In my book, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and Angel too) is a damn well near a perfect show. That is not to say I deny that they both have flaws (the treatment of Cordelia in Angel season 4 is the biggest one), but Joss creates such a perfect blend of amazing characterization, poignant and witty writing and great style that these flaws are hard to ignore. Still, there are occasionally some eyebrow-raising moments for me, and the more I rewatch the show, the more I want to talk about them. This time my issue is with the Spike/Buffy scene at her house in the season 5 finale, "The Gift".
Before the final battle, Buffy and Spike go to pick up more weapons from her house. She re-invites him in after he was banned from her house as the result of the events of "The Crush" and makes him promise to protect Dawn if anything happens to Buffy herself. Spike agrees. Then this happens:
This statement rubs me the wrong way for many reasons. First of all: Buffy never really treated him like a man. She treats him like an enemy, then like a nuisance, then like an asset, but she never actually demonstrates any respect for him. Whenever she needs some muscle, she turns to Spike - but always grudgingly and because he's objectively useful against any non-human threat. Buffy's treatment of him gets a bit less hostile after "Intervention", but then he earns it. Arguably, Buffy doesn't start treating him with any sort of respect all the way until he gets a soul. Buffy's view of vampires is less black and white than most people's, but she puts a great emphasis on the presence or the absence of soul. She often stresses that Spike, no matter what good deeds he does, is not like Angel: Angel has a soul, which makes him all but human in Buffy's eyes. She denies Spike's ability to love because he is apparently incapable of feel that without a soul (even though he clearly feels it and Drusilla also states that vampires can love just fine). Throughout the whole show, Buffy has been developing towards being more accepting of non-humans. It is established that demons in the Buffyverse canon have no souls, but several non-hostile demons have been introduced, such as Clem, Lorne, etc., and Buffy has never been anything but civil to Clem f.ex. Which sort of brings me to the second issue here. I'm not very well acquainted with the BtVS fandom, but I know that Buffy hate is unfortunately a very big thing there. Buffy gets hate for many things, including her treatment of Spike. To be clear: I don't think that Buffy has treated Spike like a man in series 5 - and I don't think she has to. Spike's actions in series 5 have been anything but honourable until the last few episodes. When Buffy turns to him for help as Riley's life is in danger, he rudely turns her down and then endangers it even more by kidnapping the doctor that was supposed to help Riley. Afterwards, he realizes his feelings for Buffy and from then on, everything he does is purely for credit. He attempts to help a wounded woman and points out how he's not trying to taste her blood. He swoops in to help Buffy when she doesn't need it. He drives a wedge between her and Riley by exposing Riley's bite addiction (admittedly a good thing in the long run because I do believe Buffy deserved to know, but Spike's motives were never pure). Apart from that, Spike stalks her, steals her things, makes a shrine to her, orders a sexbot copy of her and finally knocks her out, ties her up and tries to blackmail her into loving him back! Excuse me, but in which crazy world a person like that should be treated as anything but a monster!? In the real world, she would get a restraining order against him and possibly even have him arrested. In-verse, Spike should be glad she merely uninvited him and not staked him. Spike is a magnificent character in the sense that, like many of Whedon's creations, he undergoes terrific character development and growth, both by himself and through his relationship with Buffy. Spike may be a monster, but he's not a complete bastard. He has his own code of honour as he demonstrates in "Intervention" and later in "The Gift". He is capable of feeling remorse ("Bargaining", "After Life", even "Seeing Red"). And he is capable of learning: compare his attempts to win Buffy's affection in "Into the Woods", "Triangle" and suchlike with his later genuinely selfless acts such as keeping Dawn's identity from Glory, helping Dawn in "Forever", bringing flowers for Joyce in "Forever" and protecting Dawn later on in season 6. Spike's change isn't complete, drastic or abrupt: he keeps acting quite selfishly in season 6 when he, unwittingly or deliberately, contributes to the distance between Buffy and her friends growing. But at the same time, it's not all about him anymore. Before "Intervention", Spike acted like Buffy was just the object of his feelings, something to project on. Afterwards, she becomes a real person, develops into someone he would address his iconic monologue in "Touched" to. He starts taking her feelings, her relationships, her own well-being into account in the way that he didn't before. Of course it's still raw, underdeveloped, but so is Spike himself. In my opinion, that - and not the actual soul - has always been the main difference between him and Angel. Spike, in his soulless state, was still capable of becoming someone who would want to have a soul, who would accept the misery, the guilt and the self-loathing that come with it, process it and learn from it. But the point is: as of series 5 finale, he is not that person yet. He is on his way, but he has a long way to go. He has 4 seasons of being a monster and an outright jerk behind him and as of "The Gift" he has done very little to deserve normal treatment from Buffy of all people. I love both Buffy and Spike a ton, but objectively, they have both been pretty horrible to each other; at least Buffy has reasons to be that way. Her respect and amity must be deserved; Spike deserves them in the end, but not yet. Which is why both his statement in "The Gift" and the hate Buffy gets for this statement not being technically true are kidn of ridiculous.
Before "Intervention", Spike acted like Buffy was just the object of his feelings, something to project on. <3
I've been wondering when exactly the transition in Spike's attitude happens and this is fitting.
I love how this ship shows that seeing someone as a person (and respecting them) isn't the same thing as being in love and how being in love doesn't imply/automatically include those nice things.
Spike, in his soulless state, was still capable of becoming someone who would want to have a soul, who would accept the misery, the guilt and the self-loathing that come with it, process it and learn from it.
I love how that 8-issue Spike comic shows that too)))
I love both Buffy and Spike a ton, but objectively, they have both been pretty horrible to each other
the best paaaart bc we get to see them change and learn)))
UGH and of course I forgot the point of my comment - I think Spike says that to Buffy bc he /wants/ it to be true - he wants her to be the person to treat him that way, without even realising it maybe. So seems like a bit of make believe.
