BTVS, Gender ‘Equality’ and Gender ‘Complentarity’

•May 17, 2007 • 1 Comment

I just recently read an article by Cathleen Kaveny called “What Women Want: ‘Buffy,’ the Pope, and the New Feminists.” The article is very interesting because it addresses problems modern women face and the doctrines of the Church. Although I am not certain I share her view of Buffy as a compromise betBuffyween Christian morality and the modern world, she had some very compelling points.

Kaveny discusses the problems of conceiving the concept of a ‘strong woman’ in the modern world via Buffy. Although society often advocates the idea of gender ‘equality’ (that is, the view of women and men as equal beings with equal stengths and abilities in the same areas) this idea functions best in the abstract realm. It is difficult for a women to embody both strength and femininity. Kaveny cites how Buffy struggles to find a balance between these two ideas: “On the one hand, her fragile appearance, and even her name, do not correspond well with her vocation as a vampire slayer. On the other, her powers haven’t proved to be a guy magnet. Even basically decent boys in the Buffyverse tend to resent strong girls, or at least to shy away from them.”

Continue reading ‘BTVS, Gender ‘Equality’ and Gender ‘Complentarity’’


Visions of Female Power

•May 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

When I was re-watching the first season of Buffy, I was struck by an episode called “Teacher’s Pet.”  In this episode, Buffy’s science teacher mysteriously disappears and is replaced by an attractive substitute teacher named Ms. French, who is secretly a large preying mantis in disguise.  Ms. French takes over the class for purpose of finding and mating with male virgins, which she kills afterwards by biting off their heads.  Before too long, her magnetic sexuality has attracted and captivated every highschool guy within a mile.  Once again, Buffy must save the day by rescuing Xander and classmates from their horrible fate.

However preposterous and silly the plot may sound, Joss Whedon actually uses it to conduct a compelling examination of the two different visions of female power represented by Buffy and Ms. French.  When re-watching this episode (& once I got past the hokey special effects), I saw an interesting contrast between Buffy and Ms. French’s forms of power; Ms. French’s power seems to traditionally feminine whereas Buffy’s incorporates more masculine traits.  Continue reading ‘Visions of Female Power’

Watcher/Slayer power dynamic

•May 8, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Buffy & Giles In the first episode of Buffy, the relationship between the Watcher and Slayer is introduced to the viewer. The Watcher trains and prepares the Slayer to face the vampires and forces of Darkness, but rarely fights beside her against them. This is a familiar relationship for the viewer, common in sci-fi movies and TV series about heros. Typically, an older male figure provides the younger, female protagonist with instruction, training, and missions. Although each show has its own terminology for the interactions between fighter/hero and advisor/boss, there is initially little difference between them. The relationship begins simply, but gradually begins to function on another level. Sometime it is romantic, as in the case of Alias’ Sydney & Michael Vaughn & La Femme Nikkita‘ Nikita & Bob, and other times it is pure business, as in the case of Charlie’s Angels. In Star Wars, the padawan/master relationship can assume a paternal aspect. Although the relationship between Buffy and Giles (her watcher) transforms over the seasons, it is clear from that from the first episode that she has seized the reins of control and does not intend to let go. Continue reading ‘Watcher/Slayer power dynamic’

“Buffy Slays Academics” Article

•April 14, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Here is an interesting article about Buffy and Academia that I stumbled across today on BBC News. Articles such as this one help to show why Buffy is more than just a popular TV show: it is analyzed and considered by intellectuals in the academic realm.

Season 1, Episode 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth

•April 10, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The first episode of Buffy introduces main characters, establishes ties between them, and delves into their backgrounds. It also begins to explore some of the important themes within the show, such as gendered stereotypes, the danger of ignorance, and the threat posed by oppressive patriarchal power structures.

Darla--human formIn the opening sequence, a teenaged boy and girl break into Sunnydale Highschool at night to go up on the Gym roof. This idea belongs entirely to the boy who is tall and muscular with spiked hair and a leather jacket. The girl is pretty, blonde, in school-girl attire, and very unhappy and anxious to be there. The first words of the show are her nervously asking, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ She seems very unwilling to enter, but not certain enough to decide without his approval. His response is to dismissively say, “It’s a great idea, now come on,” take her by the hand, and pull her inside. As she follows him, she grows increasingly jumpy. When she finally tells him in a stammering voice that she doesn’t want to go, the boy sleazily suggests that she “Can’t wait, huh,” and moves in to kiss her. The scenario seems familiar: the overbearing, hormone-driven boy lures the naïve blonde away, and just as the young couple becomes caught in the throes of passion, a terrible monster (in this case, a vampire) will come upon and kill them. But instead of fulfilling our expectations, the scene takes a dramatic twist. After assuring the blonde that they are alone, she replies ‘good’, he turns in time to witness her undergo a frightening change. Her face transforms into a hideous façade, wrinkled and furrowed, with yellow eyes and long fangs, as she bites his neck. Continue reading ‘Season 1, Episode 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth’