Friday, 6 January 2012
Buffy, Je T'Adore
Here's the thing though: I'm not really a huge fan of sci-fi, really in any form. Obviously I love Stephen King (I know, he's really horror, not sci-fi, but I think the two genres do overlap) but other than that, on the whole, I tend to stay away from the whole monster-y, supernatural-y realm (unless, say, they're using supernatural beings for social commentary, a la True Blood. That's just fine). Buffy is a completely different matter, and I think there's a very good reason for that. Joss Whedon, series creator and all round genius, said in one of the season recaps on my DVDs (yes, I watch the special features, I am a Buffy nerd) that he doesn't know anything really about science, or how any of the supernatural aspects of the show would actually work, but what he does know, is people. And really, that's something which is so evident on the show, even to the most casual observer- Buffy showcases characters that are incredibly human, sometimes even when they aren't, and relationships that remain believable and are never sugar-coated. It is the characters that make Buffy the programme it is, and that make even the most hardened sci-fi sceptics warm up to the show.
I also think that, as part of this, there is the perfect balance of action and talking in the programme, which means that you never get bored of either, and never get bogged down in either the kick-punch-kick, OR the talk of monsters and stuff. It's an incredible feat, and an incredible TV show, even if it's not wholly a perfect one. Because, and I don't think I could really talk about Buffy without mentioning these two little thorns in my side, Riley and Dawn, both major characters, are really too annoying for words. I can forgive the show partially for introducing them, because I can see what they were trying to do with each character (namely, with Dawn, teaching Buffy a greater responsibility than even saving the whole world; with Riley, bringing up the issue of whether she could be happy with just a regular, and even slightly annoying, guy [short answer: no]) but I also almost can't forgive them for Dawn's introduction especially, because she devalues everything that happened in the series before- we have to adjust our thinking to understand that, in the gang's memories, many of the things that happened also involved Dawn, which is really just too annoying for words!
Nonetheless, Buffy still manages to be awesome, and one of my favourite things about it is the way that it's completely unafraid to make fun of itself, and just generally have fun with the genre it's a part of. This can just be in the form of a vague description of something, or something like, for example, in Season 7, a time when Buffy makes A LOT of inspirational speeches, she quips, "Yesterday I gave an inspirational speech to the toaster." I love this because it makes it clear that, even while you're thinking something is a bit naff (the speeches get just a tad... oh, I don't know, boring after a while) the writers have already noticed it themselves and are fully prepared to mock it just a little bit. In other words, the writers are my (our) people!
Since, you know, I'm me, I couldn't exactly write this glowing recommendation of Buffy without talking about feminism (this is also true of my daily life, basically). But not just because I'm me, but also because Buffy is pretty much the most empowering programme in the history of TV. Here you have this tiny blonde girl, traditionally seen as weak and the easiest to kill in say horror movies and scary TV shows and EVERYTHING EVER; and yet Buffy is stronger than anyone or anything else. She's the most formidable force in the whole show, and the power part of empowering certainly applies to the show. And the strong woman thing doesn't stop with her. Willow is incredibly powerful, both because of her considerable intellect, which is so useful in the early seasons, and then as a fully fledged witch, who quite literally saves the day at the end of the series. There are so many villians that either are women (Glory, for example, who I would argue is the strongest of all the big bads) or who wouldn't be able to exist without women (Spike, in season 2 for instance, or the Mayor in season 3, whose plan hinges very strongly on Faith, another slayer). In the Buffy, then, Whedon has created a universe where women hold most, if not all, of the power and the strength. How cool is that?!
So do I watch Buffy because of its patriachy-smashing nature, and because of its deeply imbedded understanding of people? Not really- I watch it because its wholly entertaining, engaging and consistently well-written television. All the other stuff is just icing on the cake of a phenomenon that deserves to be remembered, revered, and re-affirmed every single day by Buffy-lovers just like me (note the defence of being waaaay behind the times, again). For all its vampires, monsters, Gods and nerds, Buffy is the most human of programmes, and that's when it's at its best. If you are, or were, a Buffy worshipper, then I guess you'll probably know what I'm talking about, and if not then why not?! Is there something wrong with you? Did you never get the opportunity to watch it? Whatever your answer, I wholly recommend acquiring a boxset any way you can, sitting down for about 2 weeks, and just watching the whole thing. I guarantee you'll get more than you bargained for, plus, you know, you'll make me all happy and stuff. Good enough?
While I was looking for some nice pictures to go with this post, I came across this, so I'm now considering moving to DC since this is clearly the coolest place EVER. Also on the internet: many, many Buffy tumblrs that I want to marry. Guess I'm not as behind the times as I thought! Also, the Buffy love from people who are younger than me? Heart=warmed.