The One Where I Hop on My Soapbox About Racial Diversity… Sort of

In doing tonite’s Buffy Rewatch, this really got to me.  Not the lack of racial diversity in the episode (Inca Mummy Girl), but the idea that so many people cared so much.  Did I notice it before?  Of course.  Did I care?  Not really.  It doesn’t affect the show as it is or was.  It doesn’t affect how brilliant the writing is, nor does it affect how awful season four was.  But it is an idea that is present.

I do believe, however, that if we’re going to discuss the lack of racial diversity, we ought to be looking at the series as a whole, and not just individual episodes.

The idea of Sunnydale, California, allegedly, is that it is supposed to be a very diverse town, as California is a very diverse state.  (Here’s where I play devil’s advocate) Think about Sunnydale for a minute.  As the fictional town it is.  It’s on a hellmouth.  People have been moving out of Sunnydale at increasing rates.  Property values are going down.  Are you REALLY surprised more people don’t want to live there.  People die in Sunnydale.  And most people can’t explain why.  Would YOU want to move there just to prove that Sunnydale was diverse?

But other than that… the series as a whole has had a limited number of “colorful” characters.  Most of them played less than significant roles in one-off episodes and end up dead.  Does anyone remember the locker room in Welcome to the Hellmouth?  That isn’t a white girls screaming about the EXTREME DEAD GUY that just fell out of her locker.

Granted, she only had one episode.  Well, one scene in one episode.  And there’s a lot of characters like that.  One’s that try to be important or influential, or diverse, and they end up getting killed.

Then of course there’s our Islander Slayer, Kendra.  And don’t forget baddies Mr. Trick and Sweet.  And even more importantly, Robin Wood, the new principal of the NEW Sunnydale High, who probably had the most episodes.

But this was the 90’s.  I think if Buffy were done today, it would be a very different show.  I give the show quite a bit of credit for being as awesome as it was.  And to me, the lack of racial diversity, as it were, is not going to affect me either way.  Except maybe to get me to talk about it.

But I’m a purist.  I like my Buffy as it was, is and ever shall be.  I love the writing, and the characters and can’t imagine it being a different show with different people or different ideas.

Plus, it gives us all something to talk about.

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Earshot… starts with E

I absolutely LOVE season 3.  I think it may be my number one season, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

One of the most interesting and then controversial episodes of the season was Earshot.  The airing was cancelled initially because at the time, the Columbine shootings happened.  And it would have been in poor taste to air such an episode.  The season finale was also pulled from network and tucked away on a shelf, then finally aired in the Summer, after “enough” time had passed that the two episodes wouldn’t appear tasteless.

I do love Earshot, otherwise.  It’s such an interesting episode in that it deals with Buffy getting this demon power, she can hear people’s thoughts.  It seems cool to being with, until Buffy becomes totally overwhelmed by it to the point where she can hardly function anymore.

In 2006 or 2007, when music vids were the popular thing to do, because video editing is still awesome, I spliced some clips of the Earshot episode together and put a track by Green Day behind it.  And here it is below for you to see.  Enjoy!

Dawn… starts with D

Probably an obvious choice for D… or maybe not.

Dawn started out being my least favorite character (along with Riley), but as she became more integrated with the group, the higher up my like list she got.

A few things about Dawn:

  • She was the Key.
  • She was inserted into Buffy‘s life/world by monks trying to save the world.
  • Glory was obsessed with finding the key so she could go home to her own dimension.
  • Dawn was ready to sacrifice herself to save the world – but Buffy did it first.
  • Once, she thought she was a potential Slayer, but promptly and nobly gave up the responsibility when the time was right.

Sure, Dawn was why and annoying at times, but she did get some redeeming qualities the more integrated she became.  In season 5, she was the obnoxious and annoying little sister, but season 6 saw a whole new Dawn.  She’d lost her mother, then her sister.  I think she did some growing up.  Of course, she had her moments of being the annoying little sister still.  But that had nearly totally disappeared by season 7, where she was becoming a pro Watcher-in-Training.

I promise, Dawn, I won’t hate you anymore.

Caleb… starts with C

I’ve got some pretty serious Nathan Fillion love.  I first discovered him is his beyond-creepy role of Caleb in the second half of the seventh season of Buffy.  And it wasn’t until much MUCH later that I found him again as Mal on Firefly.  And as Mal he was such a great, lovable character.  As Caleb?  Not so much.

Caleb was the wanna-be, holier than thou, woman hating priest who showed up in Dirty Girls as a worker of the first to help destroy the whole Slayer line.

Joss Whedon described him as “the creepiest priest.”  And also said that “he was the most bald-faced misogynist we’ve had since, well, since Warren, last year.”

I hated Caleb.  He creeped me out to my core.  Normally, when a character does that for me, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth about the actor and I tend not to like anything else they do based on one, horrible, evil character they played and that I hated.  Hey, it happened with Harry Hamlin playing Aaron Echolls – but I think I’ve gotten over that, finally.  And I have certainly gotten over that with Nathan Fillion.

He’s gone on to play one of my favorite characters on TV, Richard Castle.  And good for him for getting his own show.

But as far as Caleb goes, I hate him.  He’s just so bad, he’s good.  Oh, and he poked Xander‘s eye out, so that tips the scale way in the evil column.

But it’s Nathan Fillion, so I love him.  Just not Caleb.

30 Days of Buffy Day 9: Favorite Romance

As if there wasn’t a harder question to ask.  And what criteria do you use?  Actually, this was a really simple question to answer, and I’m going to go with the first answer that popped into my head: Spike and Buffy (Spuffy).

