go up against Cordy for homecoming queen i totally understood where she was coming from. Okay, not so much with the homecoming queen part exactly but certainly with wanting to prove something to herself. That she still could cut it in the popular world. It may have seemed superficial or lame to some people but it made sense to me, given who she had been prior to being the slayer.

I can almost understand why some of the fanbase find Buffy an unsympathetic character and hard to identify with but for me she is, and probably always will be, the most realistic teen superhero i know. The issues some people have with her are ironically exactly what made me love her so much.

Having said all that, the supporting characters on all three of the Whedon shows were just as important in making them the success that they have become. I can't imagine the series without the likes of Willow, Xander, Cordy, Wesley, Jayne or Wash. As much as i loved Buffy, Angel and Mal i can't argue that all three series were far more than the lead character. That fact may be true for many series, from Farscape to 24, but when it comes to shows created by Joss Whedon the term "supporting character" generally translates to "another lead character who just doesn't happen to have the show named after them but is just as important to the story anyway". It's just that "supporting character" is way quicker to say! :)
It's interesting to read everyone's different impressions. I can recall that upon my first viewing season by season of BtVS, Buffy was definitely my least favorite. My feelings ranged from indifference to annoyance. It wasn't usually a direct reaction as I watched, but if an ep was too Buffy-centric I would realize later I was kind of disappointed. It was only after I started viewing seasons multiple times that I really came to appreciate the character better.

It's also funny that I always thought that maybe my issue with the character was that I didn't like SMG, but that I have come to have a great admiration for her performances and how she handled the character.

Still, Buffy can annoy me. But, of course, she's meant to sometimes. There are two scenes that really stand out to me that address this and also perfectly exemplify why I think the show is so amazing--one is the argument with Xander when Riley is leaving and the other is her duel with Willow at the end of season 6. I just absolutely love the way the show can have two people argue and have both of them make good points with neither being wrong. I mean, everything she says to Willow is absolutely true but, come on, "Buffy, you really need to have every square inch of your ass kicked," was absolutely true, in a sense, from Willow's perspective. Even though I had finally come to like the character by then, and I of course sided with her in the battle, I did cheer a little bit when Willow said it.
I must weigh in on this. I was one of those who despised all things "Buffy" for a number of years. I look down upon you from my towering stack of hard science fiction, fantasy, history, political science, classic literature, etc.

Then I actually watched an episode on FX. Then I couldn't stop watching them. Then I started watching Angel and then Firefly came on. Then I started embarrassing myself by using Buffy slang or references in conversations.

It isn't any particular character that makes it or breaks it for me on a Whedon creation. It is the dynamics and interaction. It is the dialogue and the way that Joss can make every single character matter to the story and every single word spoken or expression hold volumes of meaning. If you want to find it. I love my towering stacks but I wallow in whedon. I am a figurative pig in metaphor mud way down in allegory alley. I am onomatopoeian on the leg of conventional entertainment and I am driving with a suspended artistic license.
Buffy was never my favourite character, I agreed with much of the article. I was always far more into Willow - then again, Willow's practically my favourite character of all time. ;)

That said, I have never straight-out disliked any Buffy character, including Buffy, because I empathise with them far too much. I feel like my emotions are a puppet and Joss is the puppet master. Not that it's a bad thing, of course..
I just absolutely love the way the show can have two people argue and have both of them make good points with neither being wrong.

Which is why I never get why people can side with one or the other in that argument - or even the earlier one between Buffy and Riley. Those arguments are so well written, so well balanced and in character that it's a pleasure to watch.
"It is the dialogue and the way that Joss can make every single character matter to the story and every single word spoken or expression hold volumes of meaning."

[Zach takes off his glasses and wipes them clean with a handkerchief.]

I honestly don't know what you mean by that.

[Zach puts his glasses back on and stands there with a stolid poker face.]
Six is still my favorite season of the series.

Still mine, too. I generally liked Buffy, but not always - and I think that was the way it was supposed to be. Our heroes (and antiheroes) were never perfect, which is what made them so great. While it's true there were characters I liked better than Buffy, most of the characters would not have worked as well without her.
I hate six. :-)

As for Buffy, she was never the real reason I watched the show. I watched, and experienced the show, through Willow, and I find her arc far more compelling than Buffy- Buffy started out as the Slayer and ended up as one of the slayers; Willow started out as a nerd and ended up a goddess- and along the way fell in love with the character I came to care most about, Tara, whom I felt has never really been given the props she deserves.
Well, I get the point of the article. Sometimes I prefer supporting characters over the main character (actually, I often do) it's only a difficult thing to deal with when you HATE a main character (which, I often have that problem as well). That's why I think it's a smart idea to have an ensemble- that is a true ensemble. Don't get too into just one or two characters all the time, let everyone have some screen time. It's hard to make a character that everyone likes, but if you have all different characters with a range of personalities then there's a chance everyone will find at least one character to like. Plus bonus for if you focus on more then one character- people are less likely to get SICK of that one character.

As far as Buffy the character, I was always back and forth with her, sometimes I hated her, sometimes I loved her. But that's what made the show interesting in a way, she had different levels, she changed, she grew, she had her moments. But she didn't always *make* the show. There are some great Buffy moments but there are also great Giles ones, Xander ones, WIllow ones etc.
I only liked Willow occaisionally. Spike.. not so much either. I realize I've alienated myself from 95% or the posters but I just can't seem to get excited about them. My favorites have always been Buffy, Giles, Faith, Tara (**Wes**, Lindsay, Fred). Maybe I have a watcher fixation?

My Buffy love definitely started out as physical attraction, but when she started to suffer and die (and date people other than me) I grew to appreciate her story. I especially loved her post season 5. I love the idea that she was sucked out of perfect bliss, and how Spike was her only refuge. I loved where that loss took her character.

But yeah above all else, Wesley is my absolute favorite. Without a doubt. He embodies everything I love about the darkness of Joss Whedon's stories: the loss of everything (Watcherhood first, then Angel and his new family, then Fred (it still stings)) and the strength of character to keep fighting when everyone is against you. He became so dark. I loved the dark places that the characters went to and I loved the eventual redemptions in whatever form they came.

So yeah. Conclusion: Wesley is the best Whedon character EVER, and let's all admit it.. he carried both series singlehandedly so I don't even consider him a supporting a character. =p
Buffy started out as the Slayer and ended up as one of the slayers

Buffy started out as the one and only Slayer and didn't want the responsibility. She grew and shared her power with others (the Scoobies and the Potentials, metaphorically and actually) and was able to accept her position in the world finally.

I'd say Willow went through way more changes in the series, but I wouldn't say her arc was that much more compelling.
As a 41 yr. old male when Buffy started (yes I hit 50 this year!), I never really "related" to the characters , but more to the situations as remembered from my High School days (minus the vampires). While I enjoyed watching the show, it was Becoming I & II that hooked me on just how good SMG and Buffy really was. And a major part of what also made the show so good was how the other characters were allowed to grow and developed. But as good as SMG is, I'd say this is more a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts.
ZachsMind, I was being glib and facetious in my comment about not liking Buffy because of the way she treated Spike. Obviously, the whole thing was much more complex than that. And hey, I get payback, karma & whatnot. But when she was using him, it did make her look bad, because he was struggling to be a better pers-- er, being for/because of her. And, again, being simplistic here, but I tend to write lengthy essays on the subject, and I wouldn't inflict my novella-length harangues essays--on all you poor people.

I thought that was brilliant writing, and some of Marsters best acting throughout the series. When she admits to him and to herself she's been using him and can't do it anymore? Great work there.

With you all the way on that!
I agree with kmb 99. Part of it is where you are in your own life. I can't always relate to the characters whether it be in books, film or on TV. But I can appreciate the journey they've gone through and maybe in the process gain a little bit more understanding about their character and perhaps about situations in my own life.

PS Just wanted to add that the supporting cast rocked and made the stories so much more rich and compelling.

[ edited by cookie_dough on 2006-02-23 07:57 ]
I agree with the article - generally, with most tv shows, a supporting character ends up my fave but....I'm a Whedon character whore! I swapped and changed my favourites (Buffy included) left and right : )
SMG was the reason it took up until when the 6th season had started for me to even watch Buffy. I'm glad I finally did of course. It's a brilliant show. I was just so thrown by SMG being the "star". The rest of the cast made the show.
In Buffy and Angel, I always liked the "sidekicks" more than the main characters (Wesley is to my opinion the character that had the best overall arc in any series that I know).

In Firefly, I equally like all the characters...
Le Comite (Sorry, I don't know how to get the accent egule [or the accent grave, for that matter]....) Oui, d'accord! Et aussi, bien sur, au moins en ce qui concerne l'arc de Wesley.

Excusez moi. En Francais, je suis tres, tres rouille.


Feel free to correct. Again, apologies for the errors. Wesley did indeed have an incredible arc. And I miss him. Aw, hell, I miss them all so very much.
My favorite character on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The other characters were great too and I always wanted to see what was going to happen next with each and every one of them. But my primary interest was always Buffy. The character I cared about most was Buffy. What I wanted to see most was the next development in the life of Buffy. That's why I can't wait to read Joss' upcoming BUFFY comics 'cause then I will know what happens next in the life of Buffy. Hopefully that will include what happens next in the life of everybody else as well. I have a lot of love for all those characters and I wouldn't want to see any of them given short shrift, but my heart belongs to Buffy! Not my actual heart but my metaphorical heart reserved for fictional characters.

As far as ANGEL goes, beginning with Season 3 it's all about the Wes. That's what kept me glued to ANGEL. I like Angel--like him a lot, I'm a big Bangel 'shipper. But! As far as the show goes, Wes develops into the most interesting character to me.

FIRELY--Mal. But again, I also wanted to see and get to know each and every one of those people.

I see two testaments in this thread to the talents and genius of Joss and Co. 1) All the people who don't even like the main character in BUFFY yet are still big fans of the show and 2) the amount of "supporting" characters Joss et. al. can create and make every single one of them interesting and compelling. At least they were to me. I can't get enough of any of them!

Except the Immortal. I hate him.
Marmoset:

It was only after I started viewing seasons multiple times that I really came to appreciate the character better.


For me that is exactly the Key.
Rush no1 was the thrill of seeing the episodes for the first time. When you had unwrapped the DVD and saw the plots unfold, Spikes reappearance, dark willow etc. And the characters hits me on an emotional and uncritical level. For example the grief in The Body, the annoyance at Buffys treatment of Reilly and Spike, bad Angel.

Rush no2 is hearing the commentaries explain the huge amount of things I had completely missed. Thereby giving me a very clear perception of my unability ( is that a word?)to understand other peoples motives and drives. And thereby initializting my own analysis of what was really going on.

I have most of the time been extremely annoyed with Buffy the character, but very soon I understood why. It is the annoyance I often feel towards my sister (whom I love dearly) and sometimes towards myself ( whom I am trying to love):
" I care to much to see you behave like that. I want you to know better !"
But the more annoyed I have felt, the more my respect for SMG the actor have grown.

Today my appreciation of BtVS is completely different but definately greater. I credit this to Joss, the actors and you all in the black.
It is difficult to compare the supporting casts of shows like Buffy to Veronica Mars, not just because of length (144 eps. vs approx. 35) but also because of screentime. Regulars in BTVS appeared in every ep. (except CWDP) while in VM, you might not see a reg. for 3 or 4 eps. Even though there is some great acting and character depth among VM supporters, they don't get the same time to develop the way the Scoobies did.
There are many times when I don't like Buffy as a person, but love her as a character.


I generally liked Buffy, but not always - and I think that was the way it was supposed to be. Our heroes (and antiheroes) were never perfect, which is what made them so great.


I'm with these guys. I liked Buffy herself less and less in seasons 6 and 7 - I'm also a Spike fan, so that may have coloured it. But she was always a compelling and interesting character - I can't think of anyone I like all the time in real life either. She was always human, always plausible, always beautifully acted.
Pretty much agree with Vampire With a Gun on the points he makes. Except i'm NEVER unfair or selfish or mean. Honestly, it's like i'm some paragon of fairness, selflessness and, err, un-meanness. Sometimes it can be difficult but, y'know, that's my burden to carry ;).

I always liked Buffy the character tho' Buffy the person was sometimes a bit annoying (but always for understandable reasons - if we were mates in real life it'd be 'she's going through a bad patch and needs help' rather than 'she's gone off the rails and is now dead to me, better get my Tom Petty CDs back off her'). For a character to sometimes disappoint you as a viewer or do things you don't agree with while still holding your attention and having you ultimately rooting for them is the mark of greatness, IMO.

I think, as some have mentioned, one of Joss's strengths is that you're really behind whoever's episode it is and for that ep. you totally see them as the hero. If it's a big Buffy episode (e.g. 'The Gift') then Buffy is without a doubt the hero. During 'The Zeppo' it's totally Xander. This also applies across shows so that 'Sanctuary' in AtS S1 has Angel being totally right (and vindicated by Faith's decision to confess), then later in BtVS, he's apologetic (even tho', IMO, he was bang on in what he said) since clearly Buffy is the hero of her own show.

Agree with the Wes love as well. He had, for me, the most compelling arc of any supporting 'verse character and I was ecstatic (in the sad and unhappy kind of way ;) when the creators had the courage to round his arc off in the way most consistent with his character, as a glorious and magnificent failure.
Buffy's character, Buffy's story is what got me hooked in the first place. Buffy has always remained my favorite character throughout the show. Sometimes she slightly dissapointed or annoyed me, but I have never stopped feeling and rooting for her.
Spike's journey is the reason i started follwing the show but i do like most of the other characters. So i'm also looking forward to the Buffy canon comics to see where they are now.
I'm with you Sethsky...Spike's journey was the most compelling story for me, but I still enjoyed the other characters, and I truly loved Buffy, even when she was at her worst. I may not have agreed with the way she acted sometimes, but as the seasons moved on I think I finally could come to grips with what she was going through.

Spike, however, was always my favorite from the first moment he appeared, and I think it is a huge credit to Marster's phenomenal portrayal of this character that kept me hooked. I think I actually 'lived to see what was going to happen to Spike next'....

There have been other shows where I prefer the supporting characters as well, but Spike just added so much to BTVS and to Angel as well ...he made all the other characters stories more interesting...at least IMHO.
Buffy started out as the one and only Slayer and didn't want the responsibility. She grew and shared her power with others (the Scoobies and the Potentials, metaphorically and actually) and was able to accept her position in the world finally.