That or yes, this exchange should have been placed later on XD
LOL, happens to me all the time. XD I think Spike says that to Buffy bc he /wants/ it to be true - he wants her to be the person to treat him that way, without even realising it maybe. So seems like a bit of make believe. That's actually a very good explanation. With that motivation, I'm willing to accept this scene. XDI still love it tbh. It's sweet, but not OTT, and it's what the both need at the moment. Besides, "The Gift" was originally supposed to be the series finale, not just s5 finale. So perhaps it was an attempt to resolve the Spuffy issue altogether.
I think Spike has several key moments of development, but I've noticed that most people place the emphasis of his post-rape attempt realizations in "Seeing Red". That's crucia, I agree, but I think "Intervention" is what begins the process. :) seeing someone as a person (and respecting them) isn't the same thing as being in love and how being in love doesn't imply/automatically include those nice things. Thiiiis. Joss is masterful at these things! <333 I kind of think we've done a good job ourselves, with Nick and Einri ;)))
Hey, stranger. XD Long time no see))) Oh, I don't think I can name a fav BtVS ep. To begin with, all of s6 is my favourite. But if we talk s5, I'd have to go with "The Body" - that's where the big ugly tears are for me. I didn't cry over "The Gift", idk why. Maybe because, having been spoiled, I knew Buffy would survive. But I do tear up a bit whenever I watch it. LOL, I think Buffy is WTF-ing, yes. Or she's just very tired and completely focused on Dawn and Glory, and there's Spike talking his feels again. She's probably like: ...huh? yeah, whatever. XD But I guess the general consensus here is that what Spike says is what he wants to be true, so in light of that I'm more open-minded towards this scene)) People who hate on Buffy Summers need to join the Nina haters in the sixteenth circle of hell, where Crumb dances naked in front of you for all eternity while Mr Snow repeatedly rips out your intestines. I'll "thank" you for the mental image as soon as I stop laughing! I missed you XDD
I'm really sorry to hear that. Hope things would get better. :) LOL, I saw those reblogs. IDK, I couldn't watch Teen Wolf. Should I try again? XD I saw half of the pilot but then I was like: No, I just can't. XD (Coming from smn who heroically watched all of Smallville, that's a bit lame, I know XD))) Oh yes, that scene with Dawn is gorgeous. Any show is flawed either way you look at it. But some flaws are easy to overlook or they at least don't ruin the love. I concur! As far as hell dimensions go, even Joss couldn't have invented a scarier one! XDDD
Hahaha, thought so))) IDK, my whole dash is fangirling over it. It's scary. SAME STORY HERE! This is partly why I'm rewatching Buffy now. Well, I tend to rewatch it at least once a year b/c I just love it so much. I have a list of what I want to watch, but for some reason I don't feel like starting.
It's been so long since I've watched Buffy that I don't specifically remember this exchange, so I'm mostly just commenting to say that I'm really loving the Buffy meta and it's almost making me think that perhaps it's time for me to sit down and rewatch as well (but maybe just the last 3 or 4 seasons as I definitely remember less of them than I do the first three)
I'm here from The SD Herald to respectfully disagree. Well, not about Cordelia, obviously. That whole thing was just wrong. Weirdly, I was discussing with my kid the next ep in my AtS rewatch, and how it was Cordelia's last episode and just...flames. Then I open this up, and woo hoo! Fandom solidarity!
So, the thing I v. v. slightly disagree about is whether Buffy treated Spike like a man at this point in the show. As you say, there was a change in her demeanor after Intervention. Perhaps I read too much into it, but it seems to me that she shows real trust in him from that point onward. She (offscreen) hatches a plan with him to get them all out of town, brooks no argument about whether he's coming, includes him — as much as any of the other Scoobies — as part of the gang all the way through the end of The Gift, even saying "I love you all, but..." (He wants clarification about that love statement, but she neither confirms nor denies. Heh.)
I'd actually say that this trust and even calmness around him continues into Season 6, but when the kissin' starts up, she's back to the old "soulless vampires can't love" refrain. I believe this is a reaction to her Angel issues, among other things.
Now, I'm certainly not saying that Spike deserves to be treated in any particular way by Buffy, just that it seems that she really does treat him as a friend/colleague/"man" (whatever that means) from Intervention through OMWF. At least, much closer to what Spike's estimation of normal treatment would be either before or after...until late, late in S7.
So I don't really have a problem with his speech. Unless it's being interpreted to mean "you treat me like a boyfriend", in which case, um. no.
Thanks for letting me butt in! Fandom discussion is like crack. No, meth! No, something way better than either of those.
Cordy just makes my heart ache. T?T As much as Joss Whedon is nearly flawless in my eyes, that was just one major wtf and no-no-no! T_T Oh, I do think she shows trust in him (he's already proved she can trust him), but imho, that alone isn't enough. I agree: it all depends on the interpretation of what he means and maybe what she means by it. Buffy seems to trust him as an ally, but I don't see much real respect there. I love their fragile friendshippy vibes at the beginning of season 6 when Buffy is calmer around him and even trusts him with secrets she doesn't reveal to anyone else, but they don't have that at the end of season 5. It's true that she trusts him with the plans and with Dawn, so maybe that alone is enough for Spike... Okay, that hasn't occurred to me before. XD If such displays of trust are enough for Spike, then his speech totally makes sense, I concede. XD But objectively, there are still miles to go. Oh, I love fandom discussions! :)) Unless they turn into wank. I'm usually very careful around them because you never know what might spark character bashing or writer bashing or whatnot))
I'm always struck by how Buffy immediately stops the name-calling and "shut up, Spike" stuff once she realizes how far he's willing to go to protect her/Dawn in Intervention.
I liken it to "Pride and Prejudice", when Lizzie discovers that Darcy is responsible for rescuing Lydia (and therefore the entire family) from a fate worse than death. All her preconceptions come tumbling down in an instant, and she is able to allow the attraction she'd been feeling/fighting blossom into something more. In Buffy's case, not much more, as there's an apocalypse a'brewing, and also because she's not wrong about all Spike's past misdeeds, the way Lizzie was. Still, that kiss seems to me to convey a bit more than "gee, thanks".
