azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 10:57am on 04/03/2005 under
This arose from a discussion with [ profile] avidrosette, who I hope will soon get around to writing her own essay on how dramatic form affects how we understand what the characters say in Buffy.
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azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 11:57am on 24/02/2005 under
Morality in the Buffyverse

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posted by [personal profile] azdak at 10:36pm on 14/12/2004 under ,
No, really, I'll get onto that in a minute.

Tash and I have been at home for a couple of days with a really gross tummy bug, and as a result we've been watching a fair amount of Buffy. On my sister's recommendation we also watched [ profile] sdwolfspup's Coin-Operated Boy, which we both agreed was great (Tash: "This is very good. Did you make it?" Me: "Ha, I wish!"). It's unusual amongst Buffy vids in that it features lots and lots of rarely used (wonder why?!) Riley footage, along with Angel and Spike, and about halfway through a little conversation developed among the audience:

Tash: I think she's really stupid to love lots of people.
Me: Do you think she should just choose one?
Tash: Yes, but I wouldn't choose Angel or Spike.
Me: Would you choose Riley?
Tash: Yes, because he's the best.

Biley, the six year olds' ship of choice! Actually, I can sort of see her point, since she's presumably thinking more in terms of Daddy material than anything more hormonally driven, and I have to agree that while Angel is just too boringly grown-up to be a top candidate, Spike is frankly way too immature to qualify either.

We watched All the Way as well, by mistake (Coin Operated Boy had led Tash to request As You Were and I got the episode titles mixed up). It was worth it, though. Spike is so unbelievably beautiful in that episode, it's hard to believe he's real. In the sense of there being a real actor under the make-up. Obviously. It's not like I'm one of those weirdos who doesn't realise this is a TV show. S6 may not be that big on the funnies but it sure has a lot of pretty Spike.

And to conclude my random ruminations on the Buffyverse I give you: Why Spike is like a Jane Austen hero. Well, it's obvious, innit. I mean, what with him being so well-bred and all. No, but seriously, what all the best Jane Austen heroes have in common is an undying fidelity to the heroine in the teeth of fate (Edward Ferrars), inexplicable denseness on her part (George Knightley), revulsion (Fitzwilliam Darcy - I bet Emma wasn't the only missus to have trouble using her husband's first name) and rejection (Frederick Wentworth). I don't count Edmund Bertram, who definitely doesn't fit this pattern, because he's a boring old prude, and anyway, we have a neat sort of counter-example in Henry Crawford, who would have won Fanny's heart had he only persisted in fidelity a while longer (mind you, I consider HC had a lucky escape). So there you have it, the key virtue in an Austen hero is to persist in adoring the heroine in spite of apparently having no chance whatsoever of a relationship with her. I'll let Anne Elliot sum it up: "The only privilege I claim for my sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone." Austen, who knew a great deal better than Freud What Women Want, gave us a clutch of heroes who embody that cardinal female virtue of loving longest. I hardly need to point out where Spike fits in.

So now somebody just needs to do a survey to find out whether Spuffy supporters are more likely than Bangel lovers to read Jane Austen. Quantitative analysis, yeah!
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 07:46pm on 17/08/2004 under
Sometimes I’m capable of such staggering denseness that it surprises even me. For instance, it was only yesterday that I realised that S6 both begins and ends with Buffy crawling out of her grave. I suppose I failed to notice because I watched it so out of order, starting with OMWF and then jumping about all over the place, but still, it’s kind of a crashing oversight.

The implication of that framing, of course, is that for most of S6 Buffy is still dead. She may have come back physically, but emotionally she’s still trapped under the earth, still linked to the chthonic realm of darkness and the fear (a point driven home in S7 when the First can assume her form because technically she’s still dead, even though she isn’t really - an inversion of the S6 perspective, which is that technically she isn’t dead, she just feels as if she is/wishes she were). It’s not until she crawls out of the second grave in that subtly entitled episode that she really comes back to life, optimism, enthusiasm, emotions and all. Now, if for most of S6 Buffy is linked with death, and death in turn is represented by the grave, by being under the earth, what sort of use does the season make of subterranean imagery in connection with Buffy? Quite a lot. In Flooded she’s down fighting demons in her flooded basement (while Dawn sits on the steps and watches), in Life Serial she constantly has to go into the basement of the Magic Box to confront the mummy’s hand, and in Normal Again she locks her friends in the basement and plans to let the demon loose on them there. Of course, basements feature frequently in the Jossverse (hardly surprising, given that he’s interested in the monsters that dwell in the depths of the human psyche) and the character most frequently associated with them (at least once Xander moves out of his parents’ basement) is not Buffy but Spike. It’s S7 where he’s most firmly basement-bound, but even in earlier seasons his crypt has a lower level where he keeps his darkest secrets – his shrine to Buffy in S5 and the demon eggs in AYW – and I think it’s significant than in OMWF (in which every tiny detail, every single camera angle, is imbued with layers of meaning) we first see him coming up the steps from this subterranean chamber. Subsequently, he leaps onto a coffin and then topples into an open grave, dragging Buffy in with him. As she lies on top of him, there’s a moment when it looks as if she’s going to give in to the sexual tension between them, then she breaks free and leaps out of the grave. The chthonic link is also made in Bargaining, when he tells Dawn that he, like Buffy, clawed his way out of his grave, and his association with death is verbalised explicitly in OMWF when he tells Buffy ‘You have to go on living, so one of us is living’, not to mention his entire ‘Let me rest in peace’ number, which is riddled with death imagery. Then, of course, there’s Dead Things, where Buffy tells Spike that he’s a loathsome dead thing, all the while beating him up in a frenzy that suggests she is really articulating what she feels about herself.

The ‘darkness’ in him that he insists she is drawn to is presumably not evil but death, and he is quite right about her attraction to it. In the imagery of S6, Spike is one of the chthonic gods. He is death, and Buffy’s painful, anguished affair with him is a love affair with death. When she tells him ‘It’s killing me’ she is telling no less than the truth. Only when she wrenches herself from him and climbs from the basement of his crypt back into the light can she start the long crawl back to life (topographically, the break-up scene in AYW echoes Buffy’s escape from Spike’s embrace in the grave in OMWF).

Of course, imagery is only one layer of storytelling. The relationship between Buffy and Spike can equally well be looked at in terms of the psychology of the individual characters, with no mythic resonances necessary. Nonethless, I suspect that the real reason why ME insisted S6 Spike was a 'bad boyfriend' was not because he was evil (thought to some extent he still was) but because at this level of poetic imagery, he really does represent death, and Buffy has to free herself from his embrace before she can fully crawl out of her grave and resume living.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 09:22pm on 01/07/2004 under
This started off as a reply to [ profile] redredshoes but every time I tried to post it, I was told her journal didn’t exist (yeah, right, so how come I can see it on my flist, you stupid computer?), and after a couple of tries the whole thing got eaten. So here, for your delectation and delight, is my entirely revised, nay entirely rewritten take on why ME was right to have Spike try to rape Buffy rather than try to turn her in Seeing Red.

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posted by [personal profile] azdak at 09:44pm on 28/03/2004 under
Thoughts on S7, uebervamps and redemption, cut for the sake of those on my friends list.
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