I never really saw her as accepting her position in the world and basically she did to all the other girls what the Watchers did to her - gave them powers and responsibility they may not have wanted. If anything, I thought she saw it as a way to free herself so she'd have time to have that "normal" life she'd been wanting. Although, I don't think it worked out that way.
I must say that I enjoyed BtVS from 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' to 'Chosen'. I think the reason some fans likes/dislikes a certain season, character, ect. is exactly the same reason I fell in love with the show. Every season, we were able to watch the characters grow and evolve. Though every fan has their favorite character, I think Joss did a remarkable job in balancing the roles of the cast. I really don't think anyone in the cast 'carried' the others, IMO.

With that said, there's really no wrong or right here. It all falls in the way you looked upon the show. The best description I've ever heard about BtVS was that it was layered like an onion. I think Joss even said once that if 12 fans sat down and watched a show together, in the end, you would have 12 different opinions. And he loved it, that was the plan. He wanted people to actually think about what they were watching.

So this writer didn't care for Buffy until season five. An opinion. Some fans didn't care for (insert character/season here). Again, just another opinion. And that's another aspect that I loved about BtVS and rooms just as Whedonesque. The opportunity to discuss our different views. Always interesting.

Now, let me say my piece on Willow.......;)
You make a very good point Killinj That was always a problem I had with "Chosen." On the surface, sharing the power seems like a great thing, but in so doing, Buffy did force power on hundreds of unsuspecting girls -- like Dana for instance -- who otherwise might have led normal lives.

As to the main discussion, I too am a Spike fan, and there was a time when I really disliked Buffy herself. But being able to watch her story unfold without commercials or weeks in-between stories has made me far more sympathetic. That happened with Dawn too; I loathed her the first time around but grew to care about her character in later viewings.

It is interesting how many shows put the viewer in a position of preferring the supporting characters to the lead. And I think this often happens because the lead is not given enough human foibles. For instance, on "Smallville," give me Lex and his struggle over Clark's anyday. What Joss did with BtVS (imo) was to walk a fine line between having a HERO and having a heroic, but falliable, lead. In that, I think Buffy was far more like Capt. Kirk than like Clark Kent. You can love Buffy or Kirk because of their flaws, not just in spite of them. It also gives the actor something 'meatier' to play.

It is rare to have a show where you like the lead as much as or even more than the supporting players. But as I was watching Tuesday's "Boston Legal" I was actually thinking to myself how much I appreciate not only Alan Shore (the lead) but Denny, Shirley, and Paul as well. Not one of them is flawless, and not one of them is always right, but many times you can see their point of view and sympathize just as you can with Whedon's characters.

With respect to "Angel" I have to agree with those who feel Wes was the heart and soul of that series. Angel himself was just never as interesting to me as those around him.
I always found Buffy to be the most relatable character in the show, and given that so many people found her to be awful at one point or another, I wonder what that says about me. :-)

I think part of the problem with lead characters in general (I don't think Buffy falls into this category) is that it's hard to strike the balance between making the show itself about them and making everything in the world of the show about them. If you do the latter, they come off as self-centered and absorbed. To me, the archetypal example of this is Carrie in Sex and the City - it always felt like the other girls were revolving around her axis.

I do, however, think that Buffy resisted this temptation very well except, perhaps, during parts of season 7.
Buffy never seemed like an outsider to me. She seemed like a cute, bouncy, blond cheerleader who was always the center of attention and loved by all, so she didn't evoke any deep sympathy. She was the girl every pre-teen girl wanted to be, the girl men fear and women want to associate with - more Cordelia than Cordelia (who often seemed vulnerable to me). Of course there were moments in the series where feeling sorry for Buffy was not an optional thing: when she stabbed Angel, when her mother died and when Giles left. I felt sorry for her at those times. However, in most of the other episodes she was not rejected, she was doing the rejecting: Xander, Riley, Spike. In the end, the balance for me was with her being in control of the center of attention. Of course the truest statement is that all opinions are subjective.
gilraen, I agree with your assessment of leads, and the difficulty of striking a balance in which they're the center of the axis, but not so self-absorbed that we dislike them.
For me, though, I was always a Buffy fan. I wouldn't necessarily say she was my favorite character on the show – that fell to Spike and to Willow in the early seasons, and I was also a big fan of Giles – but she was ultimately the one I cared about most, and who I trusted to get everyone out of whatever dire situation they were in. I think, sometimes, we take the hero for granted, which is maybe why we're drawn to the peripheral characters more. Buffy is a little harder to relate to, because she has fewer flaws and has extra-human powers, but she's still, ultimately, the center of a show that would cave in without her. I ached for her during Prophecy Girl, and Becoming, and the Prom, and the Gift, and so many other times, and trusted her to do the right thing. But it didn't make her the person I would most want to hang out with, or who was the most fun.
The only time I actively started to dislike her on the show was during the self-righteous speeches of Season 7, and I hated the writers for making me feel that way about her. Even then, I was furious at the rest of the gang for kicking her out of her own house and forgetting the many times she'd saved them. And I was so glad to have the four core scoobies, being themselves, back for the finale.
Count me as another fan of Buffy the character. She was the first perfect-looking character that I ever related to, and I think that says a lot about the character development on the show.
Buffy never seemed like an outsider to me. She seemed like a cute, bouncy, blond cheerleader who was always the center of attention and loved by all, so she didn't evoke any deep sympathy. She was the girl every pre-teen girl wanted to be, the girl men fear and women want to associate with - more Cordelia than Cordelia (who often seemed vulnerable to me).

I see what you're saying; for me, though, the brilliance of Buffy's character was that she showed how little those external things (beauty, intelligence, strength) matter when you're struggling under the weight and pressure of your own and other's expectations and when you haven't found a center within yourself. But you're right - probably the real brilliance of the show is that we can all plausibly have so many interpretations. :-)
Really, shows who can broach that question - why do I love a supporting character more than the lead? - have one hallmark - great writing. Or ok, sometimes a REALLY annoying actress/actor, but that's not the case here. If the writers can master a dynamic lead character, draw you in, and truly shift your interest to someone new... say it with me, "great writing."

ACP, I think you said it best... Willow was my favorite, but I cared about Buffy the most.

And on a side note - I completely disagree with the author about Veronica Mars. I find Kristen Bell and her character to be increasingly static/annoying, and would never watch for her alone, whereas Logan and other characters keep me coming back for more.
Buffy never seemed like an outsider to me. She seemed like a cute, bouncy, blond cheerleader who was always the center of attention and loved by all, so she didn't evoke any deep sympathy.

Interesting, I didn't get that at all. I always felt like the first impression she made on people was as a cute, bouncy cheerleader - and that was what part of her wanted to be – but that her abilities put her far out of reach of it and created a deep loneliness and outsider-feeling that she could never quite get beyond. Prophecy Girl was the first perfect embodiment of that. And that was why the finale, and her smile, were such a perfect end to the series – for the first time, she wasn't alone. And I felt like that loneliness, that other-ness, had been a running theme through the whole show.
Even in high school, Buffy was never in an in-crowd – that fell more to Cordelia and her friends – because no one outside of the Scoobies understood her, and they were all a bit weirded out by her. That's why the award at the prom was such a surprise, but even that was more a token of respect and gratitude than affection or friendship.
But, as you say, part of the brilliance of the show is that we all have such different interpretations :-)
Angel was definitely my favorite character throughout ATS. I think season five with the issues/backstory that Spike brought sealed it for me.

Buffy wasn't my favorite character on BTVS, (Spike was) but as I said, she was an interesting character study. My problem may be that she was impossible to understand and relate to at times (as were ALL the Scoobies, IMO), and frankly, none of them were saints by a long shot. Strangely, of the two top of the line series, BTVS is my favorite and I think it's due largely to the fact that the actors were so perfect for the parts and Gellar/Marsters chemistry was so incredibly huge, no matter what was going on..

With ATS, I completely loved that the demons and one vampire hunter (who was fighting his own demons) were the ones left at the end of both series.. They were truly the unforgiven and I adored those four with everything in me.

[ edited by spikeylover on 2006-02-23 19:16 ]
I love Buffy. The show was based around her and she carried it. None of the other characters would have became the people that they were if it weren't for Buffy. The only complaint I have about the whole Buffy/Spike scenario is that she should have staked him in season 2. But hey, thats just me. :-)
On the speeches thing in Season 7--they came out that way, because she didn't know what else to do. She'd never had to prepare people, or really, seriously train them and impart things. Especially to people who were as resistant as the Potentials were.

Like has been said, she was the Slayer, so she was used to the lonely existence. Acting once others (Giles and the gang) researched her the whys and wherefores. Her role as instructor was something thrust upon her shoulders by Giles, and it was rather unfair I thought, because as the one remaining Watcher (i.e. trainer of Slayers), he should have shared the burden with her.

But all he did was add to it, telling her that she had to make the hard decisions, that people were counting on her, that fun couldn't be had because it was a dire situation. So I lay some of blame for Buffy's attitude at Giles' feet, because she trusted his counsel, and followed along the best she knew how.

Because you notice, once she told him off after he went behind her back with Spike, she was action girl again. Fed up, she took the girls to the vineyard. It blew up in her face, true, but she turned out to be right in the end.

I always got the feeling that Giles was being extra hard with her in S7, because after the wayward year that was S6, he came back and essentially overparented. I understood where he was coming from, but it was the first time Giles really ticked me off.
It isn't any particular character that makes it or breaks it for me on a Whedon creation. It is the dynamics and interaction. It is the dialogue and the way that Joss can make every single character matter to the story and every single word spoken or expression hold volumes of meaning. If you want to find it. I love my towering stacks but I wallow in whedon. I am a figurative pig in metaphor mud way down in allegory alley. I am onomatopoeian on the leg of conventional entertainment and I am driving with a suspended artistic license.

DejaThoris | February 23, 05:21 CET


Deja Thoris, Wallower of Mars?
I love your post. I made that same journey. Who knew that fateful day at Best Video when I picked up the oddly beckoning box that I had passed by so many times before, I was embarked on the Whedon way. Life has never been the same.
"The only complaint I have about the whole Buffy/Spike scenario is that she should have staked him in season 2. But hey, thats just me. :-) "

Funny. I have that same complaint about Angel in season one. Spike in season two. Then Buffy shoulda staked Faith in season three, Riley in season four, Glory in season five, all three of the geeks with a very large spoon in season six (cuz it'd hurt morrrrr!) and then she shoulda staked Anya in season seven and married Xander.

But that's just me.
With the exception of Riley and the geeks, you just listed many of my favorite characters, Zachsmind :-). But that's the beauty of the Buffyverse: We're all drawn to the same show, yet have such vastly different opinions about what we like and dislike once we're there....
Haha ZachsMind... Ever since Buffy ended I always thought that Spike's ending (dying saving the world/having Buffy tell him she loved him) should have belonged to Xander. It would have been MUCH more emotional and it would have meant MUCH more (to me). I'd still be crying my eyes out if thats how it ended. But alas, Spike got the hero moment and Xander was background boy. :-(
ZachsMind. Yeah, your're right. Please read above.
ChosenGuy317, Xander already saved the world in Grave. Two years in a row, maybe a bit much.

I loved Xander...the days leading up to Chosen I was literally sick to my stomach in fear that Xander might die.
I don't think two years in a row would have been a bit much. How many times did Buffy save the day and it never got old. Haha. I just felt that it should have been one of the Scoobies to get the big moment in the finale, instead of Spike. Oh well. I'll just imagine that it ended my way. :-)
Haha ZachsMind... Ever since Buffy ended I always thought that Spike's ending (dying saving the world/having Buffy tell him she loved him) should have belonged to Xander. It would have been MUCH more emotional and it would have meant MUCH more (to me). I'd still be crying my eyes out if thats how it ended. But alas, Spike got the hero moment and Xander was background boy. :-(

Would totally agree with this. That said, I'd want to keep Nick Brendon around for a (possible) Buffy movie - that actor deserves a big screen. Give it 5 years, and I really do think one of the things Joss should start tossing around is a Buffy movie - a lot of that cast are geninue movie stars.
I have no idea why I persist in getting involved in discussions like this, because it only ever leads to me getting frustrated and becoming even more alienated from my fellow Whedon fans. Yet somehow I always find myself expressing my love of all things Joss while simultaneously exhibiting what are apparently controversial, unpopular opinions about his characters/stories.

So here we go again...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has always been my LEAST favorite of Joss' shows. Which still puts it lightyears above and beyond anything else on television (or anywhere else for that matter), but just the same, BtVS comes in a solid third place in the Whedonverse television popularity contest for me. Now to be clear, I watched every single episode from Day One and, for the most part loved them all. I give BtVS all appropriate respect and adulation for being what it is/was and creating the world that it did. But when Angel showed up it quickly proved to be the superior show (in my opinion), even through all of it's growing pains and first season stumblings. I STILL watched the parent series, and often enjoyed it more than Angel. But even at those times I recognized that the spin-off was the story I was destined to care so much more about. There's any number of reasons for that...

But that's not what we're actually discussing, is it? Well, not exactly. What we ARE discussing is the appeal of lead characters versus "supporting" characters. So... Buffy Summers? Hated her. Throughout the entire series run my feelings towards her ranged from mild interest at best to outright loathing at worst. She occasionally earned my sympathies, and I did cheer for her and worry about her from time to time. But far more often than not I found myself annoyed to the point of my SKIN crawling. She was rarely someone that I could empathize with. Initially I bought into her "poor me" life as the Chosen One. But for seven years her attitude did nothing but deteriorate. And worse, every two or three episodes she would have some kind of "epiphany" where she ostensibly learned a valuable lesson about life and how to treat other people, only to have that little development completely disappear a week later... many times to be followed by ANOTHER "epiphany" about the very same thing. I quickly stopped caring about what life lessons Buffy was learning because I knew she'd forget all about it by the next episode.

It was ALWAYS her so-called supporting cast that held my attention. But even they fell apart by degrees as the series wore on. In particular Xander became an obnoxious, judgemental bastard by the last couple of years. For my part one of the most interesting and captivating aspects of the series was the idea of watching this cast of social misfits and outcasts creating their own "family" with each other and learning to get through life even while being cut off from the rest of "normal" society. I mean there were countless times when we were meant to sympathize with one of the Scoobies because of the way they were segregated for being "different". Xander was a "loser", Willow a "nerd", Buffy was "weird", etc. But it didn't take long for Buffy and her friends, newly secure in their own "In Crowd", to begin treating anyone not in their Scooby Gang in precisely the same demeaning, ostracising manner in which they had been treated in high school. In other words we no longer sympathized with them for being picked on outcasts because they began picking on OTHER outcasts in turn.