So, the thing I v. v. slightly disagree about is whether Buffy treated Spike like a man at this point in the show. As you say, there was a change in her demeanor after Intervention. Perhaps I read too much into it, but it seems to me that she shows real trust in him from that point onward.
That's how I read it too, and I'd add one other element: in S5 Buffy consistently challenges Spike to behave better, and lets him know that behaving like a demon is not sufficient; whether she's consciously aware of it or not, I think that she implies (to him) that he can do better, that he has the capacity to change, esp after Intervention. I've probably borrowed that insight from the_royal_anna; Buffy's behavior is in contrast to Drusilla, who wants him to remain the same demon he's been for 100 years, to "burn and bash and bleed." (Given that she's his sire, at least in S5, I'm not sure if the Oedipal/"smother mother" symbolism is intended or not. It's sort of Tennessee Williams with vamps, when you stare at it long enough).
I'm also here from the su-herald's link and how did I not know about you before? Any friend of Buffy's.... :) I've already replied to rebcake upthread that I pretty much agree with her reading; Buffy trusts Spike with the most important people in her life, Dawn and Joyce, after all. But she also challenges him to behave better, to be something/someone better in a way Drusilla never did (Dru wanted him to stay the same). On the surface layer Buffy may think demons can't change, but she's implied that he can in telling him that his old behavior isn't good enough. Also, I agree with whoever suggested that Spike is reflecting his own ideas about what "treat me like a man" means. he hasn't been a man in over 100 years. I think for him that her kiss in Intervention would be part of his definition of "treating him like a man". What Slayer has ever kissed a soulless vampire before?
It's similar to his ideas about "love" and how he confuses "love" with " being in love", the way she and Angel did when she was 16, or the way Riley did. Buffy's moving toward a more mature understanding of love, but everything goes pear-shaped in S6. Spike was "there for her" at first but the minute the demands to love him back start up, they both revert to form ,except this time Buffy has too much self-loathing and emotional exhaustion to be able to challenge him the way she did in S5.
She denies Spike's ability to love because he is apparently incapable of feel that without a soul
Right; and if Spike can "love" her without a soul (I'd argue that what he feels for her is not "love" but "infatuation") than what does that say about her? Why didn't Angel still love her after he lost his soul? Why didn't Riley feel her love and leave her, even with a soul? Her denial of his ability to love is a little puzzling in light of Becoming and how he made a deal with the Slayer to protect Dru, though. But it may be semantics? (human love vs vampire "love")? I'd have to watch S5 again to be honest.
Buffy hate is unfortunately a very big thing there. Buffy gets hate for many things, including her treatment of Spike.
WORD. I watched the show for the first time last year and Buffy is my favorite character; I was not prepared for the hate, at all. Ironically a lot of it comes from female fans, but then that seems to be true of any fandom I'm familiar with. Men get prioritized. The misogyny is astonishing.
and I don't think she has to. Spike's actions in series 5 have been anything but honourable until the last few episodes.
SPEAK TO MY SOUL. How is it that so many people can ship a pairing when they hate one of the two people in the 'ship? The common wisdom in fandom that Buffy should have loved him from the get-go, should have recognized his goodness if she wasn't such a bitch astonishes me. That he was always there for her, all the time, ONLY ever thinking of her needs, etc. *rolls eyes* Maybe I have a sensitive spot about that because my mom married three men, thinking that her love could "save" them from their drinking, their anger etc. If only she "loved" them enough, they would change. And it DOES NOT work that way. It's a total fucking fantasy, and I can't subscribe to it. Sorry not sorry. (And I ship them so hard in S7, lest anyone get the wrong idea.)
with his later genuinely selfless acts such as keeping Dawn's identity from Glory
Not quite selfless yet. he tells the 'bot that he doesn't want to hurt Buffy; he never mentions wanting to protect Dawn for her own sake. I don't think Dawn is really on his radar quite yet except in terms of how important she is to Buffy. But it is a huge step, and Buffy recognizes that, hence the kiss. Whereas Tara endures even greater torture, sacrifices more, to protect Dawn, and we take it for granted because she's "inherently good" and therefore - is less celebrated? WFT?
In the real world, she would get a restraining order against him and possibly even have him arrested.
WORD. I found Crush really creepy and icky, so I was surprised how many people seem to love it. THere were times in S5 when I wanted her to stake him.
He starts taking her feelings, her relationships, her own well-being into account in the way that he didn't before.
Right and that's what makes it so sad when it all goes pear-shaped in S6. The demon can't help but take advantage of her weakness (depression); he knows how important her friends are to her (FFL) but tries to separate her from them. And she projects her self-loathing onto him, which isn't helped by his projections onto her, or statements like "I knew the only thing better than killing a Slayer would be..." They're treating each other like monsters because that's how they see themselves.
the main difference between him and Angel.
Free will: Spike sought his soul, Angel's was shoved into him. It's like going to AA because you recognize you're out of control and having to do so because of a court order.
Ugh, Tara is my sore spot in this show. She is so lovely and such a great character, but she is seldom used outside of her relationship with Willow. That's why I love s6 where she at least has more scenes with Buffy and Dawn and is sassy with Spike. I found Crush really creepy and icky, so I was surprised how many people seem to love it. I do love Crush precisely for the ickiness. I think it does a good job of exploring these dark themes. But I find it offputting how many ppl seem to consider it instrumental in establishing the Spuffy romance! Wtf, how is that ep romantic!? It's like going to AA because you recognize you're out of control and having to do so because of a court order. A perfect comparison! XD Mind if I friend you btw? Sure! Friending you back XD
That's why I love s6 where she at least has more scenes with Buffy and Dawn and is sassy with Spike.
