Analysis / Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The ultimate description of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is its own title
Well not quite, but for a show that is so full of tropes, it is quite tempting to just try and define it with a single, short, unusually capitalised phrase
; so we might as well use the one it already provided for us.
Inside the title the name of the heroine shows the young side of a young/old juxtaposition. The show has a focus on youth so expect Adults Are Useless
. In an effort to avoid Totally Radical
, we had Buffy Speak
. Really it's still the result of a thirty-five year old trying to write dialogue for teenagers. Other thing to note is the tone of the name, irreverence. That tone appears in Buffy's Establishing Character Moment
. Finally it's the Character in the "Character Name and the Noun" Phrase
and the hero is
undeniably that character. While we may have a Hero's journey, expect a dark side. If the writers go off the track with the hero then the viewers go off the show. For instance, the seasonal rot in season six is connected to viewers discomfort with Buffy's behaviour.
Well, see above but quote with us now "In every generation there is a Chosen One
. She alone
will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer
." (emphasis added) The starting voice over informed us that she was The One and we saw in the starting season the tropes that accompany The Chosen One in high school
: I Just Want to Be Normal
, It Sucks to Be the Chosen One
, The Only One
, Refusal of the Call
. Then in season 2, we learn There Is Another
. Then after that season she runs away but The Call Knows Where You Live
and so on. Eventually in the end there is an attempt to Screw Destiny
and we come up with The Chosen Many
In this series, the "the", unlike some other shows, is an indication of being The Only One
which gets reflecting in many of The Call
tropes recurring and running through as a theme.
One notably fact about the first season was the lack of vampire villains. Really the vampires in the title provide the old side of the young/old juxtaposition. So its not just Our Vampires Are Different
, it's possibly all Our Monsters Are Different
. The old legends will be taken and put up against youth culture (and bazookas). Also, vampires = fantasy genre and one important aspect for a piece in the genre is Applicability
fell on the allegory side, sometimes rather blunty, so the Aesops
and associated tropes came with it.
This indicates several things but above all, an action show. Consider then its aim of having a "strong" female character in the context of an action show. She can be emotionally messed up and run away, she can get into a messy relationship with a bad boy but she is important and strong because she is physically
strong. That is the starting point. This extends to the other characters, Willow is superior to the other "wanna-blessed-be's" because they are worried about wicca as a religion. Willow on the other hand wants to learn magic to fry demon ass.
The ultimate invalidation (and that's a good thing)
We can consider the ending, then, as the ultimate invalidation of the show's ultimate description. Surprisingly, this can be considered the perfect ending for the show, as the show was constantly trying to invalidate its own title:
- Buffy : We couldn't get rid of Buffy. We killed her twice and her friends kept bringing her back.
- Vampire : We couldn't get rid of vampires, or even the evil in general, that bug people throughout the series. No matter how many vamps bit the dust, no matter how many Big Bads were taught a lesson, there was always another around the corner.
- Slayer : Well, we can't get rid of the evils of the world so we need a slayer. The show's mythos takes care of that, insuring that any time a slayer dies, a new one pops up in its place. The slayer can try giving up, but, no matter what, after some Wangst and some Epiphany Therapy, she'll be back.
So how is the title ultimately invalidated? We left one word out:
- The: at the very end of the show, we the lose the definite article. Buffy releases the magics that limits the number of slayers. She is thus no longer The Slayer, but one of many. Once that happens, all the themes above come to a head. Buffy now could die and we wouldn't notice. The Vampires can be Slayed by someone else. Buffy may still be called "The Vampire Slayer," but it's clear that she is no longer absolutely necessary.
Season 6 was a massive Deconstruction of the series
The focus of the season was the main character's journey to adulthood. There was no long story arc or ancient evil to face. The bad guys are a bunch of nerds who never outgrew their childhood hobbies, symbolizing the fans who only liked the show's sci-fi and supernatural aspects. The real villain is not defeated by the strongest wizard or the mightiest warrior but by the comforting words of a friend. The season ended with Buffy affirming that she wants to live and Spike gets his soul back because the show is not about death or killing but the protection and sanctity of human life and that the world is a beautiful place to be despite all the hardships and tragedy we all face. That's why the Musical Episode
was appropriate to Season 6 rather than any other.
Buffy sins: Kennedy
A lot of fans hate this character and consider her the biggest scrappy on television. But just how bad was she really? In the spirit of cinema sins and gaming sins, hopefully going over some of her scenes we can find out.
- Bring On The Night
- Kennedy's first reaction of Buffy is clear disdain. 1 sin.
- Kennedy demanding weapons, okay now she's getting bratty. 1 sin.
- Show Time
- Kennedy pestering Willow, then trying to get her to do magic while hitting on her. I'm sure it was meant to be sweet but given how much she bragged, 2 sins.