Not admirable behavior in my eyes. And it's not like it was part of a learning curve for them. It was never resolved, never even really addressed. Which means it was apparently acceptable, possibly even "understandable". Only not so much.

Back to Buffy, her appearance on the Angel season one episode "Sanctuary" epitomizes my opinions of her. I'm fully aware that the lead protagonist of each series is entitled (even required) to be cast in the better light when appearing in their own given series (i.e. Buffy gets to be "right" on Buffy while Angel gets to be "right" on Angel), and that doubtless colored the way Buffy was represented in that episode. Nevertheless, her arrogant, childish and uncompromising attitude there is EXACTLY the way that I have ALWAYS thought of her.

Also, her decision to break the Slayer rules and empower all the worlds Potentials at the end of Buffy season seven struck me as hypocritical to say the least. We'd spent seven years listening to her piss and moan about how she never ASKED to be the Slayer, and there had been more than one rape metaphors made about how the decision had been forced upon her. So the denouement of the series then turns out to be her making that choice for thousands of other young women? Granted, we find out later that apparently there's a new Watcher's Council going around trying to find all these poor girls and help them deal with the change... a bit late, but what the heck, at least poor Buffy Anne Summers gets to feel more "normal" now and not be the ONLY Chosen One.

(And at least on Angel we got to see some negative repercussions to that very questionable decision in the form of psycho Slayer Dana.)

Okay, that was all ranting. I apologize. The point (as much as I ever have one) is that the "supporting" cast is often AS important, many times MORE important to me than the so-called "star" of a show. That was certainly true of BtVS, and to a lesser degree on Angel (Wesley is my favorite Whedon character of all time). Firefly redefines the term "supporting cast" as I find it difficult to identify Mal as THE "star". That was the truest example of an ensemble show I can think of.

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-23 21:44 ]
I have no idea why I persist in getting involved in discussions like this, because it only ever leads to me getting frustrated and becoming even more alienated from my fellow Whedon fans. Yet somehow I always find myself expressing my love of all things Joss while simultaneously exhibiting what are apparently controversial, unpopular opinions about his characters/stories.

Um... not sure I understand the defensiveness, haunt. A good chunk of this thread is posts by Whedonesquers who feel the same way you do about Buffy – maybe not quite as extreme, but people who also dislike her, or dislike her in certain seasons, or feel much more empathy for the supporting cast. I think you're making a me-against-the-rest situation where none exists.
For my part, I feel differently (see above), but, as I said, to me that's part of the beauty of this show: it can attract so many different people who all love the show, but for different reasons, and who react totally differently to the various characters, episodes, plots, etc. I also see all three of Joss's shows as the epitome of ensembles, where the supporting characters were generally every bit as important as the leads, and the notion of "family" was redefined as the friends you make for yourself.

I do agree with your point that some of the supporting cast on BtVS deteriorated in the final seasons – I always adored both Xander and Willow, but found them both more grating, for different reasons, in the final two seasons (though I still loved them). Still, BtVS will always remain my favorite of the Jossverse, perhaps in part because it was my first television love (obsession?).

I was surprised by your characterization of the transfer of slayer powers in Chosen as hypocritical. I thought the reason Buffy had always felt burdened by being a slayer was because she was alone. It was a burden and a responsiblity that she alone could understand, and it weighed on her heavily. By endowing every potential with slayer powers, she gave them the ability to stand up to injustice and fight back, without that overwhelming loneliness. None of those girls will have the burden of being the only one who has to save the world, but they'll have the ability to do so. I saw it as an empowerment thing, that fit perfectly with BtVS's brand of feminism, that ended Buffy's lonely ordeal, and that was a fitting metaphorical cap of the series.
But again, we all have different interpretations – just one of the things I love about both the show and its fans. :-)
Hmmm... Also, her decision to break the Slayer rules and empower all the worlds Potentials at the end of Buffy season seven struck me as hypocritical to say the least. We'd spent seven years listening to her piss and moan about how she never ASKED to be the Slayer, and there had been more than one rape metaphors made about how the decision had been forced upon her. So the denouement of the series then turns out to be her making that choice for thousands of other young women? Granted, we find out later that apparently there's a new Watcher's Council going around trying to find all these poor girls and help them deal with the change... a bit late, but what the heck, at least poor Buffy Anne Summers gets to feel more "normal" now and not be the ONLY Chosen One.

I see your point, but she asked the potentials that were there to make a choice, and the point was that since there were now many other Slayers then the girls could choose whether or not to follow their calling. They didn't have to be slayers. Before the spell that Willow performed they didn't have that option, they were going to be slayers no matter what and if they didn't in fact become the slayer they were still going to be burdened with training and the such because of the "just in case factor". Buffy made it so that they had a choice in the matter.
acp, my defensiveness wasn't intended specifically for anyone here on Whedonesque necessarily, or for this particular thread even. It comes from years and years of having exchanges with other Whedon fans about subjects just like this, and regularly those exchanges end in misunderstanding and, often, arguments and alienation. That has rarely (if ever) happened here, but this is hardly the only Whedon site I post on, and not all internet families are as "well adjusted" as the one here. Still, thanks for the encouragement.

And I'd also like to thank you for taking the time to explain your interpretation of of the slayer power transfer. I confess I have never gotten far enough past my own take on it to think of it in the terms you describe. It seems likely that your explanation is the one that the writers INTENDED, because frankly I've always been puzzled what message was being sent with that.

However, as rational and reasonable as your interpretation is, I still disagree. Even assuming that was the writers' intent, and granting that perhaps that was Buffy's intent as well, I don't believe that ultimately is the most complete or accurate interpretation of the final results. It's a nice "positive spin" to put on it, but in the end I think the situation that occured with Dana in 'Damage' is a much more realistic glimpse of what Buffy REALLY did with her decision.

I'm grateful for the fresh (to me) perspective though. Thanks. :)

ETA: To follow up briefly to ChosenGuy317, I don't believe that every single one of those Potentials would ultimately have been gathered up and trained by the Watcher's Council. For one thing, there WAS no Council anymore thanks to the First. Perhaps there would have been again eventually, but even at it's height I'm not convinced that the Council found or chose to train every single Potential from ever last nook and cranny of the world.

But let's assume for the sake of argument that they DID find AND collect them all. Those Potentials would have received training in the use of their very gradually developing powers and abilities. What Buffy did was instantly bring all of them "up to speed" all at once, with no explanation, preparation or training. Dana from the Angel episode 'Damage' may have been an extreme example given her already fragile mental state at the time of her empowerment, but it couldn't possibly have been an isolated incident. Certainly there are other Potentials out there with less than stable mental states. In fact it's probable that some (many?) of the Potentials that were suddenly empowered were something less than MORALLY stable. Faith (another of my all-time favorite Whedon characters) gives us a small glimpse at what a morally questionable girl with superpowers is capable of. Imagine dozens or hundreds of them running around.

The new Watcher's Council that Andrew talks about are likely more about cleaning up the mess Buffy has created than they are about gathering new Slayers to train in the proper use of their powers.

But I suppose it's all left to our imaginations... until such time as Joss gives us the REAL continuing story. *shrug*

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-23 22:29 ]
Also, her decision to break the Slayer rules and empower all the worlds Potentials at the end of Buffy season seven struck me as hypocritical to say the least. We'd spent seven years listening to her piss and moan about how she never ASKED to be the Slayer, and there had been more than one rape metaphors made about how the decision had been forced upon her. So the denouement of the series then turns out to be her making that choice for thousands of other young women? Granted, we find out later that apparently there's a new Watcher's Council going around trying to find all these poor girls and help them deal with the change... a bit late, but what the heck, at least poor Buffy Anne Summers gets to feel more "normal" now and not be the ONLY Chosen One.

ChosenGuy317 pretty much already summed up my opinion here but i have to say how much i also disagree with the above comment.

All Buffy did (well, with the help of Willow anyway) was to activate the power of the slayer in all the potentials around the world. The concept of the "Chosen One" no longer comes into it. She didn't ask any of them to fight evil, stop an apocalypse or guard a hellmouth. All that they have to do is now live with the increased physical abilities that come from being a slayer and do with them whatever they wish. 99% of those girls would probably live out their lives exactly as they would have done previously, but now with the bonus of having this supernatural power to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Hardly what i would call a massive burden.
"All Buffy did (well, with the help of Willow anyway) was to activate the power of the slayer in all the potentials around the world. The concept of the "Chosen One" no longer comes into it. She didn't ask any of them to fight evil, stop an apocalypse or guard a hellmouth. All that they have to do is now live with the increased physical abilities that come from being a slayer and do with them whatever they wish. 99% of those girls would probably live out their lives exactly as they would have done previously, but now with the bonus of having this supernatural power to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Hardly what i would call a massive burden."

Except that one of those slayer powers that have now been activated happens to be a shared psychic experience. All those girls now have access to the collective memories and experiences of all the slayers that have come before. In most cases that manifests as dreams/nightmares, but it's likely that some experience it a bit more vividly.

See also my comments above about what it means to suddenly have hundreds of superpowered adolescent girls running around.

And why is it okay for Buffy to make even that "positive" a decision for all those girls? It shouldn't matter that what Buffy did is decide to give all these girls superpowers. The point SHOULD be that BUFFY made that decision and the girls (most of them at least, not including the tiny fraction of Potentials that were there with her to give their consent) had no say in the matter. It doesn't matter that the choice granted them superpowers and doesn't force them to do anything in particular with them. It matters that it wasn't their choice to make.

Anyway, this isn't really the point of this thread and I don't want to be responsible for "hijacking" the topic. Obviously I have a problem with that particular plot point that most other fans didn't/don't. Fair enough.

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-23 22:36 ]
All Buffy did (well, with the help of Willow anyway) was to activate the power of the slayer in all the potentials around the world. The concept of the "Chosen One" no longer comes into it. She didn't ask any of them to fight evil, stop an apocalypse or guard a hellmouth. All that they have to do is now live with the increased physical abilities that come from being a slayer and do with them whatever they wish. 99% of those girls would probably live out their lives exactly as they would have done previously, but now with the bonus of having this supernatural power to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Hardly what i would call a massive burden.

I agree: I don't think that Buffy felt a huge burden because she had those powers; she felt a burden because she was the only one that had those powers, and thus it was her responsibility to use those powers to save the world whenever world-saving was needed. But as Haunt pointed out, her decision to give everyone powers could have harmful consequences in certain cases, as in Dana's. I don't think she really had time to think about that when she made the decision to give Slayer power to all the Potentials, since she was kind of in a rush to save the world again. But if there ever are any canon Buffy stories in the future, I think it would interesting to see Buffy deal with the consequences of her decision and wonder if she made a mistake giving Slayer power to hundreds of girls.
It should also be pointed out that Buffy didn't activate all the potentials simply to make her own life easier. The small detail of the impending apocalypse and massive Turok Han army also played a not small part in her decision.

Whilst i won't disagree that there may be unfortunate consequences to her choice (such as what we saw with Dana), i think it's a little unfair to suggest that she did what she did in order to take the burden of being the slayer off her own shoulders. She activated all the potentials in order to stop the First, not to stop being the Chosen One.

I think any unforseen side effects, such as the odd psycho slayer here and there, is slightly preferable to having the ultimate evil rule over earth for all time, don't you? ;)
But as Haunt pointed out, her decision to give everyone powers could have harmful consequences in certain cases, as in Dana's. I don't think she really had time to think about that when she made the decision to give Slayer power to all the Potentials, since she was kind of in a rush to save the world again. But if there ever are any canon Buffy stories in the future, I think it would interesting to see Buffy deal with the consequences of her decision and wonder if she made a mistake giving Slayer power to hundreds of girls.

I agree. I don't think it was an easy, or a black-and-white decision, and I was glad the Angel writers showed us some of the potentially harmful effects of it with Dana. I'm sure there are others as well, though my guess is that the vast majority of consequences will be positive ones. As haunt says, Buffy made the decision for those girls, which is always problematic. For me, the extenuating circumstances here were: a) they were in an all-out battle to save the world, and this seemed their best hope. If it didn't work, chances were everyone - potentials, non-potentials, men and women – would die. They had no way of knowing what the amulet would do. b) There was no way to ask the thousands of potentials what they wanted, so Buffy had to make the best guess of what that was – and chances were most would be happy for the empowerment. As evidenced by c) All those potentials who were gathered and training did get a say in the decision, and agreed with it.

But again, that isn't to say it was easy or perfect or black-and-white, and Dana was an excellent example of how it could go wrong. I was glad they acknowledged that, and I'm glad it wasn't a perfect solution, as those rarely exist. Instead it was as most decisions are – imperfect, but the best they could do. I agreed with it and found it inspiring; haunt and, I'm sure, many others didn't. It's good debate fodder.
"It should also be pointed out that Buffy didn't activate all the potentials simply to make her own life easier."

I agree. It absolutely was a hard situation that demanded a hard decision. True enough.

However, many of Buffy's hard decisions have had just the slightest tinge of selfishness. The most shining example for me (aside from the one we've been discussing) is her death at the end of 'The Gift'. That scene, indeed that entire episode, was touching and poignant. I don't deny that. But even as I enjoyed the story and maybe even cried a little bit (mostly for her FRIENDS' pain, not so much for hers I admit), I couldn't help but feel just the tiniest bit of "that was a pretty convenient suicide opportunity for poor, put-upon Buffy, wasn't it?"

*sigh* I suppose ultimately my impressions of Buffy Summers would be that she was a nice girl that was forced into a pretty horrible life and ended up dealing with that by becoming a bitter and obnoxious young woman. Realistic maybe, but not my favorite storyline.

And somehow, even though the character of Angel was most DEFINITELY flawed and made his own fair share of poor decisions during the course of his series, he never ever annoyed me NEARLY as much as Buffy did. Not sure why that is. I'm sure someone somewhere will tell me I'm being sexist. I'm not, but there it is...
I suppose ultimately my impressions of Buffy Summers would be that she was a nice girl that was forced into a pretty horrible life and ended up dealing with that by becoming a bitter and obnoxious young woman


That's certainly one take, which you're perfectly entitled to. My chief response is, wow, if you think Buffy is bitter and obnoxious, you must associate with much nicer and better-rounded people than I do!

