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.

Happy Buffyversary

Yesterday, March 10, marked the 15th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy.  Welcome to the Hellmouth originally aired on March 10, 1997.  It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the 10th anniversary.

It’s funny to think about it being fifteen years.  It’s funny thinking about what I was doing fifteen years ago.  And I did watch the premiere.  Actually, I thought it was supposed to be the movie, and I remember loving the movie, cheesy as it was.  But I was hunkered down in my room, ready to watch the movie, when this TV show came on.  And I sat and watched, and probably enjoyed it.  I watched a few more episodes of the first season before school and life took over.  And it wasn’t until the second season came out on DVD that I fell back into the Buffy fandom.

It’s amazing to think about it as a show that will seemingly never die.  Think about it.  Here we are fifteen years later, and we’re STILL talking about it.  There are still fan forums and podcasts, and now a comic book celebrating everything the show stood for and more.

Never in my life have I felt more connected to a TV show.  And it is because of Buffy that I have a real appreciation for quality TV, well written shows and complex storylines.

I found the clip below on Youtube, but looking through the comments, you can also find it in the featurettes of the seventh season dvd.

Happy Buffyversary!

 

 

I’ll be his Mrs.

From Selfless – Season 7, Episode 5

Mr. Xander Harris – that’s what he is to the world outside
That’s the name he carries with pride
I’m just lately Anya – not very much to the world, I know
All these years with nothing to show

I’ve boned a troll, I’ve wreaked some wrath,
But on the whole, I’ve had no path.
I like to bowl, I’m good with math,
But who am I?
Now I reply that
I’m the Missis
I will be his Missis
Mrs. Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins Harris

What’s the point of loving…
I mean except for the sweaty part
What’s the point of losing your heart?
Maybe if you’re lucky
Being a pair makes you twice as tall
Maybe you’re not losing at all

No need to cover up my heart
Plus see above RE: sweaty part
So maybe love is pretty smart
And so am I
I found my guy!

And I’ll be Missis
I will be his Missis
Mrs. Anya Lame-Ass-Made-Up-Maiden-Name Harris.
We’ll never part
Not if we can
And if we start
Then here’s my plan
I’ll show him what bliss is
Welcome him with kisses
‘Cause this is a Missis who misses her man
He’s my Xander
And he’s awfully swell
It makes financial sense as well,
Although he can be “I’ll never tell”
Just stand aside
Here comes the bride
I’ll be Missis
I will be his Missis
I will beeeee –

Buffy Vs Dracula

Season 5 starts off with a bang. The introduction of Dawn is disconcerting. Clearly, the audience knows she’s not really supposed to be there, but the Scoobies don’t seem to notice. The only thing different is that Buffy seems more domestically tense than usual.

So, cut to season five’s opener, “Buffy vs. Dracula,” where Dawn is finally introduced after hinting at her arrival for two seasons. Enter the Dark Prince, Dracula himself, who inevitably has heard of Buffy. Both Xander and Buffy are under Drac’s thrall, Giles ends up making time with the Dracy babes, while Anya is locked in a closet, and Willow and Tara are in the background doing research. Spike’s role is not important. Right before the credits role, Dawn appears, and the world changes. You can almost clearly see the exact moment in time when the change happens, and whether or not this was Joss Whedon’s intention, I’m not sure, but it can be seen. Buffy goes into Joyce’s room to say she and Riley are going out…there’s a split second as Joyce is putting on her earings right before she says anything that we see a change in her. It’s very subtle, but clear that something has changed, and a moment later, we see Dawn in Buffy’s room. This is the beginning of the end, as some might call it.

On another note, the first appearance of Joyce’s impending doom is during a Xander-specific episode called “The Replacement.” Buffy and Dawn are arguing about being in Buffy’s room. Enter Joyce. She claims to have a daughter-induced headache, but sarcastically seems pleased that they have finally learned to share, even if it is sharing the blame for giving her a headache. What soon will happen is the appearance of a tumor, that turns out to be Joyce’s demise. I’m not really looking forward to moving on with this season because halfway through, Joyce is no longer around, as she passes away in “The Body.” Makes me cry every time.