I have SOO much to say about Tara in S6. I've started a series of meta on Buffy and Tara you might like? (Focusing on them but my lj is pretty much all about the Buffyverse ladies. Not that I don't enjoy talking about the guys in terms of their relationships to Buffy, but it's so overdone and the focus ends up being all about the menz.) http://red-satin-doll.livejournal.com/17902.html
There is actually a lot of "there there" in terms of Tara's role in Buffy's story although it's quite subtle, so I want to explore that. It really bothers me that more isn't done with that not just on the show but in fandom. I'm horrified by the fact that the women in Buffy's life - Joyce, Dawn, Tara - are only valued in portions of fandom insofar as they relate to Spike; and usually those "relationships" are terribly exagerrated. (How did we get from Tara being there for Buffy in DT, and protecting Buffy in OAFA, to Tara being Spike's cheerleader? I'm sorry but no. If that's fanon fantasy well fine, but that's not canon.)
I think it does a good job of exploring these dark themes.
You're probably right because it made me very uncomfortable, but at the time I did not want to see Buffy chained up that way and threatened with psychosexual torture (I may be exagerrating) because it's such a trope that is used over and over in horror movies and literature and just - ugh. But then again they'd also used it in Reptile Boy (also pretty repulsive). I'm not sure if my memory of it isn't affected by how, um, some fans seem to miss the darker aspects and focus on "Spike the wooby."
Wtf, how is that ep romantic!?
There a people who fantasize about Hannibal Lecter because he's SOOO attentive to Clarice and they wish their daddy/husband paid them that much attention. (No lie.) Then there's the tons of fics, both fanfics and published, that include torture and rape as a sexual element for "entertainment". (I haven't read 50 Shades of Grey but it sounds nasty and it's not unique nor is it anything new.) Or the opposite extreme is the lens of "Spike never did anything to hurt anybody - ok he killed some people but he was honorable and he'd never torture anyone. He was always there for Buffy and he's so caring and isn't he just the cutest..."
People want what they want. I've noticed that Bangel and Spuffy fans think they are miles apart; but I've read just enough Bangel and Bangelus fics to determine that the tropes are pretty much the same either way (dark fics, or romantic fics, or domestic fics); it's just a matter of which personality you prefer. (Buffy herself seems to be irrelevant in any case.)
A perfect comparison! XD
Thanks, I think it works - and it's in canon text IMO. (As when Faith says of Angel, that she's the only person to have a vampire for a sponsor. that's specifically the language used; but there's some confusion as well I think. Vampirism is a metaphor for sexuality and sexual intercourse - until it isn't; it's a metaphor for addiction - except when it's not - and so forth. the writers liked to do that a lot, shift the metaphors to suit there needs. (Magic = power issues, until magic = lesbianism until magic = drug addiction. Etc.)
Ooh, that's a great topic for meta, thanks for the link! <3 How did we get from Tara being there for Buffy in DT, and protecting Buffy in OAFA, to Tara being Spike's cheerleader? I'm sorry but no. If that's fanon fantasy well fine, but that's not canon. This! So much this! I enjoy the little moments Spike and Tara have with each other (like, he didn't have to prove anything for her in Family, but he proved she was human, that was nice, whatever his motives were) and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of their interaction, but I don't see Tara encouraging Buffy's relationship anywhere! Where do people see that? Tara isn't judgmental, but not judging someone for something and flat-out supporting it are different things. Then there's the tons of fics, both fanfics and published, that include torture and rape as a sexual element for "entertainment". I don't have a problem with those as long as the message that it's WRONG is clear. But alas, the message is usually the opposite. Be it Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey, they glorify emotional slavery in such a way that people begine to confuse it with a healthy relationship. T_T I like this multiple use of metaphors. I think it works quite well))
I enjoy the little moments Spike and Tara have with each other.....but I don't see Tara encouraging Buffy's relationship anywhere! Where do people see that? Tara isn't judgmental, but not judging someone for something and flat-out supporting it are different things.
EXACTLY. And I don't know where or why they see that either. Then again people assume the same with Joyce and Spike - she treated him with respect because that's pretty much who Joyce is: she is both genuinely kind, but she's also very polite; social decorum is important. That doesn't mean she'd approve of Spike as Buffy's boyfriend (in fact it's Riley she approves of), but it gets extrapolated into that.
And don't even get me started on the problems with Spike/Tara shipping, although if you like I'd be glad to explicate.
I don't have a problem with those as long as the message that it's WRONG is clear. But alas, the message is usually the opposite.
Have you ever seen any of Cecile B DeMille's silent films? His earlier version of the Ten Commandments, for instance? His films were very popular with audiences because he included scenes of modern and ancient "orgies", decadence, sinful behavior, beautiful and scantily clad women etc because it sold tickets - but then would be wrapped around a framing story of proper behavior and ethical standards to make the point that this was bad bad bad to please the censors of the time - having his cake and eating it too. So the message is that it's "wrong" but we're meant to enjoy it anyway.
I think that's true in a lot of stories, films, books; it's been the basis for social tracts and anti-women, anti-lesbian pornography and novels for centuries: This is shocking degrading, immoral monstrous behavior and I will describe it to you in lavish, loving graphic detail. Declaiming it while also using it for shock and pleasure value.
So I think it's really hard to dip into certain subjects and walk that line if you don't mean to show that it's ok. A lot of it has to do with tone. The Hyena, Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered, and Him (which I actually like) as well as the comics treat rape and violation as a joke; Who are You takes Faith's violation of Buffy's and Riley's bodies very seriously. Snowpuppies' "The Innocence Remix" is a darker version of Surprise/Innocence that includes dub-con, takes it very seriously from the victim's POV and is entirely consistent with canon if they'd been able to push it that far. It's not written with the expectation that the reader will "get off" on any of it.
Be it Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey, they glorify emotional slavery in such a way that people begine to confuse it with a healthy relationship.
I have no idea how that confusion is even possible.