She had her moments - and so did Xander, Willow, Giles, Faith, Spike, Angel, etc. Was Buffy really the only character who was ever unlikeable? We feel it more because, back to the thread topic, she was the "main" character, but surely she wasn't the only one? At least, I never felt so.
Agree with you SNT. As I said previously, Dawn was FAR more unlikable than Buffy ever was most of the time, but on repeat viewings, it's easier to understand why she was the way she was. The same is true of Buffy.
That's certainly one take, which you're perfectly entitled to. My chief response is, wow, if you think Buffy is bitter and obnoxious, you must associate with much nicer and better-rounded people than I do!

I couldn't agree more, SNT. Bitter and obnoxious? Not the Buffy i saw.

Ultimately though, Haunt, you are of course entitled to your opinion and i've no doubt that any decision you saw Buffy make will be coloured for you by your prior take on her character. Where you saw Buffy making a decision that could ruin the lives of girls all around the world i saw a heroic young woman doing everything she could to prevent an impending apocalypse that could well have brought about the end of the world as they knew it. Funny how one action can bring about such radically different viewpoints.
And somehow, even though the character of Angel was most DEFINITELY flawed and made his own fair share of poor decisions during the course of his series, he never ever annoyed me NEARLY as much as Buffy did. Not sure why that is. I'm sure someone somewhere will tell me I'm being sexist. I'm not, but there it is...

Even though I liked Buffy as a character more than you did, Haunt, I admit that I found her annoying at times, whereas, like you, I liked Angel as a character even when he made much worse decisions than Buffy. I think the reason for this is that Angel's motivations for his acting badly were always explained, whereas sometimes when Buffy made bad decisions, I didn't feel like understood why she had done so.
I disagree about Buffy, because personally I felt involved and interested in every long running character certainly from the start of the show, and whilst my interest may have waned slightly for characters like Riley or Kennedy, in the sense that I just didn't care about them as much as Buffy or Willow or Xander.

Although I do think Giles was kind of harder to like at certain times in season seven, his motivation and out of character actions were kind of frustrating. And honestly I kind of got a little disinterested in Spike occasionally because he seemed to get over exposed (often literally!) whilst characters like Xander and Anya were overlooked.

I do think the lack of a sympathetic main character can really blight some shows. Smallville, for example. I have always been interested in watching Lex, Lionel, Chloe and hopefully I will enjoy watching James Marsters on it too. Clark is as dull as dishwater, and both Tom Welling and Kristen Kreuk are hopeless actors and fail to produce any chemistry or any sense of being a believable or likeable character. Unfortunately when the show focuses too much on their on/off romance it suffers.

The OC suffers similarly. Ryan and Marissa are the least interesting couple on TV. I also think Mischa Barton is more of a clothes horse than an actress. But the ridiculous number of times they have broken up and then got back together again is too high to count. Even Seth and Summer have commented on it. And those two are probably the best reason to watch The OC. Luckily they don't have a constantly changing relationship, fraught with drama at every turn, but they're still much funnier and more likeable than Ryan and Marissa.

Seth's parents Kirsten and Sandy also have a fairly stable relationship which is much more believable and interesting than that of the teenagers on the show. And of course Melinda Clarke, as Julie (who played Nandi in Firefly's "Heart of Gold") steals almost every scene she is in, treading the fine line between ridiculous soap opera and drama very carefully, and is very engaging to watch.

Alias is one show that has an amazing ensemble cast, and so many great characters, that it would be easy to watch it for the supporting characters- however instead of the numerous Tom Welling and Mischa Barton types, we have Jennifer Garner as the lead character, someone who manages to do everything required of a difficult role, whether it be intense drama, stunts and fighting, or simply breaking into a building to steal some dangerous item using only a wig and what looks like lipstick. Somehow she manages to hold her own against some amazing actors such as Ron Rifkin and Victor Garber, and anchor the show with a sympathetic and strong lead character.

That's how I felt Sarah Michelle Gellar did. Buffy always felt more of an ensemble show than Angel, and I think somehow every actor managed to make their character a vital part of the show. With Angel, obviously it started off with a much slimmer cast which required David Boreanaz to really hold much of the weight of the show, which he did terrifically, however in time we also saw people like Charisma, Alexis and Amy grow as actors and become incredibly important parts of the show.

Firefly was definitely an ensemble piece however I also think Nathan Fillion was holding the show together, and as is mentioned in the Serenity DVD special features, Nathan was Mal. He acted as a leader both in and out of character. I think the whole cast of Firefly got the chance to shine in both the series and movie, although the movie was obviously slightly more focused on Mal and River, but I dearly hope we will get to see in the future the new dynamics of the crew, and see how their relationships and characters evolve.
I don't know about my associates being "nicer and better-rounded", but they are certainly less self-centered and argumentative. And they are MUCH less prone to speechifying and proclaiming themselves to be the sole moral authorities.

But again, as you say, I'm sure that was (in part) because she was the series lead. As such we "got to" (I say "HAD to") witness Buffy's point of view in virtually every episode.

To answer your question, no Buffy was not the only character that was ever unlikeable. I've already mentioned that by the end Xander was nearly as unpleasant a character as Buffy herself. While I never detested Dawn the way it seemed most Buffy fans did, she too had her unlikeable moments. Even Willow brushed up against "disagreeable" a time or two. But Buffy far and away was the most consistent, continuous and over-the-top annoying character. Which is deeply unfortunate BECAUSE it was theoretically her show we were watching.

So (back to the thread topic) what does that mean? It means that my memories of Buffy the SERIES are tragically marred by my dislike for Buffy the CHARACTER. I own the entire DVD series, and will likely someday breakdown and buy the Chosen Collection box set. But it's UNLIKELY that I will ever sit down and rewatch the series as a whole, at least not with the kind of enthusiasm with which I've already watched and rewatched Angel and Firefly as wholes... over and over again.

The factor of lead vs. supporting cast at play here is that 99.9% of what would lead me to rewatch any Buffy episodes is one or more of the supporting cast, NOT the series lead. In fact I am eager for a continuation of the Whedonverse mythology in canon television/film format (despite being a comic collector for nearly thirty years I'm not satisfied with any of the proposed canon comic spin-offs or series continuations now on the schedule, regardless of whether Joss himself writes them or not), but would very VERY much prefer that continuation to stem primarily from the Angel series than from primarily Buffy. I'd like to see returning characters from both series, naturally. But would truly prefer that Buffy Summers NOT play a role in that ongoing story.

Just me, though.


ETA: Since Razor brought it up, I have to say that I agree, The OC is another example of a series where the "leads" have virtually no draw or appeal for me. Now I've only watched the first season of that series, but the characters that I still care about are NOT the leads, but rather the much more interesting and appealing Seth and Summer, and yes Seth's parents.

While Battlestar Galactica is much more of a true ensemble series (more like Firefly), with no real "leads" to speak of, I can say that my favorite characters on that series tend to be the more "peripheral" ones like Chief and Danny. I LOVE Gaius and Six, which I suppose don't really count as "peripheral" characters, but if you had to pick a lead or leads for that series I don't think most would list them for the position.

Haven't watched Smallville for quite awhile, but Chloe and Lex were my characters of choice on that one.

Lost also doesn't really have a lead, but most people would say that Jack is the closest thing that show has, and he's my LEAST favorite character probably.

And the list goes on. Clearly for many, and most definitely for me, the lead of a given series is not very likely to be the real draw.

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-24 00:01 ]
Lost also doesn't really have a lead, but most people would say that Jack is the closest thing that show has, and he's my LEAST favorite character probably.

Couldn't agree more. Actually, I'd say Jack and Kate (and maybe Locke) are the two leads, and they're both two of my least-favorite characters. Locke is falling quickly in my estimation too. That show is all about the supporting characters for me.

As for others - I only watched the first few episodes of Smallville before losing interest, but I agree that Chloe and Lex were far more interesting than Clark or (blech) Lana.

In Alias, which I followed through three seasons, I did like Sydney quite a bit. But I prefered Will, Jack Bristow, and even Marshall.

Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars however? All about the leads for me.... As is Deadwood (if we consider Al Swearengen, rather than Seth Bullock, who's a bit blah for me, as the lead....)
Absolutely. Al Swearengen all the way. And agree with your Alias picks as well.

Veronica Mars appears to be one of the exceptions to the rule. All the characters on that show are interesting, but seriously I (so far at least) am invested in the lead character moreso than anyone else. Her dad and Logan vie for second place though.
Haunt, I hesitate to keep stirring this pot, but this statement of yours struck me:

[T]hey are MUCH less prone to speechifying and proclaiming themselves to be the sole moral authorities.

But again, as you say, I'm sure that was (in part) because she was the series lead


That may be the crux of our difference in viewpoint. I'd say her speechifying and taking the high moral ground (which was intermittently seen, but more later on, certainly) has less to do with being the series lead, and everything to do with being The Chosen One, the One Person in All the World, blah blah blah. Wouldn't that kinda sorta be a justification, if not an excuse, for the propensity to get on the high horse? That's how I always viewed it - in fact, I tended to pity Buffy, not get pissed off at her, when she did her morality schtick, because it always underscored how little she wanted to be that person, that world savior, and how she wished she could lay it all down and be "normal."

It is very interesting to hear different opinions, because it forces me to think about my own. Thanks for that H.
in fact, I tended to pity Buffy, not get pissed off at her, when she did her morality schtick,

Me too, SNT. In fact, I often felt not only sorry for Buffy during those times, but very protective of her. During Season 7, especially, I also got incredibly annoyed at her for the self-righteous speeches (well, more annoyed at the writers, actually, since it seemed a downward turn in quality to me), but I still saw where it came from, and felt really angry at her friends and the potentials when they kicked her out of her house. The same anger i felt during "Dead Man's Party" when everyone turned on her. To me it seemed both the height of ingratitude for all she'd done in the past, as well as a complete lack of understanding and empathy from those who should know and understand her the best. Buffy had plenty of selfish moments, and plenty of self-centered moments, and plenty of times (such as in season 6) where I just wanted to kick some sense into her. But like SNT, I always attributed a lot of that as a direct result of being who she was. She was selfish and self-centered and had a tendency to disregard others' opinions because, ultimately, she knew that the responsiblity lay on her shoulders and no one else's. That realization forced a maturity on her early on, and it also forced her to sometimes make some decisions that could seem less than compassionate.
I think my caring about her, and feeling protective of her, stemmed from the fact that it was so clear she didn't want any of that – it was forced upon her and she accepted the burden.
" I'd say her speechifying and taking the high moral ground (which was intermittently seen, but more later on, certainly) has less to do with being the series lead, and everything to do with being The Chosen One, the One Person in All the World, blah blah blah. Wouldn't that kinda sorta be a justification, if not an excuse, for the propensity to get on the high horse?"

Absolutely, and I got that. Unfortunately, I got that from pretty much the first season, and having it crammed down my throat for six more years got old. I don't deny that Buffy had it rough. I agree that hers was a pathetic and difficult life and she had every reason to feel the weight of her chosen-ness... -icity? -ocityness?? Anyways, I grant she had a tough road. But there's only so much of that I can listen to before it just becomes boring. And having her make declarative speeches about how she is the one and only moral authority, while deeply insightful into her tortured psyche, do not make her any more sympathetic in my eyes.

It's all ridiculously out of proportion to reality of course, because how many of us deal with the impending doom of humanity on a daily basis (usually only once every four years in the presidential elections), but I have to say that if my best friend consistently risked her life for the sake of saving mine, it STILL wouldn't give her the right to be a bitca. Period. I can understand someone in Buffy's difficult position developing some attitude problems. I can see where that comes from. But it's not excuseable. In MY eyes the more heroic feats are overcome crap like that and being a good person.

Saving the world? That's awesome. Managing NOT to become a monster while you fight monsters? Priceless.
Wow. A monster? I'd call her a human being. And I'm not taking a jab it you, Haunt; it's just, she was always why I watched, and I was in step with her the whole way, even if I didn't agree.

And you know, she WAS the moral authority. She's the one who had to make those choices, because no one else was going to, or wanted to. As much as her friends helped, it came down to her. And she held herself to those same moral standards, which was why Season 6 was so harmful for her, because she lost who she thought she was, and that was horrific to watch.

I'm not defending her emotional shutdown and the many issues she had, but there's not many people who could live through what she did, and not develop a complex. But at least at the end of the series you had hope that she was on the road to sorting herself out.

But I do agree with you that her sacrifice in "The Gift" was both selfish and selfless at the same time. And Xander was ALWAYS judgemental. But I love how it all traces back to Jesse becoming a vampire in episode one, and his hatred for all vampires was born then, and only solidified through the years, helping the judgemental thing get out of control.
Haunt: I couldn't help but feel just the tiniest bit of "that was a pretty convenient suicide opportunity for poor, put-upon Buffy, wasn't it?"

Actually, there was a recent discussion about Buffy's death, and whether it was sacrifice or suicide, and Mr. Whedon himself said it was sacrifice, on a grand scale.
"Actually, there was a recent discussion about Buffy's death, and whether it was sacrifice or suicide, and Mr. Whedon himself said it was sacrifice, on a grand scale."

Well THAT opens up an entirely different subject, one that really doesn't need to pour into this already uncomfortably stretched thread. But I have to say that authorial intent rarely has much bearing on the finished product. I've pretty much always disagreed with Joss in regards to feminism. Most of the time what Joss defined (within the context of his series') as feminism meant immasculating the men. That's not the same thing.

If Joss intended her sacrifice in 'The Gift' to be nothing whatsoever other than just that, a Sacrifice-with-a-capital-S, then I say it's the same thing as the writers of Season Seven possibly intending Buffy's decision to empower all Potentials to be her no longer being alone. Both are good intentions, but didn't necessarily read that way on screen. At least for me.
Haunt, I'll admit that at first I was annoyed while reading your comments, but then (fortunately) I looked more closely, and I think I understand where you're coming from.

I firmly believe that the outsider vs. insider question is always relative in the end. Unless you've been raised by wolves and never meet another human being, you've had the experience of being on the inside and the outside in relation to some part of humanity. As have I.

Perhaps "genre" fans have experienced being on the outside of social groups more than other people. But that's what "fandom" is all about; we fans form our own groups to be on the inside of. You're one of "us" at Whedonesque; to someone who doesn't frequent this site, you would be one of "them." It's all relative.