- At the end it's shown Kennedy approves of Buffy's approach and is going to take it to heart. We don't know at the time but this is going to go very very wrong. The fact she seems to be a military buff (see later) one would think the Buffster quoting Richard Marcinko and taking a Hell Week approach should have been a big clue. 1 sin.
- The Killer In Me
- Kennedy faking sick so she can court Willow. Buffy did the same thing, so just 1 sin.
- Make that 2, with the mission to try and seduce her.
- Kennedy should really know better than to be this confrontational on homosexuality, 1 sin.
- I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and guess she was joking about date rape, 3 sins. One for suggesting it, one for joking about it, and one for the possibility she may not have been.
- 1 sin for thinking Willow turning into Warren is funny. She may not have had context but I'm counting it.
- 2 sins when she meets the Wiccan group, 1 for insulting them, 1 for her open distaste of magic when she wants Willow.
- Not Kennedy related, ha ha ha ha ha. I really liked Giles asking if he's evil for taking girls camping and not touching them. -1 sin for him.
- When Willow storms in with the gun Kennedy does what anyone worth their salt would do and immediately goes caring and try to talk down the murder/suicide. Then she immediately drops it bragging how good she is. 1 sin.
- Get It Done
- Oh boy this is gonna suck. 1 sin right off the bat.
- Kennedy helping the other potentials train is okay. Her leading them thinking she's Sergeant Hartman, not so much. 1 sin for this and 1 sin for this being in promos, given hindsight.
- 1 sin for picking on Chloe. You know if she had done any research on Full Metal Jacket she would have seen that who she is emulating is a bully and a failure. So 2 more sins for this, and 1 more for not doing the research.
- Then she brags about picking on Chloe and being a bully and failure, how charmingly sickening, 3 sins. It's a shame Jack Bauer didn't follow Wayne Palmer from 24 just to kick the shit out of Kennedy for this, 1 sin.
- "Who the hell are you?" He's the President so shut your mouth before CTU nuke your ass. 1 sin for the comment and another for acting this way in Buffy's home.
- Enough with the drill sergeant nasty shit already. 2 sins, 1 for the attitude and 1 for not getting the hint the first time.
- Gotta admit, The First has a point. 1 sin.
- Even though it's partially Kennedy's fault she's right in the way Buffy is acting. F*ck it, 1 sin.
- 1 sin again for the magic bashing.
- Kennedy apologizing when trying to take command may get her -1 sin. Wait...
- ...she blows it. Maybe she would like to see if she could do a better job. 1 sin.
- The seething hatred she looks at Faith with gets her another 1 sin.
- I'm 99% certain that Giles, Dawn and Buffy wanting to throw up at the tongue comment was a nod to the fans, -1 sin for each of them.
- Talley: 31
- Punishment: "It's a total loss of control, and not in a nice, wholesome, my girlfriend has a pierced tongue kind of way." *cue Giles, Dawn and Buffy throwing up*
We could leave it there, but the comics are canon even if some fans don't count them. I'll go over the ones I have.
- Time Of Your Life
- Kennedy getting jealous that Buffy may have gone gay and go for Willow, and threatening to kill her, was just off and out of left field. 2 sins.
- The end. Very inappropriate comment at the worst of times. 2 sins.
- Anywhere But Here
- This line was added to the motion comics and it really does bear repeating, when Kennedy guesses Willow is upset over Tara's death she says, "You know when I said I was open to a threesome I had something more fun in mind." WHAAAAAAT THEEEEEE F***CK?!?!?!?!?!?! 10 sins. Yes I counted them. 1 for speaking ill of the dead, 1 for doing so of the beloved Tara, 1 because it was to Willow, 1 because Willow is clearly upset, 1 for such a horrid comment, 1 for being the absolute worst time to say it, 1 for such a take that comment at Tara, 1 for the film's ad lib, 1 for ignoring earlier story, and 1 because Kennedy comes across as a total bitch.
- Okay, Satsu being bratty doesn't entitle Kennedy to be as well. 1 sin.
- This whole thing with her being upset about turning straight people gay really needs to stop. 1 sin.
- I have no quarrel with Kennedy trying to speak some hard truths to Buffy here. At least she goes about it in a more mature way. Until she starts acting bratty. 1 sin.
- The Core
- So just what was Kennedy doing since getting Buffy and co to where they needed? Looking for another girl? That's exactly what she did and is trying to recruit Faith. Cool, but where was she when she could have been needed? Gun wielding Slayer against gun wielding Slayer, someone dropped the ball. 1 sin.
- Where The River Meets The Sea
- Kennedy should have known Faith wouldn't have RTFM. On the one hand she's more mature, and when she lets her emotions overtake common sense it's altruistic these days. But it's Faith, 1 sin.
- Talley: 15
- Punishment: "It's bullshit!"