I like this multiple use of metaphors. I think it works quite well
Most of the time I'm good with it - the problem with most tv shows is there is very little there there, and it all exists on just one level; the buffyverse can be interpreted on multiple levels. from S1, drugs and spells basically functioned the same way in the Buffyverse (drugs = Ted, Band Candy, Earshot) (spells = BB&B, SB, etc); the difference being drugs wore off eventually, spells had to be undone by a counter-spell, so there actually was precendence for the magic=drugs metaphor. But they screwed up the handling of it. the turn from "magic = Willow's burgeoning sexuality and confidence" to "magic = lesbianism" to "magic = drugs" is wonky in part because the metaphor got too specific for a while and then took a right turn to badness.
Sorry it took me so long to reply, RL things interfered >_< And don't even get me started on the problems with Spike/Tara shipping, although if you like I'd be glad to explicate. I'm curious, so go ahead. XD I haven't actually considered them as a ship, ever. I haven't seen those films, but I get the idea of what you mean. Tbh this is why I don't usually pay much attention to how the fandom interpretes things. After I saw how many people think that Buffy is the problem in the Spuffy relationship and omg poor little Spike, she's so mean to him, I understood that I had absolutely no wish to get into those discussions. I'm not trying to look at BtVS from the academic POV (only at its language, but that's another matter). I think it would have driven me mad. XD This is why all my metas (for any show) are subjective and lean more towards fangirl rambling than serious work. I'm not sure I want to overanalyze Whedon's work. It's so layered and of course it has drawbacks like any work of fiction, but I tend to overlook such things (like wonky metaphors: I agree that the way they used magic to represent Willow/Tara was a bit too specific, which made the transition towards magic = drugs a bit too abrupt, but I don't want to let that ruin my impressions of the show). As for the representation of darker themes, I think Joss did a great job with Spuffy: he showed the relationship as unhealthy and he didn't have Buffy jump back into Spike's bed as soon as she learnt he'd got the soul back (I know there are theories in the fandom about what happened in Touched; I prefer to think that nothing happened b/c it adds a new layer to their relationship; now they're friends, not just two people looking for an escape). I guess what I'm very ineloquently trying to say here is that in my opinion, Joss did everything right, I know how I interpret it and I don't care how others do. After all, some people really do believe that Twilight and 50 Shades are the greatest romance stories of all times. Who am I to convince them they're delusional morons? XD
Hon, I have 500 comments in my inbox and a lot of them are months old *gulp* So no worries for being a couple of days later? Pshaw, that's nothing. ;)
I'm curious, so go ahead.
Consider yourself forewarned (hah); Re: Spike/Tara, 1) imposed heteronormativity on the one of the very few 100% lesbian characters in US television history. Willow I can go with as bisexual for obvious reasons. (And AH really does have a lot of very strong chemistry with JM, and even MB as well as Seth and Amber. Even on HIMYM they play with Lily being attracted to Robin, although it's more of a joke.) But there is nothing to contradict the idea that Tara is 100% lesbian in canon. Making Spike or Xander or Buffy gay, for instance, doesn't really matter because in canon they are still straight, just like nearly all characters in American tv (or movies). making Tara bisexual or straight confirms the hetero norm and, to be irrational about it, feels like one of the few characters I can identify with as a lesbian is being somehow taken away from me/us.
I've been told that people are ok with that ship as long as the characterizations are true, but the minute you change Tara from lesbian to bi/straight, you're changing part of her core identity. (I'm reminded of a friend who kept insisting that someday i'd end up with a man, or even men who have come onto me, certain that all I needed was "the right man". Sorry, but my orientation is part of my being, not a frock that I take on and off.)
2) I suspect a lot of S/T shipping has to do with the notion that people don't like Spike with Buffy, that they disapprove of her "unfeminine harshness" or just don't like her, period, and want someone with Spike who fits a more traditional idea of femininity and will be more loving and appreciative. Perhaps the idea is her essential goodness brings out what they imagine is his own, or that he deserves so much better than Buffy. When I think about Spike with Tara in canon however, it's rather gross. People hate Willow for abusing Tara (with good reason) but you'd have to really whitewash Spike's behavior through the series esp S6 to be comfortable with that pairing. Imagine gentle Tara with Spike on the balcony in Dead Things, or in Crush.
3) People have a really strange interpretation of Tara in canon as being Spike's cheerleader. Sorry but no.
4) And finally - it bothers me that the women in the show have no importance except what they mean to the man. this is true of the majority of stories in western culture, as well as IRL. Tons of ink are spilled on Spike-Dawn, for instance, when her primary relationship in the show is with Buffy. The same is true of Joyce; and Tara's connection with Buffy is almost entirely ignored.
After I saw how many people think that Buffy is the problem in the Spuffy relationship and omg poor little Spike, she's so mean to him, I understood that I had absolutely no wish to get into those discussions.
YES. How often in S5-S6 did he harrass her, emotionally manipulate her, play right into her worst fears about herself? It's as if for some people, the only Spike who exists is the one in After Life. I'm not saying she was a total helpless victim either; it's not the same as the W/T dynamic. infinitewhale and I had a long chat about this recently in response to his post on Buffy's dream in DT; even with some of my best friends in fandom, the minute that POV comes up I hit the back button or say agree to disagree 'cause we see the show through different lenses. Abortion would be a safer topic of discussion. (It's been inferred to me that some JM fans have been affected by his own interpretation that Spike was "always" attracted to or in love with Buffy from the very beginning. Which is not how S2-4 was played with the exception of SB -as a JOKE. That's reinterpreting the show through the lens of FFL, which makes clear that Spike has a pretty fucked-up idea of "love". )
This is why all my metas (for any show) are subjective and lean more towards fangirl rambling than serious work.
I think that's an artificial divide or distinction that academic language and cliques help to perpetuate; just because someone uses fancy intellectual words and ideas doesn't mean what they have to say is any more important or profound, or that they are any less a fangirl/boy; they're just squeeing in a different dialect so to speak. My favorite fandom writing often includes a combination of both; and I think there's room for all of it. (then again if I had made it through graduate school and was currently an academic myself, I might sing a different tune. I think that kwritten's metas on Dawn are both intellectual and accessible. It can be done. But I also love the royal anna and Angearia's more personal/lyrical metas.