Joss Whedon certainly has had (and I'm sure still has) these experiences, and his work reflects that. He created Buffy, I'm very sure, to be this contradictory figure who has to struggle constantly with the question of where she belongs. And in that way, she's not too different from you or me. At the end of the series she has sort of found an answer, but y'know? That question will never be fully answered for her. Or for any of us, really.

I think there will never be a place and time where you're 100% comfortable with where you are, and who you are. The trick is to keep working at it, and don't despair. Thanks for reading, and I hope I haven't sounded too "high horse." :D
I think any unforseen side effects, such as the odd psycho slayer here and there, is slightly preferable to having the ultimate evil rule over earth for all time


I dunno, you could ask it to take the form of Gandhi or Einstein and have a great conversation. Wait, i'm misunderstanding the nature of ultimate evil again aren't I ? When will I learn...

I often get confused by folk who dislike Buffy (the character rather than the 'person') for the S7 speechifying etc. because we are so clearly meant to and so, really shouldn't (if you see what I mean ;). All of the speeches (except for maybe the 'It'll swallow me whole. And it'll choke on me' bit in, is it 'Bring on the Night' ? which, if memory serves, has a bit of the Chosen theme in it, one of the last times we hear it until she returns to the fold) are there specifically to distance us from Buffy in exactly the same way the potentials are becoming distanced. She is meant to seem pompous (indeed she's the only character allowed to be since the creators usually cut pomposity off at the knees e.g. Spike's 'I'll get you Slayer ...' then zapped by the initiative speech) and callous and self-righteous because, basically, that's how she's behaving (the message being this is not the way to behave when you have power).

I also felt angry at the way she was kicked out of her own house (especially at Anya's 'not better, just luckier' comment cos, y'know, hello, died twice to save the frikkin world, kind of has proved she's better) but Buffy was completely and utterly wrong in her approach and needed to be told. Being isolated from the group forced her to use her real strengths and go all crouching tiger hidden Neo on Caleb and surely the idea of the Potentials not just being drones who'll throw themselves unto the breach like good little soldiers but instead young women who are willing to question authority when it seems to be mistaken fits completely with the overall message of the show.

Also (sorry Haunt ;) i'm with the majority in that the Slayerification was empowering and, tho' performed without consent, opened doors instead of closing them (who wouldn't want superpowers ?, you'd totally be first to the bar when time was called). Plus it helped prevent the whole end of the world thing (i'm just gonna stick my neck out and say tree pretty, apocalypse bad - I know, i'm like a controversy magnet ;). And 'The Gift' felt to me like a beautiful, selfless act that also happened to dovetail with any subconscious death wish Buffy may have had. Gotta to agree with whoever said that your opinion of her character is colouring everything you see Haunt but obviously that's just as cool as can be since, to me, it's usually more interesting to hear an opinion that differs to my own (provided it's well thought out and reasonable).
Here is the relevant Joss post (and thread), if you're interested, H.

I do agree with you that

Saving the world? That's awesome. Managing NOT to become a monster while you fight monsters? Priceless


although I couldn't disagree more strongly that Buffy actually became a monster, except in a very stretchy use of the word.

But, more important, if Buffy could save the world and not be tainted/affected/disturbed by the effort of doing so (repeatedly) and not develop even a hint of a messiah/superiority-inferiority complex (as she herself admits to Webs in CWDP), she'd be Superman/Woman. Personally I've never liked Superman. Thankfully, that's not what Joss wrote. He wrote a human person who is flawed and frail, despite her super powers. That's why I loved the show.
Saje, yes, the speechifying was clearly meant to be off-putting, and it was...Buffy was being stretched beyond her normal environment...she was meant to be a Slayer, the Chosen ONE, not a general, and yet the situation required she be one. A bad one. Who nonetheless came up with a brilliant strategy, one that saved the day.

Also agree that the "It'll choke on me" speech was blisteringly brilliant poetry. Not exactly St. Cripsin's Day, but brilliant, nonetheless.

And, the closest Buffy ever came to being a monster was when she tormented Xander, Angel, and Willow at the Bronze in When She was Bad...in my opinion, obviously.

SNT, just so, about why I loved the show. The most realistic characters in the most fantastic situations, behaving as real people really do.

Oh, it was damned funny, too.
Haunt, I get that Buffy annoyed you, but I think it's simply incorrect to imply she was not a good person. She loved her friends and family, and they loved her. That's what matters. Also, she sacrificed A LOT for her friends/family, as well as millions of perfect strangers.

Was she sometimes selfish or arrogant? Sure (how often and how much is debatable). Everyone is flawed, I don't see why she wouldn't be. But none of that makes her "a monster" or anything of the sort. I just think you're exaggerating her flaws to paint as someone who she simply wasn't (isn't?).
As much as I can appreciate Angel, I was never as emotionally engrossed in it as I was BtVS. I was always appreciating it from a TV Viewer perspective rather than forgetting I was watching something and getting sucked into the world. And that started with "Innocence," because when Buffy cried in her bedroom, I cried with her. Not because I had a shared experience in RL, but because I just felt her pain.

BtVS was the first show to make me do that, and Buffy was the first character to do that. Then it was Willow in "Passion." The metaphors became secondary, because these were lives on screen for 43 minutes. I didn't feel that again until Firefly. But BtVS will always be my favorite, as will the lead character, because I connected with her on a level that still kind of freaks me out.

I'm in the middle of going through the seasons again for the first time in a while, because reliving all of that is emotionally exhausting. I do the same thing with Firefly. I go through it, then I have to let it sit a while. Angel I can pop in any old time.

I just thought you'd like to know where a Buffy supporter is coming from. And I guess I felt like exposing myself emotionally on an Internet messageboard. Please tell me I'm not alone, or else I'll worry. lol.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-02-24 02:49 ]
Alright, lemme head off the "monster" controversy before it gets any MORE out of hand. There was once this guy named Nietzsche, and he said this thing once... it went something like "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster." I was alluding to/paraphrasing that moreso than actually calling Buffy a monster. Although, if really, really pressed I could probably muster up the necessary animosity to make that argument as well. ;)

As for me being the first up to the bar if superpowers were being handed out...? You never know, maybe I would be. But if I WERE there, it would be by my own choice. You seem to be missing my point about the whole "choice" thing. I personally believe it's more important for someone to have a choice than to simply be "made" to be better. You're all absolutely right, Buffy did indeed grant all those Potentials superpowers and conventional wisdom would seem to suggest that HAVING superpowers is better than NOT having them. Although there are countless popular fictions about the downside and unconsidered prices of being super (I maintain that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, at times at least, one of those works of popular fiction).

And I hear, understand and GET IT... it was not a well thought out plan because there wasn't TIME to think it out. Apocalypse or hasty and clever desperate plan? I get it.

My point is that, while the plan succeeded, it was at a price. And a higher, more serious price than most seem willing to admit. Buffy took the choice away from hundreds of young women. For the point I'm making it doesn't matter in the slightest that the choice she took from them was the choice to have superpowers. The point is SHE TOOK THE CHOICE FROM THEM. No one, no matter how morally authoritative they may be, should be allowed to take another human beings right to choose.

Sure, 99% if those girls probably don't mind... THIS time. That doesn't make it right. Anyone here watch Angel Season Four? Episode 21? 'Peace Out'?

ANGEL: Jasmine, it's over. You've lost.

JASMINE: I've lost? Do you have any idea what you've done?

ANGEL: What I had to do.

JASMINE: No. No, Angel. There are no absolutes. No right and wrong. Haven't you learned anything working for the Powers? There are only choices. I offered paradise. You chose this!

ANGEL: Because I could. Because that's what you took away from us. Choice.

JASMINE: And look what free will has gotten you.

ANGEL: Hey, I didn't say we were smart. I said it's our right. It's what makes us human.


THAT is my point. It's NOBODY'S right to make decisions for me, no matter how noble their intentions. And that choice to give them superpowers is one that can't be taken back. All of those girls will likely now have to live with the knowledge that they are different. Okay, they're not "alone" like Buffy always was (except for Kendra, or Faith, or all of her "superpowered" friends like Willow or Oz or Tara or Angel or Spike), but they'll now always be different from their boyfriends, their families, their friends, their children. And those differences won't always be easy, and they won't always make life comfortable, and might occassionally cause pain and confusion and fear. And that's all due to Buffy's choice.

So I understand WHY she did what she did, but I don't agree that it was "right".

And all of this is getting us... where, exactly? I've been given a new perspective to consider, and that's cool. But it doesn't sound like anyone's opinions are being changed here. How long before this turns ugly? :/
I'm a 51 year old conservative Catholic man, a sports fan, a Shakespeare buff, and many other things besides, who has cried more times than I can begin to count while watching Buffy...it's as if the creator and creators of the show have a direct link to my deepest cares and concerns...TV has never done this for me before, and I grew up a total child of TV, one of the first generations to do so...Buffy manages to reach so many areas of my heart...and my wife, too--I long ago posted that we have 2 rescue dogs (apologies for the repetition, but it seems somewhat germane), and love them tremendously, but my wife has a truly spiritual connection with one of them...as she has with Buffy...I once said, Macduff is Angel, but Nellie is Buffy...she said, Yes...Macduff is in my heart, but Nellie is in my soul.

Buffy...Buffy, Buffy, Buffy...how do you do this to me...to us?
Thanks for the support, CiV. :-)
SNT wrote:

He wrote a human person who is flawed and frail, despite her super powers. That's why I loved the show.


Pretty much sums up why BtVS is my all time favourite television series and why Buffy is one of the greatest heroes i ever had the pleasure of watching. She was a real person in an unreal world filled with super powers, heroic callings, monsters and demons and she behaved just like anyone else would in that situation. Like an imperfect human being dealing with the absolutely impossible.

And Haunt, i doubt that this discussion would get ugly around here, no matter how long it goes on. None of us expect you to agree with us and for that matter none of us entirely disagree with you, i don't think. Buffy herself may even agree with you that she was being entirely fair in activating all the potentails around the world and changing their lives, whether that was for good or for bad.

However, i personally believe that all those girls would rather live with being superpowered than live under the domination of the First, which was Buffy's other option. Given those two choices i don't see how you can really call the decision a selfish one. It was the only one she could make.
Haunt: SHE TOOK THE CHOICE FROM THEM.

That's the thing about being chosen...you don't make the choice.

Did Buffy CHOOSE to become the Slayer? Of course not.

And, if you'll recall, they were being hunted down and murdered by the Bringers. Some choice.

Sometimes tough measures (Coventry, anybody) need to be taken to beat a world-threatening evil. Buffy rose to the occasion. Good on her.
CiV, just to clarify, I think Haunt's issue with that, is that because Buffy didn't choose it, and resented it being forced upon her, that here she is, forcing the power on others, just like the Shadow Men did, which makes her no better.

And I can certainly see that point. But the primary difference I think is, that she was leaving the choice of whether to fight up to those girls, rather than trying to control and dominate them as the Council did.
I'm a 36 year old liberal spiritual-but-in-no-way-religious man, an animal lover, amateur Shakespeare buff, Neil Gaiman lover, and many other things besides, and I've cried more times than I could possibly count while watching ALL things Whedon, including Buffy. There have been many works of fiction that have "spoken" to me in my life, many characters that I've identified with and with whom I've formed some form of deep connection to. But there have only been two that have truly, truly moved me at my deepest, most secret core... and both of those characters come from the mind of Whedon. I don't say that lightly. Mr. Whedon (even with all his flaws) has managed to create two of my most personally cherished fictional characters.

It's just unfortunate (I guess) that neither one of them happens to be the lead "star" of any of his television series'.


ETA: "CiV, just to clarify, I think Haunt's issue with that, is that because Buffy didn't choose it, and resented it being forced upon her, that here she is, forcing the power on others, just like the Shadow Men did, which makes her no better."

pat32082, that is precisely my issue with it. But it's just my opinion, and I'm heartened by the thought that it won't lead to anything "ugly". :)

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-24 03:12 ]
See, if I didn't like the "star" of a television show, I couldn't watch it. No matter how good the supporting characters were. Different philosophies.
Nah, it won't turn ugly. OK, 20% chance of ugliness, with five to one on slight upset of stomachs.

I do hear you about the choice/that's what makes us human thing. I tend to disagree that Buffy's idea (not her decision - the decision was made in concert with the other Scoobies and potentials) is morally equivalent to that faced by Angel.

First, and not unimportantly, these choices were cast in a very different light in the shows. Empowering the potentials was heroic, strategically clever, and fulfilling the mission-statement of female empowerment. Jasmine's "world peace" was always made to seem creepy and - well - cannibalistic. I just don't think it's fair to compare the two as if Buffy and Angel were completely free moral agents in doing what they did.

More important, Buffy's idea didn't force the girls to be superheroes - they were already Potentials; it was only a matter of time, and fate, as to whether they might become the Slayer, but she didn't rob them of the underlying choice. They'd already been chosen. Sure, we can argue that, statistically, few would have been, but that, I think, is a finer distinction than whether Buffy somehow robbed them of the fundamental choice to be, or not to be, a "superhero." That choice had already been made for them by the universe.

I agree that the price was higher than anyone realized at first blush. And Damage brought that out remarkably well. But to lay the blame all at Buffy's feet? Again, I would suggest that it's a somewhat distorted view of the character to do so.

And if I were a proper feminist, and actually knew something rather than making stuff up, I'd venture an argument along the lines of a male-individual power/female-group(community) power dichotomy . . .
Haunt, I've cried for Willow, Oz, Giles, Joyce, Xander, Anya, Angel, Cordy, Doyle, Wesley, Fred, Gunn, Inara, Mal, and many others.

Oh, I love Philip K. Dick, too.

Tossed that in for NO reason at all.
Is anyone else amused by the name "Philip K. Dick?"

Just thought I'd inject some levity...

ETA: You know what I'd love? As much as I enjoy Joss' updates and funny on here, it'd be real cool to have him chime in on these debates and have a back and forth.

I know he's busy, but, that would be fun.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-02-24 03:17 ]
Yeah, pat320282, this conservative, extremely happily married (to the woman who introduced me to Buffy) Catholic man is a Dick lover...

Philip K. Dick, though!
It's funny that I seem to think of this completely differently than most people. Buffy is definitely not my favorite BtvS character, but that has really doesn't have a whole lot to do with how much I'd actually like her or not if I knew her in real life. To me, Buffy as a character is a bit less interesting simply because, though she has some fascinating conflicts, is basically a fairly archetypal hero figure.