When I look for a romance or love story, I want something that will make me laugh and cry in the same moment.  One that gives me goosebumps and butterflies because it’s just. that. good.  And Joss Whedon is certainly one to make all those things happen.  But for me, it happened with Spuffy.

And it’s not because of the hot sex or the fact that I love James Marsters.  It’s so much more than that.

I love that Buffy and Spike hated each other when they met.  I love that they tried to kill each other.  I love that out of that hatred, Spike found a soft spot for Buffy in that he couldn’t get her out of his head.

“We have something, Buffy. It’s not pretty, but it’s real, and there’s nothing either one of us can do about it. Like it or not, I’m in your life, you can’t just shut me out.”   Spike, Crush

And from there, it progressed.  Sure, Buffy eventually gave in to Spike, claiming she never really loved him.  But by the end of season 7, when Buffy realized she had no other ally in the biggest fight of her life, Spike was there to prove how much he loved her.  Not for him, and not for any other reason than she was who she was.

“You listen to me. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you and dead a lot longer than that. I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine and done things I’d prefer you didn’t. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain so I make a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred plus years and there?s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of. You. Hey, look at me. I’m not asking you for anything. When I say I love you, it’s not because I want you, or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You are a hell of a woman. You’re the one, Buffy.”  Spike, Touched

It was pure and it was real.  Soul or no soul, Spike didn’t need it to love Buffy.

And there you have it.  My long-winded answer about my favorite romance.

30 Days of Buffy Day 6: Favorite Male Character

GilesXander.  Spike.  Angel.  On a show where there are so many strong female characters it’s sometimes difficult to find really strong, worthy male characters.  Each one has their own special thing about them that makes them great.

Although I love the Spike/Angel banter and each individual relationship they have with Buffy, I am going to have to eliminate both vampires.  Vampires with souls are hilarious, and they both have some great lines on both Angel and Buffy when it comes to Buffy.

That leaves Giles and Xander.

Both have amazing lines.  Both have been huge influences in Buffy’s life and have helped her in the Scooby gang since the beginning.

Giles is the father figure of the group, and for Buffy.  And he was The Ripper.  He has counseled all the Scoobies at one time or another and really was an influential part of the gang.

However, I’m going to go with Xander.

Xander is like the boy next door and brother and personal hero all rolled into one.  He’s a civilian, and the speech he makes to Dawn in “Potential” nails down why exactly he is my favorite character:

Xander: Seven years, Dawn. Working with the slayer. Seeing my friends get more and more powerful. A witch. A demon. Hell, I could fit Oz in my shaving kit, but come a full moon, he had a wolfy mojo not to be messed with. Powerful. All of them. And I’m the guy who fixes the windows…. They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie, to be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You’re not special. You’re extraordinary.

Dawn: Maybe that’s your power.

Xander: What?

Dawn: Seeing.  Knowing.

Xander: Maybe it is.  Maybe I should get a cape.

Also, he stopped Willow from destroying the world.  And that way pretty cool.

Buffy was always a Hero

Originally posted here on April 22, 2009.

I haven’t really written much about my all-time favorite Joss Whedon show ever lately.  Seriously, there’s been so many other things going on in both the world of television and real life that I haven’t given it much thought.

Well, other than the podcast I obsessively listen to. Called the Watchercast.  Love it.  Check it out if you get a chance.  It’s funny, because their latest podcast episode on “Killed by Death” gave me the inspiration to post a little something that I just had an epiphany about.

Buffy has always been a hero.  Throughout the series there were lots of throw-away lines about the Calling and how you really don’t know until you know.  And as a contradiction, there were lines about how some Potentials (like Kendra and Kennedy) were trained from a very young age.

I think the second part of that makes more sense. And the reason we don’t see it in Buffy (or Faith, when she shows up… Faith wasn’t trained at an early age either…) is because of American culture, within the Buffyverse.

I’ve often wondered why Kennedy and Kendra were trained from such an early age, and the Slayer culture was ingrained in them early on, and why Buffy was seemingly overlooked.  At first, I thought it was because no one knew where to find her, or because she wasn’t Called until she was Called, but the fact of the matter is that Buffy had the Slayer itch since childhood, much like the other Slayers/Potentials.

In looking at an episode in the second season, Killed by Death, Buffy is attacked by a flu and sees a monster that kills children in a very gruesome way, and makes it look like the fever killed them.  Coincidentally, Buffy’s cousin Celia was killed by the same fever in the same fashion.

During a flashback, Buffy and Celia are playing together, where Celia is the damsel in distress, and Buffy is the superhero who comes to her rescue.  I think that scene alone is informational to the audience, even if Giles and the rest of the Scoobies are unaware of how the Calling REALLY works, that Buffy was born to be a Slayer.  She was born to save the world.

Looking further back (or forward, depending…) Buffy as a much younger little girl, but further along in the series… think back to the episode Weight of the World, where Buffy goes into a severe state of Catatonia and Willow has to do a mystical mindwalk with her. Buffy’s baby sister, Dawn, is brought home from the hospital, and Buffy wants “to be the one to take care of her.”

Buffy clearly was protective from the very beginning. Her gut has always told her that she has a purpose, even though it sometimes gets cloudy.  She still has a purpose.

Thinking about it, I do wonder that even though Buffy had superhero/Slayer in here genes no matter what, why did she want to try so hard to be normal?  She didnt’ have an accident and get bitten by a radioactive spider.  Her parents didn’t die, and this wasn’t a revenge gig for her.  She wasn’t even born on another planet and meteored down to earth.

She was just a girl who was born to be a superhero and didn’t get her powers until she got them.

Just something to think about.