As for the representation of darker themes, I think Joss did a great job with Spuffy: he showed the relationship as unhealthy and he didn't have Buffy jump back into Spike's bed as soon as she learnt he'd got the soul back
I really think that "love" is one of the driving themes of the show, but it's made very clear over and over that true love is very different from romanticized notions of "soulmates", "true love" (even while the marketing of the show catered to that through S3), infatuation; and that losing yourself exclusively in another person is a recipe for disaster. (ITW/AYW and the writers siding with Riley is a really egregious exception. *stabs*) But there are a lot of people who think Buffy should have forgiven him immediately, that Dawn shouldn't have sided with Buffy ("I'll set you on fire" Dawnie is FIERCE, people), that Buffy was unreasonable if she didn't get on her knees before him or are even bothered by the fact that she shuddered or had flashbacks in BY and Him; she's not "allowed" to have an involuntary bodily response to recent trauma? SRSLY?
there are theories in the fandom about what happened in Touched
Touched or Chosen? It seems pretty clear in Touched they're just holding each other; OTOH I can see the royal anna's opinion that Chosen is "full of kisses...one minute she's touching his face and the next they're in bed. What do people think she did all night, stand there holding his face?" And I do understand people's frustration with Joss - either shit or get off the pot in terms of what they are to one another. I personally have feminist issues with the portrayal of sexuality as always being a bad thing for Buffy in the end, but then I take Joss' feminism with a grain of salt anyway. In terms of the "what happened" the FtB in Chosen echoes for me the W/T FtB in NMR, but what I'm interested in is what I see, and that's what I take away from that final scene - their faces. Love, respect, honor, pride, mutual and complete understanding of a fellow warrior who has made the same sacrifice; it's bigger than romance or marriage IMO. But I'm not interested in female protagonists being "tamed" or domesticated. I prefer Jordan Cavenaugh to Temperance Brennan.
I prefer to think that nothing happened b/c it adds a new layer to their relationship; now they're friends, not just two people looking for an escape.
I can go with that idea as well; I think the bond of friendship was the most important thing between them. I loved their relationship in early S6, and I liked their interaction in HB for the same reason. I wanted to see them go back to the friendship they'd had before.
After all, some people really do believe that Twilight and 50 Shades are the greatest romance stories of all times. Who am I to convince them they're delusional morons?
And you never will either; the fact that people eat this stuff up, or that a lot of people right torture, dub-con etc into fanfics (don't get me started on Buffy being tortured so Spike or Angel can rescue her fics *ugh*), and it's supposed to be sexy and a turn on? I don't understand that mindset, even in terms of fantasy.
:D Hi! Always glad to make new friends. :)) I'm not really in the fandom. BtVS and Angel are my two favourite shows, but I haven't written much for either of them and until recently I hadn't written any meta at all (not for these shows), so I guess that's how. XD I guess a lot of it does depend on interpretation. And on the characters' own understanding of Spike's statement. I'm really curious to know what Buffy was thinking at the moment. I doubt she was thinking anything really, though. She seemed too busy with other things. I don't think Buffy consciously challenged him in s5 tbh. It didn't look like an effort on her part to make him change and I don't really think she believed he could. After all, he had a pretty big restraining factor in the form of that chip so it's not like there were any grounds for him to change. Even in season 6, the first thing he did when he believed for a moment that he was back to his old self, was try and bite smn. He seemed to hesitate a lot, but he wouldn't have hesitated this much in s5. I'd argue that what he feels for her is not "love" but "infatuation" In s5? Yes, I think so. But later? I think that later it's actual love, soul or no soul. As for Angel, he and Spike are in general very different when it comes to the soul business. Angel, after all, had his soul forced on him, so he is like two different people with and without the soul. But Spike's soul was a choice - born out of his feelings for Buffy, no less. Her denial of his ability to love is a little puzzling in light of Becoming and how he made a deal with the Slayer to protect Dru, though. Maybe she denies it just because she is too disgusted with his feelings for her and it's easier for her to deny his ability to feel what he says he feels. Besides, Spike gives her a monologue about what Drusilla means for him and it's a very dark and obsessive feeling and I think Buffy doesn't want to even imagine him feeling the same for her (and she believes he's only capable of that kind of love? Which seems plausible because he's clearly projecting what he had with Dru on Buffy at first). Buffy is my favorite character Same XD And it DOES NOT work that way. It's a total fucking fantasy, and I can't subscribe to it. Sorry not sorry. Oh, so true! I'm actually irked by how many ppl glorify clearly abusive relationships in fandom and overlook certain shocking things (that they - hopefully! - wouldn't overlook IRL) for the sake of shipping. Personally I enjoy all aspects of Spuffy - the violence, the progress, the self-loathing and the moral growth and the respect and tenderness that we see in Touched, the loyalty and the passion - but I would never deny that most of that relationship was extremely unhealthy and both characters hurt each other in so many ways. It seems like a very exhausting relationship, but that's what makes it so interesting to explore as fiction. XD
I'm really curious to know what Buffy was thinking at the moment. I doubt she was thinking anything really, though. She seemed too busy with other things.
I usually feel pretty comfortable knowing what's going on in Buffy's head but I admit this is one of those times I haven't really thought about it all that much. Buffy's lack of response sort of puts the emphasis on Spike, it's HIS moment, not her's. You're probably right about not really processing it just then. Anyway Buffy had her moment with Giles and that's pretty much where her head is at: save Dawn and save the world. If Spike had said that to her while they were out on an ordinary patrol she might have reacted differently, but that's the thing about life in SD, it's a war zone.
I don't think Buffy consciously challenged him in s5 tbh.