I do also think some of this may have to do with my reaction to the actors as well. Sarah Michelle Geller is a very talented performer, but to me she isn't nearly as likable as Alyson Hannigan (well, I've got a giant crush on her, so sue me!), and in terms of raw talent not really in the same category as Nathan Fillion or Kristin Bell, which may not be fair because I think might Ms. Bell might be in Kathryn Hepburn territory.
Well, I think every character has a fairly well-tried and true journey, not just Buffy in the hero role.

Just like every musician seemes to have the same rise and fall of fame, drugs, and psychological issues related to childhood. But we still like Ray and Walk the Line. Because it's the individual people who draw us in.

To me, every character was equally interesting. Some characters may be more fascinating (i.e. Spike), but they're all interesting.

SMG as an actress floored me again and again, I have to say ("The Body" alone). More than anyone on the show, with the exception of JM. And when she, David B., and Nathan were all in Chosen together, it was a highlight let me tell you.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-02-24 03:33 ]
I've been referring to superPOWERS, not superHEROES. A fine distinction to be sure, but still a distinction. Buffy's decision (okay, THE decision, surely strongly suggested at least by Buffy) didn't rob them of the choice to be or not be superHEROES, which entails dressing in tights and capes and jumping from rooftop to rooftop (or at least going out and fighting crime and injustice). What it robbed them of was the choice to have or not have superPOWERS, which entails being different than everybody else. That's a difference that many people, maybe even most people, can deal with themselves. But it's not something that the people AROUND them can always deal with.

Really, this feels like a digression because the choice to empower the Potentials is not the only thing about this particular lead character that I disliked or disapproved of. I'm worried that my feelings for this character are getting chiseled down into this one too fine a point.

SNT, you make a valid point about my comparison between Buffy and Angel's situations. In a point-by-point comparison they don't equal up. But my point remains. The power of choice is the single most unique and important aspect of being human. It's an argument that has been made many, many times by many people more well-spoken than me, not the least of which would be the writers of Mutant Enemy. In fact that old Whedonverse MacGuffin of the soul has at times been equated with the human ability to choose. And if I'm not much mistaken (which I often am), there are biblical allusions to man's free will to choose being what makes him most divine among God's creations.

Whether you think it would be cool to have superpowers (whatever you chose to do with them once you had them), it's cooler to have the choice to have them or not.
Ah, sorry Haunt that was me being British as well as glib and facile (they're not always synonymous ;). When I said "you'd totally be first to the bar when time was called" I meant that if you had superpowers you could get to the bar ahead of everyone else at the point when the pub stops serving beer (known as 'time at the bar'). Which is a long winded way of pointing out that I would never presume to know how you'd react when faced with that (or any) kind of choice and apologies if it seemed I was. I also sort of agree that her actions may not have been 'right' (removing someone's freedom to choose is always a serious undertaking, in fact you could see all crimes as an aspect of the removal of choices) but still think they were 'correct' given the circumstances (which I think you do too) so there you are, common ground after all ;).

Chrisinvirginia, yes the 'choke on me' speech is indeed beautiful poetry, maybe not St Crispin's day (what is) but it does the job for me (if I heard that speech even - maybe especially ;) - if it was delivered by an apparently frail, tiny blond girl covered in bruises i'd follow them to the bad places any day of the week).

Also, as you say Buffy does come up with an ingenius strategy but only when she stops being the autocratic, Haig style 'people are cannon fodder' general and starts being herself (asking advice, responding to the First's taunts with a kind of flexible wit, clearly caring for others etc.)

SNT, what's the spread on that upset stomach action ? May have a flutter ;).
"Ah, sorry Haunt that was me being British as well as glib and facile..."

No blood no foul, Saje. And I admit that this discussion is making me rethink my initial opinions of the end of Season Seven. I was so busy being upset and/or dissatisfied with the story as a whole (and the execution of that story) that I didn't fully appreciate how Buffy only truly became The SLAYER until she came back to herself and stopped all the annoying speechifying. I think I subconciously recognized that element of the story, but didn't really appreciate it till reading it here. So thanks for that mate.
I do also think some of this may have to do with my reaction to the actors as well


I think this can't but affect our views of the characters, bobster. Numerous posts above have brought in how SMG's portrayal made them feel better or worse about Buffy, even though the original article didn't raise the issue. (Well, it did by implication I suppose, since it praised Kristin Bell as VM).

I happily and repetitiously admit that I find SMG adorable and also think she's a great actress (and who's to say which of those opinions wags the other? A little of each, I think). And that certainly shapes my consideration of Buffy's actions - I'll be more inclined to cut her some slack, I've no doubt, compared to . . . well, maybe others.

Haunt, my understanding is that those girls affected by Willow's spell had already been marked with powers as potentials - so they weren't being denied that choice, whether we talk about "heroes" or "powers." They had latent powers before, and active powers afterwards. Still robbing them of their autonomy as humans? Possibly, leaning to probably. I think it's a painfully balanced decision to have to make - and a beautiful story line. I hear you that this is but one facet of your dislike. But, let's work on them one at a time.

I'm totally kidding. ;)

Saje - tummy rumbles are moving up to 2-to-1 on; there's definite action in "stress headache caused by working 13 hour days all this week" though . . . :)
Eh, what's happening here? SNT?
It's a shame this thread will be forgotten and ignored once it's pushed off the sites front page... :/
MH--Tummy rumbles. What else?

Haunt--I know. But the 'Esque Giveth, and the 'Esque Taketh Away. When you think about it, it kind of eats itself. Which is like the Hellmouth. Which is disturbing. Which raises a whole new set of questions.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-02-24 04:27 ]
And all of this is getting us... where, exactly? I've been given a new perspective to consider, and that's cool. But it doesn't sound like anyone's opinions are being changed here. How long before this turns ugly? :/

No no no no.... I never figure the point of these disucssions is to change each other's opinions. 'Cause that just won't happen, and it wouldn't be so interesting if it did. Especially with something like this, that's so totally based in a gut, individual reaction to a character and has nothing whatever to do with logic. But I love these discussions, especially with people whose opinions differ from mine, because it at least helps me understand where they're coming from, or to see how someone else interpreted or felt about a scene or character or story arc that was so totally different from how I reacted. So no heated fights to force opinion changes, please, but by all means let the thoughtful and articulate discussions continue :-)

On a different note... I agree that the actor affects our opinions of characters hugely. I always figured that was a major reason for my Spike, Willow, and Giles love :-). As for SMG, I never felt she was the strongest actor on the show, but I did feel she could carry, and often move me with, some really difficult scenes. And god knows it's not easy to carry a show like this on your back, which she did. I do agree with bobster above, that Buffy was perhaps a little less interesting simply because heros are inherently so. That may be why she's so few fans' favorite character. Yet I can't imagine the show without her. She's always been at the center of it for me, even though not my favorite.

Finally – this seems such an appropriate discussion given that it's the night of the female figure skating competition in the olympics. A tribute to (or at least attention to) Buffy, the skating fan.... :-)
Thank you, acp. Well spoken.

Now, what's this about women's figure skating? How the hell did I miss that? Someone please burn me in hell, I'm off my mark.
"Finally – this seems such an appropriate discussion given that it's the night of the female figure skating competition in the olympics. A tribute to (or at least attention to) Buffy, the skating fan...."

And don't forget the finale of Skating with the Stars with the original Buffy, Kristy Swanson. *rolling eyes*
One aspect of this discussion i'm finding it a little hard to get Haunt's side of the debate about is the whole "choice" issue. It has already been mentioned how none of the potentials were really chosen by Buffy, they were already potentially slayers by their very nature. All her plan did was unlock that potential. She didn't simply pick a bunch of random girls and say "You lot are now gonna be slayers! Live with it!". The decision of who would be was already made.

She even went as far as to ask the opinions of all the potentials that she possibly could. She didn't just get Willow to act. After firstly asking what the other core scoobies thought about the idea she then gathered all the girls together and explained to them what she wanted to do, asking them to make the choice. Naturally there was no way of doing so for every girl around the world but given the rather dramatic time constraints of the battle they were facing i think that is understandable.

More than that, how many heroes get to choose to be powered or not? Did Spider-Man? Superman? Neo? Wolverine? Connor MacLeod? The Hulk? Relating it back to the Buffyverse, did Cordy choose to have the visions or did Oz choose to be a werewolf? It's very rare that you will read a truly good story of a hero where their origin is one of a choice they made rather than an accident or a destiny they were born to.

Honestly, when you look at the big picture, choice is a very precious thing. As Angel told Jasmine, choice is our right and it's what makes us human but it is also rarely ours, no matter what we might like to think. 99% of the decisions you will make in your life will be dictated to by outside forces, limiting the possibilities of what you want to do.

In that case Jasmine wanted to remove choice from humanity entirely, turning everyone into shiny happy zombies. All Buffy did was give the potentials around the world an extra choice. One that allowed them the chance to be heroes, if they so desired. That doesn't sound so bad to me.
I love this tread !!
In a way I agree with you all, but on different levels.

My view is that Buffy restored power to girls/women that should have been theirs in the first place, had not a group of men taken it away to be able to control and use it. To me it is a feminist issue. And also, you shouldn't withhold power from a group of people just because you are afraid that "some individuals in the collective really cannot use it in a proper way". Denying other people power you have access to is "alliance policy" at best, and fascist at worst.

You cannot make choices without a certain degree of power. And power is also a responsibility. But you cannot have or learn one without the other.

I actually see the two "legs" in this thread as the major reason Buffy did not become a monster. First: She shared/returned her power. Second: The supporting characters were so important to Buffy, for the same reasons they are important to us wether we liked them or not, that they kept her human an in the world/ reality, as opposed to becoming the fight and a monster.

Maybe discussions are not meant to "bring over" opinions, but to broaden and give opinions nuance and depth. For that you need opposition.
And a sense of humour. And access to other peoples brains and learning.

Thanks ALL of you for bringing this and more.
Vampire With a Gun, it's true that they were Potentials and so may have become Slayers but the decision was made for them, any possibility of leading a normal life was taken away from them when Buffy did what, I think we're all agreed, she had to do. She may not have been the ultimate cause of the Slayerification but she was certainly (with Willow) the proximate cause.

Your example of other superheroes almost damages your argument, I think, since every one of those was created by a basically unforseeable accident (in Superman's case, of birth). In those cases, chance played the part that Buffy took on in 'Chosen' (and how many times have we seen those heroes wrestle with the burden they have to carry and even wish it wasn't so ?). Now, don't get me wrong, as i've said previously, to me what she did was empowering, almost entirely positive and certainly necessary but I have to admit that what she did removed 'choices' (or at least possibilities) from the Potentials lives (admittedly while, as is the nature of any choice, opening up other, IMO, cooler opportunities).

My view is that Buffy restored power to girls/women that should have been theirs in the first place, had not a group of men taken it away to be able to control and use it. To me it is a feminist issue


onesnailshort, that's an interesting way to look at it but I think slightly contradicted by 'Get it Done' where we see how the slayer line was created in the first place. Basically, slayerness is only in the world at all because of what the 3 old men did to the First Slayer (engineering her metaphorical rape by a demon essence) so it seems to me that in that sense slayerness is not an innate part of womenhood. However, the ability to use that power as they see fit once it's been thrust upon them is totally their right and, I think, part of what Buffy gives all the Potentials after 'Chosen'.
Saje, my examples of the other heroes mentioned were to point out that you very rarely see heroes that chose to have the powers they eventually used for heroic purposes. Superman gained his powers due to his Kryptonian heritage and life on earth. Spider-Man through a radioactive spider bite, the Hulk through exposure to gamma radiation, all very different in detail but none through an actual choice to be a hero. The potentials around the world all suddenly found themselves with these new powers due to actions that occured that day over the hellmouth but at the end of the day they still recieved powers from events beyond their control, which was my point, rather than whether Buffy was right in her actions or not.

As for the girls now having no chance of a normal life, i don't see why not. Every single one of the potentials that were activated that day now has a choice of what to do with those powers, or even to do nothing at all. Even back in season three when it was just Buffy and Faith there was discussion of Buffy going off to college and living a normal life whilst Faith took over the power and responsibilities of the slayer. Now that there are hundreds of girls around the world with the power i see no reason why any of them would feel obliged to use that power, if they chose not to. It is a part of them but a part they can choose to ignore, should they desire.

Again, i see what Buffy did as giving them more choice in life, rather than taking choice away from them. They can still be normal, but now they don't have to be. It's up to them to decide.
Saje
Basically, slayerness is only in the world at all because of what the 3 old men did to the First Slayer (engineering her metaphorical rape by a demon essence) so it seems to me that in that sense slayerness is not an innate part of womenhood.

Ok, I admit my "sweepiness" with the First slayer. But it is the same men giving the explanation, which I do not completely trust. The demon rape, was that a power harness or the actual power? The rape image, at least to me, denies the giving of anything empowering.
And I still feel that Buffy did not own her Slayerness until she took control over it by refusing the watchers council ( Three times, does that mean something? ) thus changing it into power. Then she shared it, which I think is heroic.
And she shared it unconditionally.

[ edited by onesnailshort on 2006-02-24 14:07 ]
Yeah, I think we're forgetting too, that even though Buffy resented the slayerness she was forced to carry, she loved it at the same time. She loved being the superhero, the one and only. And part of her initial issue with Faith was that she had to share it, and live in the same town with her, so she was routinely forced to acknowledge that she wasn't the special one anymore (Kendra didn't stick around. First she went home, the next time, she...uh, died).

When Faith went evil, it hurt her because she did genuinely feel a kinship with her, but she also loved standing on the pedstal again. Buffy was very conflicted. :-)

Anyway, my point is, in Chosen when she decides to pass on the power and not wear the only crown anymore, she's conquered at least one of her personal issues, and I don't think she was being selfish at all any longer, when she did that.

For her, being selfish then would've been figuring out she could use the energy within the scythe to activate the power, gathering the girls, telling them this, and simply saying, "But f**k you! Cause I'm the bestest, and you can all die."

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-02-24 14:42 ]
VWaG, your response about heroes not choosing made me go back and read SNT's post about the 'universe choosing already' more carefully and I think between the two of you, i'm convinced. You can't take away a choice that was never there and the Potentials never had a 'choice' since only chance determined their fate (as with the superheroes you mentioned). I could, if I was super-pedantic, make the point that Buffy removed their opportunity to not have slayer strength but i'm only quasi-super-pedantic (plus, i'm not sure it's even physically possible to split a hair that finely) so, y'know, I won't ;).

