Some Buffy love

So I can’t say that I am going to say anything terribly revelatory here myself, but a couple of other posts over the last few weeks reminded me of how much  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show with which women identified and which women continue to see as a depiction of female power across a broad spectrum. One of the great things about Buffy is that it does not offer any single idea of what it is to be a powerful woman; there are so many different models of female empowerment across the spectrum which are offered, that no matter how one sees oneself and one’s own strengths as a woman, there is something to draw on. Joss Whedon may have some limitations when it comes to his depictions of women, but the scope and expanse of Buffy means that his female characters grew beyond those limitations. And it wasn’t hurt by the strength that the actresses involved brought to their characterisations.

And so to the link-tastic-ness. Here is a discussion of the links between female characters in Buffy as opposed to those in other genre shows. Personally I’d like to try the same approach with Battlestar Galactica where I think there would be a similarly strong linking of female characters.

The second link for today is the, clearly ironically, named Why is Buffy so whiny? It points out the way that tropes of femininity and masculinity affect the way we respond to depictions of emotional reactions in male and female characters.

Always love a Buffy link, so please link it up!

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100 sci fi women #49: Cordelia Chase

I just heard Joss Whedon on the radio referring to the cancellation of Firefly, as the worst thing that had happened in his career. We feel that pain Joss. And so I am inspired to choose another Whedon woman for the list – but not from Firefly, as we only just had Kaylee.

And so, to…

Cordelia Chase Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

Cordelia does not seem like an obvious choice for this list. When we first meet her she is vacuous and self centred and really doesn’t care about anyone or anything much other than herself and her social status. But the great thing about a character like Cordelia is that, when you start from a low base, and when you have a lot of series over which to do it, you can grow and change and learn and become someone quite different. And Cordelia certainly does that. Cordelia gets chased and stabbed and possessed and gives birth to a demon spawn and is impoverished and gets visions which slowly kill her becomes an angel and, well, you name it, she endures it. Cordelia may be self centred, but she isn’t really vacuous – even from the beginning she could sometimes be more insightful and practical, and more sarcastic, than the others. She is willing to fight when it is necessary and, as time goes by, she becomes stronger and more capable, and less self centred. Cordelia understands how the social world works, what the forces are at play, and has a keen insight into human nature, which she usually utilises to increase her popularity and status. She also has fewer false allusions about people – she understands how the world of utilitarian friendships operate. But she is a person of deep emotion as we see in her reaction to Xander’s betrayal of her. Working with Angel in Los Angeles Cordelia grows further. She develops close relationships with her colleagues, the ghost who lives in her apartment and the Grossalug to whom she has been promised. In fact, the scenes of Dennis the ghost’s sorrow about Cordelia are remarkably touching. When Cordelia gains the ability to have visions and to help people, she embraces it and is unwilling to give it up, despite the pain and suffering it ultimately causes her. What makes Cordelia an exceptional woman is her change and growth, and of course her fabulous sense of fashion.

Cordelia: “Why is it always virgin women who have to do the sacrificing?”

Wesley: “For purity, I suppose.”

Cordelia: “This has nothing to do with purity. This is all about dominance, buddy. I can bet if someone ordered a male body part for a religious ceremony, the world would be atheist like that.”


100 sci fi women #30: Willow Rosenberg

Willow Rosenberg Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow was another chance for those of us who liked to read, understood the notion of research, and had a slightly eccentric dress sense to have the notion that we were useful and, in fact critical, reflected back to us.

But most importantly, what Willow represented was growth and change. Her journey on Buffy was probably the most significant, greater even than that of Buffy, who manage to squeeze in dying. Willow actually had the best relationships, she learnt her own value, but then lost it again in her addiction to magic. And OK, some of us may have loathed the over-determination of that particular story (let’s keep it at the level of metaphor next time Joss), but it didn’t mean that the story of Willow wasn’t still one that held us.  Her Shakespearean anger at the murder of her lover, Tara, demonstrated the full range of her power, but with that power came a terrible destructiveness.

But Willow also learned to overcome her dark side and make her power used for good. Her relationship with Tara alo showed the way that friends do deal with a friend coming out, and showed a highly positive example of a lesbian relationship which supported each other to grow. It was only its terrible end that was dark.

Willow, supportive friend, ace researcher, IT whizz, caring lover, powerful Wiccan – in whatever guise,we love you.

100 sci fi women #13: Buffy Summers

Before we get started, here is a link to another Top 25, this time an entertaining one from EW on the 25 Best Whedonverse episodes.  While I think it has a good mix in it, and strikes the balance between the funny/novelty episodes and the highly emotionally resonant ones (isn’t that Joss in a nutshell?), it was the cause of quite a lot of debate amongst friends after a few red wines? As was universally agreed, it is damn hard to judge between a lot of the Firefly episodes – and is emotional better than funny? Of course, the best of the Whedonverse is when the two are combined.

And with that as an introduction, it is inevitable we get to…

Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer (television version)

Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer_Sarah_Michelle_Gellar_01

So pretty much no pop culture list of tough, independent, brave women would be complete without Buffy. Created as a paradigm shifter – the petite blonde who didn’t run screaming from the vampire, but turned it into dust, Buffy’s character grew more and more interesting and nuanced as the seasons passed. This is a young woman who was willing to kill her beloved to save the world and also work in a take away store wearing a hideous uniform to pay to replace pipes. We have to love Buffy because we saw her grow up and take on responsibility, embrace her destiny even when they killed her, love her friends and family and kill and destroy any number of vampires, demons and monsters. Who wouldn’t like a friend like that?

I must admit though, I am a little nervous at the idea of a Joss-free Buffy re-entering the world

Here lies Buffy Summers. She saved the world, a lot.