I didn't mean consciously, but I probably didn't express myself well. Mostly in S5 she was trying to get him to "behave" but as with a child or dog, negative reinforcement (a punch in the nose for stealing underwear) is still a form of attention. (Children will do things that get their parents angry if only because that is the only form of attention they receive from their parents. It's still better than nothing.) the fact that he was around humans, that he was rejected and mistrusted in the demon world (in School Hard he's got minions at his command as well as Dru), has only the SG to socialize with, and his impulse to kill Slayers has been sublimated into something else *ahem* adds up to human social interactions and ethics modeled to him repeatedly. And Buffy's clear disapproval of his actions is the opposite of the "boys will be boys they can't help themselves" thinking that I see a lot (in this case, boys will be demons). she's not consciously trying to change him so much as control him, but at the same time she's telling him why his actions are wrong, why his thinking is skeevy, she's including him into the group eventually over everyone's objections, etc. Most demons just get dusted right away or ignored if they're not hurting anyone; only Spike gets the "lessons" Buffy provides in how to be human. there's the implicit challenge: stay the same old demon and eventually kill or be killed by Buffy, or become a "better man".
He seemed to hesitate a lot, but he wouldn't have hesitated this much in s5.
Exactly. Buffy has challenged his old life whether she meant to or not. Anytime we interact with someone else, we are both changed by the encounter.
But later? I think that later it's actual love, soul or no soul.
Later as in? If you mean S6, I think there is some of that, there's friendship-love (companionable-love) and "in love" but love in the deeper sense? I'm not so sure. It's too mixed up with the self-projection, idealization (seeing in each other what they want/need to see), infatuation and want/take/have to be of any use to either of them. In S5 she was leading him toward the light but in S6 he's leading her toward the dark. That was not going to end well.
Spike gives her a monologue about what Drusilla means for him and it's a very dark and obsessive feeling and I think Buffy doesn't want to even imagine him feeling the same for her
Good point! I can see that. Just as it was easy to ignore Angel's past when it was just an abstraction, not so much when she and people she loves are victimized. (Or the way fandom similarly ignores Spike's past and claim he would never torture or rape or certainly never enjoy it. Sheila in School Hard is dispatched so quickly no one remembers here, but she doesn't count to Joss except as a plot device so she's easy to forget. I have issues with this.) She really didn't have to give it much thought in Becoming, just get the job done. As with the Gift; she's not thinking about the underlying issues because she can't. "Hey, the Apocalypse is gonna have to wait, I've got emotional stuff to process here." ;)
I'm pretty sure these sorts of things just represent fantasy. I think if Sheila from School Hard came up to even the most die-hard Spike fan IRL and said she'd been kidnapped, tied up and nearly killed, the response would NOT be "What did this vampire look like? Was he cute?" One person told I "don't understand abusive relationships" because I ship Buffy and Spike in S7, and for some people that isn't possible. And I get it because I grew up with domestic violence and abuse. If I'm honest, Buffy and Spike in S7 is just as much a fantasy for me (demonstrating genuine regret and forgiveness, coming to a point of deeper understanding) as Spike the perfect wooby-daddy-lover S5-6 is for someone else. But I do wonder about the pretty consistent pattern of male characters who do horrible things being not only excused but loved for it, and prioritized over their victims or over female characters in almost every fandom I've seen. It's not JUST "Spike fans."
Personally I enjoy all aspects of Spuffy - the violence, the progress, the self-loathing and the moral growth and the respect and tenderness that we see in Touched, the loyalty and the passion - but I would never deny that most of that relationship was extremely unhealthy and both characters hurt each other in so many ways.
I have SO MUCH love for this comment you can't even begin to know.
Fantasies can be different. Idk how it is for most people, but I, for one, love dark and twisted and manipulative relationships in fiction because they're just interesting to explore (most of my OTPs in various fandoms are not healthy couples at all), but I'd never project it on myself. And I don't understand how it's possible to blindly justify these characters - or why would anyone even want that? It's quite possible to love a fictional (fictional being the key word here) character without trying to find excuses for him (or her, to a lesser extent). I quite enjoy Angelus, too, but he's completely and utterly inexcusable.
I, for one, love dark and twisted and manipulative relationships in fiction because they're just interesting to explore
Well if everything is happy-happy then there's no story to tell - or maybe that's just me.
And I don't understand how it's possible to blindly justify these characters - or why would anyone even want that?
Self-identification? They see themselves in that character or they love that character as a stand-in (friend, lover whatever) or maybe both? So admitting the character does unforgiveble or inexcusable things hits too close to home? IDK. I'm guilty of perhaps over-defending Buffy; I'd like to think that I can understand her while still recognize while certain things are not ok at all. And of course context in every single instance is very important, and the show really challenges us to parse things out. I find people are very happy to mete out punishment or blame by the teaspoonful.
The other thing I think is that, with male characters, "boys will be boys". We've been brought up in the era of the anti-hero - Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Sergeo Leoni, etc and countless filmmakers have brought us stories of rebellious men who fuck up and do terrible things but we're supposed to cheer and we do. James Bond and Rambo are not all that far apart. It devolved to cocky, arrogant bastards like Tom Cruise's characters in the 1980's and I don't know what it is now. And IRL - boys can't help themselves. Boys are supposed to sow their wild oats. (We arrest the prostitutes, NOT the clients. A man having an affair behind his wife's back is mundane; a wife who does the same is a whore.) Boys are supposed to run around the yard, get dirty and muddy and girls are supposed to sit quietly and stay neat and clean and be polite. Culturally we give males a lot more leeway, and that extends to mostly male characters. because women generally do not get the same in fiction or RL.
P.S. I loooove your long comments. ;))))
Oh good, because I can't wait to read your meta on the Body!