Selfless

“Selfless”, the seventh season Buffy episode, is quite the contradiction with the name. It’s all about Anya being a Vengeance Demon and not enjoying it, Buffy needing to do her job and kill her, Xander wanting to protect her and Willow getting D’Hoffryn involved. Everyone appears to be being ’selfless’, but is that really the case? Anya is hurt, she became a Vengeance Demon again, purely out of selfishness. She also took back what she did in the episode to kill an entire fraternity, to rid herself of the horrible taste of mortality she had left over from being human. Sure, she felt pain for the people she killed, but she did it for herself.

The only one that was really clearly selfish was Xander. He still loves Anya and doesn’t want Buffy to kill her, so he tries to find her to talk and figure out another way to resolve the pesky problem of vengeance.

Buffy claims to be doing this because it’s her job, because she is the law and she draws the line when no one else can. She’s overexpressing her power, and I felt there may have been some residual anger from when she had to kill Angel AND when she saw Spike and Anya together.

Willow was pretty clear with her selfishness as well. She reached out a hand to help Anya, but Anya didn’t need to be helped. She was doing what she wanted someone to do for her whenn she was falling off the edge less than a year ago. The fact was that Willow and Anya are two different people. Willow has an addictive personality and let the magic devour her and her anger took over. She felt no pain. Anya became a demon by choice. She was hurt and angry and turned to vengeance as solace. But later, she felt the hurt she was causing and was strong enough to give it up on her own, with no help from the Scoobies.

I loved the episode, though. With the song break from Anya in the middle after Buffy stabbed her with a sword.

Thematically, all the characters are extremely selfish. It’s a wonder they stayed friends for so long. In the beginning, while still in high school, Buffy protected her friends mostly selflessly. It wasn’t until she began realizing her power and importance that she began being selfish with it. She even said that if she had known then what she knew now, she would have sacrificed Dawn to save the world instead of herself. Each character in their development has a selfish streak, but that makes them loveable and easily relateable.

Old Faithful

Insecure, bad-ass, revengeful, almost evil wicca. Ok, so the term “Wicca” bothers me. In the context that it’s used, it should be “Wiccan,” but that’s another story for a whole other time.

I am often perplexed by Willow, the seemingly sweet-turned-badass wicca. Her only real downfall was the fact that she let her flaws and her weakness get the best of her. I was reading one of those essays in “7 Seasons of Buffy” where authors discuss their favorite things about the whole series, and one person starts making a very good point about Willow. She abused power, she wasn’t addicted (or shouldn’t really have been portrayed as such in season six). I love how she is portrayed in the first season. The geeky computer chick with a major yen for her bestest of best friends in the whole world (not Buffy! Willow doesn’t turn gay until season 4) has a massive thurst for the knowledge. Even in Ted, Willow keeps some of his parts claiming, “I just wanna learn stuff.” to which Buffy responds, “You’re supposed to use your power for good.” It’s all about power with Willow. I think that statement really started the whole thing. Previous to that, I don’t think Willow was aware of just how powerful she was, with the knowledge then with the power. Being the shy outcast that she was, she was prone to self-esteem issues, therefore thinking she wasn’t all that special. But in Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buffy pretty much made sure that Willow knew she was worth hanging out with.

And it snowballed from there. She “experimented” with witchcraft, and used it as a device, the problem-solver. Problem: she and Xander were starting to develop feelings for each other. Solution: cast an “anti-love spell”. Problem: Oz dumped her, and she wanted to feel normal again. Solution: cast a spell to have her will be done, and use it to make herself feel better. Problem: Tara was shot and died instantly in front of her eyes. Solution: magic will solve everything, turn your eyes and hair black and go nuts. But the problem with her solutions is that they end up being problems in themselves. The anti love spell got her captured by Spike and inadvertantly made Oz and Cordelia see what was going on. The will it so spell almost got her friends killed, and turning into black-haired Willow got Warren killed and almost ended the world. What more can you ask for…

Willow’s gradual abuse of power nearly killed her friends, and yet they still forgave her. Now that’s the key to the Buffyverse.