Also, as you say the new Slayers could slay or not and, aside from having to really pull their punches if it ever came to it, could, individually, lead normal lives owing to their large numbers.

onesnailshort, yes, the slayer line were empowered by the demon essence but they were also disempowered by the ancient rules which governed all slayers. One per generation - presumably to make them easier to control since surely the mission could only benefit from having multiple slayers (I always wondered who was looking after Cleveland ;), a hierarchical, male dominated power structure to keep them in line etc. It's kind of like the way the military creates (supposedly) perfect fighting machines out of normal people and then forces them to follow orders and serve their 'superiors' except that, these days at least, entering the army is usually voluntary. The way Buffy subverts this power structure all through the series but notably in 'Checkpoint' and 'Chosen' is one of the things that makes her heroic (and a wonderful element of the show).

It'd be interesting to know why (in the creators minds) the 3 old men chose a young girl for slayerhood, rather than a male since I feel it was because they thought they could control a girl more easily (another idea Buffy disabused them of pretty quickly ;) whereas I get the impression you feel it was because there is something about femaleness which lends itself to slayerdom (note, i'm not saying there isn't, just that I hadn't looked at it that way before, so thanks for the new perspective ;).

pat32082, that's a good point about her ambivalence towards her chosen-ness and the sign that in 'Chosen' she'd grown past her self-absorption to pass on the gift. Maybe she was closer to being 'baked' than she thought ;).
I do apologize, I did definitely not intend to give the impression it is something to do with femaleness. Not a perspective I intended to give anyone. Quite the opposite, that it has to do with male power structures. I mean the above mentioned upbringing and social structures you cannot breach without a certain degree of power.
Rape has nothing at all to do with femaleness, it usually has to do with power. And in a feminist perspective, male fear of female power.
(Or another perspective: one ethnic groups fear of another groups percieved, potential power.)

Somewhere I have read " You hurt the ones you love, and suppress the ones you fear". It's hard to be strong and lovely. ;)
Ah, no, no, I didn't get (and you didn't give) that impression at all. What I thought you meant by "was that a power harness or the actual power?" was that the demon essence helped the 3 old men control something that was already within the girl (and all girls) who became the slayer e.g. to channel or concentrate the girl's power to the old men's ends rather than being the thing that gave them the powers in the first place.

I never for one second thought you were somehow advocating rape as a female empowering act or as even being related to femaleness (as you say it's all about male power over women and, as with most non-defensive violence, has fear at its root).

Pheww, it's an imprecise tool this language thing. The sooner we have direct neural links the better, I reckon ;).

edited for spelling ('femalemess' ? Nothing to see here, Herr Freud, move along)

[ edited by Saje on 2006-02-24 16:35 ]
So our brains can explode from the overload? How's that a good?
Now, what's this about women's figure skating? How the hell did I miss that?

Buffy admitted in one early season (Surprise, maybe? or What's my Line, maybe?... I can't remember) that she adores figure skating and that every year on her birthday her father takes her to go see a skating show. She's incredibly bummed when he blows her off and doesn't take her. Her mom offered, but she says no. And I can't remember if that's related to why Angel takes her figure skating in What's My Line. At any rate, Buffy was a huge figure skating fan, and SMG, the actress, was a competitive skater as well (perhaps why they made Buffy such a fan).

Great discussion, everyone!
Saje: Pheww indeed! I hear you and fully agree. And is very grateful because I now realize you understood me perfectly.

As long as the world stays noisy I am all for direct neural links.

( Good training, this..)
So our brains can explode from the overload? How's that a good?


Did I mention that i'm a neural link firewall salesman ? It's currently a small market but i'm hopeful of expansion. I can do you a great deal on a little behind the ear number, safe for use in all but the most crowded parties (direct download of reality TV is specifically advised against in the manual).

No worries, onesnailshort, happy we sorted it out ;).

Good thread all, another enjoyable discussion slides into yesteryear ...
I hate the fact that this thread is "dead and gone" now because it's dropped off the front page radar. But truthfully I think I'm pretty much just spinning my wheels at this point.

I'm loving the discussion, and as I've said there have been at least a half-dozen interesting and new (to me) perspectives brought up that I get to think about now. But ultimately, while I repeat that the Potential empowerment issue is NOT my only (or even main) problem with the character of Buffy, at the end of this thread I still maintain that she removed an element of choice from all those women and that is never anything less than "problematic" or morally difficult.

It's not for us OR Buffy to decide what would be "normal" for all of those young women. And if I recall correctly (doubtful) this series itself has dealt with the idea that Buffy could NOT simply ignore her powers and choose to be "normal". Now I suspect that had more to do with the metaphorical nature of the series, stuff like moral integrity and inate heroism and such. But from a strictly "realistic" standpoint I'd maintain that it is extremely difficult at best to live a "normal" life once you've been empowered against your will. Don't forget that among the slayer powers are those prophetic dreams. Can't really just ignore those usually. And at some point that strength will sneak out without warning and likely get someone in trouble, and more likely someone else hurt.

Plus there's the fact that none of these girls KNEW this was going to happen. Just because they were "cosmically chosen" to be Potentials does not in any way guarantee that they ever would have had to deal with these powers. And until the Wathcher's Council gets back on its feet and miraculously manages to track down every single one of these girls, they're forced to wonder what happened and where all these strange and wonderful powers came from.

What if they are religious? Would they believe these powers came from God and become some kind of evangelical superhero? Would they feel they'd been CURSED by God (or "blessed" by the Devil) and commit suicide... or accept their "evil" nature and become a super-serial killer?

What if their family is extremely conservative and/or judgemental and the sudden appearance of these new powers ultimately leads to them alienating her, or disowning her?

What if one of these girls is competing in the Olympics (or any other international "good will" sporting event) and the sudden appearance of all this new strength and coordination dramatically and blatantly skews the competition? What if that creates tension between teams, leading to tension between two or more nations, leading maybe to outright animosity between nations?

What if... any of a thousand thousand other possibilities that none of us can even imagine?

And most importantly, what if it's just not right to make these kinds of choices for others without their knowledge and consent no matter how "cool" the benefits are?

Again, Buffy did the best she could under difficult circumstances. Was there any OTHER way she could have handled it? Maybe... hell, I'll go so far as to say PROBABLY. But it doesn't really matter now. She obviously felt it was her only or best option and she made the hard call, just as she always did. (And the fact that it had the added benefit of making her NOT the only Slayer anymore I'm sure played no part in the decision making process.)

And now I have to let this all go 'cause we're off the front page and no one's going to read much beyond this anyways. It's been fun... :(
Haunt, you bring up a number of good points about how the choice to activate the slayers worldwide might have very negative side effects, as i said earlier concerning your Dana example, but ultimately i still believe that the good outweighed the possible bad.

Any decision made by any individual or group with the potential to make sweeping change for a large number of people has the possibility of negative effects. A decision by a government to go to war effects everyone in their nation. It puts their soldiers at risk naturally, but one might forget the effect it will have on the larger population.

What if a government's decision to go to war causes a national panic, leading to riots and innocent deaths. What if the death of somebody's son or daughter at war oversea leads to the heartbreak and suicide of a loving mother. What if an individual's decision to fight for their country causes a rift between them and their parents or spouse?

The point being that decisions get made every single day that could and do effect the lives of everyone, whether they like it or not. The smoking ban that will soon effect the UK is just one example. Whilst i am personally more than happy to see it happen, as a non-smoker, i can only imagine the anger some feel that this freedom of choice is taken away from them.

Now, you might argue that these decisions are made by elected officials, put into power by a democratic process. True enough. However, the current government in the UK was not one that i wanted in power and anything that the current Prime Minister decides for me is certainly not because i chose him to do so. This is just another example of how people are sometimes put into a place of power who can make choices that change my life, whether i wanted them there or not.

Buffy may not have been elected in government but she was chosen to save the world by forces far more powerful than that. She was chosen to make the choices and fight the battles that keep the world from falling under the control of evil. The fact is that Buffy DID have the right to make that choice for those girls, because she was the Chosen One. It was up to her to make the decisions that would save the world, which she did very well.

No decision, regardless of what it entails, can be guaranteed to be without negative consequences and Buffy's idea to activate all the slayers may well see some unfortunate side effects down the line but as the Chosen One she most certainly did have the right to make that kind of choice and it turned out to be a good one. She saved the world again and that includes the lives of every one of those girls who may or may not like being slayers.
Well I think this is opening an entirely different set of my "issues", but I'll try to avoid unnecessary indulgence.

The argument that "decisions get made every single day that could and do effect the lives of everyone, whether they like it or not" does NOT make it right, or in any way eliminate the questionable morality of it. It sets precedent, I'll grant you that. But precedent really doesn't carry much weight with me in issues of morality like this. My wife is an attorney, so maybe the argument of precedent would mean something else to her, but for me, in this instance, not so much.

Buffy's "right" to do what she did was given her by... whom, exactly? Who or what "chose" her on our (humanity's) behalf? Was it the Shadow Men that metaphorically RAPED the first Slayer? Was it the Powers That Be, who've been shown on Angel to be somewhat morally ambiguous to say the least? When I argue for choice, I'm talking about PERSONAL, INDIVIDUAL choice. LEGAL rights don't much interest me, and have not a damn thing to do with what I'm talking about. You could argue till you're blue in the face that any number of governmental bodies have any number of LEGAL "rights" over me, but you'll never get me to admit that the right to do something makes doing it right. Sorry.

Buffy was the Chosen One, but not chosen BY (and I could argue that not even necessarily chosen FOR) those girls. Just as your Prime Minister was not chose BY (and you'd likely say not chosen FOR) you. But when you're talking real world PM's you're dealing with real world issues, such as smoking bans, or even wars. BtVS is dealing with larger than life metaphorical and spiritual issues. Buffy is ostensibly the hero, and as such should be held accountable for her every single decision. It's hard, and she did an amazing job. But saying she's the one and only moral authority and therefor has the right to make those decisions for everyone is treading dangerously close to the speechifying of "General Buffy" which we've already identified as being the PROBLEM with Season Seven.

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-24 19:45 ]
Wow, VWAG, you've opened up a whole new can o' issues. Can't really do this justice right now, but my initial response is to disagree.

Choices made by "our" government are made with the implicit consent of the governed. I agree that the government makes decisions all the time that affect us, whether we agree explicitly to each decision or not, but in my view, this is one of the better systems people have come up with to deal with the problem of how to get millions of people to vaguely interact without killing one another. The system, flawed thought it may be, allows you to protest, to call for change, to run for office, etc. You have an input.

No, it doesn't make those decisions "morally" right, as Haunt points out. Nevertheless, I think a governmental decision based on the consent of the majority in a functioning democracy gets a hell of a lot more morality points than one made by Commissar X or Dictator Y.

Which brings us to the activation of the Potentials. Although I stand by my observation that they had already been chosen, the decision of Buffy + Scoobies + some Potentials was not akin to a governmental decision. It was pure autocracy. And, as Haunt tells us, it is subject to moral criticism on that ground.

I like the classical liberal (in the philo sense) J.S. Mills take on autonomy. I think personal individual choice is important. I also think that, in extremis, and I mean extremis, it needs must bow to decisions made for the collective by smaller groups.

Where I do agree with Haunt completely is in holding those involved accountable afterwards. We should demand of Buffy and the others, "what right did you have to do that?" And they can properly respond, "we did what we had to do under the circumstances," and explain why. And I would tend to agree with them. One doesn't have to be a pure utilitarian to agree that sometimes individual rights will have to be sacrificed - so long as there is examination and accountability afterward.

The notion of "superheroes" is fraught with problems about free-will, accountability, and democracy. That's one reason I continue to enjoy reading kid's stuff. :)
It was a problem with Season 7?

I just thought it was a character trait that was finally being fully exposed and dealt with, that some people didn't like, because they didn't like Buffy to begin with. Which brings us back to the whole point of this thread.

But a problem would suggest that her flaws being so in the forefront somehow took the show off track in that season. Which I don't think it did. It was something that was a long time in coming, and was fully consistent with her character.

No, the problem with Season 7, if I had to pick one, is that the scope got huge, bringing in all these girls, that the focus got shifted away from the core group, who had to sacrifice screen time. NOT that Buffy had an ego.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy S7. I did. Muchly.
pat32082, I could argue the semantics of the "problem" with Season 7...

What I meant by "problem" was it was BUFFY's problem. The character's problem. She became so focused on being the one and only sole moral authority in her universe that she lost what had been her greatest strength... her friends, her "family". It wasn't until she let go of the notion that she had to be THE Slayer and remembered the strength she always drew from her community that they won the day. (At cost, in my opinion)

So while I could point out what I felt were MANY "problems" with Season 7 itself, what I meant was the black-and-white declarations of sole moral authority were BUFFY SUMMERS' problem.
I stand clarified.
Haunt, as a matter of Whedonesque etiquette, could you not use the scary caps? Bold and italics for emphasis are fine - the caps are just a little strong. Thank you.
Sorry about that. Not trying to be scary, I was just trying emphasize as you said. My bad.
Again, SNT, my intent was not to directly compare the two systems, but to use a real life example of how decisions made on a mass scale can have negative effects that cannot be accounted for, no matter who makes those choices.

I wasn't for one second attempting to compare a democratic system of government to the plans made by Buffy and the Scoobies in the sense that i consider it to be the same thing. Clearly it is not the same at all. However both examples illustrate how "choice" is largely an illusion in life and that events outside of our control have direct and indirect effects on us all the time, whether we like it or not. Whether those events come from the actions of a democratically elected government or a bunch of heroes above a hellmouth makes little difference. The lack of control we have remains the same.

Now, Haunt, as far as being held accountable is concerned, on that we all agree. Buffy made a change to the lives of many girls and those that have a problem with that change should have the right to demand accountabilty from Buffy, should they so wish.

However, that does not change the fact that, within the reality of the Buffyverse at least, the Chosen One was given the responsibility to keep the world safe from the forces of evil. Perhaps not by the general public but certainly by the powers behind the slayer line. She may not have been elected into power but she most certainly was chosen to have that power and the responsibilities that go with it. I stand by my belief that she did what she believed was best for the world and that she had the right to do so, considering the role that was given to her.