Well if everything is happy-happy then there's no story to tell - or maybe that's just me. Definitely not just you XD I'm actually pretty allergic to fluff. This is why I prefer Spuffy over Buffy/Angel: with all their tragedies, they were just too... idk, vanilla? Buffy has flaws of course, but that's the best thing about her. I confess sometimes she irritates me when she acts like she knows better than everyone, but I do understand that she just has to think and act this way because she has to know better than everyone, being the chosen one and being basically alone with that job. This is why I love season 7 (I know a lot of people don't): it places a great emphasis on Buffy's position as a leader and shows how lonely and how difficult that can be. To a greater extent than previous seasons. rebellious men who fuck up and do terrible things LOL, incidentally my favourite character type - and while we're at it, I don't understand why nobody writes women like that. T_T But I do know the difference between fiction and life. I think if fiction completely reflected life, we'd only read about good and well-behaved people, it'd be kind of boring. XD But still: a character can do horrible things and I can cheer for him, but I still know that what he's doing is wrong. Hell, I write originals and I have a character who fucks up all the time in one of them, and I admit that he's a total jerk. That doesn't stop me from loving him to pieces, but God forbid, I'd look for excuses for him because I know he's inexcusable. Not saying I can't be biased; unfortunately that's inescapable when you love a character. But there's being a little biased and still sober-minded, and then there's being completely blind to the shit that your favourite character does. >_< It's a sad situation with what men and women are allowed/expected to do, but at least it's getting better. I mean, compared to the previous centuries? I think BtVS is a pretty groundbreaking show when it comes to that because it does show a lot of female POV.
Buffy's lack of response sort of puts the emphasis on Spike, it's HIS moment, not her's. And that's a good thing because it's all sort of understated and a little misplaced, but somehow very important to Spike's character. Later as in? If you mean S6, I think there is some of that, there's friendship-love (companionable-love) and "in love" but love in the deeper sense? I'm not so sure. It's too mixed up with the self-projection, idealization (seeing in each other what they want/need to see), infatuation and want/take/have to be of any use to either of them. Yup, I meant s6. I say "love" b/c I don't necessarily view love as always a light, good feeling. Everything you say here is true, of course, but imho, that doesn't make his feelings any less real and it doesn't make them not love. Or the way fandom similarly ignores Spike's past and claim he would never torture or rape or certainly never enjoy it. So true! Like that girl, Dana, in Angel, who thinks that Spike was her kidnapper. Spike says he wasn't hers, but he'd done these things to countless girls like her! That is a direct admission of guilt, but of course the fans will overlook it. Sheila in School Hard is dispatched so quickly no one remembers here, but she doesn't count to Joss except as a plot device so she's easy to forget. I have issues with this. I have issues with people generally ignoring that "vampires are monsters; they make monster movies about them" (good one, Xander XD). Especially in Spike's case, because with Angel one can at least arguably blame a totally different personality on it (except Angel wasn't all that good as a human either).
I say "love" b/c I don't necessarily view love as always a light, good feeling.
Point taken. *ponders* But then again I've grown up seeing and being in rather ugly relationships (my current one isn't "ugly" just not any hallmark-card ideal by a long shot), so I know how love, hate, loathing, tenderness can be intertwined. I'm still not sure what I'd call Spike's feelings in S6, any more than Buffy's. He feels something, she feels something, but is it love on either side and what does that word even mean? Of course part of the problem is semantics - for something we hold so damn dear we have very few words to discuss it. (How many words do Eskimos have for "snow"?) The Greeks at least had Eros and Agape but even that's not enough. How do we define "love"? I suspect every single one of us has a different definition, so when we try to talk about it it's like the parable of the Tower of Babel, and we're all speaking in "different tongues".
Spike says he wasn't hers, but he'd done these things to countless girls like her! That is a direct admission of guilt, but of course the fans will overlook it.
I haven't watched AtS beyond a couple of episodes (mostly because of what I've read about Cordy, Darla and Fred's fates - I just can't, sorry.) But I tend to almost think of the Angelverse as it's own world in a way , connected but not to the buffyverse? But there's something about Dana that bothers me - that the most vivid, or rather the last Slayer we see in either series is someone who is basically insane, continuing the thread of female insanity begun early in BtVS; and thus becomes an argument for the idea that the slayer spell was a bad bad thing and needs to be undone (as it is in the comics). Not all the Slayers who are able to handle it, whose lives have been opened up or given new meaning and focus. The spell is definitely problematic, but Dana reflects centuries-old male fears about what might happen if women had the power to (vote, own property, hold office, work outside the house) and men had to share/cede power. The PR for centuries, has been that women aren't capable of handling it; just as I knew someone in high school from South Africa in the 1980's who told us that blacks didn't have power in her country because they "still needed to be educated". It's the same pattern of oppression: we can't share power with the oppressed because they clearly can't handle it, because we've forbid them from having access to power and learning how to handle it. It's a vicious circle.
Sorry, OT: back to your point about Spike, I thought that was part of what he was saying in BY and Help. "I hurt the girl" doesn't just mean Buffy, but was referring by extension to all of his victims. (He's a bit insane after he first comes back, after all.) People ask why his crime towards Buffy is emphasized over thousands of murders and I'm not saying it should be, but for me it makes sense that Spike would take it that way emotionally.He didn't CARE about any of those other victims without a soul. They were nothing to him at the time. That was the point of being soulless. Then he cared for Buffy, but still couldn't control himself, so of course he feels extra guilty about it. He told himself he wouldn't hurt her but he didn't understand himself as well as he thought he did. Just saying it doesn't make it so. It gets a little wonky however when it comes to Robin Wood and LMPTM; I think that got horribly mishandled as once again the male perpetrators POV is prioritized over Nikki or Robin's.
BTW, have you seen the video "Origin"? It deals with the issues of how the male POV is prioritized over that of the Slayers, or how Spike's POV is prioritized over Nikki's, Robin and Dana's, esp in the way the leather duster is fetishized as a symbol of Spike's "coolness". I actually enjoyed the meta conversation/analysis about the video better than the vid itself - once I read that the duster is "Nikki's skin" I couldn't ever look at that thing the same way again. http://giandujakiss.livejournal.com/360051.html (video) http://giandujakiss.livejournal.com/365211.html (Meta/notes)