Whether you like the character of Buffy or not you cannot ignore the fact that she was the leader of the frontline of defence against evil at the mouth of hell. She was the one girl in all the world who had the responsibility of keeping every life on the planet safe from the ultimate evil. This was not her choice but her calling. She was chosen to do that job and make those choices. I honestly believe that, again within the reality of the Buffyverse, that gave her at least as much right to make those kind of choices as any elected official, if not more.
"Whether you like the character of Buffy or not you cannot ignore the fact that she was the leader of the frontline of defence against evil at the mouth of hell."

Nor have I ever tried to. In fact I've gone out of my way to mention in practically every post I've made that I agree she has had it rough, and in most cases I believe she made the best of many terrible situations. I fully admit that, if we take the original opening credits voice-over literally, there was one girl in all the world with the power (and power, as many are claiming when referencing all the newly empowered Potentials, is not the same thing as responsibility) to face the vampires and forces of evil.

Now I choose NOT to take that voice-over literally, seeing as Buffy was quickly shown to not be the one and only person (male or female... or even human) with the power to stand against the vampires. In fact she rapidly was proven to not be the only Slayer. Actually, if we're picking nits we could say that after 'Prophecy Girl' and the calling of Kendra she ceased to actually even be the Slayer anymore. It was only by a cosmic loophole that she even got to keep her powers. By the letter of the Watcher's Council dusty-ol'-textbook law Buffy was out of the Slayer loop as soon as she died and a new Slayer was called. Faith is now the real Slayer... or was, until the rules were thrown out.

But that's all neither here nor there. You're right, I don't like Buffy. I never really did, and my initial disinterest has grown over seven years to downright disgust. That's just what my experience of the series has left me with. And as I've previously stated, this Potential Empowerment thingamajig is far from the crux of my Buffy-hatred... it's merely one example that I chose at more or less random. It's kind of snowballed from there into this detailed (and still very interesting) debate. But don't mistake my passion about this particular subject for the one true source of my dislike for the character.

In another half-hearted effort to pretend we're staying on topic I'll say that, for my part, Buffy the Vampire Slayer could (and should) continue in some for or another without Buffy Summers. There are countless supporting characters that I would much rather tune in to watch week after week, should any future projects actually come about.
Sure, the democratic system's flawed. After all, it's the worst possible one, except for all the others ;).

Yep, I think Mill makes a lot of sense in 'On Liberty' (tho' I also think utilitarianism is almost completely unworkable and, therefore, pretty much useless so he didn't always get it right). Your point SNT is more or less exactly what he meant by 'the harm prinicple' i.e.

...the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant


I'd say that Buffy's actions in 'Chosen' are well covered by this and tho' I kind of agree that she/they should be held accountable afterwards, I do kind of wonder how you hold someone accountable for saving the world. Give them a medal ? It's the means-ends question that Angel addressed so interestingly (and seemed to answer so ambiguously) i.e. How far should she have gone in order to save the entire world and every living thing on it ? I think at the time most people's answer would've been 'As far as she needs to'. Afterwards tho', she may end up being punished for making the tough choices.

I'm also not entirely convinced that they acted autocratically (obviously, strictly they didn't by definition but I know what's meant). I'd suggest that Buffy, the scoobs et al are actually more like a representative body where the people being represented don't get to vote but rather, the beings (Powers That Be) representing the people cast the sole ballot (by choosing Buffy). Maybe something like a Platonic republic, with Buffy as philosopher king ? Or a monarch who actually is divinely appointed ? They represent people's views because they are people themselves and crucially (apart from 'General Buffy') they are open to dissenting views - one of the things which means they aren't autocrats (somehow it seems wrong to pluralise autocrat ;).

BTW, Haunt your post further up about the consequences of the Slayerification was interesting. I can't really answer most of the questions it raises but i'd really like to see some of those points addressed in future Buffyverse projects. Should they be allowed to compete in athletic competitions etc. ? How would some of them see themselves ? How would the governemnt respond to having a potential army of supersoldiers on its hands, with control or recruitment or maybe elimination ? It's kind of like the mutant situation in the X comics and absolutely ripe for exploration. Re: Buffy, we may have to agree to disagree on that one. I like her, you don't. Vive la difference ;).
Nice how long this thread has managed to go on even after its disappearance from the front page. Since I usually go to the "recent comments" section first, i always see updates, but I'm aware many folks don't do that.
Anyhow, tribute to a good, intelligent discussion...
I don't know alot of big words like Haunt or Saje so i'll keep it simple. I never saw activating all the potentials in "Chosen" as saving the world or winning the battle against the first. For me it was Spike who saved the world and closed the hellmouth with his amulet and unlife.
Activating the potentials i saw as a chance for Buffy to have a normal life(Wich she was nagging about for 7years.).
But then we see her in "The girl in question" and she dating some supernatural dude(The immortal). I'll rather wait on Joss's canon comics to clarify that situation.
I believe in equaltiy between genders but what i saw in "Chosen" wasn't that. For me it was a super race being born. One that is vastly superior to humans. But most of them were still little girls who now have the power to crush anyone they don't like.
Well the defense will maintain that Buffy and the Scoobies didn't know what Spike's amulet would do and so couldn't base their decision on that. They had to assume that the amulet would do nothing (and truly they had no reason not to believe that) and come up with their own plan. And I agree with that.

But I also agree that the serious "practical" problem of their plan is that there are now hundreds (thousands?) of superpowered adolescent girls running around unprepared to deal with the "gift" they've all been given.

However my discomfort with this situation is less about the various management problems it creates and more about the moral implications. And whereas so many fans defend Buffy by waving the "Chosen One/only girl in the world with the power" flag, claiming that gave her all the right and authority she needed to make any decision she deemed necessary, *I* find it disturbing that the "hero" of the series was never satisfactorily (in my opinion) taugh humility. It's fine and good that she's the only superpowered being in the entire Whedonverse with the one true moral authority to chose how to protect all of us from the boogeymen (or whatever), but it's more important to me that my "heroes" save themselves.

I know, I know. That sounds ridiculous. But metaphorically speaking I'm just as turned off by flawed heroes that never learn or grow or mature or find salvation or redemption as I am by heroes that are always squeeky clean and perfect in everything they ever do. There's a line that heroic fiction/fictional heroes need to walk, in my estimation. They need to be flawed in order for them to be human, and there needs to be an arc of self-discovery and a learning curve for them to explore in their quests to be heroes. But they also need to actually show that they are indeed learning from that learning curve and maybe even learning about themselves while on that journey of self-discovery.

A hero that does nothing but save people, though by definition I suppose living up to their job description, just don't interest me. I need to see some progress towards redemption, or at least a sign that they will be a better person by the end of the tale than they were in the begining. Unless they die, preferably in an heroic self-sacrifice.

Buffy DID die heroically, but it didn't last... sadly. However I don't feel (and I'm positive this is just me) that she had learned any real lessons by the end. She wasn't a better person at the end of it all, I don't think.

And I'm sure that's probably my most controversial Whedonverse opinion. I'm probably over-simplifying it, just so you know. But I never felt that Buffy was a "nicer" person when it was over than she was during her b*tchiest moments.

It often seemed that the writers, characters (and most fans) believed being soulless in the Whedonverse was the cardinal, unforgiveable sin. Personally I think being arrogant and self-righteous outweighs it in the sin category.

And here's a complete subject change -- Joss' feminism. Just got the Draft Schedule for this years Slayage Conference and commented to my wife that we could skip over all of the sessions focusing on feminism in the Whedonverse (because, if I haven't been clear before, neither one of us is particularly blown away by Joss' take on "feminism" like most are). She then commented that we HAD to see Rhonda Wilcox present “I Don’t Hold with That”: Joss Whedon and Original Sin, not only because we're fascinated by myth/religion/spirituality in Joss' works, but more importantly because the most "feminist" statement Joss ever made was his use of free will and choice. In other words, Joss has made the point in various works that free will and choice are the most important, "divine" aspects of humanity... implying that Eve didn't damn us by eating the apple as so many like to think, but rather saved us.

(And my wife could have explained all that MUCH better than I just did... *sigh*)
Sorry to restart a thread that appears to have had it's day but this is the first chance i've had to respond. Busy day yesterday.

Firstly, just so that there are no doubts, i want to make it absolutely clear that i'm really not suggesting that what Buffy and the Scoobies did in making the decision to activate the slayers worldwide is directly comparable to decisions made through the democratic process. Nor am i saying that i think the democratic process is flawed, as such. Obviously it is the best possible system we could live under, even if it does on occasion allow fools like Bush and Blair into power. Rough with the smooth, i suppose.

Reading through some of the later comments i had a nasty feeling i was leaving some with the impression that i thought democracy was a bad idea and that we should turn Britain into a dictatorship. Obviously i think that would be a terrible idea ... unless that dictator was me ... in which case i think it would be a fantastic idea!!! Bwah hah hah haaaaa! ;)

Sorry, delusions of world domination aside now, what i was trying to do was make the point that even in the fairest system of elected leadership possible there will always be people who have their life altered by decisions that they had nothing to do with and made by people that they didn't put into power in the first place.

Now again i admit that the decision made by Buffy is fundamentally a different thing to one made by a President or Prime Minister but the point of people not always having a real choice in what happens to them when the big decisions, the world changing decisions, get made is very true.

Haunt, as for Buffy not truly being the only one who could have led the fight against the First, you are of course correct. In fact the entire subplot of the final few episodes of the season made that very point when the Scoobies and potentials put Faith in charge. I was not talking about the early season one and two voice-over when i said that Buffy was "the one girl in all the world" who could lead the assault. I was talking about everything that we saw during season seven.

Giles and the rest of the gang constantly made it clear to Buffy that the responsibility fell on her to keep the world safe and defeat the First. In Bring on the Night Giles specifically tells Buffy that she is responsible for the world's safety.

I'm afraid it falls to you, Buffy. Sorry. I mean, we'll do what we can, but you're the only one who has the strength to protect these girls—and the world—against what's coming.


Whatever you might think about the decisions she made they were not made out of ego or even a desire to do so, they were made because she was forced into the position of making them. It was only when those decisions led to some undesired results (not to mention the arrival of Faith giving them an alternative leader) that the gang began to question Buffy, which to me says more about the characters of some of the Scoobies than it does about Buffy herself. Kind of "You have to lead us, Buffy! You have no choice! At least until you screw up and another slayer arrives anyway!".

In the end, however, they turned back to Buffy, again expecting her to lead and to make the problem go away, which she did by making the choice we are discussing here. Now, the fact that Buffy wasn't elected into power in a democratic process makes no difference because it the Buffyverse the Chosen One is automatically given the responsibility to save the world and to do that she must be allowed to make those big decisions when it becomes necessary. Maybe that doesn't seem fair to all the girls who had no say in becoming a slayer but i would have to say again that if they were given the choice between a life as a slayer or a much shorter life under the rule of the First then they likely would have gone for choice number one anyway. The fact that Buffy had neither the time nor the chance to ask their opinions was not really her fault. She had been given the responsibility to save the world and finding the time for a worldwide vote was a little out of the question.

So, as i said, i'm not trying to say that what Buffy did to the girls who had no say was entirely fair but i do absolutely believe that both as the Chosen One and as the girl that was being looked to by her friends and allies to lead them in the ultimate battle against evil she was morally entitled to make that decision. The Chosen One may be given authority and power in a very different way to an elected official but that doesn't take away the fact that they still have a job to do and a world full of people to keep safe, by any means possible.

Should she be held accountable for any unforseen negative effects in the lives of these new slayers? Absolutely! I'm certain that Buffy herself would take full responsibility for anything bad that happened to any of the girls whose life she changed that day. But was she wrong to do so, given who and what she was, not to mention what was at stake? Not as far as i'm concerned.

EDIT: To change a word that made an entire paragraph make no sense whatsoever. Glad that i finally bothered to read back what i'd posted! :)

[ edited by Vampire With A Gun on 2006-02-26 16:25 ]
Well, if anyone else is still reading ... a couple of points. One is that after all, it is *not* Buffy who gives the slayer power to the other potentials. It is Willow who does it. It's Buffy's idea, but it can only be put into action by Willow. It's true that Willow has some reservations, but they are totally about her own ability to pull off the spell. She never offers any objections that they are in some way violating these girls by actualized their latent slayer powers. And Giles who represents the voice of experience and maturity not only wholeheartedly endorses the plan, put adds his assistance in terms of gathering what intel he can from his contacts to help. In that sense then, I think the responsibility for the big change is bourn by all of them acting together.

But here is something where my curiousity is piqued. There are at least two points where Buffy says in her speech to the potentials that it is up to them to make a choice. That it is their choice to accept the slayer power or not. Now this could be just a rhetorical point - the decision is going to affect all potentials all over the world, but the only ones being asked to choose are the gathered potentials who know what's going down and for whom it means a way of defending themselves vs. getting hunted down by the First and it's Bringers, so the answer is going to be a little biased. Or it could hold a different interpretation, that when Buffy tells the girls they have a choice she means EVERY girl who has the potential has that personal choice - that the spell doesn't just activate a girl's power, it activiates the power *if* the girl chooses to accept it. Obviously this would be on some mystical/subliminal level, but that's not an impossibility in the Buffyverse, and it's not a failsafe since there's no way to screen out psychotics like Dana, or possibly other girls who would use the power for personal goals that aren't necessarily prosocial. But it would neutralize the concern that something was forced on these girls. Anyway, this is the reading I get from the script, that it is somehow an individual choice for each girl; however, while that interpretation is supported by the script, so is the other intrepretation. Either this is deliberately muddy, and one of those instances where the viewer is supposed to draw their own conclusions, or something was not made as clear as it could have been. It would be wonderful if his supreme Jossiness were to clarify his goals for how he wanted that piece to be viewed.
Hey, for what it's worth, *I'M* still reading. :) Oh, and here comes another controversial thought...

I've really had the impression that most of the final season of Buffy was really just phoned in. I realize that there are many, many people willing to jump to Joss' defense here, but I really felt watching it (and have continued to feel ever since, given some of Joss' interview comments) that after seven years Joss was simply ready to let it all go. I remember him saying that in his perfect world, the series would have ended with 'The Gift'. Now I'm happy we got two more years only for such treasures as 'Once More, With Feeling', 'After Life' and 'Conversations with Dead People', but still believe that Season Five would have been a better cap. The series felt like it limped over the finish line after that.

But whatever. You raise an interesting question, barboo. It's certainly not my own personal interpretation, but I could see how it might be seen as Buffy and Willow's spell only empowering those that accepted the power, i.e. "chose" to become slayers. *shrug*

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-02-28 03:09 ]

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home